TOXIC CHARITY BY R. LUPTON IN THE CROSS HAIRS (part 4)

I intend this to be the LAST in this series of critiques – in THESE series of critiques (since there are seven of them dealing with When Helping Hurts by Corbett and Fikkert preceding these as well).  Please look for them, assuming you actually have interest in such things.  

Keep in mind, both series of critiques are COPIES from composition books of notes I kept WHILE reading these books as part of my research into the forth coming project on HEAVEN’s HOSPITALITY.  These notes are only slightly edited.  They were not initially intended to be shared – certainly not like this.  But as that larger project has grown so big, and the centrality of HOSPITALITY has proven so potent and important, I find that the address of these books and the theories they present deserves far less attention than I originally imagined.  

Here’s the thing: I have spent much of the last 8 years rebutting When Helping Hurts (WHH) in meetings, seminars, face-to-face, and on this blog.  Once I began researching HEAVEN’s HOSPITALITY, I found in the Bible not so much a rebuttal of the WHH thesis and philosophy as a replacement for it.  But even wording it like that sells it short.  The HOSPITALITY is what we should have been aiming at all along.  The WHH nonsense is the replacement for God’s HOSPITALITY program, and not a worthy one at that.  In fact, I think we have been so busy, as American Christians for the last 40 years or more, pulling away from the poor as we give our hearts more and more to the wealth of our nation and to the health-n-wealth Gospel, that the backside of that phenom in addition to the pulling away and is the insulation of ourselves from the poor in evermore ingenious ways.  When Helping Hurts and Toxic Charity have proven to be powerful as part of that insolation.  They talk like we care while providing cover for the fact that we don’t.

Meanwhile, HEAVEN’s HOSPITALITY has been neglected, and now that I have discovered it, I want to talk MORE about THAT than I do shooting holes in the TOXIC critique of our traditional CHARITY.  BUT, I have these extensive notes on these books too, which I think still have value even though I plan to minimize the critique in favor of advancing the HOSPITALITY.  (I expect the critique is worth one chapter in the forthcoming project, but not half or more.)  Thus, I publish the raw reactions here on the blog, in part to refresh my own thoughts, but more to put this critique out there.  

I think that when we are REALLY HONEST about it, Corbett and Fikkert and Lupton (and others like them) bring up, at least a FEW, good points for us to consider.  I am not against modifying our charity, and certainly not against talking about it.  However, if we continue being REALLY HONEST about it, I think the vast majority of people buying and reading books like this fall into one of two overarching categories of readers.  1) “Christians” who feel great relief in finding what appears to be God-ordained approval to stop giving to the poor, that they have found the smokescreen behind which to hide their contempt for the poor and/or their greed, and 2) “Christians” who recognize there are dimensions of the “traditional charity model(s)” that probably can stand to be reviewed, but who then are a bit baffled by the smokescreen which SEEMS to be God’s way of saying not to give to the poor, not to care in some “harmful” way, and thus they become scared to help too much for fear of getting it wrong.  

This latter category suffers a “paralysis of analysis” in a sense.  And I have seen, on Wikipedia, where Brian Fikkert himself point this out and worries about it.  People reading his work, taking it to heart, and trying to apply his principles have discovered that it is hard, that it doesn’t really work anymore “effectively” than the traditional models.  These folx then feel stuck, and not knowing how to move forward just throw in the towel and walk away from the poor altogether.

I pick apart these books to confront the first category of readers and to give help to the second.  The Bible does not actually teach what Corbett, Fikkert, and Lupton teach.  But then it does not aim at the same goals either.  Jesus’s Kingdom is not OF this world.  It is FOR this world, yes, but not of it, and it employs the foolishness of God rather than the wisdom of men, since the foolishness of God is wiser than the wisdom of men. 

Jesus dies on a cross, a Roman cross, more than 2000 years ago.  What does that save?  How does that save??  Who does that save… from what???

How is Jesus the answer to all the world’s problems?  

“Sound business principles” step in to save the Salvation of Jesus from the stupidity of discipleship – according to Corbett, Fikkert, and Lupton.  Not their words for it, but that’s what their books distill down to nonetheless!  

