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As churches large, small, and at-large give consideration to the broad social issues of our day, one complaint that is frequently offered is that the church is doing little or nothing in such-and-such a field. The answer provided to resolve this complaint is that the responsibility must now lie with some other, greater charity or corporate entity, or government, to step in and “get the job done.” While critiques abound with respect to the particular philosophy of government that is at work, or the world view that informs the ethic being employed, these arguments often miss the call to answer the criticism directly.

There are real needs, questions of the human condition, which the church cannot answer. The facilities and funds just are not present — nor could they ever be, to create and operate the facilities required to meet these needs. They may be matters of physical or mental health, of living conditions, or of relational, even political and international, concern. It matters not. As it is, the scope of human need is beyond the capacity of any human institution to provide sufficient resources. In the current instance of “health care” we know that rationing is imperative. It may not take the form of minimalist service (the way we usually think of rationing), but I anticipate they will be masked as long-term scheduled service. The result will be the same: The needs will not be met. And so the greater majority of the nearly 1 million with HIV infection and the roughly 4 million with Hepatitis C will observe no improvement in their access to services.

Few are so ill-informed as to believe that the resources exist for any institution to accomplish the goal of righting the human condition. The church has abandoned nobody; neither has government. The pretense of capacity exists only in the minds of campaign managers and other scoundrels.

More on: Culture

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