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The Literary Forum discuss Looking for Books on Charity in the Church in the Educational Forums forums; All, I have been looking at some books that deal with the issue of charity and giving in the church. This was prompted by the ...

  1. #1
    fredtgreco's Avatar
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    Looking for Books on Charity in the Church

    All,

    I have been looking at some books that deal with the issue of charity and giving in the church. This was prompted by the latest issue of World magazine, that featured two. I'd appreciate any insights on the following from someone who has read them:

    Amazon.com: From Prophecy to Charity: How to Help the Poor (Values and Capitalism) (9780844743806): Lawrence M. Mead: Books

    Toxic Charity: How the Church Hurts Those They Help and How to Reverse It: Robert D. Lupton: Amazon.com: Kindle Store
    Fred Greco
    Senior Pastor, Christ Church PCA (Katy, TX)
    Christ Church Blog

    "The heart is the main thing in true religion...It is the hinge and turning-point in the condition of man's soul. If the heart is alive to God and quickened by the Spirit, the man is a living Christian. If the heart is dead and has not the Spirit, the man is dead before God." (J.C. Ryle)

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    Miss Marple's Avatar
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    In response to Sider's "Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger," Dave Chilton wrote "Productive Christians in an Age of Guilt Manipulators."

    While it was an "antithesis" effort to Sider's work, I believe it set out biblical examples of charity. I read it many years ago so my memory is a little stale.
    M. Rothenbuhler
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    Rev. Benjamin P. Glaser, M. Div, ARP
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    ‎‎"Ministers of the Gospel, when dispensing the truths of God, must preach home to their own souls, as well as unto others. Sir's, we do not deliver truths or doctrines to you, wherein we ourselves have no manner of concern. No, our own souls are at the stake, and shall either perish or be saved eternally, as we receive or reject these precious truths which we deliver unto you. And truly, it can never be expected that we will apply the truths of God with any warmth or liveliness unto others, unless we first make a warm application thereof to our own souls. And if we do not feed upon these doctrines, and practise these duties, which we deliver to and inculcate upon you, though we preach unto others, we ourselves are but castaways." -- Ebenezer Erskine, "The Assurance of Faith", pg. 8

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    Wayne's Avatar
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    James Beverlin Ramsay wrote an article on the diaconate and he spends a good bit of the article in discussion of the poor:

    http://www.pcahistory.org/HCLibrary/...v12/12-1-1.pdf

    See particularly page 9 for a take-away quote :


    1. Among these functions, the care of the poor stands prominent. From the very first the Church of Christ seems to have accepted it as an indispensable obligation resting on her, to take care of her poor. It is an obligation which her Lord has laid upon her. “ The poor ye have always with you,” is not the statement of a mere fact, but of a permanent obligation. It is an obligation inseparable from that love which is the very essence of her life. It is enforced by the Saviour’s example. Even from that common bag, from whence were supplied all the wants of the Apostolic company, scantily as it was supplied, a portion was dispensed to the poor. Christ came to preach the Gospel to the poor; and while he thus poured the brightness of heavenly hope over the dark hearts of these children of want, and opened to them the treasures of the unsearchable riches of His grace, He, by the exertion of His miraculous power, taught that their temporal wants are to be supplied. Still more solemn and striking is the fact, that the discharge of this duty will be made the test of character in the judgment. “ I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink ; I was a stranger, and ye took me in ; naked, and ye clothed me; I was sick and ye visited me ; I was in prison, and ye came unto me,” is the evidence that shall prove the adoption of his people before an assembled world. And the neglect of these duties toward the meanest and weakest of his suffering disciples for His sake, will be evidence enough to justify the fearful sentence, “ Depart, ye cursed !”
    Wayne Sparkman, Th.M., C.A.
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    "Remember, it is not hasty reading, but serious meditating upon holy and heavenly truths, that make them prove sweet and profitable to the soul...It is not he that reads most , but he that meditates most, that will prove the choicest, sweetest, wisest and strongest Christian." - Thomas Brooks (1608-1680) [HT: Hamalas]
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    Wayne's Avatar
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    However, upon re-reading Fred's original post, it is interesting how quickly we stray to other, related things and fail to answer the question or speak to the issue. Mea culpa, Fred. Haven't read either of those books. But will now take your encouragement to at least go read that article in World.
    Wayne Sparkman, Th.M., C.A.
    Director, PCA Historical Center, St. Louis, MO
    Blogs: The Continuing Story and This Day in Presbyterian History
    Click to get: Board Rules -- Signature Requirements -- Suggestions?

