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LESSON 6
Economics, Poor Relief


Key Scriptures:

A Christian Economics Based on Biblical Creation
Man. alone among all creatures. was made in God's own image and likeness (Gen. 1:27.28). Man is therefore unique and not. as modern evolutionist unbelievers claim, Just another animal, perhaps the most highly evolved one. Man is superior to all other creatures because when God created him He gave him dominion (rule) over them (Gen. 1:28). Of course man's rule or dominion is not absolute but must be exercised in obedience to and dependence on God. Within this absolute limit, however, man is charged with the rule - the economy - of the world and should discharge this office to the very best of his ability. There is no "sacred-secular' distinction; all our labor must be done as unto the Lord (I Cor. 10: 31; Col. 3:23).

"Economics" is the science (an "inexact" or "social" science) dealing with the production and distribution of goods and services, and the "economy' is the careful management of available resources. As such it is a form of human creativity and includes assembling the ingredients for the preparation of a meal, sewing, household care, gardening and shopping ('home economics') Just as much as starting a new business or managing an established one, marketing, transportation and communications, and of course on the personal level being an employer, a supervisor, or an employee. All Scripture dealing with these areas must be considered when one ponders individual plans or economic problems. To act only on the basis at one's own economic desires is to declare oneself independent of God and to that extent be an unbeliever in practice, and it is to be unfaithful to God's economic dominion mandate.

God's economic dominion mandate began instantly after Adam's creation. God put Adam in the Garden of Eden "to work it and take care of it" (Gen. 2:15). Next. God had Adam name all the animals (Genesis 2:15-16). This meant that Adam had to evaluate and express their created identities and characters. and Adam did so, much as he named the woman "woman" (Isha) because she was "taken out of man" (Ish) (Gen. 2:23). Later he named her "Eve" (Chavah life), because she "was the mother of all living" (Gen. 3:20). We must still constantly evaluate and utilize the created identities of created things OS we go about our economic business, sow, plant. water and build. All our marvelous modern technology is at bottom nothing else but finding new creative use for pre-existing, God-given raw materials. We must always remember that while in God's economy we must plant and water, it is He Who gives the increase (I Cor. 3:6-9). The very test of man's faithfulness to God in Eden was a matter of economics (eating and not eating the forbidden fruit), This shows us that in all our economic activities we must abide by God's rules. If we don't. our disobedience will bring ifs own punishment: "As we sow, so we shall reap (Gal. 6:7).

The effects of the fall were largely economic. Man was now doomed to decay and death. His labor would be hard, demand `~e sweat of his brow," and have uncertain results along with "t horns and thistles." The punishment was not work itself (we will work in blessed eternity. ruling the world. our 'ten cities" [Luke 19:17]. and angels-.-no "sitting on clouds playing harps forever" in heaven)), The punishment was this added harshness. uncertainty and scarcity. The creation itself also suffers from the Fall (Gen. 3:1 7-19) to this day due to man's sin. However. it will be "liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God" as we ourselves are restored in Christ to our original likeness to God (Romans 8:19-22).

We labor for our sustenance according to God's gracious gifts of sun and rain (Mt 6:a5). Remnants of God's image also remain in us even in our fallen state. This is why unbelievers can still contribute to economic creativity and prosperity. Of course. we who have come to Christ should become much better economic managers than before, Whether we are unbelievers or Christians. God's dominion mandate to us is not revoked, We all also remain individually responsible to God about all our economic stewardship (not only about how much of our income we give directly to church or charity). Our homes. business. vacation. leisure, and whatsoever we do is under God. Disobedience will bring its own punishment through economic loss.

B. Man Individually Responsible to God
Yes, man is individually responsible to God for the goods and talents entrusted lo him (Luke 19:11-27, the parable of the pounds). The servant who buried his pound in the ground was unprofitable and "wicked". The servants who brought increase to the Lord, the Owner of themselves and the talents, were rewarded with even greater rule and trust.

Because collectivism - communism robs individual men of their personal responsibility to God, it is unbiblical, and it always leads to poverty of the great majority at the people. We see this today in Russia, Romania, China and the other communist countries; we saw it In the many socialist - collectivist tyrannies throughout history. The elite. of course, may wet live in luxury (special stores. resorts. transportation, etc.)! It is because tree enterprise is in agreement with man's individual responsibility to God rooted in biblical creation, and also with man's individual creativity. part ot his image and likeness to God the Creator. that it "works" to make society wealthy.

