09 November 2011

Open Letter to the #Occupy Movement

by Frank Turk

Dear #OWS & your kin --

Back before my personal blog went on long-term hiatus, I presented this video, as provided by the BBC via YouTube:



Hans Rosling is one of those EuroIntellectuals who gets gigs at places like the TED talks and gets appointments from the UN, so his work on this sort of data ought to be of some interest to you as he is probably sympathetic to your points of view.  The animated graphic he runs in this video is actually available on-line here, so you can play with it yourself and invent all kinds of stuff to argue with people about.

I have a specific point to make to you today using that data, and I hope you'll bear with me.

Here's the first stop on the tour of this data:

CLICK TO ENLARGE

This is Rosling's data at 1800 with the country with the highest standard of living called out.  The UK in 1800 had a per capita GDP of approximately $2800.00 in adjusted US dollars.  You can refute that any way you want, as this is Rosling's research and not mine.  I'd call him slightly biased, and not in my favor, which is fine.  But note this: in 1800, the UK's standard of living rendered an average life expectancy of 40 years.

Now, let's jump ahead 210 years:


I've left the pointers on the map for reference.  In 210 years, controlling for inflation, there are still plenty of countries with a per capita GDP of $2800 or less.  Let's call some out --


For examples, Ethiopia has a per capita GDP of less than $1000; Zimbabwe is less than $500; Nigeria is just over $2000; Ghana is in the middel around $1500.  But here's the thing: all of these countries have a life expectancy greater than that of the UK in 1800, and their GDP per capita is lower -- meaning there is less overall income in these nations, and a greater expectation of longer life.  Ghana's life expectancy is 50% greater than the UK's in 1800 -- and their people live today in what we would call abject poverty.

Someone a little more doctrinaire than I am when it comes to politics would now grandstand on the answer to the question, "How can this be possible?" but I have different objectives here.  While this graph shows us a lot of things, there is something it does not show us -- and we need to interpose some other data to go there.  Consider this:


The green line there is the median household income for the United States in 2010. If you have forgotten 6th grade math, the "median" in a series of numbers is not the average of the series: it is the number in the middle of the series.  So if you lined up the incomes for all 113,146,000 households with incomes in 2010, the value in the dead center of the list is $ 44,389.00  This is an interesting number as it shows how incomes skew either to the high end or the low end of the distribution -- and given that the mean household income is north of $60,000, I grant you it shows that the household incomes in the U.S. skew lower than average.

But see here: that green line has a startling place on the graph of world economies.  There are only 4 nations that have an average per cap GDP higher than our median household income -- so the median household in the U.S. has it pretty good.  And that value has special meaning relative to Rosling's video: Rosling classifies income of $40,000 as rich.

Rich!  Isn't that awesome?  That puts your complaints into a certain light, but there's one more vertical line I want to stripe in here:


You may not be familiar with the quintile rankings for income, so briefly: if you took that list of 113,146,000 households again in lowest-to-highest rank, and broke them up into five evenly-sized groups, you would have quintiles of income.  The break point between the 1st (lowest) and 2nd quintile is at $18,500 -- meaning the bottom 1/5th of households in the US have an annual income of under $18,500.  That sounds pretty scary, right?  That's the kind of thing you are out in the street trying to educate us about, yes?

But check it out: the line where you and I would say is the line which designates the poorest of the poor is well above the per capita income of more than 85% of the world's population.  It's a level of income 80% greater than the per cap GDP of South Africa, 30% greater than Russia, and six times greater than that of India.

That is: we define poverty in an opulent way.  Compared to the UK in 1800, we have defined the crown of Western Civilization to that time down to a dirty little country which we would be offended to live in.  The great part about this is the punchline: it's because we're greedy.

That's right: the problem is not that "they" are greedy - whoever "they" are (the bankers, the capitalists, the stock traders, but apparently not the movie moguls, the actors, the politicians and pop stars) -- but that we are greedy.  We want things we didn't earn, and we can't imagine that we might have to live on less than we think we are entitled to.  We certainly couldn't live on what the average Englishman lived on in1800, and may God forbid we have to live on what the average Russian or South African lives on today.  There was a time when we would say it isn't "fair", but today we say it's actually an injustice -- as if "justice" has anything to do with us getting something we didn't actually earn.

So I say all that to say this: your problem is not actually on Wall Street, or Atlanta, or San Fran, or any other city.  It is actually in your own heart -- and your accuser is not me and my blog-audacity, but the billions who look at you incredulously and see you complaining that you have a silver spoon in your mouth rather than a platinum one.  Your problem is the problem of all mankind, which is sin.

And the only cure for sin is repentance and faith in the only savior of men, Jesus Christ.

So today, when you read this, don't gird up your loins to context the data: repent.  Turn away from your simplistic materialism and repent.










95 comments:

Matthew Carroll said...

Thank you, Frank. Reading from Brazil, trying to understand the news regarding #Occupy, I've been a bit confused. This makes things much clearer.

Mark Lussier said...

This puts the first 6 verses of James chapter 5 in a slightly different light for me.

Vinod Anand S said...

Fantastic post Frank.

I can clearly understand as I am from India. Convert the percapita amount of the poorest of poor to Indian money. It is an extremely good salary in India and is paid even by the American companies here in India.

Here the average salary of a middle class family is $5000 per year. Yet people are living comfortably here.

Remember the petrol price is higher in India than in US.

Frank Turk said...

Here are the first 5 verses of James 5 for those who don't have a Bible:

1Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. 2 Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. 3Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure in the last days. 4Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. 5 You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter.

That black line for the bottom quintile is devastating to Western notions of entitlement and for our overall expectations.

Robert said...

Thanks, Frank. This speaks to me even as somebody who doesn't support the Occupy movements and is scared of the anarchist ideology it seems to carry with it.

monty5811 said...

While I agree with the conclusion, that the problem is in our hearts. Should there not be a consideration of the cost of living in each country before income comparisons are made? Or am I missing something, has this already been incorporated into the data?

Jeff said...

Incredible. Thanks for the insight Frank. If only the occupy folks could think clearly enough to digest a post like this. Sadly, I don't think that's the case.

jeff said...

Yeah, but have you used a platinum spoon lately? They're wonderful

Mr. Fosi said...

monty 5811 said: Should there not be a consideration of the cost of living in each country before income comparisons are made? Or am I missing something, has this already been incorporated into the data?

I wondered this too the first time I saw this vid years ago. It seems to me that the raw median income converted to USD builds in a strong bias against countries with higher costs of living.

However, I think that Frank sidestepped this problem by using the data within it's own context; i.e. comparison to 1800 UK.

Even so, I would be interested in seeing this data converted to an index incorporating raw income divided by a sum of staple foods like rice, wheat, corn, casaba or whatever. I know that's not the point of the post though so...

Good job Frank. :^) Law & Gospel, sin & grace, repentance & the forgiveness of sins. The points you made are solid and smooth enough to repel virtually all complaints.

John Dunn said...

"We want things we didn't earn . . . "

Oh that the world would highly value and covet genuine wealth . . . the abundant gift of God's free grace lavished upon us through Jesus Christ!

Frank Turk said...

When you baseline inflation against a given year (in this case, 2010 dollars) and you're comparing GDP per capita, you have overcome a lot of the variability.

Is it perfect? No. Is it telling? it's practically screaming.

Soulll said...

