What I planned to do in this book...
Christians live in this world where desperate poverty leads to starvation, preventable deaths, serious disease, damaged relationships, violated bodies, missed opportunities, and moral degeneration. Many non-poor Christians seem either not to notice, or not to care. Do they have any moral justification to turn away from poor people’s problems? Does the moral vision of Christianity have clear guidelines on whether Christians have responsibilities toward their fellow humans suffering from poverty?
Perhaps more important is the question whether Christianity has any special message for poor people themselves. Does God have anything to say to desperately poor people who live next to the luxurious rich? Does He care about the suffering of poor people? Can He help them escape their poverty?
In this book I explore these issues. I focus on the following question: “What is the message of the Bible about poverty for us today?” This simple question raises many complex issues that must be dealt with before a simple, clear answer can be given. For example, we must determine what poverty is. We must find a way of distinguishing between those who are poor and those who are rich. Furthermore, we must find out why poverty is a moral issue worth considering seriously. What are the effects of poverty on people? We must analyse all the moral issues raised by a complex phenomenon like poverty.
Once we fully understand what poverty is, what its consequences are, and why we must take note of the moral issues involved, then we can start asking what the Bible has to say about these issues. To eliminate personal bias, all possible texts dealing with poverty must be read and interpreted. Once that is done, we can try to put everything together into a coherent view about the Biblical message on poverty.
Interpreting the Biblical texts, comparing them with current moral thinking, and adapting their message to our contemporary circumstances can help us design a Christian ethics for today that can guide Christians to live responsibly in a world that has many countries with huge inequalities between rich and poor.