Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A bit of Biblical clarity on "justice" vs. tyranny, confiscation and redistribution

Among the frustrating aspects of the Mohler/Wallis debate, as I noted, was the unexamined (and thus unrefuted) premise that Biblical "justice" means greater government confiscation and redistribution of the goods of the productive. Now comes Bill Flax with a word of clarity on the subject, titled Don't Like Handouts? Neither Does the Bible.

Everything Flax says is true, and it's a needed perspective for Christians who, in their thinking, must dodge at least two main errors. Josiah (my 16yo) and I were discussing this in our two-man Men's Fellowship just last Saturday, as we considered Proverbs 21:13 —
Whoever closes his ear to the cry of the poor
will himself call out and not be answered.
It is not godly not to care about the poor. But it also not godly to come up with a system to bankroll poverty as a lifestyle on the backs of the productive.

It is along this razor's edge that Flax's essay runs. He rightly points out the vastly differing contexts of the Bible's calls for justice versus the status in America, and warns against anachronistically reading Marxism back into roundly un-Marxist texts.

For instance:
America's poor are materially better off than even the richest biblical figures. The gravest dietary danger afflicting our lower classes is obesity. Even welfare recipients enjoy access to technological advances, nutritional, health and entertainment options unimaginable in antiquity.

By current notions, Solomon was deprived, ruling without modern medicine, electricity, air-conditioning, television, automobiles, cell phones, etc. David never took him to Disneyland. In absolute terms, our poor are wealthier than kings of yore. Basing state policy on relative measures devolves into covetousness.
And so in the Bible, people are urged to individual charity towards those in their immediate vicinity (Deut. 15:7-8; Prov. 28:27). But equally they are forbidden to subsidize sloth (2 Thess. 3:10).

ASIDE #1: one of the greatest titles in Christian publishing, ever, was in a response-volume. Ron Sider exuded a screed for the granola-n-whine set titled Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger. In response, the late David Chilton produced Productive Christians in an Age of Guilt-Manipulators. Indeed.

And that is where we find ourselves. The blatherings of Wallis-types makes victims of people who are victimizers, and urge the enablement and subsidization of the profligate at the expense of the responsible and the productive. But no less moral is the stance of indifference and lack of care.

The right priority (as Mohler said, as do we all) is evangelism. What poor and rich alike need more than anything is the Gospel, they need to be reconciled to Christ. This is imperative, this is the sine qua non.

But that doesn't mean we preach to a starving man as we inhale our Big Mac and fries. It may mean, rather, that we give him our Big Mac, and preach to him. The greatest need is not to figure out how to rob more working parents to subsidize self-victimized victimizers; it is to point them to Christ, and then to help them get a grip on their lives and start producing, because that's what Christians who are able actually do (Eph. 4:28).

ASIDE #2: I'll admit that I am invariably affronted when strangers walk up to me in parking lots or at gas-stations asking me to hand over part of my salary. One thought I have is the response: "From which of my children shall I take money to help you remain idle? Will you write them a 'thank-you' note?" I don't say this. But I think it.

The boys and I were at a Messiah sing-along at a liberal Presbyterian church ("pastored" by Christie or Julie or Betty or some such), a performance marred by some stinky ecumenism ("Excuse me, that's Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints") at the start. I had been intending to give to their charity as they asked; but it was "interfaith," and the ecumenism put me off.

But rather than congratulating myself on how orthodox I was (in keeping my money for some more fried chicken from Popeye's), I found a local Gospel rescue mission and made a donation, paying for it by a small self-denial.

I hope my only point is transparent: this is one way to try to keep the first things first.

49 comments:

christianlady said...

I see some churches serve others without really sharing the gospel. Almost as if it's an insult to go to people with "only the gospel" and no bread. It is true, we need to feed the physical needs and not be cruel, but to skip the gospel is so much more cruel. Hunger in this life is one thing. Eternal thirst never to be quenched is quite another. Christ fed the crowds but shared the true water and true bread.

Thank you for sharing this....

