God and Money


English: Flag of Milwaukee, Wisconsin

English: Flag of Milwaukee, Wisconsin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What happens when a theologian crosses paths with an economist? It sounds like a bad joke. But the question is pertinent, considering that a new book is on the horizon which combines clear theology with sound economic principles.

One of the benefits of attending ETS in Milwaukee was hearing Wayne Grudem defend this thesis: “God does not require or even authorize the state to redistribute wealth–except for a welfare safety net.”  Dr. Grudem offered the session as a preview to an upcoming book. He has already sent the manuscript to the publishers so watch for the book in 2013.

Grudem’s basic outline is so practical that it is difficult to see how anyone can miss the point, but, of course, our last election is Exhibit 1A in the evidence room against such practicality in economics. Grudem asserts first that the power of government is great and therefore exceptionally dangerous. The government bears the power of the sword and can coerce its will on its citizens.

Second, Grudem explains that the government is expected to fulfill several functions, but wealth distribution is not among them.  Punishing evil, promoting good order, and establishing justice (not fairness) is among the important tasks of government, while equalizing income and property have no place in government function.

Third, Grudem shows that the Bible expects private property ownership, not communal government property. Individuals are to own the land and thus possess the wealth of a nation. Governments must be held in check so that the “king” does not exact the wealth from his people.

Fourth, Grudem demonstrates how justice is concerned with a standard of righteousness–not with counting coins to make sure everyone has the same amount. The government should prevent crime and enforce contracts, but it should not take money from some to buy votes from others and thus to keep all in subjection.

Grudem’s work is timely (as always). The book should be a very helpful resource when it arrives. In the meantime, Grudem suggests a book by Jay Richards: Money, Greed, and God.

2 thoughts on “God and Money

  1. Until Christ returns, government and men will usurp the power that should be inherent to the people. The economic crisis that is coming to this country is unstoppable. All citizens who own homes have had value stripped from them by those in power. The housing bubble collapsing was just one more form of redistribution of wealth. I feel at no time will our government make the much needed changes to our fiscal problems. Neither side of the same team (R’s or D’s) want to take responsibility. So therefore we will all have to suffer in this madness together.
    Kinda makes me wonder what the men of old would do. We the people are far to complacent to do what needs done. We are to long down the road of collectivist ideas and policies to stop the crazy train now. Too many in the country are fine with where we are and where we are headed. Common sense, personal responsibility and individualism seem to be foreign ideas to most. We now live in a world where right is wrong and wrong is right.
    We must try to focus our hope on Christ, because I fear all hope is lost on man.

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    • Mike,
      When it comes to personal liberty, I fear you are correct. The sad thing is that now reason appears to have failed us. Thus, it will likely take deep suffering to get our attention. Like you, I am very glad to have hope in Christ and in a kingdom which knows no end.

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