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View Diary: Nearly half of Americans willing to concede that poverty may not result from character flaws (100 comments)

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  •  No Calvin scholar here, but... (5+ / 0-)

    as chairman of the Social Justice committee at my [relatively] urban Presbyterian church, I have an interest in this...

    John Calvin, Social Justice Advocate

    John Calvin would have been in the Occupy Wall Street movement, says WCRC’s Nyomi.

    Calvin and Social Justice

    ...He also attempted through his preaching to promote a more ethical society where the poor would not be exploited and deprived of their property by the wealthier members of society. He was extremely critical of the exploitation of the poor by the rich, and felt that many of them had gained their wealth at the expense of their poorer citizens. In these instances, believers should assist the poor while being wary of committing any wrong themselves. He felt that believers should not only not steal or exploit others themselves, but should act when they saw others being treated unjustly, as if they failed to act against injustice and oppression, they became implicated in them. Thus, Calvin stated that

    ‘(L)et none of us think that it is only lawful for us to guard what we have, rather, as the principle of charity exhorts us, let us see that we preserve and procure our neighbor’s property as much as our … (and) that we should always aspire towards that celestial heritage, knowing that therein we shall possess the fullness of all goods in perfection’...

    Not saying there aren't some real issues with Calvinism, but some of that comes from a narrow understanding of the man and his times.

    "I think in America, the opposite of poverty is justice." Bryan Stevenson

    by gfre on Fri Jun 20, 2014 at 03:29:54 PM PDT

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    •  Interpretations of predestination (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gfre, Aunt Pat, Dreidlgirl, Oh Mary Oh

      The problem likely comes from how some sects interpreted the 'predestination' idea. From what I understan, Calvin himself thought there was no way of knowing who was saved and who wasn't, but inevitably certain people began looking for visible signs of salvation. Wealth was the most obvious sign of salvation, and indigence the most obvious sign of damnation.

      If I can shoot rabbits, then I can shoot fascists- Manic Street Preachers

      by Liberal Of Limeyland on Fri Jun 20, 2014 at 03:41:51 PM PDT

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      •  the word "predestination" has pretty much (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Aunt Pat, Oh Mary Oh

        disappeared from the mainline Presbyterian church.
        Generally, the denomination itself is pretty liberal --

        see Office of Public Witness (PCUSA)...  

        but some congregations feel otherwise, and many are a mixed bag.

        "I think in America, the opposite of poverty is justice." Bryan Stevenson

        by gfre on Fri Jun 20, 2014 at 04:01:33 PM PDT

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        •  Yes I think it is just the PCA that believes in (0+ / 0-)

          predestination. The reason I say that is because my sister once belonged to a PCA church ( Presbyterian Church of America), which is the more conservative, evangelical type Presbyterian church.  We were talking about my mother's death and she was saying how God determined all of that from the time Mom was conceived and so on. I almost laughed but I wanted to be respectful as she was so sincere. But we were raised Methodist but all of us ended up in various churches. So my parents, myself, all of our family never believed in predestination but she was the lone one in our family during that period of time. And she said that is what she was taught at her PCA church.

          Keystone Liberals on Twitter @ KeystoneLibs , Join PA Liberals at

          by wishingwell on Mon Jun 23, 2014 at 08:33:15 AM PDT

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          •  Well, there are two kinds of predestination. (1+ / 0-)
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            The first is the regular kind, where you still have free will but God knows in advance what choices you are going to make (due to time being non-linear for God).  The other is called double predestination and that is the one commonly associated with Calvinism.

            You have watched Faux News, now lose 2d10 SAN.

            by Throw The Bums Out on Mon Jun 23, 2014 at 02:45:16 PM PDT

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      •  Providentialism (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Yonit, METAL TREK

         a mental acceptance of the provision that all that happens in the world is for the greater good, since "God created the social order and appointed each individual in his place within it"

        I think the biblical reference cited for this stuff was, "by their fruits shall you know them."

        This idea seems to have been popular among certain elements of the English gov't during the Irish potato famine. Charles Trevelyan, who was treasurer at the time,described the famine as 'a direct stroke of an all-wise and all-merciful Providence', one which laid bare 'the deep and inveterate root of social evil'. The famine, he declared, was 'the sharp but effectual remedy by which the cure is likely to be effected... God grant that the generation to which this great opportunity has been offered may rightly perform its part...' and he opposed any food assistance on the grounds that the free market was the will of God.

        The Irish were lazy and drunk and, worst of all, Catholic; the famine was God's judgement and it would be wrong to interfere with His will. Pretty much.

        I read a book on the famine not too long ago, and was struck by the similarity to statements of American conservatives today. The idea that bad things only happen to bad people is, sadly, still very much alive.

        •  Pat Robertson said as much after 9/11 (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Yonit, METAL TREK

          when he blamed gays, feminists, pro-choice supporters, and so on.

          And no, I don't think we can blame Calvin for all of this. What little I've read seems to indicate that he was a lot less harsh than Robertson and his ilk.

    •  True. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Thank you for reminding me that Calvin wasn't all bad.

      Zen is "infinite respect for all things past; infinite service to all things present; infinite responsibility for all things future."--Huston Smith's Zen Master

      by Ree Zen on Sat Jun 21, 2014 at 08:08:04 AM PDT

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