Yet another wonderful paper on economics!

Ya, I’m kidding about that. I’m sure if an english teacher got a hold of this paper, she’d (or he’d) rip it apart. But that of course is not the point! As Kate mentioned, we recently studied economics in our world views class. (Our World Views class is basically a conglomeration of every subject minus science and math if you were wondering.)

In the study of economics, we learned about the Austrian school, Classical school, Keynesianism (try pronouncing that, it is fun!), Das Kapital, and others. I decided to write my paper on the idea that the Bible is not in support of Communism. Many verses from the New Testament are misconstrued to fit Communism. I think it is important for Christians to understand what the Bible advocates economically. The Bible does not give us an economic “system” to set up but rather gives us principles to live by under any circumstances. Jesus said that His Kingdom was not of this earth (John 18:36).  His purpose was not for Christians to group together but to go into the world and preach His gospel.

Now, without further ado…

Communism in Light of Biblical Economic Principles

Economics is “a social science concerned chiefly with description and analysis of the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services.” (Merriam Webster Online Dictionary) Over the centuries, many economic systems have been developed in an attempt to fix the fiscal problems of various governments and improve the being of man. Karl Marx (1818-1883 AD) was a German philosopher, sociologist, historian, journalist, and revolutionary sociologist. As the author of the Communist Manifesto, Marx believed socialism would ultimately culminate in a “stateless, classless society called communism. Although some people believe that the economic principles of communism come closest to reflecting Biblical values of love and community. Communism falls short of following Biblical standards due to its mistaken view of the fallen nature of man, the “unfair” distribution of wealth, and the private stewardship of property.

Regarding the fallen nature of man, communism and the Bible differ greatly. Communism paints man as unselfish. The communistic system is built upon the idea that man is willing to work for the good of others and society. The leaders think that once the laborers realize the necessity of their work, they will diligently do whatever work is assigned to them. Communism also believes that man is willing to receive equal wages regardless of his effort in comparison to that of another. The belief that man is unselfish is in conflict with overwhelming evidence to the contrary and with the Bible’s view of man. This same envy is consistent with the way the Bible portrays man’s nature. As Christians, Paul tells us in Philippians 2 to “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” If, as a human, man did not have a problem with selfishness and ego, there would be no reason for Paul to plead with Christians to be different from the world. II Timothy 3:2, in talking about the coming end times mentions that “people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant . . .”  But jealousy, covetousness, and selfishness are not new. Cain was jealous of God’s approval of Abel, David was covetous of Uriah’s wife, and Lot was selfish in choosing the better land for himself. When man fell in the Garden, it was because he chose to gratify his desires above obedience to God. Since then, human nature seeks only its own. Although the communist’s perspective of man’s unselfishness is optimistic, human nature demonstrates the opposite reality.

Instead of recognizing man’s fallen nature as the cause of social problems, communism superficially blames the “unfair” distribution of wealth as the culprit. A communist believes that unequal wages, wages being a means of gaining wealth, exploit the workers. Marx and others believed that workers were being paid less than the value of their production and thus being enslaved to a life of toil. It was from this bondage that Marx believed he could set the laborer free in his famous revolutionary cry, “Let the ruling class tremble at a communistic revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win. Working men of all countries unite!” (Communist Manifesto, Marx and Engels 1848, chapter 4) Marx was dealing with the superficial problem of the uneven distribution of wealth but ignoring man’s sin. As Winston Churchill said, “Capitalism is the unequal distribution of wealth. Socialism is the equal distribution of poverty.” According to the Bible, man’s labor is to be repaid by appropriate wages and gaining wealth is not in and of itself a sin. Proverbs 13:11 says, “Wealth gained hastily will dwindle, but whoever gathers little by little will increase it.” Later on, Proverbs 14:23 says, “In all toil there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty.” The Bible is not at all against earning money in honest labor nor does it find the wages to be the issue. The problem lies deeper for it is in human nature. The Bible tells us in I Timothy 6:10 that “the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils.” When the desire for money is the driving force behind a person’s life, he or she will not hesitate to exploit others, be unfair, or exact usury. The social problems that Marx was trying to deal with are the result of man’s sin nature not wages or wealth, not even private property.

