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The Poor According to Rick Warren’s Edited Bible

April 16, 2012

Disclaimer:  I have the utmost respect for Warren’s call to dedication and to his focus on Jesus.

When I was surfing last week I came across a couple of articles about Rick Warren.  One was from the Daily Kos called Rick Warren is not a fan of this whole Jesus thing written by Hunter.  The other was from Mother Jones, Helping the Poor is apparently anti-Bible by Kevin Drum.  Both referred to an appearance by Rev. Rick Warren where he’s quoted as saying:

Well certainly the Bible says we are to care about the poor….But there’s a fundamental question on the meaning of “fairness.” Does fairness mean everybody makes the same amount of money? Or does fairness mean everybody gets the opportunity to make the same amount of money? I do not believe in wealth redistribution, I believe in wealth creation.

The only way to get people out of poverty is J-O-B-S. Create jobs. To create wealth, not to subsidize wealth. When you subsidize people, you create the dependency. You — you rob them of dignity. (Emphasis mine.)

Rev. Warren says there is over 2,000 verses in the Bible talking about the poor.  I haven’t counted them but that sounds about right.  Does he refer to these verses or to what they say though? No. No, because they don’t support his contention.  It is clear that we are to take care of the poor and treat them with parity.

It is beyond the scope of this blog to  go through each of these verses so I’ll cite only a couple of examples.  In Exodus (23:6 , 11) you are not to deny them justice and every seventh year you are let your land lie fallow and let them eat.  I see nothing about this kind of subsidization creating dependency.  In fact, it is a commandment to take care of them. And note, I think you have to twist yourself into a pretzel to say this type of concern was limited to the place and the time.

In Matthew 19,  Jesus tells the young rich man to sell all he has and give it to the poor.  I’m not sure Jesus knew what He was doing here.  Surely this would create a dependency.  And …  isn’t Jesus advocating for wealth re-distribution?  Looks to me as if that was what He was doing.  These poor weren’t creating wealth, Jesus was asking the young man to redistribute his wealth to them.  Again, I suggest that to limit the verse to New Testament times misses the thrust of what Jesus was saying.

I looked up fair and fairness in the NIV, NASB and KJV versions of the Bible.  Fairness is not referred to once as Rev. Warren defines it and fair only a handful of times, none translated as Rev. Warren does. I believe Rev. Warren’s concern is misplaced.

I believe the Trinity was concerned with justice.  Justice and fairness are not the same thing.  Frankly, in fairness we’d all go to hell but instead we are given mercy and grace.  Far more mercy and grace than Warren seems to want to provide the poor of our era.  Perhaps Rev. Warren believes he and the religious right are the only ones who can “fairly” ascertain who is deserving of mercy and care.  Funny, I thought that was God’s job.

It continues to surprise me how strongly Christian people can embrace the type of fiscal conservatism that the Bible in no way encourages.  If this country was a theocracy maybe there would be some weight to this viewpoint but we’re not; nor likely ever to be.

I believe the work the Church (including Rev. Warren’s congregation) does in feeding and caring and helping the poor is utterly Biblical.  Unfortunately, tied as the religious right is to the Republican Party and its redistribution of wealth to the rich,  many cannot stand apart and see objectively how they are being led to repudiate what they were raised to know is true.

This makes me sad.

From → Economy, Religion

2 Comments
  1. All we have to do is go to the #1 NT ethic – the one and only New Command that fulfills the law and all the prophets proclaimed.

    The bible does not speak about being poor so often because God wants us to be poor, or spread more ‘poorness’….but, because I believe for 2 reasons. Because God knows that we live in a fallen world where no one is sheltered from bad things happening (even though it seems that the way many frown on helping the poor, they don’t think it will ever happen to them), so this is one reason why “treating our neighbor the way we would want to be treated” is important to God, and #2, it is a natural way of ‘testing’ our hearts. Have we truly given our whole hearts to God…to serve others?…or are we keeping parts of our heart back, for ourselves?? Are we willing to obey God no matter what?? No matter what the crowd is doing? Are we willing to go and ‘get our hands dirty’,( which would definitely be where the poor reside in most peoples minds) for Christ? To be as Christ?

    In Matt. 25:31-46 God said that He will not only judge individuals, but what we all do corporately (as a nation) for the poor as well.

    The way Christians have announced to the world what kinds of Christians we are here in the USA has saddened my heart so much…I am almost numb.

    Maybe this election is not for the purpose of electing a president, truly…maybe it is for the purpose of seperating the sheep from the goats….??? I hope I am counted among the sheep…

    • I agree with you completely. Christians throughout the world share all they have with each other as they are commanded to do. What would it be like if we loved our neighbors as our ourselves I wonder.

      Thank you for your thoughtful comments. I hope I am a sheep, too.

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