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Audio: Ballor and Strauss on Intergenerational Justice

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Ballor and StraussAt long last, here’s the audio from our latest community event. On March 10 at Derby Station in East Grand Rapids, Acton hosted an open mic discussion on “A Call for Intergenerational Justice: A Christian Proposal for the American Debt Crisis” featuring Gideon Strauss of The Center for Public Justice – one of the drafters of the statement – and Acton’s own Jordan Ballor.

A mea culpa – in my effort to make sure that the equipment used to record the event was set up correctly and working properly, I managed to neglect to start the recorders on time, and thus the recording begins with the event in progress. The good news is that I realized my error in time to catch the meat of Gideon’s opening argument; the bad news is that I missed his rather witty opening comments, and for that, I apologize to Gideon and to our listeners.

Regardless, the audio of the exchange is available to you below; have a listen and let us know what you think in the comments.

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Marc Vander Maas


  • Marc Vander Maas

    That picture does you no favors, Jordan. You look like you’re trying to turn the exchange into a freestyle rap battle.

  • The turntable is just off camera under my left hand.

  • “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto God what is God’s.” Gideon’s call to overlook or finesse the limitations of our national constitution in order to reach his preferred outcome is understandable but is an improper use of federal power. When we ignore limitations on the powers of the federal government which were placed there in order to leave the people sovereign, we truly make the government the “ruler” of which he speaks. The US government is, however, not in any rightful sense our ruler.

    The kings/governments of the biblical era were themselves human beings and owned directly or indirectly all the nation’s wealth and the people were their subjects. Hence the burden of stewardship fell hardest upon them. Like the Israelites prior to Saul, however, Americans are not subjects of any power but God. We are the rulers here.

    The outcome which Gideon, and to some extent Jordan, seem to prefer is to use the “compelling power” of the federal government as “ruler” to obtain the equivalent of tithes from everyone when that obligation is the obligation of Christians, not the obligation of non-believers. I can see no reason for this act of compulsion other than to lessen the burden on the believers of caring for the poor, a burden which they have freely undertaken and can abandon as they please. In our country it is we, the citizens of the US, who are the rulers and we are individually the ones who must pay the tithes but as rulers it is our choice whether we do so. To act otherwise is to confuse the obligations we owe to Caesar and to God.

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