All scripture from The 1599 Geneva Bible, Copyright 2006 by Tolle Lege Press, White Hall, WV.
This is a general introduction to this topic to spark discussion, not a complete treatise on the issue. Every society required financing of public works, charity and care for all.
Social financing is a necessity in any and every society above the most backward level. If ti is not provided by God’s people, the state must step in and assume the responsibility, or face anarchy. Status Welfarism and social financing have been from antiquity a source of civil corruption, the destruction of the family, and a burden that can bring down the state.”
Often American Christians of the conservative variety have equated Christianity with blind capitalism. The problem is, scripture does not teach a blind capitalistic economic system. It does teach a value for private property and accumulating work through honest healthy work, but it places limits on both. One of the primary issues concerning those in the United States right now is economic policy and universal health care. People on both sides have been using sound bites about freedom of choice, lack of care, helping out those in need, but I have yet to see a consistent biblical response to the question of bailouts, economic stimulus packages and universal health care. So I want to take some time to delve into those issues with you. What does scripture have to say about these issues? As full preterists we believe that scripture defines our actions and responsibilities. We also believe that the dwelling of the New Jerusalem offers healing to all the nations. Is this healing merely spiritual or does it have physical dimensions as well?
Rousas Rushdoony states this idea succinctly: “By undermining the Biblical doctrine of property, capitalism has undermined itself. The godless state and the godless corporation are alike in their disregard for the theological meaning of property.”
Unrestrained capitalism is just as evil as unrestrained communism in the biblical model. All economic principles are to be subject to God and his word, and God’s word places limits on property purchasing and property use through the sabbath and jubilee laws. These laws are easily extended through analogy to ownership and use of all means of production in a post-agriculture economy. As a preliminary statement, my premise is that the poor should be cared for, the economy regulated and medical care provided for all citizens. I hope that is controversial enough for my readers to compel you to read further.
Is it the government role to care for the poor? Biblically we can see a precedent for this, but ti is the result of sin, not the result of good economic policy. Just as Israel, in their sin, demanded a king instead of God’s rule over them, people today have demanded the slavery of state run charity over biblical economic obedience. When the government must care for the poor, it is because the Christian community has been disobedient to God’s law. If the Christian does not obey God, he has no standing to complain when the government forces him to do so. If the Christian wishes to be free from the tyranny of excessive taxation and the paternalism of the welfare state, he must obey God and care for the poor himself. The are only two choices, Christian economics according to biblical law, or slavery to the state. The Christian’s sin is the cause for the welfare state, not the Democratic party or the Republic party. We need to accept responsibility for the consequences of our sin and repent before we can criticize government’s attempt to do what we are commanded to do ourselves!
Scripturally, those who were too deeply indebted to manage their own finances could “sell” themselves into slavery to pay their bills. This was in contrast to bankruptcy laws and 19th century debtors prisons. When those who sold themselves into slavery chose to remain in slavery rather than enter into freedom and the free economy again, they were biblically allowed to do so:
Exodus 21:5-6 – But if the servant say thus, I love my master, my wife and my children, I will not go out free. Then his master shall bring him unto the Judges and set him to the door, or to the post, and his master shall bore his ear through with an awl, and he shall serve him forever.
The corporate body of the church in the United States has willfully submitted itself to slavery of the state. It has decided it likes the benefits of living under a master better than freedom. The church has submitted itself to government run charity, government run economies, and statist policies. The government is the master, the church, the slave. The church has given the state this power, but instead of choosing to go free and take responsibility for its own lawful debts to society, the church has chosen to remain a slave. When the slave willfully submits himself to the master, the master then has the biblical right to control the economics, life and education of the servant. There is nothing unbiblical about the state doing this under these circumstances, but it is slavery, plain and simple. The government is the master, we are the slaves. We are slaves because we chose to be so.
There are several biblical principles that the church has ignored to its detriment. Refusal to obey these laws has led to slavery. Since this is not a full economic treatise I will not touch on all of them, but I am working on a full book on this topic. But one law which has consistently been ignored, is the gleaning law. Remember as we now live in the promised land of the New Heavens and the New Earth, we are to shape our world as God intended. The principles of biblical law can show us how life in the promised land is to operate and give us an indication of how we build the society God wants from us now that he has fulfilled his promises to us and brought us into his kingdom.
One of the key limits on capitalism in biblical law is the gleaning law:
Leviticus 19:9-10 When ye reap the harvest of your land, ye shall not reap every corner of your field, neither shalt thou gather the gleanings of thy harvest. Thou shalt no gather the grapes of thy vineyard clean, neither gather every grape of thy vineyard, but thou shalt leave them for the poor and for the stranger; I am the Lord your God.
Those who own the means of production are required to provide for those who are hungry and unemployed or underemployed. In ancient times the means of production was essentially land, and the products were the crops they produced. Ancient land owners were commanded to leave the corners of the field unharvested as a way to provide for the poor. It has been estimated that this amounted to 5-15% of the production of those fields.
Gleaning was a form of morally compulsory charity. It remains the primary moral model for biblical charity… In a non-agricultural society gleaning cannot become a literal model for charity. Morally, however, We have the blessings and all the wealth we need at our disposal to care for everyone, but we have failed to obey God and enslaved ourselves. Let’s break free from slavery and do the job ourselves!gleaning is to be our guideline for charity… God expects the more successful members of a community to provide economic opportunities.