I'm an #occupy folk. lol. I digested this very well Mr. Jeff. In fact, it's rather timely, b/c I've been convicted on how much I spend, and waste, in light of those who can't afford what they need. Frankly Frank (you see what i did there lol) we deserve nothing good...and it's overwhelming how ungrateful I've been to the Father, when I wanted/thought i needed something.Any roundhouse kick to my pride is welcome.

I am a bit confused on why this would somehow trump the Occupy Wall Street movement? Why does having a certain amount of wealth somehow remove people's right to protest things that they believe to be wrong? Being rich would put the complaints in perspective if the movement was all about being more rich. And it isn't.

The silver spoon/platinum spoon analogy has come up a few times...and...yes - there are people in the movement who are whining about college bills they could have avoided by going to a more affordable school, but majority of the movement is based on a desire for government reform, and a change in the integrity of economics. And the movement is FAR from anarchism. Far...just...i don't how that even...*scratches head*

Not only that, but Occupy Wall Street has become a worldwide effort. There are even Occupy chains in Africa. People all over the world want to be able to see changes in the way their governments are run. It's not just a U.S. thing anymore. As a growing worldwide effort...can it still fall within the constructs of ungrateful complaints considering the economy in those places are different?

I will admit the 99% thing (for me) is starting to get out of hand and context...but in the same way that tea party movement isn't racist - while there may be a few who are...the occupy movement isn't a whinefest - though there are some there who are whiners.

So I guess...I'm saying that I agree...we are all greedy, and yes, we are wealthy compared to other countries...and that should compel us to give more, but I don't believe that should silence protest of injustice. At least i don't think. I'm very much obliged to being schooled...since I've learned to accept how wrong I can be on a lot of things. But that's my two cents anyway.


Cheers.

michelle said...

Absolutely brilliant! I love this post! Thanks Frank.

Frank Turk said...

Soulll --

All of the complaints of the OWS folks are well framed as "first world problems". The their grievances are first-world grievances. It's radically self-congratulatory to say that any #Occupy movement in Africa has the same goals as the hipster neofascists in #OWS or #OccupyATL or the other post-Dead-Head street festivals which are now turning violent.

And it is radically self-congratulatory, and anti-Gospel, to assume that looting the wealth of a few people (turns out: really about half the people) will fix the poverty of anyone.

Mary Elizabeth Tyler said...

Do you ever get the feeling that many now days are reduced to feeding at the trough of their own greed? Kinda like the Prodigal Son, who wasted his good fortune and was reduced to eating pig food (husks).

The word prodigal means "wastefully extravagant.” Well now that the chicken has come home to roost for so many Americans, it illustrates the sad state of affairs of the totally depraved heart.

I think specifically of the Crystal Cathedral, and how it is now in bankruptcy because the leaders were not living in accordance with God’s Word, but high on the proverbial hog, according to the deceitful promises of riches and wealth.

Excellent article, Frank!!! Really good!

Allison Gray said...

Great post, Frank! I think the irony of it all is that many of those who are part of the Occupy movement (at least in 1st world countries), are completely blind to the fact that THEY actually are the one percent they are seeking to overthrow.
You hit the nail on the head - sin is, and always is, the core issue. The only way they will get rid of the so-called one percent, is if the whole world repented and turned to Jesus Christ. We all know from Scripture this is not going to happen.

Soulll said...

Frank,

You said:
"All of the complaints of the OWS folks are well framed as "first world problems". The their grievances are first-world grievances."

I agree that it's a first world problem...though not in the context of "an i phone breaking", or someone losing their credit card. My question re-worded, or I guess better clarified, is does protesting a first world problem contradict gratefulness or rather, having a grateful understanding of ones own wealth? And if so, then why do you think so?

"It's radically self-congratulatory to say that any #Occupy movement in Africa has the same goals as the hipster neofascists in #OWS or #OccupyATL or the other post-Dead-Head street festivals which are now turning violent."

It wasn't self congratulatory. I was stating a fact. Occupy movements have started up worldwide. Whether or not the movements carry every grievance, the idea stemmed from the Occupy movement in the U.S. Your blog post mentions the rest of the world as a comparison...which is why I mentioned that - essentially for your perspective on it. I have no horns to toot sir.

"And it is radically self-congratulatory, and anti-Gospel, to assume that looting the wealth of a few people (turns out: really about half the people) will fix the poverty of anyone."

You will have to show me where in my post you got this reasoning. Government and economic reform doesn't translate to looting the rich for me - which yes, stealing for any reason is anti-gospel...and I'm sorry you interpret me that way.

Double Cheers.

Mike Westfall said...

That's awesome frank. Really puts things into perspective. As one radio talk show host used to say several years ago (and maybe still does), in America we have the richest poor people in the world.

By the way, we'll be in Little Rock on Saturday afternoon. Gonna pick up my mother-in-law at the airport, then head on over to Nashville, so my that daughter can compete in the National Bible Bee.

I'll wave at you as we pass through Little Rock...

Frank Turk said...

Soulll asked:

[QUOTE]
does protesting a first world problem contradict gratefulness or rather, having a grateful understanding of ones own wealth? And if so, then why do you think so?
[/QUOTE]

It does demonstrate a lack of gratefulness. To complain from the middle of a massive feast of opportunity and provision that one has to lift a finger to get what he wants is not merely ingratitude: it is in fact sloth and covetousness.

Worse still: when one complains that the debt one signs up for to gave some advantage is now one's responsibility to pay back, that's not just sloth and covetousness -- it is in fact demanding the right to steal.

First world problems are all problems relating to how much luxury we can enjoy -- they are all problems of how high above the mudline we can live when we are already high on the hog. They shame us when we turn them into political motives.

Frank Turk said...

Soulll stated:

[QUOTE]
You will have to show me where in my post you got this reasoning. Government and economic reform doesn't translate to looting the rich for me - which yes, stealing for any reason is anti-gospel...and I'm sorry you interpret me that way.
[/QUOTE]

You endorse #OWS. The premise of that movement is the validity of political redistribution of wealth. That premise is anti-Gospel. If you repudiate that idea, you repudiate that movement.

I would credit you if you did so. I look forward to it -- but when you do it, you will have removed the basis for the #OWS complaints. You'll have to find another movement to join.

Robert said...

Soulll,

I can't speak for Frank, but the idea of looting and anarchy has been what I have seen from the demonstrations. A port was shut down in Oakland...banks were vandalized there, too. A senator in Atlanta couldn't speak because the majority of people couldn't come to agreement and the thought was that one person is no greater than any other so he (the senator) shouldn't be able to speak (how then are any of the protestors allowed to speak?).

Basically, it seems that while the Occupy movement may have had a unified vision and set of goals, but it has become a very unorganized group without a clear vision or goal. Which menas that what Occupy is for you isn't necessarily what it is for most of the people involved with it. And I certainly don't think that many of the protestors have any idea of the effect they have had on common people just trying to work. I also don't think that people should be pushing the message "eat the rich", which I have seen on many signs. I'm not saying that you support this message, but I think somebody involved in that movement needs to pull the reigns in before things get totally out of control.

Unknown said...

Great article!

Reminds me of something I was reading in Time magazine about social mobility the other day:

"Many conservatives, for example, would be inclined to focus on absolute mobility, which means the extent to which people are better off than their parents were at the same age. That's a measure that focuses mostly on how much economic growth has occurred, and by that measure, the U.S. does fine. Two-thirds of 40-year-old Americans live in households with larger incomes, adjusted for inflation, than their parents had at the same age (though the gains are smaller than they were in the previous generation).
But just as we don't feel grateful to have indoor plumbing or multichannel digital cable television, we don't necessarily feel grateful that we earn more than our parents did. That's because we don't peg ourselves to our parents; we peg ourselves to the Joneses. Behavioral economics tells us that our sense of well-being is tied not to the past but to how we are doing compared with our peers. Relative mobility matters."

