While government is increasingly turning to faith-based charities in an effort to make America’s welfare system more effective, the religious community remains sharply divided over what kind of faith-based welfare programs are best and the extent to which government should even support faith-based initiatives. The Theology of Welfare explores the theological basis for competing visions of welfare in the religious community by bringing together nationally recognized thinkers representing politically diverse strands of thought in Judaism, Catholicism, mainline Protestantism and evangelical Protestantism.
The conversations between these important figures in contemporary religious thought form the basis for each of the book’s chapters. In contrast to previous works, this book focuses less on the details of policy than on the theological beliefs that give rise to specific welfare proposals. In the process, the contributors clarify how differences in theological tradition are connected to variation in welfare policy. Aimed at promoting an understanding that is critical for successful charity, this work provides refreshing alternatives to materialistic welfare policies that ignore spiritual needs.
Reading The Theology of Welfare is like sitting in on an animated discussion of welfare reform, faith-based social services, and church-state relationship, and noting subtle and substantive theological differences separating devout believers on matters of faith and public policy.Matthew Schobert, Family Ministry
The strength of The Theology of Welfare is its distillation, in conversational form, of some of the basic religious perspectives in the current debates over welfare, poverty , and government intervention. Charitable choice and the faith-based initiative involve issues that will be a part of public discourse for some time. The Theology of Welfare is a useful overview and introduction to that discourse.Paul Mastin, Journal Of Church And State