from The Grand Rapids Press
By Paul R. Kopenkoskey
GRAND RAPIDS -- Each man says the other is a Christian destined to spend eternity in heaven.
But Ronald Sider and the Rev. Robert Sirico take the theological gloves off when the conversation centers on earthly problems.
Sider, professor of theology and holistic ministry and public policy at the Palmer Theological Seminary of Eastern University in Wynnewood, Pa., will debate social policy toward the poor on Monday with Sirico, a Catholic priest who is president of the Acton Institute.
Carl Ver Beek, organizer of the debate, said attendees will note a sharp contrast between the two viewpoints presented: Sider advocates wealth redistribution through taxation, and Sirico supports minimal government regulation of the marketplace.
Ver Beek said he hopes the men's comments foster tolerance for divergent viewpoints. Western Theological Seminary and Calvin Theological Seminary are co-sponsors of the symposium.
Sider, president of Evangelicals for Social Action, said he can cite numerous examples of the government helping people lead productive lives.
Sirico said he will argue Uncle Sam is laden with too much bureaucracy to resolve financial woes and points to the ample opportunities since the Johnson administration for the government to prove otherwise.
"Since the 'war on poverty,' trillions and trillions have been spent, and I see the same things happening," he said.
Sider, of course, disagrees.
"He (Sirico) just doesn't take with full seriousness that part of Catholic social teaching that finds substantial, though limited, role of government working for economic justice," he said.
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