Wealth and Poverty: Four Christian Views

Ed. by Robert Clouse (IVP)

I understand why IVP pulled this book after a year of successful selling.  North publicly destroyed everyone in it.  That wouldn’t work with IVP’s “proto-SJW turn.” Gary North offers the free-market view.  William Diehl offers a mostly free-market view, with a little govt thrown in. Art Gish offers the hippie commune.  John Gladwin is a Communist.

Aside from North, only Diehl actually shows some knowledge of economics. (And despite Diehl’s antipathy towards the Old Testament, his essay and most of his responses were quite good).  All of the responders attacked North on his insistence that the Bible gives a blueprint to stuff like law, politics, and economics.  Admittedly, OT law is a hard sell to hippie evangelicals, but North’s comeback is unanswerable: what good does it do to speak of “Christian guidelines” if you don’t fill in the content?

Art Gish’s essay on decentralist economics should be interesting today, given the current Benedict Option fad.  It’s the standard “Let’s live in community, man” and “God liberates the poor.”  North gives a wise response:

“The Bible also does not teach that “God intervenes in history to liberate the oppressed poor” (p. 135). What the Bible does teach is that God intervenes in history to liberate the righteous oppressed, whether rich or poor. Did God liberate the poor who lived in Canaan? No. He had his people exterminate them. There were wicked poor people in Canaan, after all. They lived under the domination of “unrighteous structures,” to use a popular phrase. God destroyed both Canaan’s oppressed and Canaan’s “unrighteous structures” when Joshua and the Israelites invaded the land (163).”

It does no good to say “Let’s look to Jesus” if we divorce Jesus from the Bible he read.  Diehl moves in for the finishing blow:

but to advocate a nonsystem seems irresponsible. Koinonia, on a global scale, without any blueprint, is a nonsystem. Because it is a nonsystem it can hardly be called a “New Testament economic program.” Utopia it is; an economic program it is not” (Diehl 173).

Gladwin’s essay is pure Communism, so no need to refute it here.  The book is a let-down.  Don’t pay money for it.  Read it here.


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