Politics


Coming from one of the oldest denominations in the United States, the question “what was your church’s position on slavery?” has come up on a small number of occasions (let’s be honest though… not too often.).

I am currently reading a lengthy article called “Vermont Reformed Presbyterian Abolitionists” which shows that the RPCNA, the ARP Church, and the old Associate Church, were the only Calvinistic denominations that would not allow their members to own slaves and remain in good standing (until 1819, when others came on board).

“The political singularity of both groups also manifested itself in their early and outspoken opposition to slavery. Whereas almost every other denomination in America sidestepped the issue and tolerated slave-holding by members, the Covenanters and Seceders denounced slavery as a breach of Christ’s law of love and directed their members to free their slaves immediately (the Covenanters in 1800, the Seceders in 1811).

The article, which is from a secular publication, argues that without these three churches, and especially the RPCNA in Vermont, the abolitionist movement would not have gained the ground that it needed in those early years.

Many would like to say that the early Church was socialistic. They cite Acts 2 as a way to defend their own political ideals. Was the early church a Communistic community? Were they Socialists? Should you join the Presby-socialist party? Some of my emergent church friends are promoters of forced socialism based on this text. They claim that the state should be progressive because the early church was progressive.

If that is the case, give me your 80g I-pod. I don’t have one.

Acts 2:44-45 And all that believed were together, and had all things common; 45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.

Because their generosity extended to sharing of their goods, some have regarded this as a biblical endorsement for communism. It is not communism. In fact, the opposite is true. Communism is the sharing of goods, but it is a forced sharing of goods on the basis that no one had the right to own anything. Communism is compulsory; therefore it has nothing whatsoever to do with generosity. Peter himself endorses the right to private property (see Acts 5.3-4).

The sharing of possessions that went on in the early church was not socialism either. Socialism acknowledges the right of private property, but it compels individuals to give a percentage of, or everything above a certain figure, to others. Socialism does not deny a person a right to own things, but it denies him the right to have too many of these things as measured by someone else’s standard. Most people would be astounded to hear that American life is socialistic, but it is very socialistic. Whenever there is a system that taxes those who have more at a higher rater than those who have less in order that the state can take these resources and redistribute them to those who have less, that is socialism, because it is being done not willingly, but by force…

The early Christians shared their possessions, not because they were communists or socialists- not because they were forced to share their things- but for a far better reason. They shared their goods because they had learned generosity from God. God has been generous with them. So because God had been generous to them, they were determined to be generous to one another. -Dr. James M. Boice

Below is a letter that I received from a friend of mine who is Latino and Reformed. It is a plea to the Reformed Churches to reach the Samaritans of our day:

On this May Day, as we see in the news or in your home town the Latino/Mexica people protesting and marching for immigration rights, I would like to offer these insights and even challenge.

How will the Reformed and Presbyterian Church respond to the growing number of immigrants, particularly the Latino/Mexica immigrants, which are the largest group?

Will individual Reformed and Presbyterians jump on the Republican, Nationalist, anti-immigration band wagon and thus alienate the immigrants from even giving an audience to the Reformed Faith? Speaking out against the “invasion” of the other cultures within our borders and wish to turn these “illegals” over to ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement)?

OR

Will the Reformed and Presbyterian Church/individuals act like Christ and stretch out their hands to the disliked and unloved Samaritans of our time? Dine with the harlots and tax collectors (so to speak or as many see the immigrants)? The duty of Christians is to proclaim the Gospel to all people regardless of their social standing, and not to be an agent to oppress those that are perceived below their status.

We talk about sending missionaries to foreign lands, what will we do with those from foreign lands that are at our doorstep? Ignore them or reach out to them with the one True Gospel? Many of them are Roman Catholic or Muslim by profession, WE can reach out to them and by the power of the Gospel and the work of the Holy Spirit they can become followers of Christ.

The Church has a tremendous opportunity and even obligation to reach out to the newly arrival in this nation. I pray that the Church does not squander this due to political ideology that can cause Christians to act contrary to the Gospel proclamation as was done towards the African-Americans.