The following is an excerpt from a lecture given by Dr. Barry Asmus at the 2014 Summit Adult Conference. Dr. Asmus is a senior economist with the National Center for Policy Analysis and a much-loved member of Summit’s faculty.
As a pastor who understands the power of God’s justice, Christopher Brooks worked tirelessly to further the biblical worldview in his urban context, building healthy relationships between people of every race, nationality, and socio-economic class. With the growing anger around race relations in the U.S., this excerpt from Pastor Brooks’ recent book would provide thoughtful insight into the issue.
The rich are getting richer. To many, this growing gap is a threat to our nation’s well-being. In December 2013, President Obama called rising income inequality “the defining challenge of our time” and suggested that the growing wealth of those at the top is what is preventing those at the bottom from improving their standard of living. Some assume that because the Bible condemns greed and commands that we help the poor, we ought to support government programs that redistribute wealth. But good public policy demands that we move beyond good intentions and face the facts about what does — and does not — help lower-income families succeed.
In December 2013, President Obama called rising income inequality “the defining challenge of our time.” The top 1 percent own around 40 percent of the nation’s wealth. Should Christians be concerned about the rising income gap between the highest and lowest earners in the United States? Are the rich making too much money? Is income inequality an inherent wrong that must be set right?
The CBO has estimated that President Obama’s healthcare law will significantly reduce the total number of hours Americans work. Work is a basic human good that should be incentivized by our churches, our communities, and our government. Our nation’s laws should reflect the dignity and the necessity of work, which is a key aspect of human flourishing.
Many well-meaning young adults think free markets are hard-edged and callous toward the poor. At Summit, our approach is to help students learn how to be economically productive and caring based on two key principles.
Every liberal economic policy is predicated on the assumption that coercive governments are morally superior to free markets. But how would progressives react if they realized the exact opposite is true?
One of the big issues I’ve wrestled with during the Understanding the Times revision is how relevant some of the worldviews we’ve looked at in the past actually are to our own time. Marxism, for example. When I tell people we need to take Marxism seriously as a worldview competitor to Christianity, I get a lot of eye-rolling. Here’s part of my introduction to the chapter, which I intend as a gentle but insistent response to this line of response.
Which choice then should I, as a Christian, make in the selection between capitalism and socialism? Capitalism is quite simply the most moral system, the most effective system, and the most equitable system of economic exchange. When capitalism, the system of free economic exchange, is described fairly, there can be no question that it, rather than socialism or interventionism, comes closer to matching the demands of the biblical ethic.
In this essay, let me try to set forth a few fundamental principles of Christian economics that could, in my view, form part of the framework for a full-blown system of Christian economics. I do not claim that this list of principles is exhaustive, but I do think it includes some of the more important points.
For the past couple of months the United States has been experiencing what we are told is an economic crisis. Indeed, stock markets are down considerably and the jobless rate is rising. Financial institutions are closing and the overall economy is slowing. While the blame game is in full gear, the average citizen is left in a fog to sort through the rhetoric. What to make of it all? What is the cause of our financial woes? And what is government’s role in fixing it?
It seems that all we hear from the campaign trail is constant bickering, blaming the other party for whatever the current national bad news happens to be, and personal attacks on political opponents. These tactics obscure the real issues and cause many Americans to grow weary of the rhetoric. To cut through the fog of political spin we need to get back to the basic ideas that are foundational to good government…