Biblical Economics 1 - Private Property

big government

 

The 2008 global financial crisis (GFC) was the largest economic collapse since the Great Depression (1929). Seven years on the markets are tottering on the brink of another cyclical down turn. The intrinsic credit issues and excessive government controls that plunged the world into chaos in 2008 have not been addressed. Most western governments are social democracies and they have been increasingly blaming and ramping up the rhetoric against free-markets everywhere.

 

Why? To open the door for further governmental intervention in the affairs of men. Men want a saviour and what a saviour the civil state is. Sinful men desire their neighbour's property. Wealth redistribution via the civil state is white label, highly trendy theft. Forcefully taking a person’s property and giving it to other men is sinful. Biblical economics is founded on the concept of private property. We are trustees (or stewards) of God's creation. All things belong to God; under His reign what is mine is mine and what is yours is yours. This is presupposed by the 8th commandment (Ex. 20:15). Any economic system that does not advocate and protect private property is anti-Christian. Mandatory tithes (Matt. 23:23) and taxes (Matt. 22:15-22, Ro. 13) are Biblically legitimate. But God limited the church and the state to their spheres of sovereignty. Both institutions are ministerial in nature. They are to be faithful to God’s revealed Word in their spheres of sovereignty. The Bible provides the guidelines for ministers of the state and the gospel alike. Ecclesiastical or civil tyranny emerges when these ministers overstep their spheres of sovereignty.

 

We are living in a time when the once Christian and thus free West has been hijacked by the mighty messianic state. Generations of public schooling has paid dividends. The handout generation is live and well. The modes operandi is forced wealth redistribution via a tyrannical civil state who is seeking to ensure that every Australian is given a “fair-go.” Speaking of the GFC Ex-Australian Prime minister, Kevin Rudd, pulled the curtains back just a little; “I believe that social democrats can chart an effective course that will see us through this crisis, and one that is also capable of building a fairer and more resilient order for the long term. This can only be achieved through the creative agency of government – and through governments acting together.”1 This is classic socialism. The messianic state saves her people via government intervention. Our father who art in Canberra must gives us our daily bread. This is simply Satanic.

 

Bigger is not always better

Biblical economics does not support the ideology of a large centralised government that seeks to save man by law and other people’s money. In fact, one of the first national judgements on mankind was the Tower of Babel. The tower illustrates mankind’s attempt at unbridled governmental power. This power was to transform society and save it through the civil state acting in Godʼs place. The tower was emblematic of autonomous manʼs attempt to create a burgeoning civil state and ecclesiastical power. All civil governments are subject to the Law of God. The Word limits their

scope and power (Ex. 18, Ps 2, Is. 9:6-7, Matt. 28:18-20, Ro. 13:1-7).

 

Biblical economics starts with the recognition of God as the sovereign Lord who has commanded that His trustees can own private property and do with it as they lawfully please (Matt. 20:15). Biblical economics asserts that it is only God’s Law that limits what man can do with his possessions. Man is free to use his possessions as he pleases. Any system that denies private property is unbiblical and simply Satanic. Economic systems that advocate a coerced communal ownership denies the Bible’s clear teaching on private property. Biblical economics is explicitly capitalistic and not socialistic. Economics faithful to God’s Word is principled capitalism and it produces a free market.

 

Socialism

So what is socialism? It is “[a] political and economic theory or system of social organization based on collective or state ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange.”2 Thus socialism is deeply religious. The socialist by definition is committed to a system where: “(1) all property should belong to society, meaning the State; (2) there should be no such thing as private property; and (3) men will work for ʻsociety in generalʼ with the same kind of intensity and dedication that they will work for their own families or for themselves.”3

 

Saint-Simon was the founder of modern socialism.4 He advocated the development of socialist utopian societies, in hope to exterminate human greed.5 Karl Marx was inspired by Saint-Simon and popularised and systematised the socialist philosophy.6

 

Many Christians want to draw stark distinctions between communism and socialism. But the underlying humanistic ideology of state ownership and autonomous man is consistent. The difference is found in how societal change is instigated. Communism seeks violent revolutionary change. However, it is interesting to note that Karl Marx saw himself as a scientific socialist. He saw socialism as merely a transitional stage between capitalism and communism.7 You cannot separate socialism from communism. They are explicitly linked. The Oxford Concise Dictionary of Politics informs us that communism is simply a subset doctrine of socialism.8 Communism is the place you logically get to after granting the State unbridled power.

