February 15, 2011

Richard Mouw on God’s “Preferential Option for the Poor” [EDITOR'S NOTE: This blog was written by Richard Mouw, President of Fuller Theological Seminary, on February 8, 2011. His blog can be read HERE.] Occasionally I come across fellow evangelicals distancing themselves from the notion of a “preferential option for the poor.” This has been happening recently in the debates over the proposed adoption of the Belhar Confession by Reformed and Presbyterian denominations in North America. Belhar, the argument goes, espouses the “preferential option,” particularly in its affirmation “that God, in a world full of injustice and enmity, is in a special way the God of the destitute, the poor and the wronged.” It just so happens that I had been reading the great Dutch Calvinist statesman Abraham Kuyper on the same day that I came across a contemporary Calvinist theologian faulting Belhar for its “liberation theology” emphasis on God’s concern for the poor. In a powerful address that Kuyper gave to a Christian Social Congress in 1891 (published as a little book, Christianity and the Class Struggle), Kuyper warns that “you do not honor God’s Word if … you ever forget how both Christ, and also just as such His apostles after Him and the prophets before Him, invariably took sides against those who were powerful and living in luxury, and for the suffering and oppressed.” To be sure, Kuyper insists, we must also affirm a solidarity within the Christian community between poor and rich. “In every Lord’s Prayer,” he says, “the poor prays for the rich that God may give him his bread for that day, and the rich prays it for the poor. Nowhere in this prayer is there a my or an I; but always we and us.” For all of that solidarity, though, Kuyper observes that when the Bible “corrects the poor [it] does so...

Glenn Packiam

Lead Pastor, new life DOWNTOWN, New Life Church, Colorado Springs, CO. Author and songwriter.

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