That snippet seems to give away the whole shop, to me. Sure, it says, 2/3 of us are doing even better than our parents did, which is no small feat if you think about it. (making more money than someone living in the US would be great for the majority of the world) But goshdarn it, the Joneses have a boat! I want a boat!

From Time:
"... our sense of well-being is tied not to the past but to how we are doing compared with our peers."

Our sense of well-being, in other words, is tied to covetousness. OWS thus, seems to me to institutionalize coveting as a valid and even desirable activity.

Daryl said...

It may be worth reminding Soull that the world-wide movements, at least in the less fortunate countries, likely have more to do with the "Arab Spring" than OWS.

Much the same as the fall of one communist country in the late 80's quickly led to another and another.

Jim Crigler said...

Good stuff.

I just wish you guys would add a Facebook "like" button that shows up in the RSS feed. Abraham Piper can do it; I bet you can, too.

Frank Turk said...

I have tried. There is something wrong with Blogger. Again.

Terry Rayburn said...

Fascinating and valuable insights, Frank. Much appreciated.

In probing the sinful aspects of the movement, it actually goes even beyond the economic greed to deep conditions of lost men.

The supposed economic ideas of the Occupiers are just scratching the surface of the emptiness inherent in the soul of one not in union with the Lord.

In the 1960's my friends and I read books like Eric Hoffer's The True Believer and Viktor Frankl's Man's Search For Meaning.

Though secular in outlook, they pointed to the fact that man would rather not live than to live without purpose and meaning in their lives.

I can't say the books were helpful, because they amplified my own emptiness back then, since I, like King Solomon before me, tried to fill the void with everything but the Lord who made me, and it was all "vanity", "emptiness".

Absent the meaning and purpose that Christ gives us believers, men will attach themselves to a myriad of "movements" to escape the emptiness that the lost soul is desperately about.

And so mass movements come and go. And people attach themselves to them, pretending altruism, but with a core of selfishness that's not primarily materialistic, but soulish and hollow.

Christians who are not "being filled by the Spirit" are likewise prone to similar emptiness. Thus they can be open to "movements" wacky and otherwise.

A.W. Tozer spoke of loneliness in these terms.

He pointed out that if we are only looking backward at an experience with the Lord, or only looking forward to some experience with the Lord, but not experiencing our present Life in Him, then we experience what Tozer called a "cosmic loneliness".

I believe that all this is the main reason for the enormous sales of Warren's The Purpose Driven Life, for better or worse.

May God open the hearts of many in the Occupy Movement to real meaning in Jesus Christ.

They are empty. May He fill them.

Allison Gray said...

Unknown,
You say 2/3 of us have done better than our parents. I may live in Canada (where due to taxes, the cost of living is MUCH higher) but I don't see a lot of my friends doing better than their parents did at their age. I'm in my early thirties, and most of my friends do not own a house yet, but their parents did at that age. The problem is that in my working-to-middle class neighbourhood, a typical 40 yr old, simple, 3 bedroom house goes for about $375,000 on the low end. When you are making an average salary of $45,000 you are never going to be able to buy a house at that price, never mind even being able to save for a down payment! (You probably won't even be able to buy a new car...)Most young families here make between $30,000 to $40,000 a year, which is in reality, just enough to cover the basics (and buy pretty much everything second hand). Our parents, however, tend to think we have the same buying power as they did when they were our age, and can't understand why we won't "just grow up" and buy a house already. Um, due to inflation and decreased buying power, we are simply unable. (I would have to work two jobs just to pay for daycare full time for our 2 year old son, to be able to work full time, to be able to afford a house)What is this due to? Greed, which drives up the price of everything, but which is also bound up in the heart of every human.
On the other hand, I am still thankful that we have enough food to fill our stomachs, clothes on our back, a car to drive, and a lovely safe suite to call home. I know, in the end, that God is the one who gives me everything I need to live on, and has said in His Word, not to complain, but instead give thanks.

Robert Warren said...

These OWS movements, which are nothing more than vague protests against Life Itself, remind me of a Depression-era cartoon that was reprinted in a history book in high school. One hobo said to another "Those rich people...their money is tainted." The second hobo replied: "Yeah, 'taint yours and 'taint mine."

Frank Turk said...

The fad today is that people want to make failure to launch a societal problem rather than a personal problem.

Are people at age 30 in a different economic class than their parents at the same age 30 or 40 years ago? Maybe. We might discover the reasons if they (especially the young men) put down the XBOX controllers for a couple of weeks and spent more time at work than on the internet.

And get off my lawn. You are killing the grass.

Allison Gray said...

Frank,
With all due respect, not every young person is lazy. My husband works his tail off, but $17/hour only goes so far. His background is in Civil Engineering, but due to the recession jobs in that field are few and far between, so he has to do something to pay the bills. He spends the majority of his free time bonding with his family or ministering to others (he leads a small group in the church, and also spends time volunteering at Teen Challenge) This does not leave a lot of time for a second job. He could go work up north in the oil fields, but as he'd be gone for several weeks at a time, we wouldn't have much of a marriage, and he wouldn't have much of a relationship with our son. Choices all come with consequences, and we have chosen family above wealth. Please don't assume that just because people are poor is because they are lazy.

St. Lee said...

If I could find a way to say this without offending you Allison, I certainly would, but...

A family making $17 an hour ($34K/year)and calling itself "poor" perhaps should evaluate how much they spend on computers, Internet service, cable television, television, and so forth before even suggesting that they are poor.

Or perhaps re-read Frank's excellent post.

Frank Turk said...

Allison:

I thought we were talking about people in general, not you personally. If you can prove people in general are more like your husband than the slacker I described, I'll revise and amend my remarks.

Frank Turk said...

Well, Lee's grandfatherly stern-ness aside, I wouldn't want to live on $34K with any kids. But I also wouldn't blame anyone if what I had done was choose that lifestyle so I could spend the other half of my time doing things like ministry. I chose the Pauline route, and that means the hard row to hoe, not the easy middle class life.

Brad Williams said...

Frank,

Well, I don't know what to think, really. You wrote this:

You endorse #OWS. The premise of that movement is the validity of political redistribution of wealth. That premise is anti-Gospel.

I did not think that was the premise of OWS. Perhaps I am naive, but I was under the impression that OWS was about the political redistribution of power, and currently the capital of power is money, not guns. Thank God.

You know what? I am ticked off that my neighbor is considered a dummy for speculating in the housing market and got kicked to the curb for a bad investment he got stuck with. He was hoping to flip the house, and now he is bankrupt. Now, that might be a case of the chickens coming home to roost, and I can get with that. It stinks, but investments fail.

What makes me mad is that private companies, who made the same bad investment, and in fact soured my investment by foolish practice, got money to bail them out of their problems. Those chickens didn't come home to roost for them like they did my neighbor.

So, what's up with that, bro? Is that first world problems? Or is that an example of a private company getting a handout by wealth re-distribution because they are too big to fail, buy my neighbor is too small to matter?

I don't know if that is what OWS is all about, and if it is what you say it is about, well let them have their say and go home. But if it is about saying, "Wait a minute! Why did these companies get a handout whilst the I got the curb?!", then that graph that dude made doesn't exactly cut it.

Or maybe I'm at the wrong rally. Am I supposed to be in the Tea Party or something?

