102: If Jesus Commanded Us to Take Care of the Poor, Why Are You a Republican?
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There are two commonly held beliefs examined in this episode. The first is the fact that most people believe that one of the greatest themes of the New Testament is taking care of the poor.
The second common belief among many people in modern Western societies is the idea that American Conservative Republicans don’t care about the poor, and that Republican politicians supposedly are fighting to pass legislation that is harmful to people living in poverty within the United States.
It is certainly true and right that one of the greatest themes of the New Testament is indeed taking care of the poor. However, is that second common belief true? Is it true that Republicans don’t care about the poor? If so, why would anyone, who embraces the New Testament as true, support any Republican candidate?
If Jesus commanded Christians to take care of the poor, why do some many Christians vote for Republican candidates; when these candidates supposedly don’t want to take care of the poor?
In this episode, Kenny challenges some of the presuppositions held by many people and then outlines several important historical truths that must be fairly examined. Kenny concedes that some Republicans haven’t cared about the poor like they should and he highlights the fact that he does not agree with several of the elements of the Republican platform. But Kenny points out that conservative Republicans in America give more money to charity than liberal Democrats, so it seems unfair to claim that they don’t care about the poor at all.
Kenny also reminds us that the mandate to take care of the poor was given to Christians and churches, not government officials. We must take the mandate very serious, but this is to be taken up by individual people and churches, not the central government.
Individual people, as well as local churches and charities, ought to be the ones providing for the poor and meeting the needs of society’s most vulnerable. The government should not ever be the primary long-term provider, but rather the government ought to be the protector of the system which enables individual people or individual groups of people to serve those people living in poverty.
Christians are mandated to step in and serve the poor and meet the needs of the people in their communities. Government must never make this task difficult or burdensome.
In this episode Kenny gives us three reasons why he believes the government should not be the primary source of long-term provision for people living in poverty:
1- Historical research and trends show that government provision, in the name of helping poor people, will eventually make the poor people dependent on the government.
2- Any central government that becomes the primary long-term provider will eventually need to grow in scope and size and power, and world history has proven to us over and over again that any central government that grows in such a manner will eventually become oppressive towards its people. In order to protect the people from tyranny, the government must be intentionally limited.
3- Free market enterprise/capitalism is the greatest system the world has ever seen to pull people from poverty. More than 1 Billion people have escaped poverty over the last 20 years because of the expansion of free market principles around the globe. There are some very real negatives to capitalism, so it must be implemented fairly and the central government must properly protect the people from abuse and exploitation, but even with the very real potential pitfalls of free markets, capitalism is still the greatest system in the world, without a close second.
Liberty and Tyranny (by Mark Levin)
When Helping Hurts (by Steve Corbett & Brian Fikkert)
God & Government (by Chuck Colson)
Politics – According to the Bible (by Wayne Grudem)
God’s Politics (by Jim Wallis)
Kenneth E. Ortiz (M.Div.) is a professor and recruiter at Bethlehem College and a pastor at Cities Church in St. Paul, MN. He has 15+ years of vocational ministry experience. He’s also a podcaster, author, and Ph.D. student. Kenneth lives in Bloomington, MN with his wife Malaina, they have one daughter.