Friday, November 13, 2009

Just Eisegesis

A new(-ish) specialty Bible is about to hit the market. "The Poverty and Justice Bible is your guide to explore God’s messages and challenges regarding the poor," according to "It highlights more than 2,000 verses that spell out God's attitude to poverty and justice."

And when they say "justice," they mean "social justice," by which they mean helping poor people — a good thing as long as it's properly done.

But I have my doubts about this product. The sample on their website shows a highlighted scripture on justice:
"The Spirit will come and show the people of this world the truth about sin and God's justice and the judgment. The Spirit will show them that they are wrong about sin, because they didn't have faith in me. They are wrong about God's justice, because I am going to the Father, and you won't see me again. And they are wrong about the judgment, because God has already judged the ruler of this world" (John 16:8-11 CEV).
Is Jesus talking about poverty and "social justice" here? No, clearly not. But it's got the word "justice" in it, so they highlight it. This is hardly a representative sample (they claim the Bible has over 2000 verses on poverty), but given this and all the other scriptures I've seen these kinds of folks abuse, I fear many verses will be misrepresented as refering to charity and welfare.

They also have a section of essays on poverty related topics including ... military spending?!
"Since 1945, the United States has spent more than $19 trillion on defense. If you were to spend $26 million per day since the birth of Christ, you still would not have spent as much as the United States has spent on defense since the end of World War II."
Um, how much more poverty and suffering would there be in the world if we'd lost the Cold War?

This is not the only essay reflecting such shoddy thought. I don't think I'd want to put this thing in the hands of an impressionable young person.

I'm glad these folks want to remind Christians of our duty to the poor. I'm glad they're trying to help folks understand the Bible. I just don't think they're very good at it. I don't hold out much hope for this product which is looking like the same old Christian Left eisegesis.

(HT: Tim Challies)

Debt Relief and the Jubilee
Helping the Poor Biblically
Loving Neighbors 7000 Miles Away


Jon said...

I think a much better resource would be Craig Blomberg's Neither Poverty Nor Riches.

The Editorial Review from Amazon:
Give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. (Proverbs 30:8)One of the most difficult questions facing Christians today is that of the proper attitude toward possessions. In wealthy nations such as Britain and the USA, individuals accumulate much and yet are daily exposed to the plight of the poor, whether the homeless on their own city streets or starving children on their TV screens. What action should we take on behalf of the poor? What should we do with our own possessions?In Neither Poverty nor Riches Craig Blomberg asks what the Bible has to say about these issues. Avoiding easy answers, he instead seeks a comprehensive biblical theology of possessions. And so he begins with the groundwork laid by the Old Testament and the ideas developed in the intertestamental period, then draws out what the whole New Testament has to say on the subject, and finally offers conclusions and applications relevant to our contemporary world.Neither Poverty Nor Riches is one book that all should read who are concerned with issues of poverty and wealth.

nancy (aka moneycoach) said...

There's a weird trend that seems to be going on these days with the bible - sort of "niche-ing" it - bibles for women. Bibles that are being re-vised into a Conservative bible. Social justice bibles (albeit on a personal note, that would be the one I'd orient towards) Etc. As far as I'm concerned, it's a trend worth ignoring.

ChrisB said...

Jon, thanks for the recommendation.

Nancy, you're probably right.