ONE Sidebar: The Bible on Poverty

St. Louis – Poverty and its attendant problems of disease and malnutrition is “the No. 1 issue facing our country and our world,” says Clinton McCann, a minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA) and professor of Old Testament studies at Eden Theological Seminary in Webster Groves, Mo.

McCann gave his biblical interpretation of the importance of the event proclaiming Missouri a ONE state and St. Louis a ONE city.

He joined Gov. Matt Blunt and Mayor Francis G. Slay in declaring “we are united” in the effort to end global poverty. He noted that there are more than 2,000 texts in the Hebrew and Christian Bible that address poverty. A primary text, agreed upon by a number of Christian and Jewish theologians, is Psalm 82, McCann said.

The psalm “has a plot,” he said. It sets up a meeting of the Canaanite gods, to which the God of Israel comes and puts the other gods “on trial” and sentences them for not meeting the criteria for how a god is supposed to act. Kings, and by extension all political leaders, are supposed to meet this criteria too, McCann said. It is to:
“Give justice to the weak and the orphan;
maintain the right of the lowly and the destitute.
Rescue the weak and the needy;
deliver them from the hand of the wicked.’ ” Psalm 82:3-4 New Revised Standard Version.

“If we know our biblical roots,” McCann said, “Christians will be committed to the goals of the ONE campaign” and will pressure their governmental representatives to “address the needs of the human family. Everyone here is my brother or sister, my child. I don’t want one of my children dying every three seconds. I don’t want my brothers and sisters in Africa to die of AIDS. I don’t want billions of the world people going to bed hungry every night.

“It shouldn’t be that way, and it won’t be that way,” if people unite behind the goals of ending poverty, McCann said.

Psalm 82

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