the devil’s advocate

(the original title)

By Louis Deboer

Critical review of this manuscript by some of my peers has come up with one concrete, constructive suggestion; that I provide the reader a road map for the ideological argument presented in this book. This would assist in understanding the significance of the argument presented in each individual chapter and how it contributes to the whole. It is based upon this advice that I have added this preview to the book in the hope that it will contribute to a better appreciation of the message it carries.

As a book on “Christian charity” this book of necessity deals largely with the poor and the hungry. The foreword and introduction tell us with scriptural authority that we can expect to encounter these in every generation. Chapter One, “The Welfare State,” shows the pagan response to this problem, by having the government be corrupted from a divinely mandated earthly ministry of justice into a welfare agency for the poor. Chapter Two, “Christian Copycats,” demonstrates how this pagan and unscriptural philosophy has penetrated the church and even come to dominate Christian thinking on the subject of poverty. In Chapter Three, “Hunger,” this term is defined and this condition is shown not to be an accidental and arbitrary condition visited upon innocent victims, but a providential judgment of the Lord on sin. Chapter Four, “The Lord Our Shield,” demonstrates that the only defense against hunger and poverty is not the ministrations of a pagan welfare state usurping the prerogatives of God, but in the blessings and deliverance of a sovereign God, who acts through providence to care for his people and to judge the wicked. This brings us up to Chapter Five, “The Lord’s Prayer,” which deals with the significance of that petition in this model prayer which asks our Father in Heaven to “give us this day our daily bread.” Chapter Six, “Submission,” shows that only in submission to the true God, in accepting the righteousness of his holy judgments and casting ourselves on his mercy can we come under the divine blessings that banish hunger and poverty and bring down the temporal blessings of this life, as well as blessings for the life to come. Chapter Seven, “The Gospel,” builds on these principles to show that the only true “War On Poverty” is the preaching of the gospel, which reconciles men to God and moves them from being under his just and righteous curse to being under his protection and blessing. And finally Chapter Eight, “The Great Commission,” shows that the true duty of the church is to preach the gospel to every creature rather than to become just one more social welfare agency, dispensing indiscriminate aid in a futile attempt to oppose the providential judgments of an Almighty God. This concludes Section One of the book which sets forth the argument of this book and develops a scriptural philosophy of hunger and poverty.

Section Two of the book begins to apply this basic philosophy to various issues and questions that logically arise in any study of charity to the poor. Chapter Nine, “God’s Sociology” shows us how God regards those under his judgments and therefore how we are to view them. It shows that those who we tend to regard as innocent victims of circumstances, with the attendant urges to rush in with indiscriminate aid, God may regard as wicked persons properly the objects of his holy censures. Chapter Ten, “Christian Charity,” shows that basic Christian charity is exercised towards the saints, towards our brothers and sisters in Christ, and not towards unbelievers and the ungodly. Chapter Eleven, “Who Is My Brother?,” shows that the application of the Biblical texts that command us to love, feed, and care for our brother refers to fellow believers and not all our fellow men. It defines our brother as Christ defined it and refutes the error of the universal Fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of all men. Chapter Twelve, “Who is My Neighbor,” continues this train of thought and defines who our neighbor is in the context of the command, “To love our neighbor as ourselves,” and gives an exposition of the parable of the Good Samaritan. Chapter Thirteen on “Love” and Chapter Fourteen on “Justice” define what love is, especially in the context of loving our neighbor, and show that one thing we definitely owe our neighbor as part of that love is to grant him justice. Chapter Fifteen, “The Hebrew Republic,” is a study in how issues of charity were dealt with in the Old Testament Hebrew Commonwealth. Chapter Sixteen, “Adoption,” gives one key to what we can logically require of the ungodly as a condition for sharing with them the temporal blessings that God has showered on his people. Having shown that corporate Christian charity (i.e. through the church) is always exclusively to the saints, Chapter Seventeen, “Private Charity,” sets forth a set of Biblical principles and guidelines as to how we ought to direct our private Christian charity. Chapter Eighteen, “Bribery,” is a condemnation of many of the current programs of “Christian charity” as constituting an exercise in bribery; that they are often nothing more than attempts to bribe ungodly persons and ungodly governments into some kind of cooperation with Christians. The insult this is to the sovereign and powerful God we represent, the sinfulness of such unequal yokes, and the unscripturalness of using such carnal weapons in our warfare are covered in this chapter. Chapter Nineteen, “Guilt Or Liberty,” shows the perpetual device of the apostles of this false gospel to bring the Lord’s people into bondage to an unscriptural guilt and to destroy their liberty in Christ. Chapter Twenty is the “Conclusion” and “Appendix A” is a brief review of a contemporary work on Christian charity from a conservative and evangelical source which demonstrates by example the concerns set forth in this book.

It is only by the careful study of this question as a whole that the reader can come to an understanding of the Biblical philosophy of charity. I hope that this preview and the chapters that follow will significantly contribute to that end.