I am wrapping up this series with the last part of my composition book notes on Toxic Charity.  I will want to make a few final editorial remarks about this last entry midway through.  Look for the red font color.  I feel sure in this raw presentation there is much cumbersome redundancy and complexity which could have been refined quite a lot.  But if you are willing to weed through it all, I think the critiques have value and help you if you fall into that latter category.

Thanx for reading here.

Enjoy.

 

MISC. Concerns with Lupton

 

I have narrowed my main argument(s) with Lupton’s book down to his worry about DEPENDENCY and his promotion of the use of LOANS over against GIVING.  I have focused on these 2 (the second being of two parts), and examined each one in the light of Scripture (or more accurately his lack of attention to Scripture).  Thus, Lupton’s lack of, and under/mis-use of, Scripture is actually a 3rd feature of my critique, but a feature relating in it’s own way to the other two – maybe an umbrella feature under which the other two fit.

That said, there are yet other features of Lupton’s book I take issue with as well, but maybe not as powerfully as those listed above.  In reality, there is hardly a page of Toxic Charity where I don’t find issues with which to quibble.  Yet I found Lupton’s presentation of the case that charity, as done in the church, can and should be rethought to be more consistent (fewer contradictions) and at one or possibly two points more compelling (raising worthwhile questions to consider) than the very similar book called When Helping Hurts by Corbett and Fikkert.

I am being complimentary about this.  I think Lupton’s observation about “religious tourism” has merit and should be explored.  I think the inconsistencies in When Helping Hurts far outweigh the few that Lupton makes.  And I find his style to be strong and convicting.  I want to take care and give praise to the extent I find it worthy.  I take Lupton’s book seriously.  In fact, he shares a story in chapter 9 (page 157) that I actually like.

Nevertheless, the 3 features (one over arching umbrella and two subpoints – DEPENDENCY and LOANS) I isolate and analyze in light of the lack of biblical support, and they make up the bulk of my reaction.

Still, I have several smaller concerns as well.  Maybe just questions that don’t have answers, but maybe they are worthy of note.

Why does Lupton, over the course of 191 pages, question so profoundly AND refute so strongly traditional charity AND do so addressing the church (people of faith) expecting to persuade us without more Bible?

(Okay, that is really my big concern and not one of the small ones… but bear with me a moment as I sort this out…)

Seriously, in this whole book, only 12 points clearly relate to God or his Word?  (And I am being generous with my count of 12!)

(Okay, so here is where I am driving at with a new thrust…)

At NO POINT in the whole of Toxic Charity does Lupton EVER EVEN MENTION, much less consider, the CROSS of CHRIST, the SPIRIT of God, or the RESURRECTION from the dead.  NOT EVEN A PASSING THOUGHT.

Yet these things are FOUNDATIONAL to EVERYTHING in the Christian faith.  None of them make sense to the “secular” world at all, but they make sense to the faithful and undergird EVERYTHING!  These things are indispensable, yet completely ignored in Lupton’s book.

Thus, it seems to me that we people of faith already have a keen sense that our life with God does not make sense to a worldly wisdom.  Otherwise, explain in some worldly wisdom to me: Why do we meet to worship and pray?  What do these things have to do with banking or investing?  But the worldly wisdom is so key to Lupton’s case, while God’s Word is not?

AND

Why is the church so eager to accept Lupton’s book then?

Why is it that NO WHERE in Lupton’s rethinking, revamping, criticism of outcomes, and worries about creating DEPENDENCY that he never even mentions prayer or worship?

How can a Christian trot in “sound business principles” to the ministry of the poor and never even make mention of prayer???  Not once in 191 pages???

Feel me yet?

 

HE NEVER EVEN CONSIDERS TALKING TO GOD ABOUT THESE THINGS.

 

No sign of it in his whole book.  Just criticisms that if you GIVE ALMS to the poor, SOMETHING JESUS CLEARLY ENDORSES, you cause people damage to their lives.  And in all that damage and all that concern for causing it, Lupton never turns to prayer nor advises his readers to pray.

No.  Lupton merely turns centuries of biblical wisdom and tradition upside down, criticizes it relentlessly, barely involves any Scripture or theology in any of this, and never suggests it be a matter of prayer at all.  Instead, the whole thesis is a manifestation of his engineering manipulations which I assert coincide nicely with the political mood of many in the modern church.

