God expects every truly righteous person to care about the poor and to do what is in his power to help them. But it begs the question to maintain that this concern can only be expressed in an endorsement of coercive and redistributory statism that is so essential to contemporary collectivist approaches to justice.
Much of the confusion present in evangelical attempts to find a theory of distributive justice in the Bible result from inattention to the classical distinction between a universal and particular sense of justice. Because evangelical social liberals are inattentive to important distinctions within the notion of justice, many of their appeals to biblical uses of “justice” are compromised since they simply assume that biblical endorsements of justice are divine commands to support economic redistribution. This kind of error is illustrated in Robert Johnston’s book, Evangelicals at an Impasse. Johnston writes:
Although it is not the Bible’s purpose to give a careful scientific definition of what our “needs” are, Scripture does repeatedly identify justice with assistance to the poor, the sick, and the powerless. Job states, for example:
“I put on righteousness, and it clothed me; my justice was like a robe and a turban. I was eyes to the blind, and feet to the lame. I was a father to the poor, and I searched out the cause of him whom I did not know. I broke the fangs of the unrighteous, and made him drop his prey from his teeth.”
Johnston goes on to cite several other texts where the notion of justice is conjoined with helping the poor. (Jer. 22:15-16; Deut.10:12-22; Ps. 103:6; Ps. 146:7-8). Such verses prove, in Johnston’s judgement, that biblical justice is closely related to an economic redistribution that will meet the needs of the poor and the helpless.