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I had talked about doing it for a few weeks. Finally, I got off the couch and moved. I opened the door of the kitchen cabinet under the sink and took out two big black trash bags. I walked out through our front door, down the driveway, and began. ...

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Displaying 1–16 of 16 comments

Paul Schryba

May 26, 2013  2:39pm

Roger: Using your logic, then Habitat for Humanity- by using unpaid, voluntary labor and donations to build low cost housing, is creating poverty by costing 'jobs'. Using your logic, Eugene Lang and the I Have A Dream Foundation create dependency and poverty by guaranteeing poor students funding- a 'giveaway'.

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Paul Schryba

May 26, 2013  2:18pm

Rich: "In Seeds of Contemplation, Merton writes: “a person cannot be a perfect Christian – that is a saint – unless he is also a communist.” Since “everything belongs to God’ men enjoyed property rights only in so far as they were “administrators of God’s possessions, instruments of His Providence in sharing with others what they themselves do not need.” http://thomasmertoncenter.org/about-us/ By 'communist', Merton does not mean a believer in economic determinism, but living out Acts 4: 32 "All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had." That has do do with living according to Biblical example, not a separate 'social gospel'. Many monasteries and intentional Christian communities try to live that in practice. Or did Jesus 'maximize his profit' and tell his disciples to do the same? Where does Jesus say to trust in the 'marketplace' to provide for the poor?

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Roger McKinney

May 19, 2013  9:15am

Rick, What disturbs me most about books like this is the extreme ignorance it advertises about economics, particularly the vast amount of research into developmental economics accumulated over the past 60 years. The people claim to want to help the poor, but I doubt their sincerity. People who really care about the poor study the history of the efforts and knows what has worked and what hasn't. The evidence is in. It's loud and clear and unequivocal: moving to freer markets with less corruption has cut world poverty by half in the last generation according to the World Bank and many other sources. China and India are the proof. Foreign aid has been a dismal failure, in most cases increasing poverty and corruption. The methods recommended in the book have had so little impact that almost no one studies them. They are feel good measures only. Not only will they not "change the world", they won't accomplish anything that the poor will notice.

Rick Dalbey

May 17, 2013  7:00pm

OK Dee, perhaps I misunderstood you. When you said, "I thought we were getting past this Liberal "social gospel" vs. Evangelical "only-salvation message" narrative that has plagued the church for the past 100 years or so." I interpreted this as we should do both, the "social gospel" and the "Only-salvation" gospel. If that is not what you are saying, I apologize. I took the time to work my way through his book and it is a social gospel only focus. Dee, I have no doubt that if you are trusting in Jesus you are born again. I just get disturbed greatly when I see book after book reviewed that present essentially a secular utopian vision. Today's review of Love is Stronger than Debt in the Books and culture section of CT even goes as far as to say, ""as Thomas Merton knew, "to be a Christian is to be a communist." And divine friendship is to live without debts by "throwing ourselves away; giving (not charging) according to our ability, and receiving according to our need."

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Dee McDonald

May 17, 2013  6:01pm

Rick, I'll answer the 2 questions you began with in your last post: 1) "you called the social gospel a Gospel, did you not?" 2) "Then you defended it, correct?" My answer to your accusative questions is no to both questions. Read what I said. I never once called the "social gospel" a gospel, let alone defended it. I'm done with this discussion because I refuse to have a debate\discussion with someone who cannot hear what I am actually saying, or even worse, is unwilling to listen to what I am really saying because he can only see things from his own narrow perspective. Stop making things up (i.e. lies) just to make your point. This practice of misrepresenting people's words is consistent with "Fox News Conservatism", not Jesus Christ.

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Rick Dalbey

May 17, 2013  5:19pm

Dee, you called the social gospel a Gospel, did you not? Then you defended it, correct? This author goes on for 257 pages, 14 chapters, without ever mentioning the gospel as the answer to human sin and need. As his friend Peter Greer says on the flyleaf, “this is a madly entertaining book by a leading social activist”. Its primary concern is redistribution of wealth through consuming less. “Jeff shows that when we all have enough, we can help everyone achieve the same level of living and being.” I have no problem with consuming less or giving more, just dont call it the gospel or defend it as the Social Gospel. The social gospel led to the decimation of the mainline denominations. Here is my concern, Jesus said the fields are WHITE UNTO HARVEST BUT THE LABORERS ARE FEW. The Q conference, Catalyst, the social justice conferences and books like these suck up energy and laborers and are a huge diversion, masquerading as another gospel, or the Social Gospel as you called it.

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Dee McDonald

May 17, 2013  4:42pm

Rick, the problem with these mainline denominations you speak of is not that they thought "social issues" were important but that social issues were all they focused on. I don't see the author, CT, or me calling Christians to only focus on these issues.

