What Does God Say About Economics?
What you don’t know can hurt you. We ignore the power of ideas at our own peril. All ideas, right or wrong, have spiritual, practical, or economic consequences.
Economics is an inexact science at best. Economists draw from the study of mathematics, statistics and probability, past economic trends, and a guiding philosophy that a particular school of economic theory provides the brightest light to follow. It’s a little like weather forecasting, except that meteorology doesn’t affect your retirement by getting mixed up in political skirmishes and power struggles at the highest levels of government. Not to mention that a faulty weather forecast will never destroy your family’s finances or blot out a secure economic future. Don’t dismiss these possibilities as things that happen only in other countries or to other people. You and your family, your friends and neighbors, and the country you love can all be caught in the aftermath of a financial hurricane if America continues on its irresponsible and unsustainable economic path.
Here is what our leaders in both major parties do not seem to understand: political solutions can never put us on a sound economic footing. Politics is not interested primarily in the good of the nation. Instead, politics has to do with gaining and exercising power over your opponents, rewarding your biggest donors, and benefitting the priority constituencies of your party. If, in doing these things, you also accomplish something that is good for the country at large, that’s great. But such an outcome is more an afterthought in the political process than it is a primary focus.
That might sound cynical, but if you fear I have cast my lot with the naysayers rather than choosing to work for a solution, keep reading. Recognizing why things are not working is the first step toward correcting the things that have gone terribly wrong.
The problem is that our nation’s leaders look to deals and compromise to determine policy and enact legislation, and they are guided by political and economic ideologies that shape their values and priorities. They need, instead, the guidance of a fixed standard and a voice that speaks outside of our time and culture. In a world filled with donkeys, elephants, and rhinos, we need a lion that can roar timeless, common-sense principles that are not beholden to any party, time period, or cultural shift.
What our nation’s leaders have missed is the one reliable, unfailing source of direction and wisdom that is available to us. If we continue to ignore God’s guidance in the economic realm—at the levels of individuals, families, and the nation—we can be sure we’ll end up losing even more of our freedom and personal wealth. We will be living in a country weakened by economic failure and wondering how the greatest nation in history could have been brought to such a depressing state of financial and ethical bankruptcy.
But that doesn’t have to happen. The voice of the people can still carry the day. I am not suggesting a new Reformation that takes on a political identity. Nor am I calling for a theocracy in which Americans would be required to adhere to the doctrines of Christianity. In our republic, the voice and will of a majority of the citizens still possess the power to move our nation in a different direction—if we are united.
What is Godonomics, and why is it the best way to solve the deepening economic dilemma we face as a nation, as families, and as individuals? Godonomics is, as the name suggests, God’s teachings and wisdom in the realm of finance and economics. When you study the Bible, you find that God’s agenda for nations, families, and individuals is not hard to understand. But it is not easy to apply, either. It requires commitment, restraint, godly priorities, hard work, and generosity, among other virtues. These words are not used a lot in political campaigns, because candidates for office prefer to paint their policies in terms of solutions that won’t require hardship, sacrifice, or major shifts in priorities. God, of course, is not swayed by the results of opinion polls or the planks in a party platform.
And here is what is so refreshing in the principles of Godonomics: they make perfect sense. Speaking to us today through the scribes who recorded God’s message over millenniums, God’s plan for economic sanity, financial responsibility, and prosperity apply directly to the mess we are in today. Americans need to know that the options are not limited to Democratic, Republican, Libertarian, Socialist, Tea Party, and all other groups working to gain influence and power. While each one claims to have the secret to solving our broken economy, only God’s principles will lead us out of the quagmire we’re in. I believe that when Godonomics becomes widely known, and more and more people begin to apply God’s principles at home, in their businesses, and in their communities, they will see for themselves that this is the solution we’ve been looking for.
Today’s failed economic policies are nothing new. In the chapters that follow, we will look at ancient kings who seem to have taken their cues straight from John Maynard Keynes—except that Keynes would not be born for another three thousand years. We will look at the words and thinking of God-inspired leaders from Israel who recorded wisdom on leadership, government, citizenship, and personal responsibility—all of which helped guide the founders of the United States as they created our nation’s legal and constitutional foundation. The same ancient wisdom undergirded the economic system that helped establish America as the most secure and prosperous country on earth.
Beyond that, the first Christ-followers applied these principles as individuals and families, and in congregations and fellowships. God’s instructions are not vague or hard to understand. They simply require single-mindedness, hard work, generosity, and steadfast commitment. But following His instructions brings unmatched freedom, opportunity, and self-directed prosperity.
Godonomics seeks to bring God’s economic principles to the forefront, so we can set our lives, our families’ futures, and our nation on a sound financial footing—now and for the future. But there is a second—even more important—reason why Godonomics is so crucial. A rapidly growing movement has lured believers away from God’s principles on finances and convinced them that socialism is, according to Scripture, the economic system that is most consistent with God’s will.
Younger Christians, especially, are intrigued by persuasive Christian authors, speakers, and bloggers who emphasize giving priority to helping the poor by taking from others or empowering intrusive governments. They use the term social justice to advocate a shift of the economic balance in favor of those who are not producing wealth. They justify this stance with verses from the Bible, primarily from the Sermon on the Mount, the book of Acts, or selections from the Old Testament, without seeing the broader contexts.
Growing numbers of younger Christians, who are largely unaware of the divine wisdom behind Godonomics, now consider socialism to be the economic system that God endorses. Advocates of this teaching do not call it socialism, of course. They use words such as compassion, justice, even gospel, to legitimize their goal of shifting wealth away from those who are productive and creating opportunities for others, and toward those who are said to be disadvantaged and marginalized.
I have pastored inner-city congregations that aggressively addressed the challenge and harm of generational poverty. I also have pastored suburban churches that are insulated from the plight of starving neighbors. I’ve been humbled to lead people from a variety of perspectives: One church was racially diverse while others were lily white. Some congregations were predominantly “blue state,” while others were much more politically conservative. I’ve learned that people of all backgrounds and perspectives love our country, have a common-sense approach to life, and are not nearly as divided personally as the leaders they elect portray.
It is time for Christians and all Americans to join together to protect our heritage and to restore strength, stability, and prosperity to our nation. At the same time, it is essential that this be done from the bottom up, generated by individuals and families who take seriously God’s wisdom on managing and stewarding their finances. Change will begin to take place only when citizens—both Christian and otherwise—act on the framework and guidelines upon which our nation was built. That is when we will see families prosper and our nation regain economic strength.
In the chapters that follow, we will look at the ideas and outcomes of leading thinkers and practitioners. We will examine policies based on economic theories that produced wealth and elevated the standard of living across the board, as well as those that weakened capitalism and, as a result, our nation. We will take a close look at capitalism’s most influential foe, Karl Marx, and the current American spokesman for the rechristened social gospel, Jim Wallis, head of Sojourners.
There is nothing more personal than your next paycheck, your financial future, and your family’s freedom, security, and well-being. So let’s see what God would say if He were talking individually to the economic thinkers and political leaders who shape and enact the policies that govern our country. These are the policies that have an impact in your town, in your home, and on your wallet. Let’s get started.