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Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Someone Else’s Stuff

Erick Erickson wants to give away your stuff. [Caution: language in linked post]

Technically, I suppose, he wants YOU to give it away. But he would also like you to give away your wife’s stuff, your neighbour’s stuff, your co-worker’s stuff and your children’s and grandchildren’s stuff. So it amounts to the same thing, right?

As a Christian, I have to draw the line at such extravagant generosity.

The Pseudo-Altruism of Conservative Globalism

Erick is a “conservative” globalist, though he’d be hard pressed to point to anything that has actually been conserved by the policies for which he advocates. He’s all-in for free trade, open borders, mass immigration and the exportation of jobs to the third world. He’s even taken to broadcasting his antipathy to nationalism by making swastika logos from the letters T-R-U-M-P. He believes Christianity teaches these things, and he uses globalism’s most frequently abused Bible verse to support his dodgy ideology:
“In Galatians 3:28, Paul writes that ‘[t]here is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.’ Christians are to transcend race.”
As you may have read in this space several times already (and as you will likely realize immediately even if this discussion is brand new to you), Paul is teaching in Galatians that as a believer in Jesus Christ, I am to recognize that my bond with my fellow believers in the Lord Jesus transcends not only race, but culture, sex and station in life.

What Paul is emphatically NOT teaching is that we are free to apply this principle willy-nilly to other nations, to the unsaved, to those of hostile religions or evil intent. I am not “all one” with my atheist feminist co-worker. You are not “all one” with Muslim refugees, as much as you may have compassion for their current situation. The verse speaks of the bond between brothers and sisters IN CHRIST, as it plainly says. Erickson’s globalist gloss ignores not just the uncomplicated teaching of scripture, but the hard lessons of economics and history. Ask the former Roman Empire about the wisdom of a policy of mass immigration sometime, if you’re so inclined.

Rejecting the Commandment of God

But Erickson’s theology ignores something more basic still: you can’t give God someone else’s stuff. Painless faux-generosity is rejected by the Lord Jesus himself. Mark gives this account of the Lord’s words to the Pharisees:
“And he said to them, ‘You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition! For Moses said, “Honor your father and your mother”; and, “Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.” But you say, “If a man tells his father or his mother, ‘Whatever you would have gained from me is Corban’ ” (that is, given to God) — then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down.”
Got that? The word of God teaches the children of God to be a people who are given to giving, who are generous by nature and by choice. The verses of scripture concerned with giving, sharing and helping the needy are so abundant they could be compiled into their own epistle. Bible Study Tools lists fifty of them here, just for starters.

We are encouraged to be givers in every possible way. In so doing, we are actually giving to Christ, we are laying up treasure in heaven and we are sharing in forwarding the kingdom of God, among other good things.

But you know what all these verses have in common? They encourage us to give our own stuff. By definition, the property of others belongs … to others. This is true even of the things we have in our possession that are owed to others and that we have not gotten around to giving them yet. The Lord told the Pharisees that to take the support owed to one’s parents and give it away — even to God himself — was “making void the word of God” and “rejecting the commandment of God” in favour of tradition.

Parables, Parables

That’s pretty serious stuff. It reminds me of the parable the prophet Nathan told King David after he sinned with Bathsheba and murdered her husband:
“ ‘There were two men in a certain city, the one rich and the other poor. The rich man had very many flocks and herds, but the poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb, which he had bought. And he brought it up, and it grew up with him and with his children. It used to eat of his morsel and drink from his cup and lie in his arms, and it was like a daughter to him. Now there came a traveler to the rich man, and he was unwilling to take one of his own flock or herd to prepare for the guest who had come to him, but he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him.’ Then David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man, and he said to Nathan, ‘As the Lord lives, the man who has done this deserves to die, and he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.’ ”
Now, preparing dinner for a visiting guest is a GOOD thing, right? The problem was not with the PURPOSE the rich man had in mind, it was that he took his neighbour’s property for that purpose rather than bear the cost of his hospitality himself. The king was rightly furious at hearing this tale, at least until Nathan pointed out that the party implicated by the parable was David himself.

No Hypocrisy Here!

Now, I’m sure Mr. Erickson does not see his advocacy for globalism as taking anything from anyone that he’s not willing to give up himself — unlike, say, Al Gore, who encouraged others to cut back on their consumption of electricity while using more than 20 times the national average in his suburban Nashville home back in 2007 (his utility bill was around $30,000 annually). No, I’m confident Mr. Erickson is fully prepared to offer his own job to someone in the third world, to give his groceries to the needy and his personal bank account balance and stock portfolio to those less fortunate (though when he finally gets around to giving away his computer, we can probably expect to hear a little less from him on this subject). And he has every right to do so, if that is what he believes the Lord Jesus was teaching.

What he does NOT have a right to do — much less a moral obligation arising out of the word of God — is to give away the neighbourhood in which he lives, or the jobs and tax dollars of his fellow citizens, or the legacy of his grandchildren. What he does NOT have a right to do is to endanger his fellow Americans by advocating for the granting of citizenship to millions of people from other countries — however needy and deserving they may be — who have no intention of assimilating or adopting American values (such as they are), and every intention of imposing their own cultural and religious values on Erickson’s fellow Americans by means of the democratic process. What he does NOT have a right to do is to confer upon his fellow Americans the greater tax burden of carrying the impossibly prodigious economic weight of the third world when as many as 94 million of those same fellow Americans are currently unemployed.

These gifts are not his to give. They are not yours or mine either.

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