Christian Economics: Preface

I make the following assumption: you are a Trinitarian Christian. You are in agreement with this ancient confession of faith:

I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth. And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; he descended into hell; the third day he rose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Ghost; the holy catholic [universal] Church; the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting.

This is known as the Apostles' creed. There is an early version from 215 A.D. This version is from 542 A.D.

If you are a redeemed covenant keeper, this book will be of great benefit to you if you read it. It will introduce you to the fundamentals of God's laws of economics. I am sure that you do not want to violate God's laws. This book will help you not to violate them.

This book is the result of my systematic study of every passage in the Bible that relates to economics. In separate books, I have provided commentaries on each passage. I began that project in the spring of 1973. I finished it in early 2012. I devoted over 16,000 hours to this work. No one paid me to do this. I wrote 31 volumes of books on my findings: over 8,500 typeset pages. The title: An Economic Commentary on the Bible. I also wrote four supplementary volumes. No one before me had ever attempted anything like this. I doubt that anyone else will.

There will be critics of this book and the expanded volumes to follow. Most critics will deny that there is any such thing as Christian economics. A few will insist that I have misinterpreted the Bible. A handful will offer a rival version of Christian economics. But before you accept any of these lines of criticism, find out if the critic has written even one volume of exegesis of Bible passages. It is highly unlikely that he has. I can also assure you that he has not read all 31 of my volumes. So, his arguments will rest on prejudice, guesswork, and hostility to my conclusions. These arguments will not be based on detailed exegesis of biblical texts.

 

A Warning

You would be wise to understand this inescapable fact: you do not get something for nothing. This is a fundamental law of economics. Put more personally, with every benefit comes responsibility. Jesus taught this with respect to the final judgment:

And the Lord said, "Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom his master will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. But if that servant says to himself, 'My master is delayed in coming,' and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and get drunk, the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will cut him in pieces and put him with the unfaithful. And that servant who knew his master's will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating. But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating. Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more (Luke 12:42-48).

There is something else to consider: you must finish what you start.

Jesus said to him, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God" (Luke 9:62).

Therefore, let me offer this warning: do not read this book unless you are prepared to implement what you find in it, assuming that you believe it is true. Do not be a hearer of the word, but not a doer.

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing (James 1:22-25).

What is your primary motivation? Is it to increase your benefits, but minimize your responsibilities? In other words, are you trying to buy benefits from God with a minimal offer? This is the recommended approach of the humanist economist. Pay as little as possible for whatever you buy. Warning: this is not God's way.

 

Responsibility

God wants His people to increase their level of responsibility. Why? Because this is the way we perform more effective service to Him. We are to volunteer for additional responsibility (1) if we think we are competent, and (2) if this does not force us to stop doing something even more important. This has to do with a basic law of society: power and influence flow to the person who takes responsibility. Think of Moses. He did not want to go before Pharaoh. Think of Jonah. He did not want to go to Nineveh. In both cases, God forced them to take responsibility that they otherwise would have preferred avoiding.

The best-known example of a person taking responsibility first and benefitting later is the story of David and Goliath. The Philistine army and the Israelite army were stalemated. Goliath challenged the Israelites to send a warrior to fight him. The winner would win the war (I Sam. 17:8--10). This was a great example of the biblical doctrine of representation. Whose god would win? Test this by whose warrior would win. The Israelites were terrified (v. 11).

David had come to the battlefield in order to bring food to his brothers, who were in the army (vv. 17--20). David was not eligible to serve. He was too young. An Israelite had to be 20 years old to be eligible to serve in God's holy army (Ex. 30:14). So, he was safe. But he heard of the blessings the king would bestow on the man who killed Goliath: his daughter and lifetime exemption from taxes (vv. 25--27). Now, that's a deal! David volunteered. Why? For the reward and for the cause. "What shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?" (I Sam. 15:26). Saul tried to dissuade him (v. 33). David ignored the warning. He was ready to fight. David did not put on a warrior's armor. He minimized his weapons. He carried five stones. He only needed one. He was relying on God to kill the giant (v. 37). He did not think he was at risk. 

Power flowed to David from the moment he killed Goliath. He eventually became king of Israel. But with that high office came many troubles. Here is the biblical pattern: responsibility => blessings => more responsibility = > more blessings. This is the pattern of dominion.

The biblical system of cause and effect offers covenant keepers many benefits for taking on added responsibility. But the quest for responsibility should be primary. The quest for benefits should be secondary. The added benefits make it possible to fulfill the added responsibility and add even more responsibility. This view of responsibility reverses the common view of responsibility as a liability to be avoided if possible. 

So, if you are seeking benefits with a minimal increase of responsibility, be prepared to change your mind. This book is going to increase your benefits, but only with a substantial increase in your responsibility. Are you prepared for this? If not, either get prepared or else avoid reading this book. 

I use the English Standard Version (ESV) of the Bible. In my previous books, I always used the King James Version. I use the ESV for a technical reason. The translation is straightforward. The words are modern. This is crucial for greater accuracy from automated translations of the biblical texts. I want this book to be translated and posted. I hereby authorize anyone to do this without contacting me and without payments of any royalties for digital versions of this book, as long as the entire book is translated and posted.

 

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