Kerry James Allen said...

Great article Dan. Proverbs 3:27 comes to mind. Point #1-I must determine what is the "good" for this person. Rewards for prolific reproduction? Not! Point #2-Is it really "due" them? Should they be getting it? Am I violating Scripture by helping/enabling?
Point #3-Am I financially able ("power of thine hand") to do it without neglecting my own responsibilities?
"God gives every bird his worm, but He doesn't throw it into his nest." Charles Haddon Spurgeon

DJP said...

Dang. There actually is a Spurgeon quotation for every occasion!

(c:

Kerry James Allen said...

Yes there is, and I appreciate your sense of humor! "Happy religion in which it is our duty to be glad!" CHS

Robert said...

Our family spent some time this weekend putting together some bags with water, nuts, crackers, and other snacks and also included some gospel tracts. We're planning to keep them in our cars and hand them out to the homeless here and try to evangelize to them. I think of this as similar to your example of offering the burger and the gospel at the same time.

It was comforting to read how you handled your desire to give a donation and ensuring that it went to good use. I just finished reading "Christianity and Liberalism" by J. Gresham Machen and your mention of the "liberal Presbyterian church" made me think of how much damage liberalism has done to Christianity. I am thinking that this book should be read by every Christian so that we have a better idea of what we are dealing with and what the consequences are when people compromise Biblical truths for the sake of "unity".

DJP said...

That's absolutely a terrific idea, Robert. Terrific!

Isn't that book a wonder? Can you believe it's 80 years old?

Since the PCUSA defrocked Machen, the jumped shark is a tiny speck in their rear-view mirror.

Eric said...

Dan,

Good observations. I always wonder at how so much of the Bible is negotiable and wishy-washy to the social justice types like Wallis, yet when it comes to their favorite misused justice passages, they can only mean one thing and are the only hill to die on.

Scooter said...

Dang. There actually is a Spurgeon quotation for every occasion!

You know, if you put that on a t-shirt and market it to the YRR crowd, you might be able to retire and start a full-time traveling ministry.

Just sayin'.

If I get more time today, I'll try to add something more to the conversation than irony.

DJP said...

The most chilling and telling unexploded-mine in that whole debate was Wallis' admission that he left Jesus when he thought Jesus didn't line up with Wallis' liberal politics, and only came up when he had invented a liberal Jesus — and his warning that if we didn't become Marxists, "young people" would keep leaving "the church."

Because, you know, the real Jesus and the Gospel and the whole Word isn't a good reason to stay. And everything's negotiable in the name of popularity.

DJP said...

Yeah, but irony's always a good contribution.

Robert said...

I know...I felt like it could have been written just yesterday. The really creepy thing was hearing about how the government was trying to force people to have their children schooled in public schools...not even wanting to allow for private schools. I don't think most people have an appreciation for how far back the roots of liberalism go. One can look at how education changed when Charles Eliot took over as president of Harvard and see how things just steamrolled from there.

DJP said...

Read his What Is Faith? some time. It'll give you chills. He being dead yet speaketh.

Mike Riccardi said...

It is not godly not to care about the poor. But it also not godly to come up with a system to bankroll poverty as a lifestyle on the backs of the productive.

I remember someone telling of an interaction with a panhandler with whom they'd shared the Gospel and explained the biblical injunctions to work (i.e., no work, no eating), to provide for their family, etc. The panhandler replied that they made way more money begging on the street (up to $300 per day) than by working a regular job.

Merrilee Stevenson said...

I was recently angered by the local Catholic parish when I called them up to find out if they had anyone who could help my elderly neighbors (who have been "good standing members" for nearly a century).

Frankly I was reluctant to call. I had been their main source of help, but could no longer do it due to my delicate condition (about to have a baby) and my utter neglect of my own household.

The Catholic church response: "No, we don't do anything like that." They give out many food vouchers to the poor--which provides lots of bragging rights I suppose for their annual financial reports, but meanwhile their most faithful and most delicate members are utterly ignored. It just flies in the face of what the Scriptures teach about what a church IS and DOES for one another.

