Blog author: jcarter
Thursday, September 18, 2014

bible-studyMost Christians recognize that the Bible has lot to say about economic topics, such as money and poverty. Yet there is a paradoxical assumption, whether stated or unspoken, that these passages don’t speak to larger economic issues. Occasionally this is true, but more often than not, we can find principles from Scripture that can help us discern how we should think about matters related to economics.

Consider, for example, the issue of economic systems. The Bible doesn’t claim to favor any particular nation-based economic system, such as American-style capitalism or the old Soviet-style communism. But Scripture does seem to have a clear preference for the economic activities that underpin the free market. As David Kotter explains,

[T]he Bible contains clear economic principles and the early church grew in an environment of buying, selling, borrowing, and hiring. In essence, an economy of free markets and entrepreneurship follows from the commands given by God, though sin has marred the business practices that we experience today. Free markets only require recognition of property rights and the freedom to trade with other people. Further, comparative advantage (people are gifted in different ways) and subjective valuation (people prefer different things) mean that both parties can profit from any voluntary transaction. This mutual benefit from trading is at the heart of free markets and over the past two centuries has lifted the vast majority of people in the world out of abject poverty.

Without question the Bible requires people to recognize the property rights of others. “You shall not steal,” was not only commanded to Israel (Exodus 20:15), but was repeated both by Jesus and Paul (Mark 10:19, Romans 13:9). Further, Jesus approved of buying and selling, and he never would have allowed his disciples to sin in making purchases (John 4:8; 6:5; Luke 22:36; see also Jeremiah 32:8, 25). Engaging in such commerce is even considered virtuous, and those who sell grain are blessed as opposed to those who hoard (Proverbs 11:26). God’s word is clear that people have received different giftings and bring different strengths to the church and the marketplace. For example, Bezalel was filled with the Spirit specifically to empower craftsmanship for artistic designs in woodworking and stone carving (Exodus 31:2-6). Paul recognized a similar diversity of gifting among the believers in Rome that essentially serves as the foundation for comparative advantage and subjective valuation (Romans 12:1-13).

Read more . . .

(Via: Denny Burk)

Economics in Christian Perspective: Theory, Policy and Life Choices

Economics in Christian Perspective: Theory, Policy and Life Choices

There is considerable debate in the public square these days about a number of issues that have significant economic components. Globalization, environmental protection, and aiding the poor are just a few. Decisions we make in our personal lives are influenced by our assumptions about economic realities as well. So how might mainstream economics connect with Christian values and principles?

  • Roger McKinney

    Nice article! I would add that property requires free markets because property requires control and only free markets offer control. The more the state controls property the less ownership one has in it. Without free markets, property is just an idea; free markets merely instantiate the idea.

    Also, consider the economic system that God created and Moses implemented. Israel had no state; no king, president, pharaoh, Caesar or dictator, and therefore no bureaucracy to finance. It had no legislature, police force or standing army. It had only judges who tended to be wealthy people who served without pay. The tithe went to support the temple, priests and poor, and many scholars think the courts did not enforce religious or moral laws, such as the poor laws. They left enforcement of those to God and peer pressure.

    I do have a quibble: “On the other hand, the Bible does not endorse a completely laissez-faire perspective. Commerce was to be conducted with just weights and measures (Leviticus 19:35-36).”

    No advocate of laissez faire has ever at any time advocated no law. Laissez faire has always required the rule of law protecting life, liberty and property from fraud and theft.