Lipscomb on the Poor I

As the Gospel Advocate begins again in January 1866–this time as a weekly rather than a monthly–one of the constant emphases of the editors, particularly David Lipscomb, is the privileged position of the poor within the kingdom of God. No doubt this is contextualized by the economic and social conditions of the postbellum South, but it is also a principal thread of Lipscomb’s kingdom theology.

One of his first statements on the topic appears under the title, “Christ the Savior of the World” (GA 8 [20 February 1866] 124). Lipscomb wrote:

The sealing testimony in behalf of Jesus Christ being the Son of God is his own estimation, as divine to the disciples of John, was, ‘The poor have the gospel preached to them.” The world to-day needs this same sealing testimony, that it may believe that, Jesus is the Son of God. Every preacher that pretendedly, in the name of Jesus Christ, seeks the rich and the learned and the fashionable to preach to, instead of the poor and simple-hearted and unpretending, by that course nullifies the power of the great truth, that Jesus is the anointed one that was to come into the world to save the world. Such a preacher is no co-laborer with God; no true minister of Christ, but a servant of the wicked one in the livery of Heaven.

As one of among the rich, learned (at least by the standards that Lipscomb would think) and fashionable (though my daughters would disagree), this is a chilling reminder. Can I identify in my own ministry where I minister among the poor and advocate for the poor? It is a question we must all address and, hopefully, respond by joining Jesus in sharing good news with the poor.



3 Responses to “Lipscomb on the Poor I”

  1.   rich Says:

    okay john mark what’s up with post bellum.
    is that the era of the southern belle.
    has meaning the women. and a strengent rules of etiquette. associated with that time.
    y o boy john mark.

  2.   John Says:

    John Mark, Interestingly, my mid-thirties son and I were having a discussion yesterday on the phone during his commute home from work about the poor and the church helping, or failing to help, them. He suggested that the poor may be harder to idenitify today than in NT times because of all our government programs in the U.S. One might ask – if a person is poor, why are they not getting a government check, since virtually anyone who wants one gets one.

    How do you identify local people who are truly poor?

    • Avatar of johnmarkhicks  John Mark Hicks Says:

      Identifying the poor is an important question. I don’t think whether they do (or should) receive a government check is an answer to the question but rather whether they are naked, hungry, homeless or imprisoned. Identifying the poor ultimately means being with them. They are not so hard to identify in that case. I certainly am no expert on that and read Lipscomb on this point as a challenge to my own life.

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