There is certainly a political parallel--the government can brag about the number of people it is "helping," and meanwhile, not one is truly cared for, and who gets the glory in it?

DJP said...

Argh. I'd meant to include something about the abuse of Matt. 25:1-46 to teach that anyone who doesn't vote liberal Democrat / support Marxist redistributionism is going to Hell.

trogdor said...

I think it's interesting how the OT commands taking care of the poor:

When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, neither shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. And you shall not strip your vineyard bare, neither shall you gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the LORD your God. (Lev 19:9-10, cf 23:22)

Note what it does not command. The rich are not commanded to gather the gleanings and take them through the town distributing them to able-bodied beggars. They are not commanded to pay a surplus to their tithes so that the Levites can distribute grain to poor across the land.

What they were to do was to leave the gleanings and that which fell naturally - that is, don't go through and hoard every last penny worth of food. Leave it where it is, and let the poor come and get it if they want it. The poor would be provided for, but they'd have to go work for it. They could have plenty of food if they went to the fields and gathered it.

And if they worked hard enough at it, they might just find themselves getting a job for a denarius a day.

DJP said...

Exactly.

Which treats them with human dignity, as "you're a victim who needs me to carry him" does not.

(OF COURSE I exempt real victims who do need to be carried, whether literally or metaphorically.)

Brad Williams said...

I almost fully agree with you, Dan. And I try to fully agree with the Bible.

I have been giving this a great deal of thought lately. Not Socialism, but tax rates in general. So let me run this by you and your smarter readers.

We recognize that monopolies are unhealthy for an economy. Basically, when a business has a monopoly, it is forced apart to create competitive companies. I'm not sure that it is "fair" to the monopoly, but it healthy for the whole. At least, that is the theory.

If I were to argue about a higher tax rate for the 1%, I would argue along those lines rather than the "I want more!" lines. If it is true that CEO and executive salaries have risen dramatically whilst "blue collar" jobs have flat-lined or dipped, that is a real problem that needs to be discussed.

Jugulum said...

Brad,

Keep in mind that progressive taxes is an entirely different question from how those taxes are used. Even an explicitly socialist government engaged in blatant redistribution of wealth could have a flat tax rate, or even regressive--with the rich paying a lower rate. (It looks like maybe you were already conscious of that, but I'm not sure.)

As for progressive taxation: Lately I have been reconsidering the idea that a flat tax rate is inherently more fair than a progressive tax rate. But I'm still not sure I follow your comparison to anti-trust logic.

Are you simply suggesting that the ballooning CEO salaries are the result of oligopolistic collusion between the people who run the large corporations--taking care of each other instead of taking care of their shareholders or acting in the interest of the company? If so, I suspect you're right--but if the government has any role to play in fixing it, I'd want to start with ensuring transparency & accountability to the shareholders. I'd have a really hard time buying into the idea of the government telling people, "You don't deserve you're high salary. We're going to take it from you."

Sir Aaron said...

This has always been an issue I struggle with because my wife and I both make good salaries. When I go to foreign countries (as I am now) I'm always moved by the plight of the poor. But when I'm in America, I'm generally infuriated because the poor often one of the following (a) are not poor or (b) their condition is self-inflicted or (c) they are unwilling to do anything of their own accord to remedy their situation. I mean how can you be obese and claim to be starving? Or smoking or driving an Escalade or buying beer or lotto tickets.

The other facet is that wealth is a reward for being productive. People work jobs (generally) that provide value or have some demand. The reason why I am not a professional blog commenter is because it makes no money. The reason why I don't do a lot of things I enjoy as a profession is (a) I have no real talent for it even though I may work hard at it and (b) the field is already full and therefore, demand and pay is low. But if I'm going to get paid the same regardless of how productive I am, I'll choose to do what I want no matter it's value to society.

Sir Aaron said...

Brad: I do see some of your point. A lot of wealth can produce groups of people that in turn limit freedom and limit others' ability to make wealth (in order to protect their own). An example is a monopoly.

