Book Examines Biblical Teaching on Hot Button Issues

Post a Comment » Written on February 14th, 2008     
Filed under: News
NASHVILLE, TN (February 14, 2008) – Bob Smietana says he was surprised by the findings for a new book he co-authored that examines how to apply biblical teaching to hot button issues such as immigration, poverty and globalization.

A portion of the book, Good Intentions, also examines the successful work of Oakdale Covenant Church to help students from an impoverished neighborhood get a college education. Smietana, who served for eight years as features editor of The Covenant Companion, wrote the book with Charles North, an associate professor of economics at Baylor University.

Smietana says the findings forced him to change his thinking on a number of topics. The conclusions do not consistently fit any political agenda:
•    Wal-Mart isn’t evil. In fact, it probably does a great deal of good by allowing poor families to buy what they need at very low prices.
•    The earned income tax credit (EITC) works much better than a higher minimum wage in helping people rise from poverty. “There’s no crusade among Christians to expand the EITC and that’s a shame, because it helps working families and it spreads the cost of that help among all taxpayers.”
•    Massachusetts is much more family friendly than any of the Bible belt states. “It has lower rates of divorce, teen pregnancy, and abortion. That is in part because it has better schools and higher paying jobs. Those are family values.”
•    Immigration is good for America.

“C.S. Lewis wrote that God wants us to ask three questions when making a decision: “Is it righteous? Is it prudent? Is it possible?” Smietana says. “But most of us stop at, ‘Is it righteous?’ and we don’t follow up and ask, ‘Will these solutions work?’ ”

Improving education at all levels is a key factor in alleviating poverty, the study found, and the authors point to the work of Oakdale Covenant, which has helped hundreds of students enter and graduate from college since the 1970s. The November 2007 issue of The Covenant Companion featured a cover story by Smietana that highlighted the ministry.

In the early 1970s, the members of Oakdale and their pastor were concerned that few of their children were going on to college. In response, the church initiated the Academic Excellence Program.

“They organized tutoring programs and became masters at navigating the college application and financial aid process,” Smietana says. “They gave their kids what’s known as ‘human capital’ or ‘spiritual assets.’ ”

Those assets include the belief that the kids could succeed, that they could acquire the study skills needed to excel in college, that they could have the spiritual and ethical willpower to persevere, and that they receive a great deal of love – to know that they had a whole family of believers standing behind them. “The result is that today, every kid in that church goes to college.

“That happened because the people of Oakdale looked at what seemed an insurmountable problem and decided that they would not rest until they had solved it,” Smietana adds.

Educating children early also is key to eliminating poverty, says Smietana. “One of the best long-term cures for poverty is pre-school,” according to a study noted in the book.

Good Intentions is published by Moody Press and is available for purchase through the online Covenant Bookstore. Smietana will be interviewed at 9 p.m. EST Friday on Moody Broadcast Network’s Open Line show.

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