This statement was prepared by the Faith Partners Group as a response to numerous government policies which threaten fundamental elements of a caring and compassionate social order in Canada. These statements reflect our understanding of the vision of society inherent in the prophets of the Hebrew bible, the ministry of Jesus Christ and in the experience of the New Testament and the contemporary Church.
The Biblical Mandate
We are called to care for each other and to care for the poor. This message comes to us from the Hebrew prophets, from the ministry of Jesus and from the life of the early church.
Hebrew Scriptures. In the Hebrew scriptures we hear how the Lord spoke to the Hebrews through the prophet Zechariah. The message is clear: "Administer true justice, show loyalty and compassion to one another, do not oppress the orphan and the widow, the alien and the poor, do not contrive any evil one against another". (Zechariah 7:9-10)
Ministry of Jesus. Jesus describes his own ministry on earth paraphrasing words from Isaiah " ... he has sent me to announce good news to the poor, to proclaim release for prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to let the broken victims go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favour." (Luke 4: 18-19, Isaiah 61: 1-2)
Jesus describes those of his followers who will enter the kingdom of heaven. "You have my Father's blessing ... for when I was hungry, you gave me food; when thirsty, you gave me drink; when I was a stranger you took me into your home, when naked you clothed me; when I was ill you came to my help, when in prison you visited me... I tell you this: anything you did for one of my brothers here, however humble, you did for me." (Matthew 25: 34-36, 40)
Christian Scriptures. In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul likens the church to a human body, each part of which is important to the other parts. He argues that when one part of the body suffers the whole body suffers. Hence we are all affected by the suffering of our brothers and sisters in Christ and are called to care for them. (I Cor. 12: 12-26).
We believe that humanity is made in God's image and for the purpose of imitating God as God is known to us in Jesus Christ.
We believe that God calls us to live in relationship with God and with one another. (Deuteronomy 6: 4-6; Leviticus 19: 18; Luke 10: 25-28; I John 4: 16b-21).
We believe that human relationships should be built upon justice, mutual respect, and compassionate service to one another. (Amos 5: 24; Micah 6:8; Matthew 5: 38-48).
We believe that we are accountable to one another and that the manner in which we live should be determined by the common good. (Isaiah 5: 7-8; Acts 20: 32-35).
We believe that we are called by God in Jesus Christ to live in community based on mutual interdependence and justice.
We believe that this community exists to empower and sustain all members according to their need and capacity and that all members of the community empower and sustain the community according to their skills and resources. (Leviticus 19: 9-10; John 13: 3-15; I Corinthians 12: 4-26).
We believe that this community should not allow us to discriminate against one another on the basis of economic status, race, gender, or any other division within human society. ((Leviticus 19: 32-34; Luke 9: 46-49; Luke 10: 29-37)).
We believe that it is within the community that our rights and privileges should be established, our value and dignity protected and our responsibilities determined. ((Isaiah 9: 6-7; Matthew 18: 23-35)).
We believe that it is the responsibility of the community to care for all who are vulnerable and that in serving one another we server Christ. ((Deuteronomy 26: 12-15; Matthew 25: 31-40)).
We believe that this community is called to challenge principalities and powers in God's name, and to stand against all systems of discrimination. ((Amos 7: 12-15; John 18: 33-37: Romans 8: 38-39)).
We believe that all political, economic and social policy should serve the needs and interests of all the people and promote harmony and cooperation among all citizens.
We believe that political, economic and social policy should embody commitment to:
- human dignity
- social equity
- economic equity
- fiscal fairness
- ecological sustainability
- social responsibility
We reject a social policy which:
- considers investment in people "wasteful"
- considers just labour laws "government interference"
- values a "prosperous future" over a future with justice
- encourages people to live by "what's mine is mine"
- rewards the rich at the cost of children's futures
- imposes suffering
- considers fiscal deficit and not social deficit
- promotes blame and scapegoating of any category of people
- serves to widen the gap between the rich and the poor
- shames the poor and unemployed perpetuating the heresy that the rich are blessed for their goodness and the poor punished for sinfulness
- expects faith communities to assume responsibilities which belong to the government
This brochure is published by the Faith Partners Group (FPG), an open assembly of Christians and other faith communities, united in the conviction that faith communities have a contribution to make in creating a new and compassionate social order in Canada. We invite people of all faiths to participate.
For further information about the FPG and/or about the vigil we invite you to contact:
Suzanne Doerge: email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Join us in an
INTERFAITH VIGIL OF WITNESS
by people of faith
for a compassionate social order
Every Thursday - 30 minutes at noon
at the Human Rights Monument
Elgin & Lisgar
Reprinted with permission
by Peaceweb, Peace and Social Concerns Committee, Ottawa Monthly Meeting, Canada - CS, 27 June 1996