A Model of Christian Charity

by John Winthrop
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What three reasoned Biblical justifications does Roger Winthrop give for economic inequality?

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The first reason for economic inequality provided by John Winthrop, the first governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, is that this puts human beings into conformity with the rest of God's creation: there is variety among the animals, so there is variety among men as well, as there are "some rich, some poor, some high and eminent in power and dignity; others mean and in submission." In other words, some have many more advantages than others do. To have created such variety glorifies God when the high and eminent are generous and loving to the mean and low. When those with more are generous to those who have less, they do God's work, and this honors God.

Next, Winthrop argues that this variety allows God "more occasion to manifest the work of his Spirit." There are poor people enough to insure that the rich do not destroy them and rich people enough to insure that the poor do not rebel against and overthrow them. The rich also can work to show love, mercy, and gentleness to those who have less, and the poor can show faith, patience, and obedience to those who have more. The variety among them gives each group the opportunity to practice grace toward the other.

Third, creating economic diversity means that "every man might have need of others," and this will unify the community together in loving bonds. Winthrop has been tasked with the unique job of keeping this group of people united despite the intense trials they have and will continue to face. In making people different, with different needs, God compels them to stick together because they will need each other.

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