God is biassed

by Richard on June 27, 2007

So says Wood. And, somewhat scarily for me, he’s right.

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

1

dh 06.27.07 at 3:29 pm

But God loves ALL people. I think one must include poor in Spirit in with poor in the flesh. At the same time we must care for the poor. I personally believe we should care for those who are poor in Spirit because they haven’t accept Christ as Savior when Jesus said “You must be Born Again” and we should care for the physically poor like Jesus did when he spoke about our attitude toward giving.

2

dh 06.27.07 at 3:34 pm

So yes I agree God is biased to the poor.

3

Kim 06.27.07 at 3:54 pm

Your headline to this post makes it sound as if the good Lord has two butts!

4

dh 06.27.07 at 4:12 pm

No, it is just that one must clarify what one means by biased.

5

Wood 06.27.07 at 4:31 pm

Clue: not the way you seem to think.

6

Beth 06.27.07 at 4:39 pm

I’m confused. Does God love me more than Kim but less than the Big Issue seller because of our relative levels of poverty?

7

Beth 06.27.07 at 4:40 pm

Theologians at least have two butts, Kim - a “yeah, but” and a “no, but”…

8

Wood 06.27.07 at 4:51 pm

I’m confused. Does God love me more than Kim but less than the Big Issue seller because of our relative levels of poverty?

Of course not. But the oppressor, the murderer, the exploiter: those are people whom God, I think, cannot countenance, for they are unrepentant sinners.

9

dh 06.27.07 at 5:26 pm

Wood, I’m in total agreement if our definitions of oppressor, murderer and exploiter are the same. I have heard many a person commenting on this site who would label those who advocate more Capitalism being labeled exploiters and in the extreme they are but overal I believe that type of labeling is a stretch and a gross overgeneralization. However, I’m in total agreement with you Wood.

Just think in mid thought, Paul was a murderer but he repented after God revealed Himself to him so I guess it is a matter of to what degree the person has an unrepentent heart if it is like Pharoah then no amount of revelation would change the person. On the other hand if the person has a heart like Paul that was hard but if revelation from God changes then it would be different.

Just some thoughts from your reply that made me think that I totally appreciate. Thanks for the great reply Wood. Being totally serious, I appreciate this encouragement. :)

10

Wood 06.27.07 at 5:30 pm

Of course, Paul didn’t just repent in his heart; he stopped being a murderer altogether and put his life on the line. He did something about his repentance.

11

Kim 06.27.07 at 5:51 pm

God is love from tip to toe, God loves everyone, and God loves everyone equally and unconditionally. There is absolutely nothing - and I mean nothing - that anyone can do to make God love them any more or any less. Scandalous? Of course! What else would you expect from a gospel that is scandal to Jews (i.e. religious folk) and foolishness to Greeks (i.e. philosophical folk)?

In her new book Brokenness and Blessing: Towards a Biblical Spirituality (2007), Francis Young reminds us that Thomas Merton had a conversion experience while studying medieval philosophy (and some think it odd that I was converted through reading Karl Barth!), when he came to understand what he called “the one big concept” of God’s aseitas, literally God’s unique “in-himself-ness”. God, that is, is entirely self-determined and non-reactive, immune (if you like) from outside pressure or influence. (This, by the way, is the truth behind the controversial doctrine of God’s “impassibility”, his changelessness.) And Young quite movingly speaks of her own discovery of God’s aseity, as she tells of her troubled and angry wrestling with a God who could allow her son Arthur to be born severely and permanently disabled: “For years I found holding onto faith profoundly difficult. God seemed absent. But then one day, as I got up from a chair to go and do some household chore, I suddenly heard a voice, as it were: ‘It makes no difference to me whether you believe in me or not!’” God, Young realised, “just ‘is’, independent of what I though or felt” - and she might have added “or did”. And what God “just ‘is’” is love.

Of course God may get angry with us, but that affects not a whit God’s love for us. The Bible does not say “God is anger”, it says “God is [again, "just 'is'"] love.” Would that the hell-threateners on the one hand and the self-loathers on the other could really take this Good News to heart!

As for God’s bias (or “preferential option”) for the poor, this is so, as the Bible undeniably testifies. But again, this is not to say that God loves the poor more than the rich, or the rich less than the poor, rather it is a matter of God making the playing field level in a world where the rich have all the advantages of social and economic power. Indeed God is biased towards the poor precisely because he loves the rich and poor equally, his purpose being to liberate the oppressed from their suffering and humiliation and the oppressor from their pride and violence.

Does that help?

