Politics According to the Bible–Economics Part 2

Posted: December 20, 2010 in Uncategorized

Wayne Grudem hits several subtopics in his chapter on economics in his new book Politics According to the Bible (Zondervan, 2010) .  Grudem argues that governments should promote healthy economic development for it follows from God’s command to “subdue” and have “dominion” over the earth (Gen. 1:28).  He asserts that “government should establish and maintain an effective money supply for a nation because inflation is a form of “unequal weights and measures” that rob people of wealth (Prov. 20:10) and he points to the current administration as performing just such an action through the so-called stimulus package that pumped cash into the economic system without anything tangible to back it up, which, of course, is the root cause of inflation. 

Grudem then discusses economic regulation.  He admits that some amount of government regulation is necessary to insure our safety and guard against criminal commerce but he decries too much regulation as inching toward socialism, which, as was previously discussed, always leads to poverty and tyranny; remember that Nazi Germany was a socialist state. 

All this may raise some ire among the left but it is the next section. “The Rich and the Poor,”  where Grudem will undoubtedly draw howls from liberals. 

Grudem opens this section by lamenting the strange, populist, knee-jerk reaction that anyone who is rich came to wealth by illicit means and therefore deserves to be taxed at a high rate.  Grudem points out that the Bible does not only command us to care for the poor but also commands us not to unjustly favor the impoverished over the wealthy (e.g., Exod. 23:3).

Grudem acknowledges the need for government welfare programs but cannot justify from Scripture “soaking the rich” to give to the poor.  Typically, people accumulate wealth through talent, hard work and wise fiscal practices.  So, if governments taxed the rich at a high rate, they would be punishing good habits and rewarding bad habits. 

Grudem points to several verses that command Christians to help the poor (e.g., Rom. 15:25-26; Gal. 2:10; 1 John 3:17) but reminds us that there are no verses that command a civil government to do so.  He also argues that welfare programs will never solve the problem of poverty.  God commanded Adam to work in the Garden of Eden and nothing has changed–only hard work and frugal personal fiscal practices will lift people out of the cycle of poverty. 

I am in agreement with Grudem but wanted him to push a little harder on the effect that our government’s welfare state has had on the poor.  The best book on this is Losing Ground by Charles Murray who presented a groundbreaking study on how our country’s policies have created a cycle of poverty that is very difficult to escape.  The welfare state has also had the effect of leading people to believe that poverty is a public policy problem rather than a “loving your neighbor” problem.  Thus, liberals often believe they have “helped the poor” simply by voting for Democrats. 

Of course, we must also realize that the average “poor” person in the United States would be considered wealthy in any 3rd world country and that too should give us pause.

Tomorrow, government and business.

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