Just mention the words “redistribution of wealth,” and watch the emotions fly. What is it? Redistribution of wealth is the transfer of income, wealth or property from some individuals to others caused by a social mechanism such as taxation, monetary policies, welfare, nationalization, charity, divorce or tort law.
Of the list of words used in this description, The word “charity,” is not a fit. At least not in the biblical sense of the word. For example: “I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first.” Revelation 2:19 Here “charity,” is Godly love demonstrated toward others – agápē, yes, the same Godly love that everyone’s always talking about. In fact, the word “charity,” is rarely, if ever used in the sense of the benevolent gifting of money to others. There are other terms for that.
Contribution – “Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. And he said, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” Further, “For Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the saints in Jerusalem.” Romans 15:26
It’s interesting to note that in most references to “contributing,” it is to the needs of the saints. Romans 12:13 You might want to take a look at a previous post in this series called, “A Theology of Poverty & Praxis Part II – Church Charity First, then Everyone Else?” I will say, that while there is an apparent selfishness to the church taking care of its needs first and then others, it makes sense when you consider what the essence of their work was.
Giving – “In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20:35 Also, “Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys.” Luke 12:33 and many others.
The forced or compulsory acquisition of wealth and it’s redistribution amongst the poor is not biblical and also ineffective in dealing with poverty. When the government does it, most complain. When the church imposes a tax (tithe) most support it. Either way, is not biblical charity. We will discuss “The Tithe” and it’s theological relation to alleviating poverty in the next post in this series. But for now, a few questions:
Is the idea of a collecting a tithe and putting it in the storehouse a sound New Testament doctrine?
In your opinion, why is the redistribution of wealth ineffective in alleviating poverty?
What’s the difference between being compelled to give to those in need and giving under compulsion?
See the first 3 parts of this series: