How Can You Call Yourself a Christian and Oppose the Welfare State?

She looked at me in disbelief!  How can you call yourself a Christian and not want to help the poor?  Didn’t Jesus command his follower to help the poor?

She grabbed her cell phone and found Luke 3:11 and read it out loud, “Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.” (ESV)

She looked at me confidently believing I didn’t have an answer.

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So what did I say that got this caring yet misguided young lady in such a tizzy?

During our conversation, I uttered a phrase I’ve worked for years to perfect and to get the reaction she was now giving.

“Even if children are dying in the street,” I said, “the federal government never has the right to take money from one citizen and give it to another.”

Shock and awe swept across her face.  I could see by her expression that she was sure I hated children.

Her reasoning skills, like most liberals, were completely absent.  Liberals employ a logical fallacy at this point known as the “either/or fallacy.”

Either you embrace the welfare state as the only way to help the poor, fulfilling Jesus’ command, or you don’t care about the poor.

But as a Christian, I do care about the poor.  Why?  Because Christ commanded it.

So why then do Christians not support the welfare state?  Our disagreement is not with helping the poor, but with governmental involvement in charity.

Christ commanded the Church, and hence Christians, to care for the poor — not the government!

And nowhere in the Constitution is the federal government authorized to be a charity.

Before FDRs new deal, churches, Synagogues, and other civic organizations founded, opened and operated most of the nation’s hospitals and food banks.

For example, the Salvation Army founded by William Booth feeds and clothes hundreds of thousands of people every year by donations they collect.  These donations are given freely by those who truly care.

Christians also founded most of the schools and universities in this country such as Harvard, Princeton, and Yale.  And get this, they ran these institutions at a lower cost and more efficiently than any of the schools run by the government today.

I had a friend a few years back whose son was born without a hip joint.  He took his child to Shriners Hospital in Atlanta. The doctor’s not only performed the surgery covering all medical expense, but they put he and his wife up in a hotel and paid for their food.  Shriners Hospital operates mostly on donations.

Ronald McDonald House is another private charity that receives little, if no government assistance.

My wife and I have given freely to the latter.  We also give money to our church, which supports numerous denominational charities.  And we’ve been a supporter of Angel Tree over the years.

And here’s the kicker, if the government didn’t extort thousands of dollars every year from our paychecks, forcing us to support their favorite charities (a.k.a. buy votes), we would have more money to give to these charities.  And others would too!

Jerry Johnson

Jerry Johnson was the former Director of the Apologetics Group and President of Nicene Council. He was the senior writer/researcher for numerous documentaries including the best-selling Amazing Grace: The History & Theology of Calvinism. In the 1990s he served as Executive Director of the Christian Coalition of Hillsborough County Florida. He currently holds an M.A. in Christian Studies and a M. Phil. in Christian Apologetics. He lives with his wife of nearly 30 years and has four children and four grandchildren.

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