Matt Aznoe said...

Frank,

I absolutely agree with your indictment of Americans in general. We are filthy rich compared to the world, and that is a fact.

But to turn a blind eye to the corporate greed, the rampant lies and fraud in the banking system, the off-shoring of America jobs, the massive distortions in the economy from subsidies... it just shows a certain degree of ignorance that, quite frankly, is hard to stomach.

It is very difficult for me to make this post because there is simply too much information that you simply do not know. And that is the problem. The level of lies and corruption in our government is simply astounding, and the facade of wealth that we have in our country is very soon to come to an abrupt end (as part of the continuing judgement of God).

It is one thing to expose the sinful flaw that we as Americans all share in common, but it is quite another to isolate and condemn a group as being particularly guilty when you simply do not know the facts. Of course, you will not get the facts if you continue to get your news from Fox News or any other mainstream media outlet. You see: they are owned by the same corporations that own our government. If you do not believe that statement, you really need to open your eyes and do some research. If you want to start to understand at least part of the picture, you might want to read economists like Karl Denninger who (along with many others) saw our current economic disaster coming and has been exposing the fraud and corruption for years.

What many in the OWS are calling for is justice -- that is, they want to see the rule of law actually enforced in this country. They want to see fraudulent bankers prosecuted according to the laws that should have stopped them long ago. They want to see bribes and kickbacks eliminated. They want honesty in our government. Far from anarchy, most of them want a return to a constitutional government.

It saddens me to see Christians just blindly follow the lead of the talking heads of the media and denounce that which they do not understand to defend a status quo that is increasingly ungodly and is leading our nation toward absolute tyranny and ruin. God will not stand for the injustices of our nation for much longer, and our own time of repentance is becoming quite short.

Robert said...

Matt,

Are you God's herald? I'd tread carefully before declaring what is the judgment of God and what isn't based on your knowledge of the situation.

Also, I'd refer you to my previous comments to Soulll regarding the ideology that is shown in the actions of the people involved in this movement. There may be some core to the group that thinks that this is all about enforcing laws, but with the growth of these groups that core has become the minority. Especially when you start hearing 99% and 1%. I am in the 99%, but I don't necessarily think that most of the Occupy group would believe that based upon externals.

Either way, the real need of all of the people involved is the Gospel, not social justice. And it is clear that has been neglected by many people involved on both sides of Wall Street.

ramblin-thoughts said...

so, the real issue is my heart. It always is

Frank Turk said...

Brad --

If you can link me to OWS-types cogently addressing the substance of the Bush/Obama bail out, then I'll seek to review and revise my remarks. It seems rather obvious, though, that they are not talking about that.

I look forward to your links. My links are in my tweet stream.

Frank Turk said...

Matt --

It saddens me to think that we can justify the greed of the middle class by pointing to the greed of the super-rich.

You honestly don't see the problem there?

Sir Aaron said...

First to Frank: Amen. I'm wealthy and I thank God for it. I also plan to take my daughters to many of the countries I've been to so they can see first hand how others live so they too will not take God's blessing for granted. I enjoy God's blessing but realize that like Job, it can be here today gone tomorrow.

To Matt and Brad: I just want you to remember these posts today the next time you are called for jury duty. I investigate corporate fraud and other frauds. I'm currently set for a trial that will take 3 to 6 weeks. I expect you to volunteer for service. Because I'm pretty tired of people telling me how bad things are and then refusing to take time out of their schedule to do anything about it.

Allison Gray said...

Just to clarify, I am not trying to blame anyone for our financial situation. Like I said, it comes with the choice of where we live and what is important to us, we accept our lot, and we are thankful for all the Lord has given us. We fully realize we could be a whole lot worse off. I was merely trying to provide some background information on what the reality is for young families in North America today. Trust me, I am so sickened by what people think they "need" that I barely watch tv. (Hello HGTV - do we really all NEED granite counter tops and stainless steel appliances?? I think not!). For a lot of young families, some months it can tough just to be able to afford food and rent, forget any luxuries.
I'm simply saying that though I don't agree with how the protesters are going about it (and a lot of their ideas), I can understand in some ways the frustration they feel. I did not mean to come across as whining or ungrateful. If I did, I apologize.
For the record, St. Lee, our computer was free, and our internet, cable and utilities are thankfully all included in our rent. Otherwise we would go without TV and internet, which is no big deal, as they are just the icing on the cake and are by no means a necessity.

David Regier said...

Hey Matt,

Funny way to uphold the rule of law: by raping, rioting, defecating on cop cars, and pushing old ladies down the stairs.

I will agree that this is not a one-dimensional problem. But it's more like we're swimming in a sea of covetousness, and getting mad at the fact that there are sharks. This is not a problem that can be solved in an election cycle (unless you're a Calvinist, and feel like parsing that pun). Frank's final paragraphs state the remedy just fine.

Jonathan Mahaffey said...

To answer Monty's question from earlier in the day, the chart does appear to be in PPP$ which means purchasing price parity, and if I understand the concept correctly that should at least attempt to take cost of living into account. What I don't know is if that works across time (i.e. comparing 2010 to 1800) or just country to country within a given year. If I had to make a guess I'd say the latter.

Brad Williams said...

Your mileage will vary. The first has some salty language, but it is probably the most cogent. Maybe they are tricking me, but these guys don't seem to be saying that this is about wanting to take other people's money. It is about corruption and power for them. Their solution may be wrong though.

http://www.adbusters.org/blogs/adbusters-blog/hey-president-obama-our-one-demand.html

http://dailyreckoning.com/government-bailouts-by-design/

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/taibblog/owss-beef-wall-street-isnt-winning-its-cheating-20111025

kateg said...

I wonder why, if #OWS wants to enforce the laws and stop gov't corruption, do they occupy WS and not Penn Ave., K Street, the Capitol Bldg, or even DAs' offices?

Scooter said...

As usual, this open letter took a lot of brainpower to digest, but I think I got this one. I like how you framed your argument Frank, moving past their complaints of corruption into their demands. If they truly cared about removing corruption and a broken system, they would asking our representatives to execute justice and fixing loopholes and loose laws, not making their demands that the rich aren't generous enough to give them free money.

Yes, there may be folks in the #Occupy movement who were wronged by a corrupt system, but this movement thinks their minor greeds trumps big, giant Corporate Greed.

Russell said...

Read the story of the Rich young Ruler in my devotion time today. Now that cannot be just coincidental. We look at that passage from afar and think how shameful that he is so in love with his possessions that he could not follow Jesus. We don't understand that we are today's equivelant of the Rich Young Ruler.
Irony alert - I was reading it on my iPad in my air conditioned home with a full refrigerator of food in my comfortable chair.
Just saying.

One Salient Oversight said...

You don't look at enough facts here and, a as result, come to some erroneous conclusions.

One simple trait of the poor nations listed on your graphs is that there is a huge disparity of wealth between rich and poor.

Conversely, one simple trait of many of the rich nations on the graph is a much lower disparity of wealth between rich and poor.

One of the issues that OWS has is that in the US, there is a growing disparity of wealth. In other words, they are complaining that the US is becoming closer and closer to the third world nations on that list.

Of course one of the ways in which wealth is more equally distributed in richer nations is, with the notable exception of the US, the presence of universal health care and a decent public education system.

We also need to remember that, in the US especially, there is a huge level of debt, so while "Median income" might be high, the presence of large amounts of debt pushes that down significantly.

Robert Warren said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brian said...

