Politics According to the Bible–Economics Part 1: Private Propety

Posted: December 15, 2010 in Uncategorized

Wayne Grudem opens his chapter on Economics from his new book, Politics According to the Bible (Zondervan: 2010), by asking the question, “What should the role of government regarding a nation’s economic system?”  Grudem attempts to answer this question in nine parts beginning with the subject of private property.

Grudem asserts “government should both document and protect the ownership of private property in a nation.”  He points largely to the Old Testament as supporting his assertion.  For example, private property ownership is implied in the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:15) and Samuel warns his fellow Israelites that one of the evils a human king will bring is that he will take property from the people (1 Sam. 8:10-18).

Grudem acknowledges that Scripture teaches that all things belong to God but that we are entrusted with stewardship.  A sign of our very salvation is how generous we are with the property we own. 

Once Grudem has sketched a Biblical background he moves, as has always does in his new work, to practical arguments.  He argues that socialism, in which the government takes ownership of most, if not all property, historically has increased, not decreased, poverty levels.

He then argues that recent actions by the government to seize interests in private corporations or invoke eminent domain for private rather than public works projects is a move in this direction.

Grudem agrees that some government regulation is necessary to say protect the environment but that our current course is going overboard.

I agree wholeheartedly with Grudem but think he could have pushed the Biblical basis a bit harder.  It is odd that many more progressive Christians who are Arminians adopt liberal economic policies because Arminians argue that free will is a virtue in-and-of-itself.  Yet, by advocating liberal policies that diminish our economic choices or by placing the job of caring for the poor in the hands of a detached government bureaucracy, they actually violate the virtue they claim is so valuable.

Jesus said to give to anyone who begs from you but socialism argues we will take everything from you so that you are all beggars. In the end, John Wesley was and is still correct when he taught, “Make as much as you can, save as much as you can and give away as much as you can.”  This should be a generous act motivated by grace not forced by a faceless government institution that views the poor as statistics rather than the image and likeness of God.

Tomorrow, economic development.

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