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The Redistribution of Wealth: A Christian Imperative

CHRIST AND NEIGHBOR

By John C. Cort | May 1987

A reader, responding to my slap at Karl Marx and Adam Smith (Jan.-Feb.), has sent me a book to prove I was wrong about Smith. The book, Your Wealth in God’s World, is by John Jefferson Davis, professor of theology at Gordon-Conwell Seminary, a center of evangelical Protestantism in Massachusetts.

The conclusion of the book features an exchange between a teenage girl and Ann Landers. The girl writes: “My little sister is 14. We both baby-sit for extra money…. I make a lot more than she does. Mom makes us pool our money and divide it evenly every month. I don’t think this is fair. She says sharing is more important than money.” Davis commends Ann Landers s reply, which is: “I’m all for sisterly love, but your mom is advocating Marxism. I favor the free enterprise system myself. People should not be forced to share what they earn with others who earn less, for whatever reason.”

Davis appeals for authority to others, such as economists Milton Friedman and Ludwig von Mises, but who am I to pass up an adversary like Ann Landers, especially when Davis gives her such pride of place?

No prudent man would quarrel strenuously with Older Sister’s beef about her mother’s splitting the baby-sitting revenue. What horrifies me is Davis’s blessing to Landers’s last sentence, which he sanctifies further with his own comment, to wit: “While sharing is a Christian virtue, God wants us to learn to share willingly…. Forced redistribution in the home misses that point and, instead, teaches children the legitimacy of forced redistribution as practiced by the government.”

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