I certainly don’t “know it all,” but I’m not stupid.  Even if it turns out there are better explanations for all this, mine is a fairly good guess, and proves undeniably devastating to Lupton’s book – even if some bits of it are worthwhile.

 

 

SUMMING IT ALL UP

March 24, 2019

 

It’s been a couple of weeks since I read or wrote about Toxic Charity now, but one feature just keeps echoing in my mind.  It’s a case – an analysis – offered by Lupton which comes up in Chapter 3, “The Anatomy of Giving” under the section called “What about the Homeless?” (which begins on page 43).

However, I don’t want to quote the whole section.  But there is a part starting on page 45 where Lupton compares/contrasts the giving philosophies of 3 separate Christian ministers.  They represent something of a spectrum of thought ranging from unrestrained giving to no giving at all.

[As I review this portion of my own notes, I want to edit a bit of my own thinking here.  I sense my notes on this point are not completely fair to the subject, not as I normally would critique such matters.  So let me make this editorial note:

Lupton, in this section, quotes from 3 different Christian ministers, each respected in the field, but each bringing a somewhat different view to the question of giving to the homeless.  I want to take all three views seriously even if I disagree with one, two or three of them.  Especially, insofar as these ministers appeal to Scripture.  We have, then two separate, but intermingled criteria here.  1) do they appeal to Scripture, and if yes, then 2) do they read the Scripture RIGHTLY?  

The second of these two criteria will always be “arguable” in a sense.  The first one is pretty cut -n- dry.  The second one always has room for debate.  

IF a minister appeals to Scripture, that does not automatically mean he is right to use it the way he does.  But if he makes the appeal, more than half the battle is done.  I might disagree with his biblical analysis, but I will RESPECT the fact that he goes there to make it.  It could be that I am mistaken and as yet cannot see it.  I must have that much humility about Scriptural appeal.  

That said, I will make my counter argument nonetheless.  But I will do it respectfully.  I am concerned that my first draft notes on this point may not reflect that respect as much as they should.  Thus, I editorialize with this interjection into the presentation.  I will attempt to pick apart the biblical offerings I find in this quotation from Toxic Charity, and these ministers have my respect for appealing to Scripture to the extent they do.  My argument with theirs does not necessarily settle the matter.  I believe it does, but I am open to further debate.

I think it will be clear what I agree with and what I disagree with, and I hope I demonstrate adequately why.  But I have already made the case that Lupton’s use of Bible is anemic, very anemic, at best throughout his book.  In fact, this is one of the places where a clear citation is quoted and cited, and where the text argues against him strongly!  But it also features some of that other appeal to Scripture where Lupton (and/or the people he quotes) merely ALLUDE to Scripture as they make their cases while they don’t make a well executed effort to be clearly biblical.   Nevertheless, that is not, in and of itself, enough to reject the point.  It merely shows a weak effort to make the case.  But the case could be a good one still, in theory.  I need to respect that.  

I hope I have made that clear for my readers now as we go forward]

 

I will quote this part.  Four paragraphs in all.

SEE IF YOU CAN SPOT MY CONCERN WITH IT.  (Don’t worry; I will spell it out on the other side of this copy)

Lupton quote:

In a January 2011 Christianity Today article, the question was posed to three veteran ministry leaders known for their commitment to the poor: Should Christians give money to street people who ask for it?

“Yes, freely!” answers Gary Hoag, known as the Generosity Monk, whose passionate mission is to encourage Christian generosity.  To him it is very clear in scripture: “Freely you have received; freely give” Matt. 10:8).  It is not our place to judge others, to evaluate them as worthy or unworthy of our assistance.  God is the judge, not us.  What they do with our aid is between them and God.  We are to love and give unconditionally.

Andy Bales, CEO of Union Rescue Mission in Los Angeles, sees it differently.  “Giving cash to someone in need is the least helpful and most temporary solution and should only be a last resort,” he says.  His years of experience with street people have taught him that most panhandlers are not really homeless at all.  Most are scammers who may collect $300 a day from kindhearted passersby and at the end of the day walk a block or two to their cars and drive home.  When people approach Andy for money for food or a place to stay, he gives them his card and invites them to his mission where they can get not only food and shelter, but other support as well.  Very seldom does he give money, and then only when there are no other alternatives.  He refers to the story of the lame man in scripture who asked Peter and John for some money.  They offered no money but rather something better – healing.  “People experiencing homelessness and poverty need a caring community,” Andy says.  “People need permanent help in becoming strong.  They need a connection with Jesus Christ and a faith community.”