First time visiting your site. Totally agree on the problem with man,it is our depravity and the fact that man is separated from his Creator.

I just started a new blog site---running a series on the mission of the Church, stop in a give me some feed back:http://christianmusings-brian.blogspot.com/

Daniel Smith said...

Interesting post, and there is merit here, but I think the author misses the point. The problem as the protesters see it is the income gap, not between the rich and poor or between Americans and the rest of the world, but the gap between income and opportunity in America. This country used to be the land of opportunity but now it's only opportunistic if you have money, influence, or power - and these mostly by inheritance. The American Dream of being able to do and be anything is exceedingly difficult to achieve now as compared to the past.

I also think it improper for the author to include an appeal to God as if God somehow condones this state of affairs. 'Let him who has no sin cast the first stone' or, in other words, while it may be true that the American people should repent from their sin of materialism, how much more should those Americans that have accumulated so much more than the national average? The blog reports the median and the lowest quintile incomes but neglects to include the top-most quintile. How does this segment of the country compare on these charts?

Thus, this post is biased. The author can correct this simply by posting on the top-most quintile and how it compares just as the median income and bottom quintile have been.

Mike Westfall said...

"The American Dream of being able to do and be anything is exceedingly difficult to achieve now as compared to the past."

That's because in the past, people actually had las ganas to try and to do and to make something of themselves. When you're lazy and spoiled and just angry that your cargo cult expectations of prosperity landing magically in your lap isn't working out (That's because those who won't give it to you are "greedy") ... yeah, it's really hard to achieve.

Also, the upper quintiles are irrelevant to the sub-point (you having apparently missed the main point that we are all sinners)trying to be made here: That even the least wealthy of those who are out throwing temper tantrums about "corporate greed" are magnitudes more wealthy than much of the rest of the world, and even the wealthiest of a few generations ago. The evil corporate greed is what got all of us the wealth that we all in America and other industrialized nations enjoy now.

Corporate greed, by the way, is just collectivized entrepreneurship. Corporations are collections of people who have associated themselves together for the purpose of making a buck, just like everyone else.

Frank Turk said...

OSO --

There are literally too many things wrong with what you said to attempt to refute it all. For example, it's an accepted fact of ecomonic studies that disparity of wealth is neither a good nor bad thing, but you express your twaddle about wealth disparity like a convinced Marxist.

Here's the one thing I will address: making the case that the middle class is saddled with debt in this country, therefore it is overwhelmed or under-employed, overlooks the fact that there is not one dollar of middle class debt which the debtor is forced to accept. Every penny is voluntary, and that debt is therefore not the bank's fault but the fault of the debtor. If that debt is causing wealth inequality, there's a simple solution: wise up.

But you see: to do that, the middle class has to be driven by something other than covetousness. They have to value something else over immediate gratification. This points exactly to my essay and the root cause of the problem.

The Gospel, again, winds up being the solution to Culture.

Frank Turk said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Frank Turk said...

| Interesting post, and there is merit
| here, but I think the author misses
| the point.

Do Tell ...

| The problem as the
| protesters see it is the income gap,
| not between the rich and poor or
| between Americans and the rest of
| the world, but the gap between
| income and opportunity in
| America.

Yes, I think the first problem is actually comprehending what was written in the post. Of course the protestors are not saying, “hey! We should share more with those in Ghana because our poorest Americans are 10X wealthier than the average Ghanan!” They are instead saying, “I want free education and free medical care, and I want a job that pays above $40K because $40K is for shlubs.” And, in their view, they deserve it. *My* point is that they neglect that actual 99% of the world for their first-world complaints about “income disparity” when in fact they number in the most affluent people every to trod the sod.

That is: the problem is that they overlook their own greed to criticize the alleged greed of others. That’s malarkey at best, and hypocrisy at least. It may actually be something more sinister.

As to “opportunity gap,” sure: there’s a big gap between people with degrees in pottery, poetry and gender studies and those who learned marketable skills in college. Accountants make more than artists on average – and that’s not a well-kept secret. As a well-schooled Master of Arts in Literature, I speak from experience: you should better spend your money on something that will return on the investment.

| This country used to be
| the land of opportunity but now
| it's only opportunistic if you have
| money, influence, or power - and
| these mostly by inheritance.

What a load of tripe.

My father is an immigrant who came to this country with a 3rd grade education. He put himself through college by working 2 jobs, and spent the next 35 years teaching High School. We spent most of my youth in the bottom quintile of household income.

Today I am the single wage earning and my household is in the top Quintile. While I am certain I owe some of that to the kindness of others, it wasn’t political favors due to inheritance that earned me my advances. It was a commitment to do what’s right and to deliver value to my employer. Hard work still pays off in spite of jaundiced liberal cant.

[-more-]

Frank Turk said...

[-cont-]


| The American Dream of being able to
| do and be anything is exceedingly
| difficult to achieve now as
| compared to the past.

I’ll refrain from typing the first word that comes to mind as it is vulgar – at least as vulgar as this sentiment. The idea that it was ever easy to achieve and do better than your parents is a lie, and the thought that it ought to be so now is a vacant daydream from a lazy generation of slackers who want the world to just let them farm their experience on cheap tactics and then level them up so that they can be the CEO when their not even fit to be a mail room clerk.

The America Dream was never for anyone who wanted it to be easy. That’s why the stereotype of the American citizen is the “rugged” individual, not the “muzzy” individual.

Here’s an awesome graphic for you. The data comes from the census bureau, and it speaks to the total number of hours worked in a given year among the workforce, distributed by the income quintile of the labor force. And what do you know? The top 40% of wage earners works 62% of the total hours of the whole workforce.

Think about that a second: how does that reflect on the idea that achieving success is more difficult than it has ever been?

| I also think it improper for the
| author to include an appeal to God
| as if God somehow condones this
| state of affairs. 'Let him who has
| no sin cast the first stone' or, in
| other words, while it may be true
| that the American people should
| repent from their sin of
| materialism, how much more
| should those Americans that have
| accumulated so much more than
| the national average?

Funny: it’s not those above average complaining about what’s unfair – even though they pay most of the bills around here. Consider it: the top 2 quintiles, which account for 68% of all wages, pay more than 85% of all taxes. You don’t see them trying to occupy the Projects since that’s where about 35% their money goes.

The point, of course, is that it is radically absurd for people with outrageous good fortune and historically-superior economic opportunities and benefits to start complaining because someone else has more than they do, and hasn’t strapped himself with debt disproportional to his income. Wanting what someone else has just because you don’t have it is avarice. To call it something else is self-dceptive.

| The blog
| reports the median and the lowest
| quintile incomes but neglects to
| include the top-most quintile.

It’s easy to draw the line at $88,000. It enhances the actual point of this post how? By pointing out the real extend of the greed of other the protestors? Maybe it does – I’ll take that under advisement.

| How does this segment of the
| country compare on these charts?

Um, they are higher still, dude. That’s why the #OWS crew envies them.

| Thus, this post is biased. The
| author can correct this simply by
| posting on the top-most quintile
| and how it compares just as the
| median income and bottom
| quintile have been.

Thus, this commenter demonstrates he didn’t actually read the post.

Next.

μαρτυς said...

To all those who mistakenly believe that the OWS movement is against government corruption, tell me why they aren't occupying the White House lawn or at least protesting in front of their State Legislatures? Why do I not hear any calls to oust the man most responsible for the large sums of money given in bail-outs?

Wall Street moneymen? Yeah, they're greedy, but the control is in Washington. Time to change OWS to OWH--Occupy the White House.