So enter progressive tax rates with the idea that these rates will limit the unhealthy accumulation of wealth. The question is do higher tax rates accomplish this? Taxes generally don't tax wealth but rather income. But even if they did, at what point do the rates become counter productive and inherently immoral?

Personally, I am not terribly opposed to progressive tax rates. But the caveat would be that the tax rates must be within 10%, everyone must pay something, and the tax rates cannot be raised individually. In other words, if you raise the highest you must also raise the lowest by the same rate.

Sir Aaron said...

I was able to download Chilton's book. It is a must read and I'm only through chapter 1

Eric said...

U.S. tax rates are currently progressive. Maybe not progressive enough for some people, but they are progressive nonetheless.

DJP said...

Yea, and I oppose it. There's no rationale I've ever heard that doesn't smell like a rationalization for envy, to me. Rich people, as a rule, do things with their money. Anything they do with their money benefits someone, unless they stuff it in a mattress — and even that probably ultimately benefits mattress-makers.

Eric said...

Dan,

I tend to agree. It seemed to me that when Brad said "If I were to argue about a higher tax rate for the 1%..." that he was perhaps not admitting the fact that they already have a higher tax rate.

As to your note that arguments for progressive (or mroe progressive, as it were) tax rates tend to "smell like a rationalization for envy", I found it somewhat interesting that Brad used the language of the OWS crowd ("the 1%") which is inherently built on establishing envy.

In the end, what is actually useful about the use of terms like "the 1%" except to establish envy?

Brad Williams said...

Dan,

I am more concerned with fair wages than I am taxes. I am leery of anyone having the power to leverage another, but when it is necessary that power belongs to the government. It is possible for people to become so rich and therefore powerful that they can fix the game against the poor. We can see this right now with the little things that Amazon is doing, and the things that Wal-Mart has done in the past. If you throw in how medical insurance companies are treating the elderly regarding their meds, I'd say we have a real problem that I have no idea how to fix.

I'm from the South, and Appalachia has a long history of being exploited by corporations, especially some of the nefarious things the coal industry pulled here. So, that changes my perspective a bit. I do not see corporations as benevolent entities who are looking out for the welfare of the average cashier and customer.

I know that this is deviating from taxing the rich to feed the poor of your post, but much of this is bound up together. It is a sort of game that the government and companies play to keep the system going.

Jugulum said...

Dan,

I see merit in your analysis. But it seems arbitrary to exempt flat tax rates (i.e. progressive tax amounts) from the same analysis. Flat tax rates are already progressive taxation.

That doesn't establish a reason to support progressive tax rates, but I'm left without any principled opposition to them.


There's still the argument that God set up Israel with a flat tax rate--we can guess that He did so because it's inherently more fair. But it's eisegetical to assume that God was teaching us that flat tax rates are always the best system.

Brad Williams said...

Eric,

I'm over here. If you want to ask me some questions about my political/economic ideas you can do it speculation about my motives or affiliations.

You may rest assured that I am not attempting to provoke envy of the rich. However, I am concerned that:

1. Corporations got monster bailouts for things that lesser people got foreclosed on.

2. That banks are currently making money off of tax payer funds.

3. That cashiers and other lowly employees are stagnated at barely livable wages.

4. That large corporations are able to practice ruthless business tactics with little or no oversight b/c they fund politicians, and they are enabled by consumer ignorance and greed.

Those are a few things on my mind right now. We can talk about that stuff if you'd like. If Dan, whom I love, doesn't want to referee that wrestling match I understand that perfectly well.

As for my reasons for seeing these things: I am a pastor who regularly sees working poor and tries to assist them in their troubles. I'm not sticking up for disability milkers and free-loaders.

Brad Williams said...

Jugulum,

God did set up a flat tax on some things, but on certain offerings he allowed the poor to bring less than the wealthy. It's something to think about, anyway.

DJP said...