Elsewhere the bible tells us that we are to care for the widows, orphans, sick, imprisoned, even those who are thirsty.
Matthew 25:40 – Verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it to me.
We cannot deny that the Christian is supposed to be providing for the poor, either through outright giving, redemption of debt, interest free loans, or providing a job (gleaning) so they can work for their own provision.
Kinsman supporting their own:
Leviticus 25:25 – If thy brother be impoverished, and sell his possession, the his redeemer shall come, even his near kinsman, and buy out that, which his brother sold.
Interest free loans to those in need:
25:25-27 – Moreover if thy brother be impoverished, and fallen in decay with thee, thou shalt relieve him, and as a stranger and sojourner, so shall eh live with thee. Thou shalt take no usury of him, not vantage, but shalt fear they God, that they brother may live with thee. Thou shalt not give they money to usury, not lend him thy vittles for increase.
If biblical economics were followed no one would be without food, a place to live, or necessary care. Curiously enough, however, many Christians in the United states have applied evolutionary theory to economics. The survival of the fittest begins to be a way to blame to poor for being poor and absolve the Christian of his responsibility to the poor. We say things like, “he needs to get a job,” “he needs to take responsibility for his own actions,” “we cannot help everyone.” While there is some truth to each statement they do not negate our biblical obligations to care for those in poverty and need. Other biblical principles deal with the slothful individual but the laws concerning those in poverty do not make such discrimination, they do not leave us an escape clause to refuse help.
It is the Christian communities God-commanded role to care for the poor and needy. If they refuse to obey, they incur a debt to their fellow man. When they do not pay that debt they enslave themselves to those that will pay that debt, in many cases, their government. This slavery is biblical, but a worst case scenario for the disobedient Christian.
In Genesis 26, Abraham faces a famine. Although we are not experiencing an agricultural famine, many circumstances indicate this could be considered an economic famine. The lack of work to earn money for food is just as much a famine for those in that situation as the lack of crops was for the ancient farmer.
One of the principles of the sacrificial system of scripture was to show who is was that owned the means of production. God is the ultimate owner of all land and resources, not man. As a means of regulating the use of wealth so it goes to those in need, instead of feeding a overblown bureaucracy is the limit God placed on the role of government and its income:
The temple or priestly tithe was only one percent of the believer’s tithe, which was paid to the Levites (Numbers 18:26). This was used by the Levites to provide a variety of services, care of the sanctuary, its music, service as educators, judges, and more. God does not in His law permit a rich and powerful state nor church.”
Government is to be limited, it only grows beyond its biblical bounds when Christians allow it to do so. We are responsible. It is time we realized that and acted accordingly.
In the end, providing health care is the same as any other care provided to the poor. The free market, restricted by biblical laws is the best model. This would mean doctors, medical companies, insurance companies and drug companies providing a portion of their profits for gleaning through providing a means for those in need to earn the care they need. This may be through working directly for the provider, tr through working for the community as donated resources by the provider and corporations. It is the Christian’s role to provide this for those in need, through the resources of the Christian community, Godly business practices and personal charity. When the Christian does not provide for those in need, as was mentioned above, he creates a debt. When he does not pay that debt, he sells himself into slavery to the entity or individual that pays that debt for him.
Christians have sold themselves into slavery to the government by not paying the debt they owe to the poor. If they refuse to obey God, it is ridiculous to complain that the government is doing it for them. Those who oppose government run health care, government welfare programs and economic stimulus packages, must pay their debt and break free of their slavery to the state. The only way for this to happen is for Christians, churches and Christian business owners to step up and pay their debt, to care for the poor and needy in their community. We cannot hope to, as individuals, solve the problem overnight, but we can start with our community, which is after all, the biblical model.
I call for Christians to discover ways to provide for the health care needs, nutritional needs, and housing needs for those in their immediate community. Obedience must start with a single step, but as more and more in the Christian community repent and take up this task, eventually we can turn our society from one in which our debt is to the government to one in which our only debt is to God. Political action is not the solution, biblical obedience is!
The curse has lifted and the only limits and poverty are those created by our disobedience and sin. We can change the world, and it may be that change takes place by providing health care for one persona t a time.
Revelation 22:3 – And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it and his servants shall serve him.
Deuteronomy – 8:7-10 – For the Lord they God bringeth thee into a good land, a land in the which are rivers of water and fountains, and deopths that spring out of valleys and mountains. A land of wheat and barley, and of vineyard, and fig tress and pomegranates; a land of oil, olive and honey; A land wherein thou shalt eat bread without scarcity, neither shalt thou lack anything therein; a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose mountains thou shalt dig brass. And when thous hast eaten and filled thyself, thou shalt bless the Lors thy God for the good land, which he hath given thee.
We have the blessings and all the wealth we need at our disposal to care for everyone, but we have failed to obey God and enslaved ourselves. Because we are preterists we know that the curse is lifted and the God is brining healing to the nations through us. We just fail to realize that too often. Let’s break free from slavery and do the job ourselves! Until we obey God, we have no room to complain if the government does our job for us.