If the problem is government, why do the OWS crowd want more of it?

Reformed and Renewed said...

Thanks, for this psot, reading this from our South African context the dollar does seem to beat the rand hands down. Ido not see a good future for my country (South Africa) but God willing we will learn to live according to our means. The "new elite" in Africa seem to think having a credit card is like having extra money. I understand the temptation. But what happens in the States will happen here to. We live beyond our means, not like our predecessors who lived according to their means.

kilo papa said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Frank Turk said...

I was tempted to leave the previous vulgar rant up to show that the Gospel, when preached, will and does offend -- but we have a policy about vulgar language.

Yes: the idea of the Gospel is offensive. Yet it renovated the Roman world, and the West.

donsands said...

Cent, you da man. Well, nice post brother. God really has gifted you to share the truth in a crazy culture. I am encouraged, and even edified. Gracias mi amigo.


made me think of this 60's song, and group: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W-COZ9ozrzg&feature=related

"I was born with a plastic spoon in my mouth
The north side of my town faced east, and the east was facing south
And now you dare to look me in the eye
Those crocodile tears are what you cry
It's a genuine problem, you won't try
To work it out at all you just pass it by, pass it by"-Pete Townsend

christianlady said...

Shared on my facebook. And I have people who are fb friends and who have also been to Occupy rallies. Thank you.

christianlady said...

"Here's the one thing I will address: making the case that the middle class is saddled with debt in this country, therefore it is overwhelmed or under-employed, overlooks the fact that there is not one dollar of middle class debt which the debtor is forced to accept. Every penny is voluntary, and that debt is therefore not the bank's fault but the fault of the debtor. If that debt is causing wealth inequality, there's a simple solution: wise up."

This bears repeating.

Tommy said...

I think Frank's making a case for the plank in your own eye kind of deal.He’s not making some huge political commentary, so if you’re getting all up in arms defending the movement, don’t bother. That’s not the point. You want to know what the first and second century movements were that Christians got involved in? The Gospel. They were defending(to the death) the fact that Christ is the only one worthy of service. The elite in Rome had incredible power over the lower-class, to the point of actual slavery, inequality was rampant, but they didn’t fight those. Because fact of the matter is: we don’t deserve a single good thing. So to fight for “what we deserve” should actually be petitioning to have a fast-track to Hell. That is what we deserve. The early church understood that Christ was the only one worth fighting for. We should understand that too. That(I think) is what Frank is addressing. Feel free to guide me as needed though. :)

D. C. said...

Frank I am struggling with this open letter but I am not quite sure what it is about the post that bothers me. I do not know much about the OWS movement because I have been doing less news watching these days because it is just too depressing. So I will not presume to know whether your characterization of their aims and goals are right or not. I am puzzled by what they think they will accomplish in their protests and what do they expect “Wall Street” to do in response to their presence. But I guess my struggle is this, if you were in charge of the OWS movement and you wanted to make the point that you believe the current system we live under should be changed how would you make that case? Is it possible to be grateful for what you have and free from avarice but at the same time want to point out concerns (even to the point of protest) about the way income inequality in this society is achieved? Is it possible that the OWS are voices speaking for the masses for those unwilling or unable to do so, vice just out trying to get their student loans forgiven? Is your letter mostly a reflection of your political beliefs and do you want the movement to repent from a political standpoint? Just passing through.

D. C. said...

Tommy I read your post after I made my comment. It helped me crystalize what I was trying to ask Frank when read your first few lines:

I think Frank's making a case for the plank in your own eye kind of deal.He’s not making some huge political commentary, so if you’re getting all up in arms defending the movement, don’t bother. That’s not the point. You want to know what the first and second century movements were that Christians got involved in? The Gospel..

So is there a Christian component to the OWS movement?

Mr. Fosi said...

@D.C.: No, Frank is not saying that there is a Gospel component to the OWS movement. He is using the Law to identify the avarice underlying the OWS here in the USA, then he is delivering the Gospel as the only answer to that avarice (and all other of men's sins).

μαρτυς said...

I think this would be a good time to remind everyone that the term "Christian Politician" is an oxymoron and that believers should have as little to do with politics as possible. God is in charge of putting the basest of men in political power (Dan 4:17) and we are to devote our time to spreading the Gospel, taking up our crosses, and rendering unto Caesar. The OWS movement can't have a Christian component because Christians should have nothing to do with any movement that isn't explicitly about spreading the Gospel because it will be explicitly evil. A bad tree and all that....

There is no such thing as a "Christian Country"! We have to stop trying to create one.

donsands said...

There may not be a Christian country, but the Church, (where many founders of our nation were Christian), and the Bible as God's Word, have had their influence on America.

And there are good scholars who can make a genuine argument for America being a Christian nation, if you have time to go dig into it.

Hope this isn't to much of a rabit path?

Frank Turk said...

D.C. --

I believe that the Gospel is the answer, not politics. Therefore: we seek to steal men out of materialism and into Christ, out of the worldly systems of reform and into God's system of reconciliation & repentance.

Questions?

Frank Turk said...

To be clear: there's no Gospel component in OWS. It's a false gospel. Hence: the tag at the bottom of the post.

D. C. said...

No more questions. Thanks Frank

One Salient Oversight said...

For example, it's an accepted fact of ecomonic studies that disparity of wealth is neither a good nor bad thing, but you express your twaddle about wealth disparity like a convinced Marxist.

That was a very uncharitable reply. I present an argument and you respond by attacking me personally while simultaneously depicting my argument as something that it is not. Moreover you don't even address some of the issues I raised.

The issue is not so much wealth disparity itself but the extent by which this disparity is experienced. As I pointed out (and which you ignored in your ungracious reply) the nations which head the list of the well off generally have lower disparity between rich and poor than the poorer ones. There is nothing Marxist about policies that lower the gap between rich and poor, and there is nothing unchristian about raising taxes on the rich in order to provide essential services for everyone (something which benefits the poor the most).

Of course I agree that such policies are not going to save anyone's soul, but I support them in the same way as I would support anything that alleviates temporal suffering. This is not a utopian idea, but one which assumes that life on earth can (and has) gotten better over time as a result of effective policies.

----------
Every penny is voluntary, and that debt is therefore not the bank's fault but the fault of the debtor. If that debt is causing wealth inequality, there's a simple solution: wise up.

But you see: to do that, the middle class has to be driven by something other than covetousness. They have to value something else over immediate gratification. This points exactly to my essay and the root cause of the problem.

The Gospel, again, winds up being the solution to Culture.


Gosh. So what you're saying is that the only way for the earthly lives of people to be improved is through repentance and faith in Christ?

I don't remember seeing that sort of teaching in the New Testament. In fact there is one person I do know who preached such a message and his name was Charles Finney.

Finney, of course, taught that placing your faith in Christ gave you the power to no longer sin.

So what is the solution for Africa's poverty? The Frank Turk solution seems to be convert them all and everything will be fine - they'll all get off their lazy behinds, begin working hard and generating enough wealth to support themselves? That seems to be your solution for the poor of the US. Is that your solution for the entire world too?

The thing is I believe that the Gospel is the Power of Salvation for all who believe, not the ticket for earthly wealth generation. I will praise God if a large percentage of Africa turn to Christ and get saved but I honestly don't think it would make a huge difference to their level of economic wealth. Similarly I also see places like Japan in which there is a huge amount of economic wealth being generated alongside an overall absence of faith in Christ.

Please tell me - in nice words - whether this is truly your position.

One Salient Oversight said...