“Absolutely not!” says Ron Sider, president of Evangelicals for Social Action and author of Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger.  A quick donation is cheap love.  There is simply no way to tell whether a story is legitimate, or if a person will spend the money on drugs or alcohol.  Supporting immorality, laziness, or destructive behavior is simply irresponsible and clearly not a loving act.  Scripture demands that we stand on the side of the poor, but it certainly does not tell us to give irresponsibly.  Rather than giving money, Sider suggests taking the homeless person to lunch and listening to his story.  “People almost always need love even more than money,” he says.  Generous giving should be directed toward effective, holistic programs equipped to deal with the deeper socioeconomic issues, ministries that share the love of Christ and “truly liberate, empower, and transform.”

Always.  Sometimes.  Never.  Three respected Christian leaders all committed to helping the poor, all relying on the scriptures to guide them, each with distinctively different convictions on how to rightly serve.  They take their stands at different points on the charity continuum, from “always give money” to “never give money.”

(Lupton pages 45-47)

 

TO BE FAIR

 

Let me state very carefully here:

The paragraphs just above [in the indentation sequence] are all exact quotes.  To be exact, I quoted 4 consecutive paragraphs and a partial exactly as I find them in Lupton’s book Toxic Charity – grammar mistakes and all.

However, to be fair, we must keep in mind that I [was… in the original composition notebook] hand copying them rather than photo copying.  It is possible that I introduced (or skipped) an error by mistake, but I was being careful, so even if I did, it surely is a minor defect in my copy.

 

NOW…

 

The point is to show what I find arguable here.  Thus, I will do that now.

Right off the top, I note that Lupton is showing us a spectrum of opinion/philosophy on Christian charity.  Fair enough.  However, even though he cites Christianity Today in-text, he does not give us footnote info, AND even though some bits of it are in quotation marks, most of it is not.

Thus, we can assume he is NOT taking the same care to accurately copy – and thus represent – the people cited here which I do with my chicken-scratch notes.

He is not simply comparing/contrasting these opinions as an interesting idea (a disinterested observer) but rather building a case that at least the second and probably the third opinions should be adopted by his readers who it would seem are ministers and laity from the church.

How much Scripture did Lupton cite for this?

ONE VERSE.

ONLY ONE.

(To be fair, he does reference a second citation, but does not cite it either, and merely calls our attention to “the story of the lame man in scripture who asked Peter and John for some money” (page 46).)  This, and in the last bit claims these ministers take their guidance from Scripture without showing us ANY evidence of it in the part where he quotes for Ron Sider.

So… as far as actual Scripture citations???

Lupton offers only one.

 

AND IT (the one he does offer) SUPPORTS THE OPINION LUPTON OPPOSES!!!

 

Go figure!

Yes, the first opinion analyzed comes from Gary Hoag, “known as the Generosity Monk” (page 45).

I don’t know Gary Hoag or his work.  The first I recall ever hearing/knowing his name is in reading Toxic Charity.  It seems he is important to somebody since he appears to be citied in Christianity Today,.  But, I never heard of him, and that really might say more about me than him.

However,

Notice how Lupton introduces him.

He’s “known as the Generosity Monk.”

That’s great, I suppose, but I’m betting that to the eyes and ears of Lupton’s intended readership, that title sounds a little hippie-like and not all that well respected.

ESP, when you look how Lupton introduces the other two opinionators who he seems to admire.

“Andy Bales, CEO of Union Rescue Mission in Los Angeles, sees it differently.”

See the difference yet?  It’s the same difference as comedian Steve Martin points out between “Security First Trust and Federal Reserve” and “Fred’s Bank.”

Then there’s “Ron Sider, president of Evangelicals for Social Action and author of Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger.

Oh yeah.  The first guy is the Generosity Monk, which sounds like a hippie, a monkey, or a Catholic, but the second guy is a CEO of… and the 3rd guy is president of… AND author of… and even the title of his book sounds a guy getting to the bottom of things.

