Using political power to bestow benefits on the poor only encouraged the poor to expect entitlements.
The global financial crisis highlighted yet again the age-old question of government control of the economy. Can government really ‘control’ the economy and keep it in ‘balance’?
It also highlighted the changes that have gone on around the world in recent decades. China and India, for example, have become economic powerhouses, even though their economies have been centrally managed. But the significant changes in these places have not come through more government control, but with the government getting people involved in ownership in the means of production.
But the Evangelicals, convinced of the rightness of their own moral convictions, were happy to bypass the church as the agent of change and contribute to the development of state intervention.
The Russian experiment in publicly owned goods turned out to be a failure. Even after the Berlin Wall came down and the markets were liberalized, there was a period of failure, since the private economy had not established itself. The Russian leaders moved everything along with their creative bonds, given to the citizens who could then exchange them for stock ownership in companies. In other words, they made each citizen an instant capitalist to teach them the important lesson: You have to take care of yourself.
It is unfortunate that Western nations such as England lost their world economic leadership. And it is a tragedy that they lost it under the impetus of well-meaning Christians such as William Wilberforce and Lord Shaftesbury. The Evangelical awakening following the Wesleyan revivals created a religious fervor in England of great magnitude. It promoted Christian values, and Christians saw the need to be catalysts of change. And the British parliament became the tool for righting many of the social wrongs that were evident. Whether it was slavery, children working in coal mines, or establishing a 10-hour working day, government legislation was the vehicle to usher in the new morality of the Victorian Evangelicals.
Why Evangelicalism is in a spot of trouble identifying itself
It doesn’t much matter from which angle you view it: Evangelicalism appears to be struggling to hold it’s ahead above water and properly identify itself. From time to time someone offers a ‘litmus test’ to determine evangelicalism. These can be helpful—negatively, if not positively. In other words, they might indicate the missing ingredient rather than identify the real product.
Such a list of identifiers has been offered by Bill Muehlenberg, in his article What is Evangelicalism? He cites a number of prominent authors, then offers a 7-point list of how the National Association of Evangelicals identifies evangelicalism:
1. We believe the Bible to be the inspired, the only infallible, authoritative Word of God.
2. We believe that there is one God, eternally existent in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
3. We believe in the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ, in His virgin birth, in His sinless life, in His miracles, in His vicarious and atoning death through His shed blood, in His bodily resurrection, in His ascension to the right hand of the Father, and in His personal return in power and glory.
4. We believe that for the salvation of lost and sinful people, regeneration by the Holy Spirit is absolutely essential.
5. We believe in the present ministry of the Holy Spirit by whose indwelling the Christian is enabled to live a godly life.
6. We believe in the resurrection of both the saved and the lost; they that are saved unto the resurrection of life and they that are lost unto the resurrection of damnation.
7. We believe in the spiritual unity of believers in our Lord Jesus Christ.
Read the list carefully. Anything missing? Or more to the point, anything vitally important missing?
Well I think there is something vitally important missing. Hear me out, and see if I have a reasonable argument to present.