12

Beth 06.27.07 at 6:29 pm

Well, yes. Or, actually, no. God is biased towards the poor because he doesn’t want them to suffer, and against the rich because he doesn’t want them to cause suffering?

Isn’t being rich generally seen as the disadvantage, according to the Bible? (In that the rich have a greater scope for destructiveness, self-indulgence, oppression, etc.) So, in that case, is God biased towards the poor because he likes the way they behave better? And shouldn’t he be biased towards the rich because they need his help more (viz. Prodigal Son, etc.)?

Or are we into the poor/rich in spirit thing here? Does God have a bias towards the poor in spirit, regardless of physical wealth, rather than towards the materially poor?

13

dh 06.27.07 at 7:31 pm

Well on the angry part God does say in His word “Be angry and sin not.” Also, on the concept of hell God doesn’t send anybody to hell people send themselves to hell because all are dead in their tresspass of sins until they accept Christ as their Savior. So yes God is totally love. Again when one looks at “rich” and “poor” it includes physical but also includes the spiritually poor. To say it is TOTALLY one or the other really misses the strength of the text. Gid isn’t a oure socialist and HE isn’t a pure capitalist. God is perfectly balanced in everything.

God’s perferred option is for all whether rich or poor physically and/or spiritually to accept Christ as their Savior but God is a gentleman and isn’t going to force beyond someones freewill to accept something they clearly have a hard heart towards.

I know I’m not syaing this right or it is not coming out right. If one wants to ask questions on this response for greater clarity I would be glad to respond. The phrasiology is just not working today but I have in my head some things that are coming out. Does that makes sense or am I making sense?

14

dh 06.27.07 at 7:36 pm

Beth, you kind of worded what I said a little better than myself in the term of questions. I believe that you worded that better.

I have to give a wholehearted “yes” to this question: ” Or are we into the poor/rich in spirit thing here? Does God have a bias towards the poor in spirit, regardless of physical wealth, rather than towards the materially poor?”

My replies are basically the rationale for the “yes to your question here.

15

Beth 06.27.07 at 8:46 pm

Thanks, dh. The spiritual poverty/richness thing makes a lot more sense to me than the literal reading.

I’ve heard so many people have a go at the well-off, and valorize the poor. I’ve even heard a sermon saying that homeless people are the nearest thing we have to Christ. Many of the homeless people I encounter here do not make me think of Christ. They are often alcoholics or addicts, I have seen individuals who physically intimidate passers-by to take money from them, or use their children as props for begging. These are often people who have dropped out of society; Christ became “homeless” and “indigent” precisely in order to drop-in on society, I think. In contrast, I have met huge amounts of both Christian and secular charity, morality, kindness and virtue in people whose net worth is greater than the amount of money I will make in my entire career. This is not to say that I am condemning the poor and indigent. I am simply making the point that there is a politically-correct tendency to romanticise those who are marginalised and demonise those who are fortunate, regardless of individual instances.

Is God biased towards the virtuous or the morally bankrupt? Is he biased towards those who oppress or those who are oppressed? I am really interested in the answer to these questions, but I do not believe that these binary categories map directly on to the binary poor/rich. And if God is biased against people simply based on the number of material possessions they have and the social power they wield, He may just have fallen in my estimation.

16

dh 06.27.07 at 9:04 pm

1) virtuous and for the second 2) who are oppressed (if one defines or decerns properly who actually are the ones opporessed).

Just so you know I believe our readins of it ARE the literal readin of the text with regard to passage. When it mentions “poor” it includes ALL aspects of poor. So you see our view of poor spirit/physical nature of it IS the literal reading.

I think for us to come together with Steve and Kim, the reason they mention what they mention is that they are pointing out that we need to do more for those who are physically poor. I think you and I and I hope Steve and Kim would agree that we need to focus to help ALL people who are poor. Scripture mentions both aspects of the poor equally in SCripture and as such I would agree with you we need not romanticize the physically poor or down grade the physically poor but equally address how to help BOTH the physically poor AND Spiritually poor. The goal of helping the physically poor is that their Spiritual needs are met by accepting Christ as their Savior. Otherwise, even if their physical needs are met, they will still be dead in their trespass of sins.

True love or having love when giving to the poor must include helping people to obtain eternal life as opposed to eternal death. At the same time if we help them with eternal life and don’t assist them with their physical needs we go against Christ on a passage that talks about that very situation.

Beth, I really enjoyed this discussion with you. I pray we ALL can move toward greater aspect of Holiness in ALL areas of our life with Christ. While certain areas of striving for Holiness can be difficult and seem impossible I believe with God all things are possible.