In communistic principles, the private stewardship of property is done away with in order to promote fairness to all. Marx says in the Communist Manifesto, “In this sense, the theory of the Communists may be summed up in the single sentence: Abolition of private property.” (Communist Manifesto, Marx and Engels 1848, chapter 2) Once the private property is gone, everything is to be held in common and the government decides what to do with it and how to handle the property. In the Soviet Union, the government removed stewardship of land entirely by collectivizing the farms and telling farmers what to plant and how much to plant. By removing personal responsibility and giving it to the government, the political leaders controlled the lives of their people. On the other hand, the Bible teaches and encourages stewardship of one’s own property. From the very beginning, Adam and Eve were entrusted with stewardship of the Garden of Eden. When Israel became a nation, God gave Moses laws regarding property. In Deuteronomy, many of the laws regarding property reminded the children of Israel to be generous with the property that God had entrusted to them. In the New Testament, in the first few chapters of Acts, people often take verses out of context to support communism. Acts 4:34-35 says, “There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.” This verse does not support communism but rather demonstrates the selflessness of these early Christians who took seriously the Lord’s command to care for their neighbor. In Acts 5:4, the Apostle Peter clarifies that the people were not under compulsion to sell, but they clearly owned their own property. In confronting Ananias for his sin, he says, “While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to man but to God.” (italics added) According to Biblical principles, private property is not bad but is an opportunity for stewardship and obedience to God.

The differences between communistic and Biblical economic views on fallen human nature, the “unfair” distribution of wealth, and the private stewardship of property are vast. Communism is built on the ideas that: man is unselfish; “unfair” wealth causes social problems; and private property is unnecessary. On the other side of the spectrum, the Bible teaches that: man is, indeed, selfish; wealth is good when used generously; and private property is to be used in obedience to God. The two systems could not disagree more. It is only by misusing Scriptural context that one could find support for communism within the pages of Scripture.

Yes, I do write a lot! But I hope this has given you some food for thought…

L

PS- we also read a great book called “Economics in One Lesson” by Henry Hazlett. I Highly recommend it as a good, basic way to introduce economics and economic fallicy

Capitalism and the Bible

In our Worldviews class this semester we went through a section on economics and the different systems… not exactly my cup of tea, but not the worst subject ever.

Our assignment was to take one of the economic theories and write a 5 paragraph paper comparing it to the Bible. I picked Capitalism…. please excuse any errors due to my copy/paste from a “.doc” to wordpress =)

Capitalism: An Excellent System According to the Bible

              Economics is a thriving study today as people try to find solutions to problems such as debt, poverty, and finances. It is the study of the production, distribution, and consumption of resources. Since economics is a broad study, and individuals have varying opinions, numerous theories of the most efficient system have developed over the centuries. After the fall of feudalism, capitalism became popular. It is the economic theory with people having private ownership of resources rather than governments having ownership. From the foundation of the United States, capitalism has been the main economic theory practiced. Unfortunately, however, today America is rapidly drifting away from its principles and mixing in socialistic ideals. We must realize this danger and fight for the preservation of capitalism as the most efficient and free system. Capitalism is a successful system of economics because it is based on a Biblical view of man and is the framework in which Christian values flourish.

Capitalism is based on a Biblical view of man’s fallen nature. The Bible teaches that man is depraved as a result of the Fall in the Garden of Eden. The Fall left man consumed with satisfying his own wants. In Mark 7:21-22, a gruesome picture is presented of man’s true nature, “For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness.” Each person is warped and therefore, his nature is corrupted. Because of this sinful nature, man is obsessed with himself. II Timothy 3:2 calls men “lovers of self” and “lovers of money.” Because fallen man is naturally dissatisfied with what he has and is always desiring more, God commands Christians, as new creations, to be careful. Luke 12:15 states, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” Man is greedy because he is selfish, absorbed in himself. Capitalism utilizes these characteristics as motivation. It takes man’s greediness and channels it into the pursuit of wealth. If a person desires an item, work must be done in order to receive it. There will always be people working to fill endless cravings. As a byproduct of their work, the market economy will be benefited and stabilized. Capitalism also takes man’s selfishness and uses the pursuit of self-interest to awaken competition. Adam Smith, a classical economist, wrote, “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.” (Wealth of Nations, by Adam Smith, Book 1, Chapter 2, italics added) The capitalistic system realizes that man is looking out for his own affairs, wanting the best for himself. Therefore, it provides a framework that lets competition thrive, bringing forth quality products, numerous customers, large profit, a successful economy, and a booming industry.

