Social Justice and Scripture: Untie the Knot Pt.12

I’ve argued that the case for freedom is—and can only be—the case that freedom is moral.

Alexander cuts the gordian knot

Then let’s go to our moral guide. Let’s go to Scripture.

We’ve already seen theologian John Frame’s correct overview on government and Scripture. Now let’s dig into some specific passages.

The key passages for a Christian view on government are:

  • Exodus 20:13-17
  • Matthew 17:24-27
  • Romans 13:1-7
  • 1 Peter 2:13-16

Let’s start with Exodus:

Ex 20:13-17
13 “Thou shalt not kill.
14 “Thou shalt not commit adultery.
15 “Thou shalt not steal.
16 “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
17 “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house; thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is thy neighbor’s.”

The sixth through the tenth commandments give us a picture of the kind of society that pleases God.

Verses 13 and 16 deal with doing harm to one’s neighbor. Verses 14, 15 and 17 deal with “anything that is thy neighbor’s.” A man is not to steal (or even to want to steal) what belongs to his neighbor. From these passages we see God supporting a person’s ownership of his own life and belongings.

Does a man own his life and belongings?

God says so. The founding fathers thought so. But the point is under contention from the “social justice” advocates. Some of these object that man does not have ownership because God ultimately owns everything. They may site 1 Corinthians 4:7b, “And what hast thou that thou did not receive?”

The verse is a reminder that we should not glory as if we “had not been given it.” I take it to be talking about a separate issue from that of ownership. It’s a reminder to recognize the full context. It was indeed the sin of Nebuchadnezzar to claim sovereignty and fail to acknowledge that he was only a steward of that which God had given him (Daniel 4).

Nevertheless, John Frame is right in saying,

“The eighth commandment… assumes that although all things belong ultimately to God, he has made a difference between what belongs to me and what belongs to you.”

Given the emphasis God placed on individual ownership, the advocates of “social justice” (forcible redistribution of wealth) will have a difficult time arguing their view from Scripture.

But they do try.

In the next section we’ll look at several attempts, including arguments from the Israelite laws on the gleaning and the year of Jubilee. We’ll also look at the standby of Christian Marxists: the church at Jerusalem, which “had all things in common.”


 

In this series:

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6   7   8   9   10
11   12   13   14   15
16   17   18   19  20
Appendix