Of course the flat tax is not progressive. The progressive tax is progressive. X percent is X percent. It is the only "fair" approach to taxation. With any other approach, you have to rationalize why you are penalizing X or rewarding Z. Which some seem willing to do.

Eric said...

Brad,

Not sure why you are coming off so offended. I did not speculate at all about your motives. Am I not allowed to comment to Dan about something that I observed in your comment?

I did indeed find it interesting that you used the language of the OWS crowd, since "the 1%" is their creation and it is absolutely based on promotion of envy. However, I did not speculate that you have similar motives, I just wondered how that particular language could be useful except for stirring up envy.

I am glad that you are sympathetic to the plight of others, and I am equally disturbed about monetary malpheasance at the federal level. However, being concerned about large government bailouts really has no bearing as to the fairness of foreclosing on a mortgagee who is not paying on debt. The solution is to return to a fiscally sane world where neither governments nor individuals spend beyond what they can afford and where poor financial decisions have ramifications for individuals and corporations. And yes, I realize that not all mortgage situations are due to poor financial decisions.

Jugulum said...

Dan,

A flat tax rate is a flat percentage--the more you make, the more you pay. When the rate is flat, the amount is progressive.

What's your rationalization for saying that people who make more money should pay more money? (If someone supported a flat amount, why couldn't they use your same logic to say that you're penalizing the people who pay more?)

DJP said...

Wrong. Word-game atom-splicing, which is where you invariably lose me. Progressive and flat are mutual-exclusives.

Brad Williams said...

Dan,

The only trouble I have with a flat-tax is that, inevitably it seems, they have to simultaneously raise taxes on goods to raise the revenue required to run the government. I hate that, and I find that part of the equation unjust to the poor because it takes a larger chunk of their income to purchase necessities. If someone has to suffer with a bigger bill, I vote for those who have more.

If we want to cut the budget enough to afford a flat tax, unless it is really high, then we will have to seriously down-size the military and nearly get rid of social services, which might be alright depending upon your views of such things.

DJP said...

Well, yeah. You have to separate out the issues. That's part of why Ron Paul is a nutcase. He has only a "We're here" and a "We should be here," as if you can just snap your fingers and get there.

First we have to agree on the goal. Then we have to figure out how to get there.

As it is, we're on an endless treadmill of ever-increasing spending and ever-increasing taxes/fees/fines etc. to pay for a fraction of the spending.

So first, ID the goals. A fair tax (flat is the best way I know) is a good goal. Cutting spending is another. Oughtta do both.

Jugulum said...

Why do you think that it's fair for people with higher incomes to write a bigger amount on their tax checks? (I'm seeking to understand how that doesn't translate to penalizing X.)

If you really think I was atom-splicing words, then I'll set aside "progressive" and "flat". (If you only want to apply them to the rate instead of to the amount paid, that's your choice.)

Brad Williams said...

Eric,

I got offended because you insinuated that I used language that was only meant to stoke envy. See, my profile is available with a simple click. You can see that I am a pastor and a dad and where I live. I don't like it when people insinuate things about me when my reputation is at stake.

See, if you said, "It is interesting that Brad is using language here that modalists use. It's language that is only meant to stoke heresy." I wouldn't like that either, and I'd say, "Hey, stop that." Kind of like I did.

Does that make it easier to understand?

DJP said...

Honestly, Jug, I'm trying to think of one time when I've answered one of your questions and not regretted it. I know it's happened; I just can't think of any.

So, you think it's an intelligent question to ask in effect why anyone should have to pay a portion of his income in tax; and why it is fair for everyone to pay the same portion of his income; and why it is fair for people with bigger incomes to pay exactly the same portion of their income as others pay, meaning an exactly-equivalent larger payment for a larger income?

If that eludes you, then someone more patient (or spare-time-rich) than I will have to try to help you.

Brad Williams said...

Dan,

It is hard! I totally agree. And whilst I almost agree that Ron and Rand are nuts, they have moments of lucidity that make me wonder if I am the crazy one.

