Stott: Don’t just be Good Samaritans, remove robbers

The Good SamaritanGood Samaritans will always be needed to succour those who are assaulted and robbed; yet it would be even better to rid the Jerusalem-Jericho road of brigands.

So wrote John Stott, as quoted in the New York Times, also by Suzanne McCarthy. Stott continued with this explanation:

Christian philanthropy in terms of relief and aid is necessary, but long-term development is better, and we cannot evade our political responsibility to share in changing the structures that inhibit development. Christians cannot regard with equanimity the injustices that spoil God’s world and demean his creatures.

Indeed. It is not enough for Christians to act as Good Samaritans while doing nothing about the evils which cause the suffering they relieve. This is a lesson which many evangelicals, especially in North America, need to learn.

Image courtesy of

0 thoughts on “Stott: Don’t just be Good Samaritans, remove robbers

  1. Peter! You’re killing me. You’re absolutely killing me. This is the best thing you’ve ever written (hehe! – okay you’re entitled to your own favorites!). Peter, if you wore Pope Roncolli’s ring, I would kiss it – for social justice’s sake. Bless you Peter! Just bless you.

    A side-bar. I keep getting questions about my ‘field.’ Fair questions. Most recently by zoologist, Eric, over at “Jawbone of an Ass.” I’m trying to write a little bio under, “field, professional” for my profile or blog. If I get that little bio up and running, then would you please review it for me? For criticism? ~ Jim

  2. Jim, I attempted to comment on your professional bio but was not allowed to. (I don’t appreciate “blogs” which don’t allow comments.) Here is what I tried to write there:

    Jim, I know you don’t write in the standard formal style. But, since you asked, I do think a “professional bio” needs to be a little more structured than this. For a start you need to say where, which university, you graduated and did your post-grad research, and in what department. I guess an expert in the field would know where one studies ethology, but I don’t, although I graduated in its anagram, theology. It looks like an interesting subject but not one I am familiar with.

  3. Peter – “I don’t appreciate ‘blogs’ which don’t allow comments.”

    Peter, I do allow comments. I have an instruction at the top of the blog for how to post. And I repeat that same instruction too at the end of the main comments. I’m taking a huge risk by blogging. Many people in my line of work (counselors, lawyers, ADR people) do not blog at all. I do. I do allow posts. But I must pre-screen all posts by using an email system. Because people will take advantage of my blog to construe my blog as giving advice. That’s why many people in my work do not blog at all. Blogging is insanely risky.

    For example, I’m still going to catch hell from local clergy (who refer cases to me for pro-bono work) because of my post about gay marriage. That post is a huge risk because many local clergy do read my blog. The ones I work with. I will catch hell for that. I could use some prayers. Risky.

    Peter, thanks for your criticisms. I’ll incorporate them as best I can into my next drafts on my professional bio. My post-grad is already listed in “About Me.” University of Chicago. Since I practice (rather than publish) I don’t worry about those formalities. But I should. Thanks for the criticism.


  4. Thank you, Jim. I missed the explanation. You could allow comments on the blog and moderate them, which might be easier than dealing with e-mails (it certainly would with the WordPress interface, I wouldn’t expect Blogger to be so smooth). But that is your decision, and I understand your good reasons for it.

    I will comment on your updated version later, when I have some more time.

  5. Your updated version is no longer little! But it is coherent and interesting. I guess clergy should stick to pastoral work, and leave legal work to those like you with the right training.

  6. Peter, sincere thanks. I’m glad to get that done. Your criticism (Eric’s too) was helpful.

    Yeah. Jewish rabbis do a great job. It’s their tradition. They usually don’t judge under the legal authority of the Arbitration Act. They have their own authority. Muslim clerics too. North American Indian wise-men have a better success rate than Christian clergy. A few Buddhists too. Christian clergy in the U.S. served regularly as judges in history, up until the Salem Witch trials. Downhill after that. I feel tragedy here – because so many poor and low income people have no access to justice. Christian clergy could have (maybe) grown into a partial role to judge cases – clergy-judges. Here in the U.S., many of our judges in small claims courts have no legal training. Just common sense. There’s no reason why Christian clergy could not do as well as non-Christians. And make a partial ministry helping the poor. I understand the paranoia. I respect their reasons for shying away. And with the new industry of clergy malpractice insurance – no one would insure clergy to act as judges. Maybe Lloyds of London. A big mess. Opportunity lost. Tragic.

    Peter, dig. If faith healers can be used of the Spirit, then why not case-healers too?

    Does the Spirit care less about pain and suffering in cases than the Spirit cares about pain and suffering in our physical bodies?

    Peter! Look how this fits into your theme under this title!

    Just something to think about.

    I owe you a big thanks. You warned me not to waste my time on certain blogs or theologians. The effort of writing my post-grad research bio made me relive many memories. I really don’t have time to waste on cheap satirists and half-baked stuff that leaves no positive blessing on the real world. So thanks for your warning. Took me awhile to listen.

    Here’s my grand finale – on the other subject. I’m bandying your name a bit, in kindness:

    “Gay Marriage ~ Differential Diagnoses ~ The Unity of Truth and Knowledge ~ Why Waste Good Arrogance on Theology?”

    I’m hardly an expert. Just Blessed.

    Thanks again,


  7. Thank you, Jim. I would be all for Christians getting involved as informal judges, as long as they do a good job within a proper legal framework. I would be a bit more cautious about letting officially recognised pastors etc do so as I can see possible conflicts of interest, and I don’t want the church mixed up with the state.

  8. Peter, brilliant. Just brilliant. This is what I love about blogging! I’m taking your advice on moderated comments too, so thank you. First thing this morning. There is an email to me using my blog email address. The email is asking for advice. The very nightmare I must avoid Heartbreaking. Tragic. Not for me. For those in need. Peter, I would love to have a pool of charismatic Christians (including prayerful Baptists – those cessationist Baptists pray circles around me! – isn’t that crazy?) who would join together in panels, wherever “two or three” are gathered, to act as an arbitration panel for the Spirit!

    Brilliant, Peter. I’ll never again say that physicists are stuck in cosmology at the edge of the universe café :)!

    This is the best of blogging!


  9. Peter,

    Back on topic, this sounds like liberation theology to me. Where is the biblical command or example to get rid of the robbers?

    (I have my devil’s advocate hat on!)

  10. No, Sidefall, this not liberation theology. First, the original appeal is for proper enforcement of law and order, by clearing away robbers, a biblical responsibility of governments – see for example 1 Timothy 2:1-2. Many, though not all, of “the structures that inhibit development” are in breach of the laws of any country, like theft of aid and corruption. Surely there can be no objection to working against these. And even where the structures are legal but unjust, there is ample biblical justification, for example in Proverbs 31:8-9, for encouraging governments to change the law to be more just.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

To prove you're a person (not a spam script), type the security word shown in the picture. Click on the picture to hear an audio file of the word.
Anti-spam image