17

ee 06.28.07 at 10:37 am

Kim - you articulated exactly what I wanted to say but ten times better. All are made in the image of God; all are equally loved by God; therefore oppression/exploitation is heinous, and he must readdress the balance. And that has huge implications for politics and mission, but we never stop preaching that God loves everybody equally.

DH - Whilst I agree that we have to help people’s physical and spiritual needs (though I’m not sure it’s scriptural to separate those needs out), I don’t think it’s right to say that we help people’s physical needs so that they ‘accept Christ’. I think people who are being helped are smart enough to see that agenda a mile off - and they run a mile in response!

18

dh 06.28.07 at 2:38 pm

EE, I phrased that wrong. I believe our focus is to do all we can to help pople have ALL of their needs met. If we focus solely on the physical and don’t address their physical needs it is equivilent to what Jesus says “Tho I give all I have to the poor and have not love I’m a clanging gong.” True love is the love that leads to eternal life which is can only be obtained by Faith in Christ alone through confession and Believing in ones heart, soul and mind,etc.

EE, the reason I seperate them out is that I see a difference between giving money to UNICEF to help the poor and giving money to James Robison’s Africa ministry where the Gospel is preached at the same time. To me I don’t see how UNICEF helps people to obtain eternal life. It may make them live physically so that in the future missionaries can come and share the Gospel with them like Christ says in the Great Commission but beyond that in the eternal aspect I see a difference.

The NT shows the aspect of combining the physical and Spriritual. Christ always talked about the Kingdom when doing His ministry of healing the sick. The focus was never on the physical alone but the focus was for people to realize who He actually was which was at all times God. During Paul’s ministry it was the same. They healed the sick and Scripture mentions in the same breath how they Believed and got Baptised. Scripture always shows a combination of physical healing and/or helping the needs of the physical poor and sharing the Gospel for Salvation and/or Scripture shows a Salvation response in response to the physical needs being met.

I think your last senstence is why it is so difficult these days with regard to the Gospel. Peoples hearts are so hard to the Gospel. That to me seems so sad. Kind of reminds me when Jesus said “A wicked a perverse generation seeks a sign.” (with regard to confirming to people who Christ really was).

19

Eugene McKinnon 06.30.07 at 4:43 am

I’m too tired to argue, too much birthday can do that to me and besides Heartbeat is on in twenty minutes. All I will say is that I agree with Wood, God has a huge heart for the poor and we should recognise that because of this we are truly impoverished by our material wealth and our stations in life.

Eugene McKinnon

P.S. If any of you are in need of some Scriptural proof go read the Prophets and the Gospels (preferably Luke). EMcK.

20

Beth 06.30.07 at 12:55 pm

Your birthday, Eugene? Manny happy returns, if so!

But honestly, you watch Heartbeat? Yuk.

Impoverishment through material wealth, yes, I get that. But why is it less deserving of God’s love, mercy and care than the impoverishment that comes through, say, the unwillingness to work, or drug and alcohol addiction, or some of the other, less immediately sympathetic causes of poverty? Why does God care less about someone who has worked themselves into the ground every day in order to provide a comfortable life for their family, than about someone who lives off benefits because they don’t want to work?

My mother’s a socialist. She’d probably beat me if she heard me argue like this!

21

dh 06.30.07 at 11:07 pm

Eugene, none of what I said disagrees with what you and Wood said with regard to the poor. I just believe there is a difference between UNICEF and other Christian organizations helping the poor. To me we need to pursue ALL areas of Holiness with regard to the poor and other areas that are equally important and ALL should be pursued with 100% as well.

I totoally agree we need to do more for the poor. However, I don’t believe mentioning concerns about other areas of personal Holiness downgrasdes the importance to the poor. Jesus had the perfect balance in ALL areas of Holiness and wanted us to follow that lead.

Christ’s ultimate goal was what the Apostle Paul said “that as many as receive Him to them He gave them power to be Sond of God.” Christ never took care of the poor and neglected the state of the soul of people. He addressed both the spiritual and Physical and desired all to accept Him as Savior and at the same time calls us to help them physically as well.

Eugen we are in agreement it is just the care for poor and care of ones souls are not zero-sum games.

22

dh 06.30.07 at 11:21 pm

Beth, I agree with you more than you realize on this particular subject. I think you and I would agree we all need to do more for the poor. However, people need to be taught to help themselces if they are capabable of helping themselves. Beth, is that a statement you can agree with?

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