The Church Speaks
Why does the CRC advocate to change economic structures?
In 1978, CRC Synod mandated that a task force prepare a biblical statement and response to the structural and systemic problems causing world hunger. For My Neighbor's Good: World Hunger and Structural Change is that report to Synod from 1979.
The report concluded that our Reformed world and life view mandates the involvement of the Church in advocating for the reform of unjust socio-economic structures. However, many Christians' instinctive response is that the church has no business working for change in this area. The church, these people say, should limit itself to the proclamation of "the simple gospel" and to the administration of mercy. Because the temptation to avoid the issue of structural change can be so strong, we need to ask what the consequences would be if we gave in to this temptation.
Jubilee Debt Relief
The CRC became involved in economic justice issue of debt relief in 1999 in response to the global movement of Christians advocating for the cancellation of poor countries' debt. The movement was known as Jubilee 2000.
The biblical concept of jubilee comes from Leviticus: in the Jubilee Year, those enslaved because of debts are freed, lands lost because of debt are returned, and community torn by inequality is restored. While Christians no longer follow the letter of Old Testament laws, the biblical idea of jubilee indicates that permanent and irrevocable poverty is contrary to the will of God. Furthermore, according to our Reformed world and life view, jubilee as a symbol of reconciliation in Christ includes the notion of economic reconciliation. God's people are therefore called to speak and act in behalf of the poor and advocate for an economic structure which prevents such lasting poverty (see Acts of Synod 1999, p. 487).
In response to two overtures requesting that the CRC get involved in the issue of debt relief, Synod 1999 encouraged the Office of Social Justice to engaged in a campaign to raise awareness in the denomination on this issue. Following this mandate, OSJ advocated for successful debt reduction measures in 2000 and 2005.
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