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January 16, 2009

The Enforcer

Gary Haugen and the International Justice Mission continue to make waves, landing 12 pages in the New Yorker with an in-depth profile, "The Enforcer," by Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist Samantha Power. Here's a snapshot (Gary had just returned from Rwanda after witnessing the aftermath of the genocide):

In church, his mind drifted into calculations of how long it would take a machete-wielding gang to wipe out the congregation. Although the Salvation Army, World Vision, and other Christian organizations fed the hungry and sheltered the homeless, no Christian organization that he knew of had heeded the Bible's appeals for justice ("Break the arm of the wicked and evil man; call him to account for his wickedness that would not be found out"). He resolved that Christians serving God had to do more than pray for the victims of cruelty; they had to use the law to help rescue them. "This is not a God who offers sympathy, best wishes," he later wrote. "This is a God who wants evildoers brought to account and vulnerable people protected--here and now!"
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Comments

Rolley Haggard

Referring to Gary Haugen’s book, “Good News About Injustice”, this excellent article by Samantha Power to which Zoe has directed our attention (thank you, Zoe!), says:

“[Gary’s] book also reads as a prosecutor’s brief. Accounts of violent crimes against the poor are followed by quotes from the Bible demanding that Christians respond to injustice. Haugen presents a list of tangible ways that Christians can take action: praying for individuals enslaved, trafficked, or imprisoned; volunteering their own professional legal services; making personal appeals to government or corporate officials; donating to the mission. Haugen includes examples of people of faith who, in the nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, combated human trafficking, child labor, and lynchings. NOTICEABLY ABSENT FROM HIS ACCOUNT ARE SIMILAR TALES OF MODERN-DAY EVANGELICALS.” (Emphatic caps mine).

That last observation by Ms. Power is, in my opinion, symptomatic of what has been described elsewhere ( http://thepoint.breakpoint.org/2009/01/abortion-evange.html#comment-144725392 ); i.e., we modern-day evangelicals have elevated The GREAT Commission (attention to “spiritual” matters) over The GREATER Commission (loving our neighbor as our self). Gary concurs saying, “Evangelicals come from a tradition that says, ‘Don’t be involved in politics. Try to go to Heaven.’”

Ms. Power notes that “[Gary] felt that Christians had become so caught up with knowing God deeply that they were thinking too little about meeting the needs of their neighbors.”

“Knowing God deeply.” How ironic! The prophet Jeremiah quoted the Lord God Himself when he said,

“[Josiah] pled the cause of the afflicted and needy; then it was well. IS NOT THAT WHAT IT MEANS TO KNOW ME?" (Jeremiah 22:16)

(Emphatic caps not solely mine).

Nathanael Snow

I met some gentlemen from the IJM team two Sundays ago at my church. I was very excited about their work, but was disturbed by the postcard they were asking people to sign.
It was basically a call to the US government to intervene in the affairs of other governments. It asked for funding for relief for oppressed peoples.
I don't think caring for the least of these is anyone's responsibility but the church. How dare we impose our mandate to charity onto those who are unregenerate of heart? Only Christians are capable of selfless charity, so only Christians are responsible for this.
What the church should be asking the state to do is butt out! End immigration quotas and other barriers. End international wars. End domestic welfare.
Expansion of action by our government can only end in more trouble.
Nathanael Snow

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