Dan Popp
Faithless force
By Dan Popp
January 10, 2015

But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. (Hebrews 11:6, NKJV)

What if we help the poor in the Christian way, that is, voluntarily – and some are still hungry? That was a challenge to my recent essay, CommieCons (The conservative approach to poverty is not a government program). Both the left and the faux right must concede that, in the Bible, God never helped the poor through civil government; that government "welfare" programs hurt their beneficiaries; and that redistribution is robbery. But – but – BUT! WHAT IF?!?

What if God's way doesn't work?

That's what the compassionate among us demand to know. We could formulate the question another way: "What if God was wrong?" Immediately we can see the problem: The question is an expression of unbelief.

Richard John Neuhaus said, "Socialism is the religion people get when they lose their religion." Our society has lost its religion – its faith in a God who answers prayer, who intervenes in the human scene, who will one day judge us – and has filled our God-shaped void with humanism. We've unseated the revealed God and replaced Him with Our Own, Better Ideas About God. We've reversed the tablets of the Law. Man and his Needs are now first; "God" is merely a justification for the evil that must be done in order to satisfy man's Needs.

Christians and Jews have always said that it isn't enough to do God's Thing; we must do God's Thing in God's Way. Abraham is a case study in that. The Lord told him that He would have descendants, and when the situation looked grim (unbelief is always alarmed at the situation), Abe took matters into his own hands, as it were. He fathered Ishmael – the child of the flesh, rival to the child of faith. That one decision to do God's work in man's way has brought pain to the world to the present day.

When Satan tempted Jesus in the desert, he suggested food – and it's not as if the Father wanted His Son to starve to death. He offered Him fame and followers – again, totally within God's will. And the devil offered Jesus a kingdom – which was the divine Plan all along. There was only one thing wrong with these temptations. They were God's will, but they weren't God's way. The ends were fine, but the proposed means were faithless.

It's absurd to imagine Jesus giving us any assignment that doesn't require faith to carry it out. Faith is the fuel that powers the engine of our Christian life. When we use the government to do our giving for us, we're substituting force for faith. We don't believe, so we turn from God, to Godvernment. And naturally it fails. The victims of Hurricane Katrina who got help from churches had new homes within months. Those who relied on the government languished in FEMA trailers for years. Government riding to the rescue when real charity fails? The reality seems to be the reverse of that.

But I haven't actually answered the question: What if God is wrong? What if the only way to feed all the hungry and clothe all the naked and heal all the sick is to point a gun at people's heads and relieve them of their property?

Well then it's all for naught, isn't it? The whole thing's a charade. If we're smarter and more compassionate than God, why would we follow Him? He should be following us! If you think God blurted out You Shall Not Steal and You Shall Not Covet before He had all the facts of the case, then whatever you profess, functionally you're an atheist. It would be foolish if not self-destructive to try to carry out the imperatives of Christ without faith in Christ.

I submit that "God's Will" some other way than God's Way is not really God's Will at all.

Despotism may govern without faith, but liberty cannot. – Alexis de Tocqueville

© Dan Popp


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