Because God created man and bestowed his dominion mandate upon him at creation, economics is not the result of long evolutionary random development, as claimed by both modern laissez-faire and collectivist economists. To postulate evolutionary origins for economics, as tar anything else. is to deny the Bible. to eliminate God in one's thinking, and to set oneself up as "independent." Both the leading tree market economists (Von Mises, Hayek Friedman. Rothbard) and the socialist-collectivist economists (Keynes, Galbraith. and ot course Marx and Engels) do this. (*)Just to set the record straight, a godly society will not tear its own offspring but trust God Who commanded man to "Be fruitful and increase in number" (Gen. 1:28). Christians acknowledge that children do not come by "chance" but by God's providence. Contrary to widespread propaganda. there is in tact NO "population explosion," and even it there were, God has in fact given us economic resources for dozens of billions at people! (See Lesson 9 for details.)(*)

C. Relationship Between Workers and Owners
The Bible teaches us that the laborer is worthy of his hire and should not be exploited (James 5.1-6). However. it also teaches that one may be an employer and an owner. The owner has the right to dispose at his property (Mt. 20:1-6 and "thou shalt not steal". Workers and employees must deal honestly with owners or managers (Mk. 12:1-9, Col. 3:22). God Himself is an Owner. in fact the Owner of us and our "property' (really "lease" under Him). This is why we are to do whatever we do "heartily as to the Lord" (Col. 3:23), and we who are "masters" (owners, managers) are to remember that we also "have a Master in heaven" (CoI.4:1).

Marxists-socialists make much at the alleged "class war" between rich and poor, "bourgeoisie" and "proletariat." in reality God made people with different abilities for complementing each other in harmony. God gave us our abilities as He saw fit (I Cor.4:7: 1 Cor.12). Men are not machines or robots which the state can use as it will. There are no "useless eaters" or "unneeded" people in God's economy. In a biblical Christian society there is a place for the handicapped and the old, the retarded and the bright. In tact, the weakest members of society are needed the most [I Cor. 12:22-25)!. How we treat those who "cannot recompense us is the cutting edge of Our Christian professian and of a Christian society (Lk.14:12-14; Jas.1:27. 2:15-17, etc).

D. Investment and Ecology
Investment, money and resources, and accumulation of wealth and savings are not wrong as tong as they, and our very selves, are wholly dedicated to our Lord Money must not become our idol. We must be like the rich patriarch Job, who when bereft of all he had said, "Naked came I out at my mother's womb, and naked shall I return there: the LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD" (Job 1:21). The sinful hoarding of wealth for ourselves so we may be financially secure and independent of God must be forsaken. As good and faithful servants we must bring forth increase from that which the Lord entrusted to our management (Luke 19:11~27, Matt. .25:14-30). Yet we must not trust in riches, or our very salvation is in great danger (Mt. 13:22). Jesus told us that we must "beware of covetousness: for a man's life does not consist in the abundance of things which he possesses" (Luke 12:15). Hoarding does not even provide the material security we seek (Luke 12:16-21). In childlike trust in the loving providence of our Heavenly father we are to seek His kingdom first. and so receive all we need (Luke 12:27-41). Much contemporary "wealth" is built upon indebtedness. We all know people who buy homes, cars and possessions beyond their means and groan under their financial burdens, even threatened by bankruptcy. Their personal relationships especially with spouse and children suffer, and so does their faith. We should not mortgage our uncertain future when we might possibly cheat our creditors.

This applies also to ecology, the management or "economy" of our environment. yes. man has dominion over the earth. and a human baby. even when still in the womb. made in God's image and likeness. takes precedence over an eagle egg or a baby whale as well as over the polio virus. But no. the Bible forbids man's ravaging of nature because (1) the earth and all creatures are the Lord's. and He cares for their welfare (Ps ,24:1, Jonah 4:11. P5366; Ps. 145: 9. etc.). and (2) both man and the creation over which man is appointed to exercise stewardship are to enjoy sabbath rest in God (2 Chron. 36:21) for refreshment and restoration. Christians will practice their economic dominion in the spirit of God's care for His creation. As they increasingly do so here and now, and finality in God's new heaven and new earth, the creation also rejoices as it is delivered "into the glorious freedom of the children of God" (Romans 8:19-22).

E. Poor Relief
Christian economics is not complete without exercising poor relief. The non-Christian poor relief now the norm in formerly Christian societies including our own is administered by the state. and based on the unbiblical principle "Soak the rich to help the poor." It is financed by unequal taxation aimed at the essentially Marxist redistribution of income by the state (and the "state" is in practice the ruling elite). It is impersonal because the real givers of relief (the taxpayers) do not deal directly with the poor. The actual administration of poor relief is done by a huge bureaucracy, again impersonally, for the bureaucrats are not directly responsible to either the taxpayers nor even the poor. but only to their supervisors. If is all totally unbiblical. Certainly Christians must begin by taking care of the poor and needy in their own immediate families (I Tim. 5:8).

