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Showing posts from May, 2017

Early Christian Views on Wealth, Possessions, and Giving

[The following post continues notes and studies on the issue of wealth, poverty, and Christian ethics.  It originally appeared in an online publication: Rollin G. Grams, 'Early Christian Views on Wealth, Possessions, and Giving,'Explorations (Fall, 2010), an online publication of the Robert C. Cooley Center for the Study of Early Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.  Online: https://www.scribd.com/document/41882213/The-Cooley-Center-Articles-Early-Christian-Views-on-Wealth]
For several reasons, study of early Christianity in Protestant circles is on the rise.  Ecumenical dialogue, for instance, requires a return to the common ground of Christian writers prior to the great schisms of the Church throughout history.  Also, an increasing interest in worship and spiritual disciplines has sent some Protestants on pilgrimage to more ancient and liturgical forms of the church.  Recent challenges to long-standing Christian practices have awakened an interest in what the …

Notes on a Christian Approach to Work, Property, and Community in Roger Crook's Introduction to Christian Ethics

[This post continues notes on various authors regarding wealth, poverty, and economic justice.  Here is a chapter from Roger H Crook,An Introduction to Christian Ethics (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1990), pp. 227-243.I have organised the notes into the table, below.]

Crook’s concern is to find a Christian approach to work, property and community different from capitalism and communism.  Note the compatibility of his approach to natural law ethics. Capitalism: ‘the system of private ownership of the instruments of production, distribution, and exchange, and the use of those instruments under a plan of individual initiative and open competition to earn private profit’ (Crook, p. 228):
1.Problems with property: acquisition and use of property (falling into the hands of a few, misuse of property) 2.Problems with free enterprise: unrestricted accumulation and use of money may run counter to the needs of society as a whole 3.Problems with competition as the basis for trade: competition …

Notes from Allen Verhey (Remembering Jesus) on Economic Justice

[This post continues a series of notes on various authors on wealth and poverty in Christian ethics.  Allen Verhey argues for a use of Scripture that 'remembers' the canonical writings and early Church when addressing ethical issues in contemporary contexts.  Allen Verhey, Remembering Jesus: Christian Community, Scripture, and the Moral Life (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2002).]

Verhey notes that the political and economic situation change in the history covered by the Old Testament, with the result that one finds different descriptions of justice.  This might be expressed in the following table (based on his description, pp. 258-262):
Socio-Political Character Character-istics Biblical Source for Description of Justice and ‘Remembering’ Examples of Economic Justice Semi-Nomadic Abraham the wandering Aramean; Israel in slavery in Egypt; Israel wandering in the wilderness
Nobody owned the land and flocks were owned by the extended family, so there were no rich or poor Agricultural I…

Notes Regarding Poverty and Wealth in Luke-Acts from Luke T. Johnson, Walter E. Pilgrim, and Mark A. Powell

[This post continues the theme of poverty and economic ethics with some select notes from: Luke T. Johnson, Walter E. Pilgrim, and Mark A. Powell.]

Luke T. Johnson, The Literary Function of Possessions in Luke-Acts.  Society of Biblical Literature Dissertation Series 39 (Missoula, MT: Scholar’s Press, 1977).  See also Sharing Possessions.  [My notes, covering Johnson's comments on Acts more than Luke.]
1.       Johnson draws attention to the motif of possessions in Luke-Acts and finds it fulfilling symbolic roles.  Possessions point to power and to personal or community identity. 
2.       Luke: There are different symbolic roles for possessions in Luke.
a.       Lk. 15.11-32: the Prodigal Son: dividing property symbolises alienation; the father’s attitude towards his wealth (‘all I have is yours’) points to the possible unity. b.      The most important role they play is determining acceptance or rejection of Jesus.  The ‘poor’ accept Jesus and renounce possessions; the ‘rich’ renounc…