The newest edition of For the Least of These: A Biblical Solution to Poverty is being released by Zondervan this week.
Professors at colleges and universities across the country have been using the book in their classrooms and book clubs. Today five of those professors share the most noteworthy insights into poverty alleviation they and their students have learned from For the Least of These.
Creating Widespread Opportunities for Dignified Economic Mobility
The Bible makes it clear that we as Christians are to care for the poor (e.g. Acts 20:35; Proverbs 22:9; Isaiah 58:10). Many in the church assume that entering formal ministry or following a social gospel are the only paths towards fulfilling God’s calling to help the poor, but IFWE’s For the Least of These offers an alternative narrative.
Many charitable works are commendable and fulfill short term needs, but this collection of scholarly essays addresses the challenge of poverty from a biblically sound economic and moral perspective that places an emphasis on long-run human flourishing through vocation and economic freedom.
When individuals are given the freedom to faithfully pursue a vocation of choice that best utilizes their God-given talents, and do so with the understanding that this is their calling, they create value for society and serve others in the process. This enables individuals to flourish and creates widespread opportunities for dignified economic mobility and the alleviation of absolute poverty.
Dr. Daniel Bennett is an associate professor of economics at Patrick Henry College.
Sound Scriptural Application and Thoughtful Economic Analysis
For the Least of These shows that the biblical call to care for the poor requires sound scriptural application and thoughtful economic analysis. Theologians, academics, economists, businessmen, and journalists find common cause in laying out a vision for human flourishing that is rooted in timeless gospel truths and relevant to the challenges and opportunities we face today. The result is a multi-faceted, accessible perspective on a critical issue for Christians and non-Christians alike.
Dr. Brian Brenberg is chair of the program of business and finance and an assistant professor of business and economics at The King’s College.
Pursuing Excellence in Your Calling Produces Beneficial Effects
For the Least of These will show you how you can feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and care for the sick by pursuing your calling as an accountant or plumber or lawyer or entrepreneur. By keeping the numbers straight, making sure the pipes don’t leak, keeping the contracts valid, and starting new enterprises, you create wealth you can invest in more wealth-producing enterprises or that you can share directly.
You also make it easier for farmers, clothiers, and doctors to focus on what they do best. A doctor who has to worry about plumbing, for example, isn’t going to be as effective. You might not be the one giving the shots and applying the Band-Aids, but by making sure the doctor doesn’t have to worry about whether the sink will work, you make it possible for her to give more shots and apply more Band-Aids with a lower error rate and less effort. In turn, their healthier patients are able to be more effective.
Your excellence in your calling will produce beneficial effects that are hard to see, but they’re there.
Art Carden is an assistant professor of economics in the Brock School of Business at Samford University.
Creating Deeper, Biblical Compassion
Last semester I used For the Least of These: A Biblical Answer to Poverty for a small emerging leadership group of business/economics and ministry students. The book helped the students to create a deeper, biblical compassion and urgency to assist those in poverty and help provide greater opportunities for the poor.
Students learned the importance and effectiveness of how capitalism, and the opportunities it provides, is the best way to help people out of poverty and enable them to flourish in life.
This book created and renewed our passion and desire to care for those in need by loving, feeding, and also teaching the poor how to “fish”, so they can feed themselves and their families in the future.
In fact, through free market principles we can also teach the poor how to run their own “fish hatchery” so they can create more jobs, feed the whole “village”, and provide greater economic prosperity and enrichment for all throughout their community. This is why I would highly recommend this book for all those sincerely concerned about alleviating global poverty.
Dr. Manuel Salazar III is an associate professor in the business department at William Jessup University.
Biblically Supporting the Complex Approach Required of Christians to Care for the Poor
Some people perceive that the ideal Christian should live a humble life void of most material things and give away most wealth and income. While this calling is fit for some people, For the Least of These highlights many other paths that are viable for others.
Each person’s call is as complex and unique as the person is. God’s word shows how some people may be called to accumulate wealth for the Lord, and, in fact, that wealth creation is the Lord’s work through the cultural mandate to be fruitful and multiply.
This book does a wonderful job of biblically supporting the complex approach required of Christians to truly care for the poor. It shows how continuous short-term relief efforts may actually be contrary to helping the poor. Efforts to alleviate poverty must be robust with economic principles to truly provide dignity and ultimately flourishing to those in need.
Dr. Russ McCullough is the Wayne Angell Chair of Economics in the Angell Snyder School of Business at Ottawa University in Kansas.
Visit IFWE’s bookstore to get your copy of For the Least of These.
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