“Inequality,” in other words, is just the word that the self-avowed champions of diversity attribute to those instances of diversity that aren’t to their liking.
If, as Professor Everist implies, those of us who object to being coerced into working longer hours for little to no pay for the sake of realizing the redistributive scheme of some ideologue’s imagination are the enemies of “equality,” then she and her fellow travelers are the enemies of diversity (to say nothing of individuality and liberty).
Another critical point is that, whether by accident or design, all too many contemporary representatives of the church, like Professor Everist, conflate the issue of “the poor” or “the needy” with that of economic “inequality.” In doing so, they radically misconstrue the Gospel.
The parable of the Good Samaritan, the parable more than any other designed to emblematize the ideal of Christian charity, features a man of considerable means—the Samaritan—who deployed some of his ample resources to help a stranger in need.
Jesus, in other words, held up a reasonably well-to-do, and possibly even wealthy, man as the model of Christian love.
Christ also praised a Roman soldier, a man, mind you, who was sufficiently well off to have servants, as displaying more faith than anyone—including the impoverished to whom He ministered—in all of Israel.
Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea were rich members of the priestly class with whom Jesus must’ve been particularly close, for not only did they attempt to prevail upon their fellow Pharisees to refrain from turning Jesus over to the Romans. Following Jesus’ crucifixion, both prepared His body for burial in the tomb that Joseph secured for Him.
The Christian’s vocation is to care for the needy, for those in need. And this could include anyone—regardless of his or her socioeconomic circumstances. Unfortunately, whether Lutheran, Catholic, or otherwise, the contemporary Christian church’s almost exclusive emphasis on “the poor” comes at the cost of reducing the non-poor, and certainly the rich, to the status of non-persons. As such, the latter are for practical purposes rendered objects, yes, but not proper objects of agape, of Christian love.
No, the tireless campaign to demonize “the rich”—as well as those of us who are not rich but who object to the demonization of the rich and the socialist fantasies of the demagogues—renders “the rich” just objects.
Of course a great portion of Jesus’ ministry was spent ministering to the poor. Yet a great deal was also expended upon attending to the needs of the non-poor—as well as those of the rich.
And none of it was spent on the issue of “economic inequality.”
Jack Kerwick received his doctoral degree in philosophy from Temple University. His area of specialization is ethics and political philosophy. He is a professor of philosophy at several colleges and universities in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Jack blogs at Beliefnet.com: At the Intersection of Faith & Culture. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or friend him on facebook. You can also follow him on twitter.