No-one would remember the Good Samaritan if he’d only had good intentions; he had money as well.

Thatcher’s Material Entailment is the principle that no Christian good works and charity can evade its essential entanglement or “entailment” in the materiality of this world. In order for the Church to be able to perform its “good work” of feeding the hungry, alleviating poverty, healing the sick, speaking up for the oppressed, etc, it requires substantial financial, political and social capital. The Church cannot feed people with good intentions; you need funds to buy food, a lot of funds. In order to be able to feed the hungry, heal the sick or alleviate poverty, one needs money to buy food and capital to give to the poor; in order to heal the sick, one also need capital to buy medicines, pay doctors and purchase expansive medical equipment, etc. In order to be able to “speak up for the oppressed”, one needs social status, political influence, social networking with powerful friends, currying favour with the people and powers to gain their ear and attention to listen to your “speaking up”.

In short, in order to perform substantive “good works”, the Church requires the accumulation of both financial and political power. Thus, to the extent that the Christian mission and Gospel are identified with visible worldly charity and good works, to that extend does the Christian mission and Gospel entangle, and ultimately, justify the accumulation of financial and political power for the Church, in other words, Christendom.

Faith is opposed to good works, as Truth and Message is opposed to Power. And no Christian discussion on good works can be taken seriously which does not address Thatcher’s Material Entailment…

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