To explore John Perkins’s views on such matters as the relation of Christian growth to social action and of Moral Majority to the poor, CHRISTIANITY TODAY posed several questions. Following is an edited version of the transcript.
You give a strong emphasis to the place of the church in society, don’t you?
We seem to believe, in the church, that individual growth comes from Bible study and nurture. But that’s a myth: individual growth comes from a need to be sustained. Reaching out to others then assures a person’s growth.
We give people the idea that growth comes from nurture, and so we have a church that is structured wrong. Nurture has become the end, rather than witness and service. We have stopped short of being the incarnated life of God.
I also believe that the local church does not now have the proper commitment to its own area. Until it does, it cannot be prophetic. People in the local congregation must be called to that place, and must surrender themselves to the authority of the local church. I have a responsibility to put my time and money into that church.
You have been categorized as being theologically and economically conservative. How do these points of view work themselves out in your lifestyle of Christian leadership?
Because of my conservative economic view, I believe in stewardship that is expressed in capital ownership. To achieve that ownership, a person has to gain a skill and a gift, and use the resources.
You believe in free enterprise, in other words?
I believe that God created man to have freedom and to surrender that freedom-will to some authority. The control of that freedom is in our economic system. Freedom of speech or religion does not exist without economic freedom.
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