The Christian way of poor relief is through local churches and financed by the contributions of individual Christians. It functions on a person-to-person basis. It must help as far as at all possible to get the poor back on "their own feet." It must not endanger the families and individuals of the church directly dealing with the poor, a very real possibility in our present lawless and violent society. Poor relief must include Christian discipling complete with the preaching of the Gospel. doily discipline, a work schedule, work. and training for employment. Despite the huge expenditures for state-administered welfare today, actually millions of poor fall "through the cracks" of the system. Thus there is not only room but urgent need for Christian poor relief! But our Christian relief should restrict the "Salvation Army approach" - soup kitchens, shelters, minimal food and care -to those who are chronically poor and beyond social redemption so to speak (for example: chronic alcoholics or street people]. (*)Homelessness is a huge problem in the USA and world-wide, and the Church must help. Many people in America are on the streets today because of industrial dislocation (oil industry collapse, steel industry collapse. the need for highly trained personnel in the burgeoning computer industry, etc.) Hundreds of thousands of the homeless are schizophrenic patients released from mental hospitals and supposedly "mainstreamed" into their reluctant and financially strapped communities.(*) Pity of a worldly kind alone will not permanently help; Christian discipling is the only long-term answer.

(*)ln the Old Testament dispensation the people gave a poor tithe every third year for poor relief, in addition to the regular annual tithe. Provision was made for self-help by the poor as much as possible (for example, gleaning the fields and harvest, As in the book of Ruth). If we returned to this biblical practice, it would cost us far less than the present impersonal and self-perpetuating "relief" by taxation! For details of biblical poor relief by local churches and individual Christians, consult the excellent book The Dispossessed: Homelessness in America, by George Grant (see "For Further Reading" below).(*)

To sum up, our economics, our work, our money management, our observance of God's sabbath rest (leisure), and finally. our poor relief as the task of the Church rather than the state - all must be done to the glory of God. He is first! In all we do, we are His servants and dependents (Man. 26.111 Cor. 10: 31; I Cor. 13.3).

Review Questions:
1. How does man relate to the rest of nature in a Christian economy ?
2. Give two reasons why collectivism is not biblical.
3. Rights and responsibilities of owner/manager; of employee/worker.
4. Give at least 3 characteristics ot the Christian way of poor relief.

For Further Reading:
Douglas Anderson. Owe No Man Anything: A Practical Guide for Christian Family Financing. Light & Salt, Route 1. Box 252, Hampshire, TN 38461.1980.
George Grant, In the Shadow of Plenty: Biblical Principles af Welfare and Poverty Ft. Worth, DC: Dominion Press, 1986.
George Grant, The Dispossessed: Homelessness in America. Ft. Worth, TX: Dominion Press, 1986.
George Grant, Bringing In the Sheaves: Transforming Poverty into Productivity. American Vision Press, P.O. Box 720515, Atlanta, GA 30328, 1985.
Gary North, The Dominion Covenant: Genesis. Tyler. DC: Institute for Christian Economics, 1982.
Franky Schaeffer, ed.. Is Capitalism Christian? Toward a Christian Perspective on Economics. Westchester, IL: Crossway Books, 1986.
Igor Shafarevich, The Socialist Phenomenon. New york: Harper & Row Publishers, 1980.

Student Summary for Lesson 6
Biblical Creation and Society

Lesson 6 Economics: Poor Relief

Key Scriptures:
Genesis 1:27-28; Gen. 3:17-19; Galatians 6:7

A Christian Economics Based On Biblical Creation
1 man made in God's image Gen. 1:26.28, therefore
a. unique in nature: superior to other creatures
b. free to exercise talents creativity under God-I Cor. 10:31; Col. 3:23 2. man to have dominion Gen .I.,27-31; Adam Gen. 2:15-20; God gives increase I Cor. 3:6-9; Gal. 6:7 3. effects of the fall work now hard. scarcity Gen. 3:17-19; Rom. 8:19-22 4. remnants of God's image dominion mandate not revoked disobedience hurts

B. Man Individually responsible to God
1. he must use his goods and talents Luke 19:11-27
2. collectivism/communism unbiblical and brings poverty
3. economics not result of long evolutionary random development-NO "population explosion"!

C. Relationship Between Workers and Owners
1. Laborer worthy of his hire. should not be exploited James 5:1-6 2. owner has right to dispose of property and workers must deal honestly with owner/manager Mark 12:1-9; God Himself an Owner ! Col.3 22-23; Col.4:I 3. harmony of interests between people of varying talents
a. God gave to each as He saw fit I Cor. 4:7; I Cor. 12
b, the weakest "most needed" I Cor. 12:22

D. Investment and Ecology
1. investment/saving all right but not hoarding for self use for God Lk. 19:11-27; Job 1:21: Mk .I0:24-25; Mt.13:22; Mt 25:14-30; Lk. 12:15-21 and 27~34
2. ecology: ravaging of nature wrong as "the earth is the LORD's" Ps. 24: I, Jonah 4:11; Ps. 36:6; Ps. 145:9; Romans 8:19-22

E. Poor Relief
1. non-Christian way: "soak the rich to help the poor" -state-administered
2. the Christian way: administered by local churches; individual Christians give
a. person-to-person; help poor "get on their own feet"
b. includes Christian discipling
c economics, work. relief all to glory of God He is first! Mt.26:11; I Cor.10:31; I Cor.13:3

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