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Skillen retranslates Kuyper's message on Christians and poverty given in The Netherlands in 1891. Rejecting socialism as a passion for possession, Kuyper calls Christians to mirror Christ's suffering for humans on the cross. The Church, not the government, has been instituted to care for the suffering. Skillen retranslates Kuyper's message on Christians and poverty given in The Netherlands in 1891. Rejecting socialism as a passion for possession, Kuyper calls Christians to mirror Christ's suffering for humans on the cross. The Church, not the government, has been instituted to care for the suffering.


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Skillen retranslates Kuyper's message on Christians and poverty given in The Netherlands in 1891. Rejecting socialism as a passion for possession, Kuyper calls Christians to mirror Christ's suffering for humans on the cross. The Church, not the government, has been instituted to care for the suffering. Skillen retranslates Kuyper's message on Christians and poverty given in The Netherlands in 1891. Rejecting socialism as a passion for possession, Kuyper calls Christians to mirror Christ's suffering for humans on the cross. The Church, not the government, has been instituted to care for the suffering.

30 review for The Problem of Poverty

  1. 5 out of 5

    Doug

    Abraham Kuyper (1837-1920) is always an interesting read on politics because he wrote as a Reformed thinker before the Cold War. He didn’t absorb Cold War dichotomies or try to force them into a Christian mold. For example, he wasn’t afraid to talk about class power differences or struggles, a move verboten in conservative circles. Once Marx and the Left stole that language as their own, conservatives had to run the other direction. This small book is the text of a speech that Kuyper gave at the Abraham Kuyper (1837-1920) is always an interesting read on politics because he wrote as a Reformed thinker before the Cold War. He didn’t absorb Cold War dichotomies or try to force them into a Christian mold. For example, he wasn’t afraid to talk about class power differences or struggles, a move verboten in conservative circles. Once Marx and the Left stole that language as their own, conservatives had to run the other direction. This small book is the text of a speech that Kuyper gave at the first Christian Social Congress in 1891. Here are some excerpts: On the rich: “The ineradicable inequality between men produced a world in which the stronger devours the weaker, much as if he lived in an animal society rather than in a human society. The stronger, almost without exception, have always known how to bend every custom and magisterial ordinance so that the profit is theirs and the loss belongs to the weaker” (33). On the poor: “And whenever the magistrate came forward as a servant of God to protect the weak, the more powerful class of society soon knew how to exercise such an overpowering influence that the government, which should have protected the weak, became an instrument against them. This was not because the stronger class was more evil at heart than the weaker, for no sooner did a man from the lower class rise to the top than he in his turn took part just as harshly – yes, even more harshly – in the wicked oppression of those who were members of his own former class” (33). On Jesus and the Church: “The overthrow of the idol Mammon and the refocusing of life’s purpose from earth to heaven would, alone, have revolutionized popular consciousness. But Jesus didn’t stop there....The first and more important influence was through the ministry of the Word, insofar as the Word constantly fights against lust for money, comforts the poor and oppressed, and points to an endless glory that will be exchanged for the suffering of the present time” (40). On Church and charity: “The church’s second influence was through an organized ministry of charity, which in the name of the Lord – the single owner of all goods – demands that good be shared so that no man or woman in the circle of believers is allowed to suffer want or go without necessary apparel” (40). On Constantine: “Constantine’s conversion became, for the church, the signal to wed itself to the power of the world, thereby cutting the nerve of her strength. From then on, as a consequence, the world gradually crept into the church. Instead of disciples who went without purse or food, richly endowed princes of the church housed themselves in magnificent palaces” (42). On property: “The truth is this: absolute property belongs only to God; all of our property is on loan from him; our management only stewardship....An absolute community of goods is excluded everywhere in Scripture. However, Scripture excludes just as completely every illusion of a right to dispose of one’s property absolutely, as if one were God, without considering the needs of others” (67). On State Aid: “It is the God-given duty of government to uphold justice before arbitrariness, and to withstand, by the justice of God, the physical superiority of the stronger....The government should help labor obtain justice. Labor must also be allowed to organize itself independently in order to defend its rights....As for the other state aid – namely, the distribution of money – it is certain that such intervention is not excluded in Israel’s lawgiving, but there it is held to a minimum. Therefore I say that, unless you wish to undermine the position of the laboring class and destroy its natural resilience, the material assistance of the state should be confined to an absolute minimum. The continuing welfare of people and nation, including labor, lies only in powerful individual initiative” (72).