But which one gets into an actual Scripture reference?

The MONKEY!

 

Oh, but I’m being petty, right?

 

Really???

You really think so???

Okay, you’re right, the second guy does appeal to Scripture, though he can’t cite it.  But we know it’s in there… somewhere….

AND IT IS

(hint: Look for it in Acts 3:6)

So maybe I am being nit picky.

So, where’s the Bible reference in this professionally published book?  Is that really too much to ask for a publisher of Christian books for a book that calls into question 6000 years of faith tradition?  From an author with a Ph. D.???

I’ll remember to tell my editor how nit picky they are when they ask for it from me.

 

 

So, where’s the Bible reference for mr. president and author of…?

Here it is (as close as it gets, anyway):

“Supporting immorality, laziness, or destructive behavior is simply irresponsible and clearly not a loving act.  Scripture demands that we stand on the side of the poor, but it certainly does not tell us to give irresponsibly.”

(see page 46)

 

Makes you wonder if mr. president and author of ever read Luke 6:30 or Luke 6:34 or Luke 1:53 or… LUKE!

 

What passage do you see represented in this “Scripture demands” remark?

 

Is it Mark 10:21?

 

Maybe Matt. 19:21 or Luke 18:22?

 

My God!  What about the very passage Lupton himself actually did cite just two paragraphs before he started quoting this “leading minister”?  Remember Matt. 10:8???

Yeah, the Communist, Catholic, Monkey/hippie quoted that one, and it says “freely give”!

 

Need I go on???

 

What was it Sider said (according to Lupton) right before this bit I quote here?

There is no way to tell if a story is legit or if the person will just use the money to buy drugs or alcohol?

Then how about Sider go look up Proverbs 31:6-7!  Oh yeah, the BIBLE directs you to go ahead and get the BOOZE for the bum yourself and save him the trouble.  Don’t give him the cash, cut out the middle part and just give the booze!

So, maybe Sider is ironically right in saying no to giving money!

He should carry around a stash of booze and drugs instead!  – just to be biblical!!!

(Okay, I am sure that passage does not cover the use of heroin, but you gotta know the Hebrew to get that worked out.)

 

Let’s get into Bales’s stuff now.

Let’s look a little closer at Acts 3 where Peter and John meet the beggar on their way to worship.:

The man begging there asks for “alms.”  Where in the Bible – ANYWHERE IN THE BIBLE – are God’s people directed NOT to GIVE alms?

Got a verse???

NOT EVEN ONE???

I didn’t think so.  Sider says, no, but the Bible does not say what Sider says.  Let’s get that straight right up front.

So Peter looks at the man in need and tells him, “I prefer not to give money to you because it is the least helpful and most temporary kind of help – AND anyway, there is a good chance you are scamming us – so let me offer you healing in stead!”

Is that how the passage goes?

Wait… what???

You mean that according the BIBLE, that’s not what he actually said?

So either Bales or Lupton (or both) are roping all that extra stuff into the conversation and slipping it in to APPEAR to the casual observer as if the uncited passage alluded to from Acts 3 somehow supports all this.  But it doesn’t really address these matters in any depth, and mostly not at all.  And certainly not in these terms.

Mostly.

So what bearing does this text have on the matter of giving alms?

Does it teach us not to give money but instead to give healing?  Does it teach us not to give money but instead to apply “sound business principles”?

Well, sure enough the beggar expects to receive some money alright – thus it strongly suggests that when the Bible talks about giving alms to the poor (as it does in many places – quite favorably, I might add) the “alms” in question CAN be in the form of money.

While Peter declines to give money in this case, he does give a REASON for not giving it.  He specifies that it is because he does not have any!  He makes no mention of the harm it would cause if he did have some to give, just that he doesn’t have that to give, but actually something else.  There is absolutely no indication here that he reasons the money would not help or that he would withhold it if he had it to give.

No.

He simply doesn’t have it to give.

However, he has something else.

And I would agree that a prayerful healing touch is BETTER than a dollar!  I would agree with that completely.  In fact, I would agree that a caring community is better than a dollar.  I would agree that sharing a lunch with a bum and listening to his story is better than giving him a dollar.