    "Remember, it is not hasty reading, but serious meditating upon holy and heavenly truths, that make them prove sweet and profitable to the soul...It is not he that reads most , but he that meditates most, that will prove the choicest, sweetest, wisest and strongest Christian." - Thomas Brooks (1608-1680) [HT: Hamalas]

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    Semper Fidelis's Avatar
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    Fred,

    When I was visiting Wayne's booth at GA, Ron Gleason walked up and started talking to us. He has a book that is coming out soon on the subject that sounds interesting.
    Rich
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    fredtgreco's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wayne View Post
    James Beverlin Ramsay wrote an article on the diaconate and he spends a good bit of the article in discussion of the poor:

    http://www.pcahistory.org/HCLibrary/...v12/12-1-1.pdf

    See particularly page 9 for a take-away quote :


    1. Among these functions, the care of the poor stands prominent. From the very first the Church of Christ seems to have accepted it as an indispensable obligation resting on her, to take care of her poor. It is an obligation which her Lord has laid upon her. “ The poor ye have always with you,” is not the statement of a mere fact, but of a permanent obligation. It is an obligation inseparable from that love which is the very essence of her life. It is enforced by the Saviour’s example. Even from that common bag, from whence were supplied all the wants of the Apostolic company, scantily as it was supplied, a portion was dispensed to the poor. Christ came to preach the Gospel to the poor; and while he thus poured the brightness of heavenly hope over the dark hearts of these children of want, and opened to them the treasures of the unsearchable riches of His grace, He, by the exertion of His miraculous power, taught that their temporal wants are to be supplied. Still more solemn and striking is the fact, that the discharge of this duty will be made the test of character in the judgment. “ I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink ; I was a stranger, and ye took me in ; naked, and ye clothed me; I was sick and ye visited me ; I was in prison, and ye came unto me,” is the evidence that shall prove the adoption of his people before an assembled world. And the neglect of these duties toward the meanest and weakest of his suffering disciples for His sake, will be evidence enough to justify the fearful sentence, “ Depart, ye cursed !”
    Wayne,

    A very interesting quote. It gets at one of my main questions. Ramsey says: "From the very first the Church of Christ seems to have accepted it as an indispensable obligation resting on her, to take care of her poor." (emphasis mine) Does the church have an obligation to the "random" poor, or to her poor (e.g. widows and orphans) only?
    Fred Greco
    Senior Pastor, Christ Church PCA (Katy, TX)
    Christ Church Blog

    "The heart is the main thing in true religion...It is the hinge and turning-point in the condition of man's soul. If the heart is alive to God and quickened by the Spirit, the man is a living Christian. If the heart is dead and has not the Spirit, the man is dead before God." (J.C. Ryle)

  8. #8
    Caroline's Avatar
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    In a practical sense, I don't know very many churches that have the financial means to do much more than care for their own poor. I do know a lot of people who envision churches as vast stores of wealth (including the City of Schenectady, which has now sent my church three appeals to voluntarily pay their 'fair share' of property taxes to help fund city programs--and don't even get me started on how that drives me crazy when we get those letters). In reality, most churches are scraping the bottom of the barrel just to look after the elderly and disabled and so on in their own congregations and supporting a few missions.

    I suppose if a church had the means, then supporting orphanages and such would be a good work... if it was done well. I think most missionaries have had cause to complain of well-meaning churches pouring money into bad projects.
    Caroline
    OPC
    Schenectady, NY

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    Miss Marple's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wayne View Post
    However, upon re-reading Fred's original post, it is interesting how quickly we stray to other, related things and fail to answer the question or speak to the issue. Mea culpa, Fred. Haven't read either of those books. But will now take your encouragement to at least go read that article in World.
    Guilty! Although the TITLE of the thread said "Looking for books. . ." so that was what I responded to.
    M. Rothenbuhler
    1st OPC
    San Francisco, CA

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    jwithnell's Avatar
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    Pastor Greco, I haven't read the books you've cited, by I think a short answer to your question is yes, the church has a peculiar duty to care for her poor. 1 Timothy 5 immediately comes to mind, and James 2:15-16: "If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that?" You also have example of churches giving to churches such as in 2 Corinthians 8 when the Jerusalem church was supported by the churches among which Paul ministered.

    Micah gives the broader context of social justice: "Her leaders pronounce judgment for a bribe, Her priests instruct for a price." Again, this is within God's people, it should not be misconstrued as a generalized command for social action.

    Yes, "random" examples are given such as "the good Sumerian." But this, I believe serves a different purpose: as we help strangers, we are showing God's mercy. Taken outside that context, we engage in a social gospel that makes the church little different from the Boy Scouts.

    Forgive me if I've jumped in sideways here. Since my husband is a deacon, we talk a lot about this kind of thing.
    JWithnell
    Member Bethel OPC
    Virginia
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    I heartily second Olasky's Tragedy of American Compassion, reviewed here.

    Also, a very good and recent book: What is The Mission of the Church?
    Stuart L. Brogden
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    I blog at [URL="http://defendingcontending.com/"]DefCon[/URL].

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