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Dee McDonald

May 17, 2013  3:13pm

Rick, thanks for judging my salvation as well, since as you say, I follow a "different religion". Again, I wish I knew where to find such a high horse. Where did I say that a social gospel is the "gospel"? My point is just because we are to preach the gospel doesn't negate that we should also care about helping our communities as well as the people in them. The problem with your judging of the author and now me is the same as the faulty idea that plagued evangelicalism in the 20th century--you assume because an author doesn't categorically outline his soteriology/or that preaching the gospel is important every time he/she writes something that somehow he/she is preaching a different gospel. Why can't we be good citizens and also preach the gospel? Where in this small excerpt did you get that the author doesn't believe in preaching the gospel, but that Christians should only pick up garbage? Anyway, I'm sure you feel justified in judging Shinabarger and me based on these small excepts.

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Rick Dalbey

May 17, 2013  10:42am

Dee, the social gospel, which defined the Episcopal, Methodist and Presbyterian mainline denomination was finally their undoing as they radically shrank in membership. There is no there, there. The government can do these social welfare programs so much better and there is nothing spiritual about them. So now the George Soros, the Jim Wallis’s, the Gabe Lyons have the evangelical church in their sights. This non-biblical social gospel philosophy will sink the evangelical denominations as well if allowed to. There is nothing whatsoever of the social gospel in the 4 gospels, in Acts or Paul’s letters. It is simply NOT A GOSPEL. The disciples preached salvation, made disciples and healed the sick and were eventually all martyred for their faith. The social gospel is a false gospel, man-made, unscriptural and a diversion from the Great Commission. Read how Philip made a difference in his community or how Paul made a difference in Ephesus. Dee, you have a different religion.

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Dee McDonald

May 17, 2013  9:05am

@Rick, Kevin T is absolutely correct--it is not an either/or approach. Why is helping your community contrary to sharing the gospel? Of course, if picking up trash in our communities was the only thing the author was telling Christians to do, then by all mean, stay on your high horse and judge Shinabarger for his anti-Christian message. "Picking up trash" is seen by our society as menial and demeaning, and it is these types of things that, along with sharing the message of the gospel, we as Christians must be prepared to do if we are going to make a difference in our communities. I thought we were getting past this Liberal "social gospel" vs. Evangelical "only-salvation message" narrative that has plagued the church for the past 100 years or so. Your comments demonstrate to me that, sadly, we aren't there yet.

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Kevin Thompson

May 17, 2013  3:01am

But Rick, why does it have to be an either/or approach to life when it comes to sharing the Good News and living the life? Surely an integrated Christian lifestyle which loves God with all my heart, mind, soul and strength and loves others means I'll take every opportunity put in front of me each day to love practically as well as share the Gospel. Surely they are inseparable? Incidentally an acquaintance only started listening to the Gospel her husband had been talking about when he started to do the unpleasant jobs like taking out the trash!

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Vic Christian

May 16, 2013  6:02pm

Thank you Rick - you echoed my thoughts and said it much better than I could. Note that this seems to more and more the stuff "Christianity Today" is pushing.

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Rick Dalbey

May 16, 2013  3:26pm

Bennett, I have no problem with TV preachers who preach the gospel. Of course, prosperity preachers are preaching a different gospel and only enriching themselves. My 91 year old uncle was watching a Billy Graham crusade rerun on TV six years ago, heard the gospel, prayed and gave his life to Jesus. He began going to church, reading his Bible and telling others about Jesus. Better yet, evangelists who go physically into the dark corners of the world and tell others about Jesus. Or even best, the redeemed residents in the dark corners of the earth telling their neighbors about Jesus. I don't care about "better speakers". Paul appeared before the Corinthians in fear and trembling. Trust the Holy Spirit. The gospel is not about how much trash you can pick up or your support of fair trade coffee. If you think it is, you have fallen for another gospel.

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bennett willis

May 16, 2013  3:05pm

Thus the TV preachers should be the ones who are credited with proclaiming the gospel. They put it out there to more millions (potentially) than any of the rest of us--and generally they are better speakers than the rest of us. But why should I put any credibility in what they say? They avoid touching my problems.

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Rick Dalbey

May 16, 2013  2:05pm

Congratulations Jeff. You just did the un-gospel. You just distracted people from fulfilling the great commission. If you really want to make the world better, preach the gospel. Transform societies by redeeming humanity. These kind of books prey on the idealism and vulnerability of young people. It diverts them from sharing the gospel and fools them into thinking they are making a difference in the world when all they are doing is rearranging the chairs on the deck of the Titanic. The world needs Jesus. Not tilting at windmills to build another social justice utopia. Have you learned nothing from the French Revolution, from the Russian revolution, from the Maoist revolution? People need to be born again. Why is this book even published by a “Christian Publisher”?

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bennett willis

May 16, 2013  1:03pm

I think that anyone who walks should take a grocery bag (or larger) and pick up trash as they go. You will be surprised at how quickly the amount of trash will be reduced.

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