My counter point to Lupton is not that you must give the dollar.  It’s not.  My counter point is that his insistence that you don’t is not biblical!  Giving the dollar simply is not wrong.  It may not be the best, but it is not wrong.  And sometimes, I think, it might be best.

Of course, if Lupton were teaching us to give healing touches to lame beggars instead of the dollar, I would be all ears.  I would still quibble with him here, but I would be very interested all the same.

But neither Lupton nor Bales are offering the healing touch.  That is not Lupton’s point at all.  He wants to protect Mammon from your generosity, but he has no interest in the healing of that man.

No Lupton has totally dropped that idea.  Instead, he is developing his case that giving money is a bad idea, and he is alluding to this text (rather than quoting, citing, exegeting or in ANYWAY studying it) as a means of support for his point.

The problem is this: This passage does not actually support his point.

What else should we note about Bales’s analysis?

Well, according to Bales (via Lupton), “Most panhandlers are not homeless at all….[they] are scammers.”

No doubt Bales is in a position to describe experiencing such a phenom.  And no doubt the phenom exists.  However, I strongly doubt that even all the workers coordinating the US Census Bureau could determine if “most panhandlers” are really “scammers” with homes and cars.  Certainly, Bales alone, despite his authoritative experiences in LA is not enough to make such a blanket statement with accuracy.  I wonder how much damage and mistrust such a blanket statement from such an authoritative person in such major publications as Lupton’s book or Christianity Today have caused between Christians and beggars!

AND BESIDES…

such a statement contradicts the Bible at some very important junctures that Lupton and his readers should be heeding.

How about “Do not judge”?

How about “…did it to the least of these… you did it to me”?

And for that matter, I would ask Bales under cross examination (if I could) whether he ever held a fundraiser and asked for people to give him (and his organization) money.  And then I would ask if he has a home, and a car.

If he answers ‘YES’ to those questions, then by his own definition, he is a “scammer” too.

Thus, there is more to the story – to each individual story – than Lupton is telling us.

Am I denying there are “scammers”?

No.

But they have yet to be properly defined on the one hand or to be shown as an actual issue I, as an almsgiving, Bible-observing Christian, should worry about on the other.

No, instead, with the force of rhetorical wit, Lupton has drawn his readers in to this nonsense, and I am systematically calling the bluff on it.

So far, the place where Lupton has been authoritatively biblical, he has argued AGAINST his own thesis.  Since then, he has relied on rhetorical wit to appear authoritative or biblical, but it’s not real.

NOW…

TO BE FAIR…

The other part of Bale’s ministry AS PORTRAYED BY Lupton, looks pretty good to me.

It appears that Bales actually cares for the poor and actually offers real assistance to such people.  He directs them to the place where he (and his crew) offer food, shelter, “and other support as well.”

Personally, I think that’s great!  I wish him and those he serves all the best in that.  I totally commend it.  I can even entertain the idea that all that ministry is more valuable than a few dollars.  It really MIGHT BE.

None of that is my beef here.

I trust that is clear.

My  beef is that Lupton (and it seems Bales and Sider too) is telling me that giving some money to the poor is a bad idea.

My problem is that THEY HAVE A PROBLEM WITH IT

AND

THAT TRANSLATES INTO an abuse of Scripture on the one hand and abuse of the poor on the other.

(More on the ABUSE OF THE POOR at a later time)

 

Let’s get into Sider’s stuff now.

I don’t want to repeat the rebuttals I made a few pages back; so what else needs to be said here?

Well, as always, there is that LACK of SCRIPTURAL support, and even though that was mentioned above, there is the part where he falsely claims it (which is the other side of the same coin in some respects, but which I did not yet address).

According to Sider (via Lupton), “Scripture DEMANDS that we stand on the side of the poor.”

hmmm…

That is not a quote from Scripture at all; rather it is a theological statement basing itself on uncited Scripture – a distillation of scriptural ideas.  And as such, I agree with it.  The problem is… obviously Sider (via Lupton) means something by it that I do not mean by it if I use those same words.  Thus, we seem to be dealing with that rhetorical effect again.

The terms are not well defined.  What does it mean to “STAND”?  What exactly is “the side of the poor”?

