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Jonathan Merritt

Jonathan Merritt

Posted: March 6, 2011 09:00 PM

For the most part, I've stopped signing public statements. Perhaps one day I will write about the various reasons I've decided to do this. Occassionally, however, someone drafts a statement that is both timely and reasonable. In these cases, I might make an exception. Today, Evangelicals for Social Action and The Center for Public Justice released such a statment, titled, "A Call for Intergenerational Justice."

The statement attempts to frame our current debt crisis as a moral issue. "Today's federal debts threaten not only the present generation, but also our children and generations yet unborn," the statement says. "Intergenerational justice demands that one generation must not benefit or suffer unfairly at the cost of another."

[Infographic: Kiplinger's puts the national debt crisis into perspective.]

Clearly, our national debt and governmental spending is out of control. We should not tolerate wanton excess from our policymakers. At the same time, we cannot balance the budget on the backs of the poor.

While the statement avoids specific legislative proposals, it does make general recommendations on how we can fix our current woes. Bi-partisan Christian signers include ESA's Ron Sider, author Shane Claiborne, former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson, and Fuller Seminary President Richard Mouw. Prison Fellowship's Charles Colson released a statement applauding the effort.

I was a part of a national press call today that announced the release of this document. Here is my statement:

I support "A Call for Intergenerational Justice" because the Scripture's mandate to "do justice" clearly demands that we steward the resources with which God has blessed us.

As a Christian and a Southern Baptist, the first place I look for ethical guidance is God's witness in the Bible. As we survey those 66 sacred books, we find an unbroken chain of commands to promote justice and protect the poor. If the Bible is clear about anything it is that the people of God must be people of justice.

Biblical Justice is more than a private virtue or moral platitude. Justice is a commitment to care for those who are powerless, to speak for those who lack a voice. Doing justice means both caring for those who need us now and speaking for those who are yet to come. Because of this commitment, our attention must turn to our national economy. It is clear that our growing debt risks placing an unjust burden on future generations. This is irresponsible and immoral.

I signed onto this statement not because I am an economic expert with wisdom to offer on its specific policy recommendations. In hard financial times, there will be fierce debates over how to allocate resources. Christians will disagree about budget priorities, and will do so in good faith.

Rather, I've signed on because, as a minister, my duty is to be immersed in scripture so that I can communicate it to God's people. And as I spend time in the Word of God, I am struck by twin facts. First, the management of material resources -- particularly with regard to "the least of these" -- is central to how the Christian life is lived. Second, a biblical attitude toward wealth is that we are mere stewards of that which God allows to pass through our hands.

Therefore, it seems worthy and reasonable to affirm the spirit of "intergenerational justice" that quickens this document. It's my hope and prayer that God would find us faithful and our children and grandchildren would find us faultless.

If you'd like to sign this statement, you can add your name here.

 
 
 

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