  2. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    It's a very short book that gives a pretty good biblical perspective on dealing with the social issue of poverty. Some of his ideas are a little dated (he advocated colonialism), but the majority of his ideas are pretty sound. It's a good little addition to any bibliography on philosophy and economics. It's a very short book that gives a pretty good biblical perspective on dealing with the social issue of poverty. Some of his ideas are a little dated (he advocated colonialism), but the majority of his ideas are pretty sound. It's a good little addition to any bibliography on philosophy and economics.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Peter Clegg

    Some good points but I had hoped for more discussion on the problem of poverty in relation to the Christian life rather than a commentary on the recent politics of Kuyper's day contained herein. Some good points but I had hoped for more discussion on the problem of poverty in relation to the Christian life rather than a commentary on the recent politics of Kuyper's day contained herein.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    The Problem of Poverty is a speech given by Abraham Kuyper at the First Christian Social Congress. This speech has four parts to it. The first, Facing the Reality of Poverty, outlines the failure of the Europeans to care for the poor, the call of Christians to care for the poor, and the lack of response by the Christians. The second part, Jesus and the Social Problem, gives an outline of Christ's response to wealth and the poor, and he also explains how Christ organized the church to fight mammo The Problem of Poverty is a speech given by Abraham Kuyper at the First Christian Social Congress. This speech has four parts to it. The first, Facing the Reality of Poverty, outlines the failure of the Europeans to care for the poor, the call of Christians to care for the poor, and the lack of response by the Christians. The second part, Jesus and the Social Problem, gives an outline of Christ's response to wealth and the poor, and he also explains how Christ organized the church to fight mammon. The church is to influence through the ministry of the word, by opposing oppressors and comforting the poor. The church is to be a ministry of charity, as seen most clearly in Acts 2:42-47. And finally, the church was to be an influence through the equality of believers. These three ways of influencing the world are the ways the church is to confront poverty in the world. The third part, The Socialist Challenge, lays out an overview and criticism of the socialist responses of the day. Ulimately, Kuyper rejects all forms of socialism, despite the good things they seem to offer. The last section, A Christian Approach to the Problem of Poverty, goes over what a distinctly Christian response to poverty should be. Each of the four parts are short, with the longest coming in at 20 pages. The book is clear, and the speech lacks the usage of jargon and Kuyper does an excellent job of communicating his points. Kuyper would seem to have been a gifted speaker from many soaring passages in this book. They get the point across and inspire the reader or hearer. I can see why he was able to become the Prime Minister of the Netherlands from reading this speech. Both the rhetoric and Kuyper's theology of poverty make this book worth reading, even if parts of it are out of date now. Much of the book deals with a social situation which is foreign to us now, and he was writing this in a world where neither world war nor the cold war has taken place. All of these events changed the way we view socialism, especially in the US. Another way the book is out of date is one of Kuyper's proposed solution to the problem of poverty is colonialism. Surprisingly though, understanding and looking at how Kuyper fought against socialism and accepted colonialism can provide us with a helpful lens for looking at the issues of our day. Kuyper seems to understand socialism quite well. He is aware of the problems socialism is attempting to solve, the appeal of socialism, and the danger of socialism. He does not deny the good that socialism is attempting to do, but he strongly denounces that socialism is good. Socialism ultimately runs counter to Christianity, and a Christian should oppose socialism. Contrast this well thought out, articulate understanding and criticism of socialism with his endorsement for colonialism. Colonialism gets mentioned only once, when he says "For precisely the same reason, we must never, as long as we value God's Word, oppose colonization." (p 69). The reasons he gives are entirely justifiable and good ones. If Europe has plenty of food and resources, it would be folly to hoard them when other nations are starving and in need. While the challenges arising from colonization are complex, one simple fact Kuyper seems to have neglected to consider was that greedy nations would not merely give to other nations, but take from them. The relationship wasn't usually one where the richer nation graciously gave to the poorer nation, but where the richer nation raped the poorer nation and took goods from her. The main reason why Abraham Kuyper endorsed colonization would seem to be that he didn't consider the downsides of it. If he had applied the same skepticism to colonization which he applied to socialism, then we might have had a truly Christian response to colonization, and a much different 21st century. I always am humbled to read of the failures of Christians in the past. They were far smarter and far holier than I am, yet they made terrible mistakes, Looking back on the past, we can easily see why colonization was a bad idea, but Abraham Kuyper, and most Christians of his day did not. They criticized some secular responses which aligned with some Christian values (socialism), but they were blind to other secular responses. Perhaps the takeaway for us should be to always stand in criticism of the secular approaches, and to be careful of their hidden agendas no matter how seemingly align with the values of the gospel they seem to be. They always end up compromising with the world. Perhaps that is also why we need to voices of the past even more now. We can learn from their mistakes, and we can also learn from the ways they saw deeply truths we have neglected. In The Problem of Poverty and Abraham Kuyper's Christ and the Needy, he gives two of the best modern expositions of wealth I have read. He readily acknowledges that wealth is a power which is opposed to Christianity, that seeking money has hindered and our witness, and that we ought to be giving more and doing more. He speaks words similar to Basil's when he says "But where our Father in heaven wills with divine generosity that an abundance of food grows from the ground, we are without excuse if, through our fault, this rich bounty is divided so unequally that one is surfeited with bread while another goes with an empty stomach to his pallet, and sometimes must even go without a pallet." Kuyper's desire is for the poor to be cared for, and for Christ's name to be glorified. He sums this desire up best in his closing prayer, a prayer I echo and pray with my whole heart for my own church and nation. "[M]ay it never be possible to say of Christians of the Netherlands that through our fault, through the lukewarmness of our Christian faith, whether in higher or lower classes, the rescue of our society was hindered and the blessing of the God of our fathers forfeited."