I’m thinking Sider is not at all thinking of Mary’s words in Luke 1:53 or of the rich man and Lazarus or of the Father’s treatment of the prodigal son when he returns.  I have the strong idea that if I behaved in accordance with such teachings, or even just threw a Luke-14 party, then I would not be on the same side as Sider when “standing on the side of the poor” like “Scripture demands.”

What exactly does Sider think “supporting immorality, laziness, or destructive behavior” looks like?  Does that only happen when you give money away?  Is that always the only result of giving money away?

Consider the prodigal son.  Those are almost exactly the plans he makes for his inheritance when he hits up dear old Dad even before he’s dead.  But what does the FATHER do?

He GIVES the boy his money and sends him on his way.

Wait… WHAT?

Oh yeah!  That’s exactly what the FATHER in this BIBLE story does.

Oh… and the FATHER in this story represents GOD.  So in Jesus’ parable about the lost son, “supporting” the boy’s immorality, laziness, and destructive behavior” is exactly what God THE FATHER does when he gives him all that money!  And SOME believers think God is omniscient too!  He saw this coming!!!

Oh… my…

He sure did.

But back to that other question: Is this always the result of giving money?

Well, maybe so… but if so, we must then come back and examine ALL the people we give money to and think this through in a more than one-sided way.

How about those stock broker/hedge fund managers we give money to?

Oh yeah!

Go watch the movie The Wolf of Wall Street and come back and talk to me then.

Cocaine on trays at your high-end restaurant for lunch??? Call girls on private jets???

And – YES – we give them our money hand over fist!

Oh… was I being unfair to single out those poor little RICH PEOPLE?

Well, tell that to Isaiah and Amos, not me!  (See Isa 5:8 or Amos 8:6 – just for quick examples.)

Ever GIVE MONEY to UNITED WAY or to the WOUNDED WARRIOR PROJECT?

Go look up their records on corruption.  BOTH of those organizations  which are otherwise FINE institutions (AND OTHERS TOO) have failed in exactly the same ways as those “scammers” we were talking about before.

Is there any chance these organizations might qualify for Sider’s description of “effective, holistic programs equipped to deal with the deep socioeconomic issues” to which “generous giving should be directed”?

hmmm….

Look again!

AGAIN!!!

I am grateful Sider and Bales and Lupton find value in addressing issues “holistically.”  I find no fault with that.  In and of itself, those ideas surely play A PART in the big picture.  Why not?  But they are not really after “holistic” approaches that would involve better Bible study, prayer, and faith.  No.  They are interested in smuggling in “economic development strategies” and “sound business principles.”  That’s not actually “holistic” in the true sense.

Insofar as holistic ideas are concerned, I am not against them.  I figure something LIKE that was at work in the program Joseph put together in Pharaoh’s Egypt.

But Lupton (and Bales and Sider) are claiming that if I give some money to a homeless person, then I am doing harm.  And even if we marshal good evidence to that affect AND even if we establish that there really is a phenom we can call “ENABLING,” which (btw) I don’t deny, the problem is that none of that can/or should be allowed to thwart THE WORD OF GOD which very obviously does not care about the phenom or evidence you marshal.

LOOK

IF…

If Lupton had chosen to write about how we can (AND SOMETIMES SUBTLY DO) use $5 or $10 or $100 as a “LOAN” to a needy person and find that the needy person begins to AVOID us as a result of feeling obligated to repay, THEN it turns EVERYTHING ALL AROUND.  And this too is a real phenom, and I have seen it put to this exact use on some occasions.

Have a pesky needy person hitting you up for a loan?

Give him just enough that it’s not likely he can, or will, repay it, and IF HE HAS ANY PRIDE, he will avoid you for a long time.

YAY!  You just got ride of a pesky needy person!

And YEAH, I have seen it.

and NO.  Giving like that is NOT LOVE.  It is NOT JESUS.

Of course, it doesn’t change my view one bit, but Lupton COULD have addressed THAT, but he didn’t.  Just like he didn’t address giving money to the rich stock brokers or charity organizations that have proven to be corrupt.

No.

Lupton doesn’t want you to give your money

TO THE POOR and NEEDY.

 

He singles THEM out for this exemption.

Why?

Seems like discrimination to me.

And it’s just not biblical.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s