To be clear: there's no Gospel component in OWS. It's a false gospel. Hence: the tag at the bottom of the post.

So are you saying that the OWS protesters - indeed anyone who complains about how wealth is distributed and thinks that it should be shared more - are actually proclaiming a false gospel?

The OWS protesters are not preaching a different way of salvation. They're not saying anything about God or Jesus. Yet you say that they are proclaiming a false Gospel?

Well let's turn to Paul and Galatians then. Paul was white hot in anger at the false gospel presented by the circumcision party. He said very clearly that such people were proclaiming a false gospel.

But when confronted with the pagan deities of the time - eg Artemis in Ephesus - did Paul go off in a similar way about how they are a "false gospel"? No. The reason was clear - paganism was so clearly wrong it didn't even count as a "Gospel" in the first place.

And now back to OWS. OWS are not preaching anything that could be considered religious in nature (AFAIK). They're not concerned with the afterlife or a person's relationship with the spiritual world. They're not offering an alternative to salvation by faith alone by Christ alone. All they're doing is complaining about the current economic status quo.

And that, according to Frank Turk, is a "False Gospel".

One Salient Oversight said...

Frank,

What are your thoughts on Common Grace

Is Common Grace something you disagree with? I ask this because you seem to be suggesting that when God graciously brings about earthly blessings, they can only be experienced by those who have been subject to God's Saving Grace.

Also, would you consider Minarchism as being your preferred political/economic position?

Frank Turk said...

OSO said:

[QUOTE]
There is nothing Marxist about policies that lower the gap between rich and poor, and there is nothing unchristian about raising taxes on the rich in order to provide essential services for everyone (something which benefits the poor the most).
[/QUOTE]

Name one non-Marxist policy which has, as its primary aim, to lower the (income) gap between rich and poor.

One example which would be incorrect is public education. The primary objective of public education is not lowering the gap between rich and poor: it is to maintain an educated citizenry for the sake of republican (small "r") rule.

Have at it.

Frank Turk said...

OSO said:

[QUOTE]
Gosh. So what you're saying is that the only way for the earthly lives of people to be improved is through repentance and faith in Christ?
[/QUOTE]

In a word? Yes. I'd love to see the argument to the contrary.

Frank Turk said...

OSO also said this:

[QUOTE]
So what is the solution for Africa's poverty? The Frank Turk solution seems to be convert them all and everything will be fine - they'll all get off their lazy behinds, begin working hard and generating enough wealth to support themselves? That seems to be your solution for the poor of the US. Is that your solution for the entire world too?
[/QUOTE]

Sure. If you put it that way, why not? It seems rather obvious that you have no idea what you are talking about and want to display it, so I'm going to see how much of your ignorance we can put on display.

I'll do you one better: until the people of Africa can abandon the idolatry of their cultures which stem back to the very dawn of humanity, they will never rise above their broken views of the value of human life. They will never rise above tribalism. They will never seek to do something other than compete for natural resources.

Will they no longer be able to sin? Of course that's not true -- and to imply that I said otherwise is, again, superheroically-dishonest. But it's the way of people who hate the Gospel to do this -- to scorn the idea that the way to rescue a man is not by teaching him to do better and giving him a better law but instead to humiliate him, humble him before God and deliver to him the gift of salvation from Christ by grace through faith and repentance.

So yes: that's exactly what I believe.

One Salient Oversight said...

Now surely nothing but universal education can counterwork this tendency to the domination of capital and the servility of labor

Education then, beyond all other devices of human origin, is a great equalizer of the conditions of men

http://www.tncrimlaw.com/civil_bible/horace_mann.htm>HORACE MANN ON EDUCATION AND NATIONAL WELFARE - 1848

Mann is considered the grandfather of American Public Schooling.

-----

I'm still waiting for you to answer the following points:

1. Do you subscribe to the notion that only by repentance and faith in Christ are someone's earthly and temporal conditions improved?

2. Do you reject the notion of "Common Grace"?

3. Do you support the notion that anyone who publicly complains about wealth disparity is preaching a false gospel?

One Salient Oversight said...

Sorry. Mann quote link here.

Frank Turk said...

And then OSO said:

[QUOTE]
The OWS protesters are not preaching a different way of salvation. They're not saying anything about God or Jesus. Yet you say that they are proclaiming a false Gospel?
[/QUOTE]

You know: when I read this, I wonder if OSO actually read this before he hit publish. Because it turns out that there are a lot of false gospels that never mention Jesus. Jainism preaches a false gospel, and Jesus never comes up. Rank materialism (which is the actual Gospel of OWS) preaches a false gospel and never mentions God. All forms of elitism are false gospels which never get around to stating their relationship to Jesus. Marxism is a false gospel that never mentions Jesus.

Making a mistake about who Jesus is or what he does is not the only kind of false gospel. All manner of idolatries are false gospel.

That OSO either doesn't know this or won't admit it demonstrates his qualifications to continue his tirade.

One Salient Oversight said...

Sure. If you put it that way, why not? It seems rather obvious that you have no idea what you are talking about and want to display it, so I'm going to see how much of your ignorance we can put on display.

Bit of Hellfire going on there Frank? Hellfire being that you're calling a Brother a "fool". Matthew 5.22.

until the people of Africa can abandon the idolatry of their cultures which stem back to the very dawn of humanity, they will never rise above their broken views of the value of human life. They will never rise above tribalism. They will never seek to do something other than compete for natural resources.

So you do not believe clear evidence from missionaries that the African church is dominating African society these days? Or am I mistaken in assuming that Africa has responded well to the gospel?

to scorn the idea that the way to rescue a man is not by teaching him to do better and giving him a better law but instead to humiliate him, humble him before God and deliver to him the gift of salvation from Christ by grace through faith and repentance.

And by "Rescue" you mean something other than the promise of eternal life, namely better living conditions on earth?

One Salient Oversight said...

Making a mistake about who Jesus is or what he does is not the only kind of false gospel. All manner of idolatries are false gospel.

You see this is where I would need a biblical reference as a way of proving your assertion here. Paul didn't describe pagan worship as a "false gospel" but you do.

FIND A VERSE TO BACK THIS UP. Until you do you're not being biblical.

That OSO either doesn't know this or won't admit it demonstrates his qualifications to continue his tirade.

I've never met you Frank, but I love you as a brother in Christ. We will share eternity together. I beg of you to please exercise some self control here.

One Salient Oversight said...

Still waiting on:

2. Do you reject the notion of "Common Grace"?

3. Do you support the notion that anyone who publicly complains about wealth disparity is preaching a false gospel?

Frank Turk said...

Oh wait -- he's impatient for these question:

1. Do you subscribe to the notion that only by repentance and faith in Christ are someone's earthly and temporal conditions improved?

Frank says: Yes. All other means will yield temporary results at best.

2. Do you reject the notion of "Common Grace"?

Frank says: Of course not. But it's only the thing which prevents man from being as bad as he could possibly be -- not the thing which lifts him up from his own filthy idols and sin and turns him toward God. In that, it is not the thing which can reform men, thereby making them better.

3. Do you support the notion that anyone who publicly complains about wealth disparity is preaching a false gospel?

Frank says: Since you put it that way, yes.

Frank Turk said...

And it's just a matter of basic etiquette to wait for an answer. I realize you are the most important person in your world, but sadly I have people who love me who want to spend time with me. Offer them an iota grace, since you bring it up.

One Salient Oversight said...

OSO: Do you subscribe to the notion that only by repentance and faith in Christ are someone's earthly and temporal conditions improved?

