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Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Tight Fists or Open Hands? Wealth and Poverty in Old Testament Law

The global pandemic is overwhelming. The rich are becoming more--and more--wealthy, while the poor remain in rags and starving. David L. Baker in this book, Tight Fists or Open Hands? argues that the popular modes of theological thought dealing with poverty and wealth, Liberation Theology and Prosperity Doctrines, are either too simplistic or deceptively manipulate, or selectively choose biblical texts to support a pre-existing ideology.

Baker stands against this use of Scripture believing that support of modern political ideologies cannot be legitimately turned into political theologies. What Baker does believes is the Old Testament Law, concerning the poor, can illuminate the ways in which material possessions should and indeed can, be dealt with appropriately. He believes that the attitude toward the poor expressed in the New Testament is rooted in the Mosaic Law and that this Law teaches that God desires justice for everyone, not only the poor.

The issue is the poor are in no position to deprive others of economic justice, and therefore the exhortations Liberation theologians tend to point out focus on obtaining justice only for the poor at the expense of others. Conversely, prosperity teachings are wrapped up inside their own interests and selfish morality believed to be the teaching of Scripture. Inevitably these create a theological justification for the hoarding of wealth. Can one be a righteous person in a destitute country?

Baker believes prosperity logic to be a complete misreading and abuse of the text and fundamentally dismantles this theology through a thorough exegesis of the OT text that, again, Baker believes is the basis and trajectory of the NT teaching. What Baker provides then, is a balanced and well articulated view of justice for everyone rooted in the mandates of the Mosaic Law.
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