  5. 5 out of 5

    Anderson Paz

    O texto dessa obra é o discurso de Kuyper no Primeiro Congresso Social Cristão, em novembro de 1891, na Holanda. O problema do autor é: "como crentes professos em Cristo, de que maneira devemos agir, com vistas às necessidades sociais de nosso tempo?". Kuyper argumenta que o cristianismo dispõe de um amplo sistema teórico-prático para uma boa organização da sociedade, sendo lamentável o descolamento da religião cristã das demandas sociais. Em sentido positivo, a fé cristã propõe o uso da arte po O texto dessa obra é o discurso de Kuyper no Primeiro Congresso Social Cristão, em novembro de 1891, na Holanda. O problema do autor é: "como crentes professos em Cristo, de que maneira devemos agir, com vistas às necessidades sociais de nosso tempo?". Kuyper argumenta que o cristianismo dispõe de um amplo sistema teórico-prático para uma boa organização da sociedade, sendo lamentável o descolamento da religião cristã das demandas sociais. Em sentido positivo, a fé cristã propõe o uso da arte política para “fazer do viver juntos surgir uma vida em comunidade, bem como uma vida em sociedade, para que esta receba dignidade em si mesma em relação ao mundo material ao seu redor” p. 100. Diferente das ideologias políticas, a visão cristã deve oferecer a Palavra, a Misericórdia e a Igualdade da fraternidade, sob a soberania divina. Kuyper afirma que “onde pobres e ricos se encontram frente a frente, ele nunca escolhe seu lugar entre os mais abastados, mas se associa sempre aos pobres (...) Poderoso é o traço de misericórdia que se encontra entalhado em cada página do evangelho. Jesus entra inúmeras vezes em contato com os que sofrem e com os oprimidos. A multidão que desconhece a lei, ele não repele; pelo contrário, atrai a si. Nenhum pavio que ainda fumega ele apaga. O doente ele cura. Do toque da pele leprosa, ele não retira a mão. E se a multidão tem fome, mesmo que essa fome ainda não seja a fome do pão da vida, ele lhes entrega o pão que partiu em muitos pedaços e lhes oferece abundância de um delicioso peixe. Assim, Jesus combina a teoria à vida prática.” p. 107. A fé cristã contribuiu para a dignificação do ser humano e a promoção de mais igualdade e laços comunitários. Com a Revolução Francesa, porém, reforçou-se o individualismo egoísta, o apreço às coisas materiais e a quebra dos laços sociais. Ricos e pobres tiveram ceifadas sua perspectiva transcendente, tornando-se o dinheiro e o sucesso terreno a medida de tudo. Esse estado de coisas gerou exponencial desigualdades, fragmentação e atomização, menos céu e mais um pouco do inferno no mundo. Kuyper propõe que o cristianismo dispõe de uma crítica arquitetônica pela qual aponta os erros da própria estrutura fundamental da convivência social e oferece um arranjo social mais digno. E que é preciso uma perspectiva mais social em que a comunidade se disponha como um corpo com membros interligados em submissão à soberania de Deus. Em suma, uma filosofia política cristã deve reconhecer a majestade de Deus, ser antirrevolucionária, perceber a sociedade como um corpo orgânico de indivíduos (e não um conglomerado, como na perspectiva liberal), e exercer a mordomia cristã no uso dos bens materiais.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Lucas Freitas

