Thursday, October 02, 2008

God Owns the Entire World = Government Owns the Entire World

Shane Raynor is discussing the recent statement by the UMC General Board of Church and Society on the American financial crisis. He questions the GBCS' causal link between health care costs and the credit shortage, but I'm more curious about the conclusion of the document:

The financial bubble has burst. Corporate greed must be replaced by the biblical mandate of stewardship. All we have is ours “on loan” from God to be used for good in this world. John Wesley’s mandate to “do no harm” is violated when we prey on the vulnerable.

The Administration and Congress must devise legislation that embraces our whole society. Let’s pray our elected officials act with wisdom in this crisis. Please contact your Members of Congress to insist they devise a just and equitable response to the financial crisis.

As I've previously written about the Biblical view of property rights, all the earth is indeed God's, but that is not a propertarian basis for government taking "measures that would reduce the concentration of wealth in the hands of a few." God has the sovereign right to redistribute property, but the GBCS does not provide a sound argument that government may do so.

9 comments:

Jeff the Baptist said...

Exactly. At some level planned economies are morph from being inefficient to being idolatrous.

~c. said...

***chuckles cynically***

Rich said...

Tt may be wrong to draw the general conclusion that government has a "right to redistribute property." But in the USA, in theory at least, the government is the expression of the will of the people. If we believe that Jesus calls us to care for those in need (i.e., use the resources of those who have to help those who have not), then does it not follow that we should urge our government to do the same, as it expresses our will?

Can not God work God's will through the government?

On what basis can a US Christian voter support policies that result in redistribution of wealth to the wealthy? Or support policies that allow the wealthy to leverage their wealth to attain a larger proportion of wealth (and therefore at the expense of those who are less wealthy)?

How does that express God's will?

John said...

On what basis can a US Christian voter support policies that result in redistribution of wealth to the wealthy? Or support policies that allow the wealthy to leverage their wealth to attain a larger proportion of wealth (and therefore at the expense of those who are less wealthy)?

On the same basis that a predominantly Christian people do not ban homosexuality or the free expression of other religions: civil liberties.

Our government is indeed an expression of the people -- a democracy. But it is also a government that is restrained in its power -- a republic. 51% of the people may not rob or execute the other 49% simply because they are in the majority. In the classical liberalism that gave birth to our nation, we have inalienable rights, whether we are a minority of one million or a minority of one.

Rich said...

John,

No argument with that at all. We are a constitutional democracy, with structural checks and balances to help ensure that sin does not get the upper hand (too often).

But that really doesn't address the question. When it comes to what policies a Christian should advocate, how do you decide? Do you advocate for what has to be seen as a core teaching of Christ (care for the needy), or against it? Or do you remain silent and let others decide? Is there an alternative I've missed?.

John said...

I don't see the Bible as a sound basis for public policy, so deciding what to advocate and what not to advocate as a Christian isn't relevant to me. My personal life choices are informed by my Christian faith, but my public policy positions are founded upon a generally libertarian political philosophy. That's how I can find homosexual behavior immoral, but that it should not be illegal.

Jeff the Baptist said...

"If we believe that Jesus calls us to care for those in need (i.e., use the resources of those who have to help those who have not), then does it not follow that we should urge our government to do the same, as it expresses our will?"

No it does not follow. Jesus calls us to care for those in need as Christians. This is true. However that means it is a job for the body of all believers i.e. the Church. It does not follow that this is a job for the secular institution of the State.

John said...

Jeff wrote:

No it does not follow. Jesus calls us to care for those in need as Christians. This is true. However that means it is a job for the body of all believers i.e. the Church. It does not follow that this is a job for the secular institution of the State.

Exactly. Nor does it follow that we, the followers of Christ, may take (tax) from those are not followers of Christ in order to fulfill Christian mandates.

Daniel McLain Hixon said...

I'm glad the General Board is putting forth such helpful, thoughtful, and detailed guidance for our government in this time of crisis...