Category Archives: Economics

John Frame on Socialism, Capitalism, and Poverty

The following is from Frame’s Doctrine of the Christian Life:

To enlarge on these remarks about government welfare, I will say a bit more about socialism and capitalism as systems of economic organization. Since the eighth commandment presupposes private ownership of property, it rejects systems of economics that deny that principle. Marxism, in particular, argues that property belongs to the nation as a whole, represented by the state. Therefore, on that view, the state has the right to control all means of production, all products, and all the wealth. In other words, the state should control the whole economy. In fact, then, for Marxism, the state replaces God as the ultimate owner and controller of the world. This view full under the biblical description of idolatry.

We have seen in recent years the collapse of the Soviet Union, a huge experiment in Marxian communism. China remains totalitarian as of this writing, but it’s economy has become less and less socialist over the last few decades and more open to individual enterprise. The remaining Marxist strongholds of Cuba and North Korea are impoverished. So the pragmatic argument for Marxism is no longer credible. Nor is the moral argument, that socialism brings people out of poverty. Capitalist economies in the West have been far more efficient at the alleviating poverty, though that task is not over by any means.

Further, when the Soviet Union collapsed, the rest of the world breathed a sigh of relief. For socialism has an inner drive toward world conquest. Since the economies of nations are interdependent, a state cannot fully control it’s own economy without controlling the economy of the whole world. Another way to say this is that once the state replaces God as the owner and controller of the world, the deity of the state must be expressed universally, just like God. So the state becomes omnipresent, as well as omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent. Read the rest of this entry

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‘The Bible and Joe the Plumber’- By John Frame

John Frame shares a few thoughts appropriate during election season. The conclusion should whet your appetite:

But what the Bible would teach us above all in this situation is this: we should not put our trust in government, private industry, or economic theory, whether capitalist or socialist. All of these have failed us miserably in the present crisis, and many times in history. We should not be looking to government to make us wealthy or to deal with the sins that have led our nation to this point in history. Now as ever, we should trust only in “the name of the Lord our God” (Ps. 20:7), the name of Jesus Christ.

Caricaturing Capitalism

Readers of this blog will have noticed that I support free-market economics. That’s to say, I’m a capitalist. One of the problems with making this public is that it can lead to all kinds of misunderstanding. So many confused perceptions of capitalism exist, that I’d like to use this platform as an opportunity to explain what I mean, and why I support free-market economics.

The common perception of the capitalist is one of a greed miser who hordes his money, looking for ways to keep the poor in their lowly state.  Personally, I normally take no offense at this portrayal. I oppose greedy power-hungry misers myself! But this image doesn’t really address capitalism as I understand it. It sounds more like the Hollywood portrayal of Gordon Gekko in the Oliver Stone movie Wall Street, a poster boy for greed and the lust for power. This is far from what I think of when I endorse capitalism.

I’m convinced that what people think of capitalism is a straw man, especially when they attack the US as an example of a free market or capitalistic society. I say this because the world has never known a 100% capitalist society. Capitalism represents barometer for determining economic health. The more capitalist a country becomes, the more it flourishes (China is a great example of this).

Read the rest of this entry

A Theology of Money

Kevin DeYoung has recently posted a brief blog on a theology of money. It’s short and insightful. Following the lead of Proverbs, he lists 10 things the book says about money and possessions. Here are his findings:

  1. There are extremes of wealth and poverty that provide unique temptations to those who live in them (Prov. 30:7-9).
  2. Don’t worry about keeping up with the Jones’ (Prov. 12:913:7).
  3. The rich and poor are more alike than they think (Prov. 22:229:13).
  4. You can’t out give God (Prov. 3:9-1011:2422:9).
  5. Poverty is not pretty (Prov. 10:1514:2019:4).
  6. Money cannot give you ultimate security (Prov. 11:711:2813:8).
  7. The Lord hates those who get rich by injustice (Prov. 21:622:1622-23).
  8. The Lord loves those who are generous to the poor (Prov. 14:213119:728:21)
  9. Hard work and good decision-making usually lead to increased prosperity (Prov. 6:6-11;10:413:1114:24;  21:172022:41327:23-2728:20
  10. Money isn’t everything. It does not satisfy (Prov. 23:4-5). It is inferior to wisdom (Prov. 8:10-1118-1924:3-4). It is inferior to righteousness (10:2; 11:4; 13:25; 16:8; 19:22; 20:17; 28:6). It is inferior to the fear of the Lord (Prov. 15:16). It is inferior to humility (Prov. 16:19). It is inferior to good relationships (Prov. 15:1717:1).

His conclusions are balanced and biblical:

You can’t understand the biblical view of money unless you are prepared to accept a number of truths held in tension.

  • You’ll probably acquire more money if you work hard and are full of wisdom. But if all you care about is getting more money, you are the biggest fool.
  • Money is a blessing from God, but you’ll be more blessed if you give it away.
  • God gives you money because he is generous, but he is generous with you so that you can be generous with others. And if you are generous with your money, God will likely be more generous with you.
  • It is wise to save money, but don’t ever think money gives you real security.
  • Wealth is more desirable than poverty, but wealth is not as good as righteousness, humility, wisdom, good relationships, and the fear of the Lord.
I’d encourage you to read the whole (brief) entry. It’s well worth the 3 minutes you put into it.