My thought/fear is that this federal debt rabbit hole is so deep that..well, we might be doomed. It seems that we are going to have to tax ourselves, terribly, to get out of this thing, and that does all sorts of wonky things with the economy and with morale. And the cuts to spending will have to be deep and important: like military, Social Security (which is a travesty!!), and etc.

I dunno man. I'm grieved about it. And then I look at the choices we have for the Republican nomination...

And I think, "Okay. I'm voting for Ron Paul to just go ahead put us out of our misery." *sigh* I'm kidding. Mostly.

Robert said...

Jug,

Do you remember when Jesus commented on the widow putting in her last little bit of money into the collection at the Temple? He said that she gave more because she gave all that she had. If you work out that thought and apply it to this discussion, you can see that for people to actually give the same, they should give in proportion to what they make. You can always take the issue up with Jesus in heaven if you don't agree with His thinking about how much people are really giving.

Eric said...

Good grief Brad, you are being way too sensitive. Now I have to go look at your profile before I make any comment about your use of language?

I asked a simple question that you seem to have no desire to attempt to answer, but would rather take offense that I had the audacity to ask a question about the usefulness of the language that you borrowed from a group of malcontents.

It is really difficult to discuss these things (which you claim to want to do) if you are so intent on being offended.

Mike Westfall said...

> 1. Corporations got monster
> bailouts for things that lesser
> people got foreclosed on.

Agree. That shouldna happened.

> 2. That banks are currently
> making money off of tax payer
> funds.

I suppose by "tax-payer funds" you mean bailout money. But this is what banks do with money. They invest it and expect to get a return. Isn't it better that banks are actually making money with the "taxpayer funds" than just letting said funds fritter away? What's the point of bailing out a business if the business is untenable? Businesses need to make money, and bailing them out is supposed to help get them back on their feet so they can do just that. I'm not very offended that banks are "making money" with the bailout funds given them. I'm more concerned that they got the bailout money in the first place.

> 3. That cashiers and other lowly
> employees are stagnated at
> barely livable wages.

I don't know what to make of this objection. Why be a cashier if it's not a valuable enough occupation to pay the bills? Are their bosses holding guns to their heads forcing them to work for too little? Maybe they could pick lettuce in the fields, or clean toilets in office buildings instead? Or give up some of the extravagances they enjoy and live within their means...?

> 4. That large corporations are
> able to practice ruthless
> business tactics with little or
> no oversight b/c they fund
> politicians, and they are
> enabled by consumer ignorance
> and greed.

Businesses exist for the same purpose that you and I get up and go to work every day. To make money. Of course, they will do whatever they can to gain an advantage over their competitors. Nothing wrong with that, per se. If they are using their influence over politicians to gain an unfair advantage, that's not desirable. But the problem isn't that they have the means to buy politicians, it's rather that the politicians can be bought. Shouldn't that be fixed?

CR said...

Man’s material welfare is a major concern of God and must be a major concern on Christians. I’m a I’m a stewardship capitalist, I believe the principles of steward demand certain principles that capitalism embraces. I know that capitalism can be seen and described as a license for materialism with no consideration for the poor. But I believe if we are going to care for the poor we have to say no liberal or socialistic tax systems. Here's why.

Material life is benefited by production. The more that the product is produced, the better of standard living (things are cheaper and the poor can afford more). What’s important for production – tools, innovation, R&D. What’s needed for tools? Capital. The socialist’s and liberal's dream is to take some of that excess capital. Where does capital investment come from – profit. Profit is the goal of all economic exchange. If profit is not active, there won’t be any exchange. It’s the basis of commerce.

A flat tax would be a fairer system, even though it would hit more middle class folks like me because a true flat tax system would eliminate all deductions like mortgage interest, property tax, etc. I think it's a moot point because I don't think a flat tax system will ever pass in my lifetime. But what we should not do is punish wealthier Americans for being more productive by increasing progressive tax rates.

Brad Williams said...

Mike,

We really only have disagreements about #2 and #3 I think.

