“What is a just price?” or “How should we deal with poverty?” asked Thomas Aquinas in his theological work. But today we see such issues are discussed only in a class on economic theory and the church has alienated it self from economics. George A Paul enquires into the Biblical view of Economic System in a Sinful world.
“What is a just price?” or “How should we deal with poverty?” asked Thomas Aquinas in his theological work. We see even John Calvin in Institutes of the Christian Religion writing an entire section on government and economics. But today we snub away such questions by saying, “these issues are not theological in nature, so why bother.” We see such issues are discussed only in a class on economic theory and the church has alienated it self from economics.
However, economic matters are dealt in the bible and more so in the book of Proverbs and the Parables of Jesus Christ where the attitude of a Christian towards wealth, generation of wealth and handling finances is prescribed.
If we look at some of the parables mentioned below; we will learn many things about the economics of God from Jesus Christ.
The Son’s Request — Matthew 7:9-11; Luke 11:11-13;
The Lost Sheep — Matthew 18:12-14; Luke 15:4-7;
Workers in the Vineyard — Matthew 20:1-16;
The Wedding Banquet — Matthew 22:2-14;
The Moneylender — Luke 7:41-43;
The Friend in Need — Luke 11:5-8;
The Great Banquet — Luke 14:16-24;
The Lost Coin — Luke 15:8-10;
The Prodigal Son — Luke 15:11-32
The Hidden Treasure — Matthew 13:44;
The Valuable Pearl — Matthew 13:45-46;
The Cost of Discipleship — Luke 14:28-33;
The Rich Fool — Luke 12:16-21;
The Shrewd Manager — Luke 16:1-8;
The Faithful and Wise Servant — Matthew 24:45-51; Luke 12:42-48;
The Talents/The Minas — Matthew 25:14-30; Luke 19:11-27;
The Sheep and Goats — Matthew 25:31-46;
The Tenants — Matthew 21:33-44; Mark 12:1-11; Luke 20:9-18;
The Watchful Servants — Mark 13:34-37; Luke 12:35-40;
The Master and His Servant — Luke 17:7-10;
This witness from Christ must settle the matter for a Christian. It is not just these parables, we can learn economics from every book of the bible however brevity would not allow citation from every book of the bible.
In-fact, having a theology and world view about economics is same as having a view about salvation. A Christian as a rule constructs and proclaims the right way of salvation and also answers the objections raised so as to correct the false view of salvation. In the same way we as Christians must construct a theology and biblical view of economics and must also correct the wrong views about economics.
In this article we will look at biblical view about economics.
While doing this we are going to study economics by taking into consideration the biblical view of human nature. We all know that the bible, speaking about human beings informs us that we humans are created in the image of God and also declares that human beings are fallen and sinful.
The fact that we are created in the image of God implies we are volitional, rational, responsible moral creatures. Since we have volition and rationality we are free to choose between competing services and products. Taking this into consideration we should function in a market system where we are allowed to exercise the freedom of choice and we must also shun all economic systems that are dictatorial and oppressive.
The biblical idea of dominion spoken in Genesis 1:28 and God’s desire for man’s freedom and salvation would allow owning of private property. This is imperative because if humans do not own any private property then they cannot exercise dominion and experience freedom and in consequence they become slaves of oppressive totalitarian governments.
Free choice and right to property grants us the right to produce goods of our choice, the goods so produced would be property owned by us. Such produce if traded must be traded in a free market. If it is traded in a restricted, controlled and oppressive market then the right to choice of the consumer is destroyed which consecutively would annihilate the right to produce freely.
Free choice, right to property, right to produce and free market are granted by Capitalist Economy, which are necessary conductions to preserve the God given right to freedom and dominion but these are not sufficient conductions because of human sinfulness. It is only incidental that we sinful humans promote welfare for profit and gain. Given an opportunity we would gain and make profit by promoting harm, hurt and sin. This truth of the scriptures is captured by Adam Smith in The Wealth of Nations when he said, "It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest." Smith went on to say that "neither intends to promote the public interest," yet each is "led by an invisible hand to promote an end that was not part of [his] intention."
The sinfulness of human beings manifests as evils in Capitalism which if not checked would destroy the Capitalist market. The solution for this would be, to have legal restrictions based on the principles of the scriptures, these restrictions must control the market so that things which destroy humans, family and society are not produced and traded, one example of such restriction on production of goods would be banning production of harmful drugs like brown sugar.
The other evil of the Capitalism is concentration of wealth in few hands the scriptural solution offered to eradicate this evil is “giving”, the evil of concentration of wealth in few hands is over come by following the doctrine mentioned below which is the doctrine of giving. Moreover, such giving must not be forced by the government.
My Heart Always Goes Where I Put God’s Money – Ecclesiastes 5:12; Proverbs 18:10-11; Matthew 6:19-21;
This Present World Is Not My Permanent Home – Philippians 3:20; Luke 12:15; Proverbs 23:4-5; Psalm 90:10; Psalm 39:5b; 1 Timothy 6:6-7; 2Corinthians 8:9; Mark 12:43-44;
I Should Not Live Merely for the Moment but for Eternity Hebrews 11:25-26; Matthew 25:21; Matthew 19:27-29; Proverbs 19:17; Revelation 19:7-8; Luke 6:38; 2Corinthians 9:6;
Giving Is the Only Antidote to Materialism Ecclesiastes 5:10,13-14; Mark 10:21; 1Timothy 6:9-10,17-19; Malachi 3:10;
God Prospers Me to Raise Not My Standard of Living, but My Standard of Giving 2Corinthians 9:10-13; Luke 12:33; Acts 20:35b; 2Corinthians 8:7; 2Corinthians 9:9; 2Corinthians 9:7b; James 2:14-17; 1John 3:16-18; taken from: The Treasure Principle: Unlocking the Secret of Joyful Giving, Randy Alcorn.
So we see that a Capitalist Economy with freedom of choice and property, supported by freedom of production and freedom of trade, along with scriptural legal restrictions on the production of harmful and destructive goods accompanied with the freedom of service through the acquired wealth, will produce and build an Economy which comes closer in implementing the Biblical doctrine of economics.