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Socialism – biblical roots?

June 24, 2015

In ‘Old’ Testament God identifies with poor

Love and cares for them: Psalm 12;5 Psalm 140;12 Isaiah 25;4

Won’t forget or forsake them: Psalm 9;12,17-18 Psalm 10;2 ,Isaiah 41;17

Identifies with them: Proverbs 14;31 17;5

Identification isn’t mere sympathy but statement that poverty is evil and promise to satisfy needs of poor: Psalm 132;15 Jeremiah 20;13

Choice of Israel demonstrates active concern – not mere words Exodus 3;7-8 6;5-7

Faith community called to care for poor

Care for widows and orphans a duty; they have a right in law to justice not charity: Deuteronomy 15;4-11

Right to be protected from exploitation: Exodus 22;22-3 Deuteronomy 24;14-15 Leviticus 19;13

King’s job to ensure poor cared for: Psalm 72;1-4

Courts to ensure equal rights for poor Exodus 23;3,6 Deuteronomy 27;19

Right of poor to surplus food: Deuteronomy 22;25 24;19 Leviticus 19;9-0 Ruth 2;1-3 Exodus 23;10-11

Poor to receive tithes every 3rd year: Deuteronomy 14;28-29 26;2

Faith community bought to account if poor neglected

Amos wrote mid C8 BCE – archaeological evidence that house sizes were equal in C10 but many larger ones built C8

oppression of poor enabled wealth of the rich Amos 2;7, 4;1-2

Worship not acceptable if poor oppressed Amos 5;21-24 Isaiah 1;10-17 58;3-7 Amos 6;1-7 7;11,17

Warnings heeded but gets bad again later Micah 2;2-3,12 cf. Jeremiah 5;26-29 7;5-7

No concept of private property

Land belongs to God – humans borrow it: Psalm 24;1 Leviticus 25;23

Rights of poor come before private profit: Nehemiah 5

Legal mechanism for putting this into practice

Sabbath year – all debts cancelled and slaves freed Deuteronomy 15;1-6, 12-18

Exile result of failure to keep this 2 Chronicles 36;20-21

Land divided equally – to stop rich/poor gap developing, Jubilee year to return to status quo. Farmer does not buy land but buys so many harvests Leviticus 25;10-24

Not meant to be an impossible ideal

Law of freeing slaves was kept Jeremiah 34;8-9

When not lived up to, prophets reminded Israel of her duty: Amos 5;11,24 Isaiah 1;16-17, 25;4

History seen as God working for the poor

1 Samuel 2;2-8 Isaiah 3;14-25

In ‘New’ Testament, Jesus shares God’s identification with poor

1st sermon looks forward to super jubilee Luke 4;16-19 (quoting Isaiah 61;1-2)

His concern for poor is evidence that he is messiah: Luke 7;22

Luke 1-2 portray identification with poor by birth to unmarried mother, uin stable, visited by outcast shepherds and Mary’s Magnificat echoes Hannah’s song of I Samuel 2;2-8

lawbreaking justified on grounds of poverty: Matthew 12;1-8

Jesus reiteratues OT teaching that poor are blessed

Luke 6;20-21 – Matthew softens by adding ‘in spirit’ (5;3)

Poor inherit kingdom before rich Luke 14;16f

Identifies with poor to such extent that care for them is ministry to himself: Matthew 25;31-45

Wealth is hindrance  to spiritual life: Mark 4;19

Cultivation of wealth is foolish Luke 12;16-21

Would-be disciple must leave wealth behind Mark 1;16f 10;21-22,25f

Tables turned on rich in the kingdom Luke 16;19-31

Early church shared Jesus’s concern for poor

missionaries urged to travel in poverty Luke 9;3, 10;4

To join Church, share possessions Acts 2;42-47 4;32-5;11

Where sharing not practiced, giving away surplus II Corinthians 8;9-14 I Corinthians 16;1-4

Christians not to identify with wealth or status James 2;1-7

Rich will be condemned in coming judgement James 5;1-6

In OT, not voluntary but part of law – welfare statism may have embodied this but what is role of church now that in minority? Witness by own community? Work with other groups who share similar values?

Is the Kingdom of God just in the future = heaven or are Christians called to embody it, work for its spread now?

Love and cares for them: Psalm 12;5

Won’t forget or forsake them: Psalm 9;12,17-18

Identifies with them: Proverbs 14;31

Identification isn’t mere sympathy but statement that poverty is evil and promise to satisfy needs of poor: Psalm 132;15

Choice of Israel demonstrates active concern – not mere words Exodus 3;7-8

Care for widows and orphans a duty; they have a right in law to justice not charity: Deuteronomy 15;4-11

Right to be protected from exploitation: Exodus 22;22=-3

King’s job to ensure poor cared for: Psalm 72;1-4

Courts to ensure equal rights for poor Exodus 23;3,6

Right of poor to surplus food: Deuteronomy 22;25

Poor to receive tithes every 3rd year: Deuteronomy 14;28-29

oppression of poor enabled wealth of the rich Amos 2;7, 4;1-2

Worship not acceptable if poor oppressed Amos 5;21-24

Warnings heeded but gets bad again later Micah 2;2-3,12

Land belongs to God – humans borrow it:   Leviticus 25;23

Rights of poor come before private profit: Nehemiah 5;1-13

Sabbath year – all debts cancelled and slaves freed Deuteronomy 15;1-6, 12-18

Exile result of failure to keep this 2 Chronicles 36;20-21

Land divided equally – to stop rich/poor gap developing, Jubilee year to return to status quo. Farmer does not buy land but buys so many harvests Leviticus 25;10-24

Law of freeing slaves was kept Jeremiah 34;8-9

When not lived up to, prophets reminded Israel of her duty: Amos 5;11,24

History seen as God working for the poor Isaiah 3;14-25

1st sermon looks forward to super jubilee Luke 4;16-19 (quoting Isaiah 61;1-2)

His concern for poor is evidence that he is messiah: Luke 7;22

lawbreaking justified on grounds of poverty: Matthew 12;1-8

Poor inherit kingdom before rich Luke 14;16f

Identifies with poor to such extent that care for them is ministry to himself: Matthew 25;31-45

Would-be disciple must leave wealth behind Mark 1;16f 10;21-22,25f

Tables turned on rich in the kingdom Luke 16;19-31

To join Church, share possessions Acts 2;42- 47 4;32-5;11

Where sharing not practiced, giving away surplus II Corinthians 8;9-14

Christians not to identify with wealth or status James 2;1-7

Rich will be condemned in coming judgement James 5;1-6

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