It's wrong for banks to be making money off of tax-payer money because it isn't their money. I agree that it is better than it being "wasted", but all things considered, I'd rather have my money for me. Also, the reason they got the money, as I see it, is as a reward for bad stewardship at best. Or, you could look at it as a huge government "sorry about that" for the dumb loaning pressure they put on banks to make high risk loans.

#3. It isn't the boss, it is the bills that keeps them going to work. I don't know where you live, but I live in a very poor state. So minimum to barely above minimum wage jobs are very common.

But my real point isn't that we ought to force a minimum wage change or something to that effect. The real issue I was pointing out is that management/CEO wages have risen disproportionally over common laborer wages. This indicates to me that we have a business culture so focused on profit that it is coming at the expense of the little man.

That concerns me as a Christian. I do not expect a worldly CEO to understand what I am talking about there. I will say that I do not believe business exists merely to make profit for those at the top, but that every partner involved ought to have a share in the pie. (Not an equal share, but we ought to see a general upward trend from top to bottom if the business prospers.)

Sir Aaron said...

@Brad: I can see your heart in this but unfortunately, you've fallen prey to the type of socialistic arguments that got us into this mess. Social Security should never have been. Medicare should never have been. Welfare, unemployment insurance and the like should never have been. So now you want to fix it by digging the hole deeper, that is by taxing the "wealthy." The reason CEO's make so much money is because we make rules and tax teh 1% as we do. So the CEO's wise up and create a payment structure whereby they make big bucks through stock options and the like. The reason they get all the money they make is because we create the system through socialist policies.

@CR: Dan mentioned the book by Chilton. I'm reading it now. His premise is that the laws of economics, just like the laws of nature, were created by God. And as such, we can learn a lot about how God wants our economic structure to be by reading the Bible. He says that a flat tax is Biblical and that anything over 10% is is unBiblical. Chilton also says that material blessing is inherent in God's economic plan because it provides motivation for being productive. That's my take at this point in my reading. I agree with some of what he says, but I have difficulty with much of his leaning on OT law which was given to Isreal.

DJP said...

Yes, a caution about the late Chilton: he was a Theonomist. Meaning, he was a postmillennialist who planned to bring in the Kingdom of God by the church's efforts in bringing society under the civil and moral law of Moses.

Sir Aaron said...

Yeah, I'm not sure how one easily parses the ceremonial laws from the civil laws since many were intertwined (the tithe for example). But it is an interesting read and would make a great topic for a third Dan Phillips book.

CR said...

Sir Aaron - never heard of Chilton (and DJP - thanks for the warning), but I agree, economics was created by God.

Economics is translated from the Greek word oikonamia. We don’t see the word economy in the Bible but we see oikonamia being translated as stewardship. And while we won’t find capitalistic economic theory in the Bible (the Bible is not a scientific technical book on economics), Christians are called to be concerned with ethics and economics touches very heavily on ethics.

trogdor said...

I been thinking about this some more, which is always dangerous. The condescending nature of "social justice" programs is reminiscent of numerous other liberal victimhood causes. For example, according to them:

The poor are too weak/stupid/whatever to ever provide for themselves, so we need to carry them (at someone else's expense, of course).

People of certain races are too weak/stupid/whatever to compete under the same rules, so we need to lower standards for them, and if that doesn't work just set quotas.

Native Americans are too naive/stupid to be offended by university mascots, so the all-wise NCAA must be offended for them.

Muslims at Catholic University are too stupid/whatever to be offended by the Christian-esque stuff there, so benevolent liberals elsewhere must file lawsuits on their behalf.

The list could go on, but you get the picture. In case after case, in the name of 'helping', they cast the recipient of the help as stupid, incompetent, ignorant, etc. Oh, they never come out and say it, but that's the assumption that underlies it all. Without that condescending idea, the case for quotas, different standards, lawsuits, butting into someone else's business, etc, goes away.

Which got me thinking of this tweet:
"Ironically, Charismatics' main failure seems 2B lack of respect for the Holy Spirit, who (A) produced Scripture, which (B) focuses on Christ" -DJP

Do with that what you will.