Periodical Reviews -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 142:567 (Jul 1985)
Article: Periodical Reviews
Author: Anonymous

Periodical Reviews

“The U.S. Bishops, ‘the New Class,’ the Economy,” Franky Schaeffer, Christian Life, April 1985, pp. 24-26, 28.

“Democratic Capitalism: A North American Liberation Theology,” Michael Novak, Transformation: An International Dialogue on Evangelical Social Ethics 2 (January-March, 1985): 18-23.

At first glance one might ask, Why are these two articles listed together for review? The answer is that the pastoral letter on the U.S. economy released November 11, 1984 by the National Conference of Catholic bishops which is criticized in the first article, represents the left-wing, socialistic, one-world position which is opposed and contradicted from the pen of a committed Roman Catholic layman in the second article. Schaeffer refers to and quotes from Novak as one of a growing number of concerned Roman Catholic laymen who are articulating not only a critique of, but also an alternative to, the position advanced by the bishops.

Concerning the measures proposed by the bishops’ letter, Schaeffer says, “If actually implemented by the U.S. government.” they “would lead to the United States becoming a socialistic-Marxist state of the first water” (p. 24). So extreme were the proposals that “even the ultra-liberal Washington Post…criticized it as ‘impractical’ and more extreme than the position now taken ‘even by many liberal economists and politicians’“ (p. 25).

“The new class” that Schaeffer refers to in his title is the bureaucracy of specialists and experts for social relevance who were “drawn increasingly from secular academic sources and were often only nominally Catholic or wholly secularized and anti-religious” (p. 25). Furthermore they became increasingly vocal, issuing “between 1966 and 1980, 63 formal statements on a broad range of national and political topics…

by the bishops and their agencies” (p. 25). By way of contrast, not a single pastoral letter was issued “by the Catholic Church between 1884 and 1919” (p. 25).

Schaeffer quotes Novak, a leader in the Lay Commission, to the effect that the best way to “help the poor nations” is “by helping them develop the kind of ideas and situations that engender wealth.” He insists, “A better path to justice” than “taking from the wealthy and giving to the poor…is to see that new wealth can be created from the bottom up” (p.28). To Novak and his associates the example of the United States, with all its faults and shortcomings, is the way to a better life for all.

Novak expounds this idea in his article as the title indicates. He considers the United States as th...

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