    O livro propriamente dito é baseado no discurso proferido por Kuyper para a abertura de um congresso social cristão na Holanda no ano de 1891. Talvez por conta disso, alguns argumentos são pressupostos e não elaborados. Um exemplo disso é a afirmação de que o "indivíduo acha sua mais firme fortaleza precisamente no direito absoluto de propriedade" (p.123). Essa afirmação carregada fica sem qualquer elaboração mais profunda, exceto uma curta explicação de que a propriedade somente Deus é detentor O livro propriamente dito é baseado no discurso proferido por Kuyper para a abertura de um congresso social cristão na Holanda no ano de 1891. Talvez por conta disso, alguns argumentos são pressupostos e não elaborados. Um exemplo disso é a afirmação de que o "indivíduo acha sua mais firme fortaleza precisamente no direito absoluto de propriedade" (p.123). Essa afirmação carregada fica sem qualquer elaboração mais profunda, exceto uma curta explicação de que a propriedade somente Deus é detentor de propriedade absoluta, enquanto os seres humanos são meros mordomos. Obviamente, Kuyper estava falando para seus iguais em um congresso declaradamente Cristão, e muitos dos conceitos teriam sido compreendidos imediatamente pelos ouvintes, mas para um leitor deslocado 130 anos para o futuro, há alguma dificuldade. Prova disto é que na edição da Thomas Nelson, o prefácio, a introdução e o epílogo somam 100 das 158 páginas totais!!! Isto posto, a declaração de que o primeiro artigo de todo programa social cristão é "Creio em Deus todo poderoso, criador dos céus e da terra" é não apenas uma frase de efeito, mas uma necessidade ainda importante para nossos tempos. A sugestão de que a sociedade deve ser um corpo, organizando-se de forma mais orgânica e menos mecânica/planejada soa, a meus ouvidos, como uma aplicação ampla porém justa da ideia desenvolvida pelo Apóstolo Paulo em 1 Coríntios 12 de que a igreja é um corpo. Já a questão da "soberania das esferas", tão alardeada como uma das principais contribuições de Kuyper para uma visão política Cristã, continua sendo um conceito obscuro para mim. Penso que uma divisão tão estanque das tais esferas gera o mesmo grau de atomismo e divisão que são tão criticados por Kuyper. Repito que esta obra específica não é o melhor lugar para procurar, mas ainda gostaria de encontrar uma conceituação mais completa dessa ideia. No geral, um primer rápido para o pensamento político de Kuyper, mas uma obra que convencerá poucos que já não estejam alinhados com ele.

  7. 5 out of 5

    João Paraiso

    A posição de Kuyper é digna de honra. O apreço pela fraternidade e a compreensão das questões políticas que envolvem o problema da pobreza são pontos de destaque no livro. Não apenas isso, a crítica tanto ao liberalismo, quando ao progressismo como sistemas políticos é eloquente e em plena sintonia com os princípios das escrituras, pois Kuyper encontra o âmago do questão social, que é a valorização do indivíduo e um cuidado holístico. Uma pena que esse livro é tão pequeno e a introdução de Pedro A posição de Kuyper é digna de honra. O apreço pela fraternidade e a compreensão das questões políticas que envolvem o problema da pobreza são pontos de destaque no livro. Não apenas isso, a crítica tanto ao liberalismo, quando ao progressismo como sistemas políticos é eloquente e em plena sintonia com os princípios das escrituras, pois Kuyper encontra o âmago do questão social, que é a valorização do indivíduo e um cuidado holístico. Uma pena que esse livro é tão pequeno e a introdução de Pedro Dulci toma a maior parte do conteúdo também, mas é muito bem escrita e dá um bom panorama sobre a vida de Kuyper.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Zach Hollifield

    Typical Kuyper. Much to consider. Some parts very reminiscent of Basil’s homilies on wealth and poverty.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Caroline

    For school

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jordan J. Andlovec

    Nuanced, inspiring, and definitely not what you would think from the "founder" of Neo-Calvinism. Kuyper's keen insight in the problems of both liberalism and laissez faire capitalism, as well as distinctions between social democracy and "socialistic Christianity" made for a fascinating read. Nuanced, inspiring, and definitely not what you would think from the "founder" of Neo-Calvinism. Kuyper's keen insight in the problems of both liberalism and laissez faire capitalism, as well as distinctions between social democracy and "socialistic Christianity" made for a fascinating read.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Patrick Walsh

    My pastor, Paul Leggett, loaned this book to me. The message is timeless: Believers everywhere and in every generation have an obligation to meet the needs of the poor, who are also everywhere and in every generation.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Timothyemmalee

    Brilliant!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jon

  14. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

  15. 4 out of 5

    Dustin

  16. 5 out of 5

    Scott

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jeff

  18. 5 out of 5

    Tim Hoiland

  19. 4 out of 5

    Mikaeverson Duarte

  20. 4 out of 5

    Marissi Jordan

  21. 5 out of 5

    John Brouwer

  22. 4 out of 5

    Matt Zuckermann

  23. 4 out of 5

    Greg Evans

  24. 5 out of 5

    Payal Mahajan

  25. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Stout

  26. 5 out of 5

    Karam Hassan

  27. 5 out of 5

    Airlangga

  28. 4 out of 5

    Hendrik

  29. 5 out of 5

    Ragaai Atia

  30. 5 out of 5

    Marcello Almeida

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