Alms and Homage

In my Acton Commentary today, “The Great Exchange of the Magi,” I reflect on the fact that, due to the material poverty of the holy family, the gifts of the magi can be considered alms in addition to homage: The magi set forth an example of the heart that all of us need to have when it comes to stewardship of our material blessings. Continue Reading...

Prudent Stewardship and the Cappadocian Fathers

Today at Ethika Politika, I examine a few rules of prudent stewardship that follow from the teachings of the Cappadocian fathers on poverty, almsgiving, and fasting. One of the great challenges in this area today is how best to live out in our present context the statement of St. Continue Reading...

Baxter, How to Do Good to Many, Part 1

Readings in Social Ethics: Richard Baxter, How to Do Good to Many (London, 1682; repr. 1830), part 1 of 3. References below are to page numbers. On Good Works: A condemnation of selfishness: “It is a sign he is a branch cut off and withered who careth little for any but himself” (292). Continue Reading...

Bucer, “The Sixth Law: Poor Relief”

Readings in Social Ethics: Martin Bucer, De Regno Christi (selections), in Melanchthon and Bucer, Book II, Chapter XIV, “The Sixth Law: Poor Relief,” pp. 306-15. References below are to page number. Giving aid to the needy in the church is a manifestation of an attribute of the church, for “without it there can be no true communion of saints” (307). Continue Reading...

Bucer, “Care for the Needy”

Readings in Social Ethics: Martin Bucer, De Regno Christi (selections), in Melanchthon and Bucer, Book I, Chapter XIV, “Care for the Needy,” pp. 256-59. References below are to page number. Bucer praises the deacon as an office of the institutional church and an artifact of the early church, commending it to reestablishment in the evangelical churches: “it was their principal duty to keep a list of all of Christ’s needy in the churches, to be acquainted with the life and character of each, and to give to individuals from the common offerings of the faithful whatever would suffice for them to live properly and devoutly. Continue Reading...

Cyprian of Carthage, On Works and Alms

Readings in Social Ethics: Cyprian of Carthage, On Works and Alms. Perseverance a work of divine providence: “But, moreover, what is that providence, and how great the clemency, that by a plan of salvation it is provided for us, that more abundant care should be taken for preserving man after he is already redeemed! Continue Reading...

The Greatest Mercy

Words of prudential wisdom from Richard Baxter: ‘In doing good prefer the souls of men before the body, ‘cæteris paribus.’ To convert a sinner from the error of his way is to save a soul from death, and to cover a multitude of sins [James v. Continue Reading...