The Bible Vs. Economic Dependency: Part I: The Oakridge Affirmations and Denials

This little document, the Oakridge Affirmations and Denials, is well worth consideration in the current political climate in the USA. There is much in the Bible and in Christian teaching that is against the Christian being economically dependent on anyone. John Calvin said as much in his exposition of the commandment, “Do not steal,” and the Princeton theologian Charles Hodge expanded upon this in his own Systematic Theology on the same commandment as being a Biblical injunction against economic dependency and therefore socialism in either its national (classical fascism) or international form (Marxism, communism). It is not hard to argue that the strong Calvinist (Congregational, Reformed, Presbyterian denominations) and Wesleyan (Methodist, Wesleyan denominations) influences in the USA were a strong bulwark against any kind of social redistributionism of wealth for much of the history of the republic.

This document is reproduced here with the stated permission on the document itself. My hope is that more believers, pastors and Christian leaders will read it, consider it and pass it on to others. Although the direct references to scripture are few, I find it to be remarkably accurate summary of Biblical teaching on work and economic independence. I would recommend the following document as realistic, workable, and above all, Biblically accurate.

Affirmations Denials

We AFFIRM that there is a biblical
relationship between faith and work,
word and deed. Further, we confess
Christ as Lord over all realms of life.

We DENY that piety or spirituality
exempts Christians from concerns with
physical needs. Further, we deny any
gnosticism which isolates the physical
from the spiritual.

We AFFIRM that the evangelical and
reformed churches have been slack in
ministry to the poor in our time.

We DENY that our responsibility as
Christians will be lessened in the coming
days.

We AFFIRM that US government
programs since 1960 have squandered
many resources, lifting few out of
poverty.

We DENY that the current approach,
which centralizes and expends
approximately 75% on overhead, bears
much promise for the future.

We AFFIRM that the present welfare
system is counter-productive, ill-conceived, and substantially immoral.

We DENY that the present welfare system
is the proper starting point for caring for
the poor.

We AFFIRM that the church should call
prophetically for the adoption of
biblically valid systems of caring for the
poor.

We DENY that any system of caring for
the poor can be neutral either in religious
principle or moral effect.

We AFFIRM that God has created man
in his own image to be creative and
productive, and that God has enabled
him, under proper conditions, to produce
sufficient goods for all people
everywhere.

We DENY that there is inherent scarcity
in the finite universe to thwart industry or
necessitate poverty.

We AFFIRM that God expresses a
concern for the poor in the scriptures.

We DENY that God has a concern for
poverty as a consequence of sin beyond
other categories of sinful consequence.

We AFFIRM that scripture teaches that
God blesses those, especially the poor
themselves, who help the poor.

We DENY that scripture approves a
callous indifference to, or ignorance of,
the oppression of the poor.

We AFFIRM that the Church is charged
to be the major extra-family agency of
welfare for its members and charged with the prophetic task of calling for, and
modeling, justice and mercy in the world.

We DENY that the Church is the first
agency responsible for amelioration of the poor.

We AFFIRM the biblical priority among
helping agencies (as in I Timothy 5), viz.:
a. Personal responsibility
b. Family support
c. Local/area church
d. Other voluntary organizations

We DENY that the Church is the first
agency responsible for amelioration of the poor.

We AFFIRM the Bible’s emphasis on
industriousness and honest responsibility.

We DENY that free hand-outs and
assistance have remedied poverty in our
culture.

We AFFIRM that the church or family
shall assist only those who are willing to
work or unable to work.

We DENY that the Church is not free to
espouse its beliefs and biblical ethics
while dispensing material aid; nor that it
cannot advocate certain biblical-ethical
behaviors as prerequisites for assistance.

We AFFIRM that Providence is a
limiting factor for the total eradication of
poverty.

We DENY that all problems can be cured
by any agency prior to the eschaton (end
time).

We AFFIRM that there are deserving
poor.

We DENY that the undeserving poor
should be given aid.

We AFFIRM that an active ministry of
mercy is one of the marks of an obedient
church.

We DENY that any churches are exempt
from the mandate to institute and maintain ministries of mercy.

We AFFIRM that righteousness is a
combination of justice and mercy and
that all people and institutions fall short
of both standards.

We DENY that justice is part of charity.

We AFFIRM justice to mean rendering
impartially to everyone his due in
accordance with God’s moral law.

We DENY that justice entails any ideal
distribution of wealth in society.

We AFFIRM that justice requires the
remediation and vindication of those who
are improvised by the oppressive acts of
others, and that this is the primary task of
the state in helping the poor.

We DENY both that justice permits
partiality to anyone in the enforcement of
laws and that the poor can be expected to defend themselves adequately against
oppression without help from mediating
institutions and the state.

We AFFIRM that we should not only
provide material aid for the genuine poor,but biblical counsel and accountability as well.

We DENY that real charity requires us to
subsidize those who persist in moral
rebellion.

We AFFIRM that principles of biblical
economics must be included as a basis
for welfare.

We DENY that non-biblical principles of
economics (e.g., Marxism, or unprincipled greed) will help in remedying poverty.

We AFFIRM that a politico-economic
system that promotes human liberty,
justice and productivity is crucial to the
prevention and reduction of poverty.

We DENY that any politico-economic
system apart from the Christian ethic is an adequate solution to poverty.

We AFFIRM the Bible as the only
infallible guide to proper care for the
poor.

We DENY that approaches which
contradict biblical wisdom can prove
fruitful.

We AFFRIM that there are many causes
of poverty.

We DENY that poverty or welfare can be
reduced to any single variable, unless it is
an explicitly scriptural dynamic (e.g. sin).

We AFFIRM voluntary charity as the
best replacement for statist approaches.

We DENY that the civil government’s
power to tax justifies a general system of
wealth redistribution.

We AFFIRM that health is a condition of both body and soul (spirit) and that medical care should be practiced with that understanding.

We DENY that government control or provision of health care is the best means of making health care available to the needy.

We AFFIRM that the goal of charity is to enable its recipients to become selfsupporting and able to help others.

We DENY that approaches which engender attitudes of dependency on the state for the long term are either helpful or moral.

We AFFIRM that some cases of need are systemic or enduring and will require continuing mercy.

We DENY that recipients of long-term mercy are incapable of productivity or meaningful ministry.

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