Capitalism is based on a Biblical view of industry. The Bible supports hard work and making wise use of time. From man’s beginning at Creation, his life was designed to be useful. When God created Adam he told him to “subdue the earth” (Genesis 1:28). Genesis 2:15 says, “God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.” In man’s nature, there is something that was created to work. There is satisfaction in accomplishment. Man is created and commanded to work, “For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.” (II Thessalonians 3:10) God knows that work is necessary and not only commands but commends hard work. Proverbs 10:4 states, “A slack hand causes poverty,
but the hand of the diligent makes rich.” Work is essential to a successful economy, and capitalism recognizes this. This system doesn’t limit industry, instead it opens the door. Laissez-faire, keeping government out of the free market, is the part of capitalism that promotes industry. Since the government is not in control, work and industry are necessary for all. Capitalism also rewards hard work with profit. Because capitalistic economics forces people to work for a living, it is a successful system which allows people to freely conduct their affairs.

Capitalism, while not based on a Biblical view of helping others, allows Christian values to thrive. While the Bible lays out some basic principles for wise living, it teaches that wealth and materials are not the purpose of life. God is a God of compassion. We, as Christians, are to reflect His character, by using our resources to help others in need, not merely for fulfilling our pleasures. “Blessed is he who is generous to the poor.” (Proverbs 14:21) The Lord knows that there will always be needy people. Instead of charging governments to take care of these people, He lays this duty on Christians. The Bible gives an eternal focus to economics, a purpose beyond man himself. Matthew 6:19-21 states, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in Heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.” Christians realize that one’s purpose in life goes beyond this world. Thus, they live with an eternal perspective. There is more to life than riches and wealth. “Better is a little with the fear of the Lord than great treasure and trouble with it.” (Proverbs 15:16) In Biblical Christianity, people are to realize that life is short and to minister to people’s needs, recognizing what God has given Christians eternally in Christ. While capitalism is not aligned with this purpose, it makes it possible for Christians to live their faith freely. Capitalism allows citizens to choose how they spend their resources; there is not a government or single authority dictating how a person uses his discretionary money. This allows Christians to give money to their churches, to help others, and to support organizations of their choice. By permitting its citizens the freedom of choice in how they use their money, capitalism has built a good stable economy. All of this permits Christians to wisely invest their money in good causes and in others’ lives.

              Capitalism is a successful system because it allows Christianity to flourish. While Christianity can function in any economic system, even under persecution, capitalism creates the best and most friendly system for Christian values and thus is worth defending in America. The Biblical view of man is that he was created for work, but his fallen nature is greedy and selfish; capitalism is successful because it uses this view to its advantage. A capitalistic economy permits Christians to use their finances for the kingdom of God, which includes helping others. Christians should realize and appreciate the freedom capitalism has given them for living out their faith and should fight to keep it operating in America.

Gold Cup Recital 2012

Federation 2012 complete!

(L-R) Oldest to Youngest... at this point shortest to tallest =P

Each year in piano, we have participated in the National Federation of Music Clubs (Federation). Basically, we each memorize two pieces according to our skill level, (i.e. I couldn’t play chop-sticks), and then play them for a judge. The judge “grades” you on your performance and awards you points 0-5, every 15 points = a gold cup. These points accumulate, so that with each 15 points (15, 30, 45, and so on) the cups get bigger. So, if you get 5 points each year, then every three years he/she will get a cup. With each cup comes playing in the Gold Cup Recital the week after Federation.

We have participated in Federation for what seems like forever! I can’t say that we have always enjoyed it or looked forward to it, but I know that it has been very good for each of us to go through, for many reasons…

1) It gives you a goal to shoot towards, motivation in practice. When working on these pieces you realize that there is a deadline and therefore keeps you working/progressing in piano studies.

2) It provides an opportunity for someone outside of your family, friends, and teacher to out point areas that you can improve. Not only does the judge give you a grade, but they have a comment sheet where they can give feedback on areas you did well in/struggled with/etc…

3) It forces you to work on memorization and performance skills. If I could, I’d probably never ever play in front of people, unless accompanying them. I have always hated, hated, hated playing in front of people, especially by memory. My heart pounding, my hands hot and clammy, and my fear of forgetting… all things I dread. Federation has forced me, and each of my siblings, to get outside of our comfort zone. It is one thing to play in front of an audience of elderly people at a nursing home, but a whole different thing to play for someone who is evaluating your performance. Even though I still would prefer to be the audience rather than play for an audience, in doing Federation year after year it has helped me to become more comfortable with getting up and playing a piece.

All five of us participated in Federation, but only three of us were up for Gold Cups this year. This was my final year of Federation. I am so thankful to my [multiple] piano teachers that invested so much time into helping me! I achieved my 75 pt cup with their help! But watch out… C’s headed for his 90!

With two of our teachers…

with our former piano teacher

with our present teacher and another student friend

– KS