 

Big government ideals

What do socialists want to accomplish? Marx viewed a developed society: 

  1. "Abolition of property in land and application of all rents of land to public purposes. 
  2. A heavy progressive or graduated income tax.
  3. Abolition of all rights of inheritance.
  4. Confiscation of the property of all emigrants and rebels.
  5. Centralisation of credit in the banks of the state, by means of a national bank with State capital and an exclusive monopoly.
  6. Centralisation of the means of communication and transport in the hands of the State. 
  7. Extension of factories and instruments of production owned by the State; the bringing into cultivation of waste-lands, and the improvement of the soil generally in accordance with a common plan.
  8. Equal liability of all to work. Establishment of industrial armies, especially for agriculture. 
  9. Combination of agriculture with manufacturing industries; gradual abolition of all the distinction between town and country by a more equable distribution of the populace over the country.
  10. Free education for all children in public schools. Abolition of childrenʼs factory labour in its present form. Combination of education with industrial production..."9

Socialism seeks to reconstruct the Tower of Babel in the form of the sovereign, messianic State. Dr Herbert Schlossberg wisely warned; “[w]e do not find individual liberties respected when the state controls the economy because in that situation politics replaces economics.”10 We must remember that it is Christianity that has brought liberty, justice, equity and prosperity to the western world. Famous economist Ludwig von Mises tells us that historically Christian peoples have “never tired of their struggle for liberty”11 from the tyranny of the state.

 

The prince of preachers, Charles Spurgeon, warned over and over against the dangers of socialism and its attempt to provide salvation through government. In his sermon One Lost Sheep (Matthew 18) he makes this comment: “I fear lest in any of you there should be even the least measure of despising the one lost sheep, because of the large and philosophical methods which are now so loudly cried up. I would not have you exchange the gold of individual Christianity for the base metal of Christian Socialism. If the wanderers are to be brought in, in vast numbers, as I pray they may be, yet must it be accomplished by the bringing of them in one by one. To attempt national regeneration without personal regeneration is to dream of erecting a house without separate bricks. In the vain attempt to work in the gross, we may miss the practical result which would have followed working in detail. Let us settle it in our minds that we cannot do better than obey the example of our Lord Jesus, given us in the text, and go after the one sheep which has gone astray.”12

 

Biblical economics lesson one

  1. God is the sovereign Lord;
  2. He owns the heavens and the earth;
  3. He has delegated ownership (private property) to His trustees (us);
  4. We are to apply His Law/Word to every area of faith and life;
  5. Hard work and faithfulness builds wealth/capital for future generations.

End Notes

1 Rudd, K, 2009, The Global Financial Crisis, in The Monthly - Australian Politics, Society & Culture, Feb 2009, p. 29.

2 McLean, I & McMillan, A, 2003, Oxford Concise Dictionary of Politics, 2nd Edition, Oxford University Press Inc., New

York, pp. 496-497.

3 North, G, 1987, Inherit the Earth: Biblical Principles for Economics, Dominion Press, Fort Worth, p. 41.

4 Mclean, I & McMillan, A, 2003, p. 477.

5 Saint-Simon, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Claude_Henri_de_Rouvroy,_Comte_de_Saint-Simon.

6 Mclean, I & McMillan, A, 2003, p. 477.

7 Ibid., p. 497.

8 Ibid., p. 497.

9 Engels, F & Marx, K, Manifesto of the Communist Party, Marx/Engels Internet Archive (marxists.org) 2004.

10 Schlossberg, H, 1990, Idols for Destruction, Crossway Books, Wheaton, p. 120.

11 Von Mises, L, 1990, Economic Freedom and Interventionism: An Anthology of Articles and Essays, Liberty Fund Inc., Indianapolis.

12 Spurgeon, C, 1889, One Lost Sheep, Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, p. 310, as cited at: http:// www.americanvision.org/article/spurgeon-on-socialism/.

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