Frank says: Yes. All other means will yield temporary results at best.


By temporary results are you saying temporary in an eternal sense or temporary in an actual timeframe sense?

I'm not being pedantic here because I'm well aware of the fact that public schooling, universal health care etc etc etc will not save an unbeliever from a Christless eternity. In that sense I would say that it is also "temporary".

But if you're saying that things like health care and public education only have a short effect time in a temporal sense, then I'm a bit confused. Are you saying that these things will benefit people in short term and then drop off in their effect somehow? Please explain.

OSO: Do you reject the notion of "Common Grace"?

Frank says: Of course not. But it's only the thing which prevents man from being as bad as he could possibly be -- not the thing which lifts him up from his own filthy idols and sin and turns him toward God. In that, it is not the thing which can reform men, thereby making them better.


You see the reason why I'm badgering you on common grace is that it consist of more than just the sun shining and the rain falling. It also consists of things like technological advancements. God has blessed us, for example, through the discovery and widespread use of antibiotics. He has blessed us through the creation and maintenance of modern police and fire departments.

Antibiotics, police and Firemen don't get us to heaven. That's why it is common grace, rather than saving grace.

Moreover I see the development of these things as something that doesn't require Christianity around in order to produce them. God blesses the atheist and the believer alike through these things.

Now the point I'm trying to make is that earthly systems of government and economics also fall into this area. Democracy and Republican models of government are completely alien to the text of scripture, yet are things which have produced a large amount of stability and earthly blessings. The fact that you support this system of government is not an indication of your support for a "false gospel", even though these systems are non-biblical in origin.

In the same way, therefore, some economic and political policies that you might disagree with personally might just work and do good things. The fact that you disagree with them should not, however, require a "False Gospel" label.

Frank Turk said...

OSO also said:

[QUOTE]
You see this is where I would need a biblical reference as a way of proving your assertion here. Paul didn't describe pagan worship as a "false gospel" but you do.

FIND A VERSE TO BACK THIS UP. Until you do you're not being biblical.
[/QUOTE]

Oh you poor fellow. You really don't understand Galatians 1, do you? Here's what Calvin says about Gal 1:11

[CALVIN]
This is the most powerful argument, the main hinge on which the question turns, that he has not received the gospel from men, but that it has been revealed to him by God. As this might be denied, he offers a proof, drawn from a narrative of facts. To give his declaration the greater weight, he sets out with stating that the matter is not doubtful, “That he does not speak about a thing uncertain or unknown.” but one which he is prepared to prove; and thus introduces himself in a manner well adapted to a serious subject. He affirms that it is not according to man; that it savours [that is: having the characteristics] of nothing human, or, that it was not of human contrivance; and in proof of this he afterwards adds, that he had not been instructed by any earthly teacher.
[/CALVIN]

In Calvin's view, Paul says the true Gospel is juxtaposed against any message which makes much of man. So for example: any message that says we can save men by improving their financial wellbeing is a false gospel.

Any message which preaches a false salvation is a false gospel.

Frank Turk said...

And with that, I'm not going to proliferate this further. OSO is just yammering now -- seeking to justify his own ill-conceived statements by nit-picking mine.

I'm not speaking in a code here. That OSO doesn't grasp it is his problem. And pleading for me to treat him like a saved person when he reasons and argues like a sophomoric saved person doesn't encourage me to come to the table with flowers and a box of chocolate.

He has a long history of arguing incoherently, which also contributes to my lack of charity towards him.

I'll close the comments in the morning after he's had a chance to register this final complaints.

One Salient Oversight said...

Problems with Frank.

1. He seems to believe in some modified, libertarianised version of the prosperity gospel. For example, when asked the question "So what you're saying is that the only way for the earthly lives of people to be improved is through repentance and faith in Christ?", he answers "In a word? Yes. I'd love to see the argument to the contrary."

I, for one, do not believe that the Bible teaches that a causal relationship between a person's eternal state and their earthly state exists. Frank seems to argue that the only thing a person needs is the Gospel - both in terms of their eternal destiny and their life here on earth. The inference seems to be that if a person is poor, it is because they have failed to repent and believe.

2. This has led Frank to believe that any earthly complaints about wealth disparity and ideas about alleviating poverty (ideas which have been discussed and presented by the people at OWS, amongst others) are a "False Gospel".

The term "False Gospel" is used quite a bit by Paul and, in context, refers to those within the church presenting a message that differs so significantly with that of Paul's that they are leading people away from salvation in Christ. Paul does NOT use the same language about pagan religions or any philosophy sourced from the world of unbelievers.

3. As a result of his prosperity belief, the theological idea of "Common Grace" appears to be ignored or misunderstood. Since there is now a causal relationship between the saved person's eternal state and their earthly state (being a Christian results in more wealth because Christians will naturally work harder) then the idea that God blesses all in earthly blessings regardless of their faith in Christ is neutered.

By way of explaining my own pov, I see "Common Grace" in such things as stable government and economic systems and the development of modern medicine as good examples of this. I praise God, rightly, that I live a country with a stable government and a reasonably good standard of living. I did not earn these earthly conditions and see them as a gift from God. Moreover I also see others enjoying these benefits who are not believers. Thus God's grace in providing earthly blessings applies to all, not just believers.

4. Lastly and sadly Frank has resorted to insults and name calling. Moreover he states "And pleading for me to treat him like a saved person when he reasons and argues like a sophomoric saved person doesn't encourage me to come to the table with flowers and a box of chocolate." which appears to impugn my own salvation. This is intolerable at the best of times, but the situation is worse considering the reach and influence that Turk has in matters of Christian belief through the Pyromaniacs blog.

Frank would be well placed to doubt my salvation if I had said anything clearly heterodox. If I had doubted that Jesus was God; if I had said that salvation can be earned through other religions; if I had denied the virgin birth, then Frank would be justified in saying this.

So for Frank I say this:

Frank, I love you in the Lord as a Brother in Christ. I pray that the Spirit will teach you many things through our discussion and cause you to become more godly in thought and action.

Sir Aaron said...

I don't show up for a few hours and it's like the world turned upside down. Next thing you know, OSO will no longer be banned and accuse Frank of teaching the prosperity gospel.

Maybe I should look outside to make sure it isn't snowing in Houston.

itsbaxter said...

Supporting economic reform and following Christ are not mutually exclusive pursuits.

Gratitude to God for our nation's prosperity is important to have, but also recognize the God given system of voluntary exchange that achieved it. And recognize what little is left of that system is also evaporating before our eyes.

A few of the evils we currently have: Fiat money, Banking cartel (i.e. the Federal Reserve), Fractional reserve banking (money is debt, debt is money), currency monopoly (no competing currencies permitted), military industrial complex, Corporate cronyism, etc. etc.

Economic evils are moral evils too. Each dollar in the US represents a dollar of debt. And the state enforces a monopoly (i.e. only the dollar is legal tender) on this evil currency.

Remember the Lord hates unjust weights and measures. What can be more insidious than our current fascist system, where capitalism is blamed for socialist failings? More regulation is demanded to rescue us from regulatory failings?

A study of monetary history is to reveal one of the struggle between good and evil. Read the history of the federal reserve: The Creature from Jekyll Island. Economics is very important for Christians to understand. (America follows Keynesian economics, which is darkness and evil itself.)

One Salient Oversight said...

Well Ron Paul has at least one vote then.

Frank Turk said...

Place Holder

Frank Turk said...

And we close the com box at 95 comments.