Presbyterians/old testament influence


I attended a PCA church that taught that Social Security,
welfare, medicare, medicaid and food stamps are contrary to
God's will. I politely disagreed but remained in the church.
Are these teachings part of Presbyterian doctrine? I can't
see that these teachings are apostolic. Perhaps they are in
the OT but not repeated in the epistles. I believe that all
scripture is profitable, but I think  it is dangerous and
divisive to apply and emphasize a principle from the OT          that is not repeated in the NT

Social concern is deeply embedded in Calvinistic theology. God did something for us which we could not possibly do for ourselves. So looking after those who cannot take care of themselves is seen as displaying the manifold mercies of God.

That said, Max Weber in his book "The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism" marked a correlation between hard work and sound doctrine. Christians generally should not expect other people to take care of them but should support themselves as much as possible. Your pastor would naturally turn to 2 Thessalonians 3:10: "For even when we were with you, we would [repeatedly] give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat."

The individuals in view here were not those who could not work but those who would not work. Welfare in this country is lasting into three and four generations, taking care of able-bodied individuals. They are being denied the many blessings of hard work. Read the following verses:
Galatians 6:7-10
Colossians 3:22-24
Ephesians 6:5-8
1 Timothy 6:18

Work is not a curse, but a blessing that was given to Adam in the garden of evil. When we get away from the pattern seen in Genesis (before the Fall), human flourishing diminishes. When thinking about welfare, assistance programs, etc, we must reference 1 Timothy 5:3-8, 16.
"3 Honor [that is, feed or provide for] widows who are truly widows. 4 But if a widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show godliness to their own household and to make some return to their parents, for this is pleasing in the sight of God. 5 She who is truly a widow, left all alone, has set her hope on God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day, 6 but she who is self-indulgent is dead even while she lives. 7 Command these things as well, so that they may be without reproach. 8 But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever...16 If any believing woman has relatives who are widows, let her care for them. Let the church not be burdened, so that it may care for those who are truly widows."

The first line of defense against poverty should be our own families. The second is the Church. The taxes incurred by the development of the welfare state reduce the ability of people to give at a level that could sustain their neighbors.

And please note that Paul's rule addresses lifestyle inactivity, not temporary unemployment. One must balance this with Paul's other letters on his care for the poor (cf. Acts 24:17; Romans 15:26-29; 2 Corinthians 8-9; & Galatians 2:10).


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Chris Larimer


Reformed / Systematic Theology, Biblical Theology, New Testament, Church History, Philosophical Theology, Apologetics, Preaching/Homiletics, Sacraments, and Liturgy are all specialties in which I have some expertise. I've been told I have a "knack" for Practical/Pastoral Theology as well.


I have been a Presbyterian church worker since 1996 and am about to be ordained as a Minister of Word and Sacrament. I served a year long internship in our denomination's Office of Theology and Worship.

Presbyterian Church (USA)

Call to Worship. ReNEWS. The Presbyterian Outlook (online edition).

Undergraduate study at King College and East Tennessee State University leading to BA in English, with minors in Sociology and in Humanities (emphasis Classical Studies). Master of Divinity, Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. Additional study, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Awards and Honors
Patterson Scholar in Greek and Latin, LPTS (2003-2006). J. K. Patterson Graduate Fellow in Church History, LPTS. PC(USA) Ordination Exams: Bible Content 98%; Greek Exegesis 5/5; Reformed Theology 5/5.

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