This lengthy post is just a set of lengthy notes and excerpts on Gary North’s The Covenantal Structure of Christian Economics.
While the book is focused on developing a Christian perspective on economics, closely tied to Biblical teaching, my main interest is in learning how to think in a explicitly Biblical manner, rather than economics per se.
Of course, you should simply download the free pdf book here, and read it yourself. I greatly enjoyed it, as I love to see how obedience to God’s will is shown to be central to our lives and any decent civilization.
Some notes in my notes below: Footnote numbers deleted in my quotes, and there are no page numbers: just do a word search on the original text if you want to find the page number. This is a casual work, of course, not a proper scholarly review of the test.
(Also, some of us are too busy – or lazy – to read a 422-page book. This lengthy post can be considered a impromptu survey of the high points in the first two sections of the five-section text.)
Who is sovereign?
Sovereignty identifies the answer to this question; “Who is in charge here?” This is point one of the biblical covenant: the God who is transcendent and also present.
The sovereign is not required to explain his reasons for doing anything. He explains himself only by His grace: a gift unmerited by the recipient. The Book of Job is the premier book in the Bible on sovereignty. Job demanded an explanation from God (chapters 2–37). He was not entitled to one, yet he was given one. What was it? “I’m God, and you’re not” (chapters 38–41).
I love the TL:DR version of Job chapters 38 ff. But the laconic summary by necessity cuts off the most interesting aspects of chapters 38-41: a limited but true expression of what the universe looks like from God’s perspective. When we compare our experience with His, then we understand that we are not Him.
(And a good thing too, seeing how sinful men who think themselves divine/above the Law actually behave.)
Hundreds of millions of Christians assume that God’s kingdom is less important than people’s salvation from eternal negative sanctions. They think that people’s avoidance of hell is more important to God than the extension of His kingdom. They assume that the gospel—the good news of Jesus Christ—is primarily the good news of individual deliverance from hell rather than the extension of God’s kingdom in history. This is operational humanism. It puts men first. The Bible’s doctrine of the sovereignty of God teaches otherwise. His kingdom, not man’s salvation, is primary. Ours is a theocentric universe, not an anthropocentric universe.
North makes clear what should be obvious, but isn’t thanks to all the pious blather of the wolves going Baa Baa Baa. Christ’s commandment is to disciple the nations, in this world. Individual soul saving is great, but NOT the primary focus. Exalting the Glory and Authority of God, by upholding His will on the sinful Earth to the same extent as it is upheld in the sinless Heaven: this is the focus.
Human action is purposeful action. Ludwig von Mises developed a comprehensive deductive economic system based on this simple concept. But Mises then used this approach to exclude God from any consideration in economic reasoning or historical events. He argued that God, being perfect and therefore content, cannot act. Perfection is antithetical to action. Yet God does act, and He is perfect. We must therefore go beyond Mises’ humanism.
A damned shame, that even the best of pagans – men who have done far more for the noble cause of liberty than similarly-equipped & trained Christians have (to the shame of God’s people) still want God to Just Shut Up.
Who Gets What?
In medieval times, men on their deathbeds would transfer ownership of land to an agency of the church, such as a monastery. They did this as a way of laying up treasure in heaven. They sacrificed their heirs’ inheritance, not their own. They used the property for as long as they could, and then they disinherited their heirs. They believed that this would fulfil Jesus’ requirement for a successful transfer of wealth to heaven. They sought to take their wealth with them. They designated heirs outside their families.
It’s interesting to see how powerful men behave, when they really do believe that God, Heaven, and Hell truly do exist.
Reading this, one gets the sneaking feeling that these rich men, using the wealth of their heirs to buy their own way to heaven, are going to get a surprise.
Here is the supreme practical question for all social theory: “Is there a system of predictable plan reconciliation that does not rely on either love, which is in very limited supply, or violence, which most people wish were in very limited supply?” The answer is provided by economic theory: voluntary exchange.
‘Plan reconciliation’ here means bringing the plans of all men into agreement. Voluntary exchange is the reason why violence can be generally avoided in a sinful society.
The Mosaic law announced: “Behold, the heaven and the heaven of heavens is the LORD’S thy God, the earth also, with all that therein is” (Deut. 10:14). The psalmist clarified the nature of the delegation. “The heaven, even the heavens, are the LORD’S: but the earth hath he given to the children of men” (Ps. 115:16). Covenant-keepers are assigned the task of occupying the land as a way to manifest the comprehensive ownership of all things by God.
This very blog assumed that men will inhabit the worlds of the heavens, as well as this world – but this is just a hope. What is proven from Scripture is that we have the Earth: mankind extending into the stars and galaxies is not proven from Scripture.
I suspect (from my own mind: I have no clear Scripture to back me up) that the worlds and the stars are ours as well: but realistically, we will gain them only in our sinless state. As sinners, the power we need to reach the stars is too easily perverted to short-sighted wars, smashing the delicate colonies and easily spoiling the centuries-long processes needed to terraform a world. Mere power and science just isn’t enough: wisdom, righteousness, and continual, perfect obedience to God are the keys to the stars. And I just don’t see that happening this side of the Second Coming.
Without perfect obedience, what’s the use of spending unimaginable sums terraforming Mars, carefully building up the population to a billion souls, creating and nurturing a vibrant ecosystem… only to destroy the work of 2,000 years in a mere hour of orbital bombardments by the hand of some Glorious Visionary Revolutionary, regardless of the religious or rational justification?
You need the Mind of God first, before you can do the Work of God. Grabbing the power before knowing what to do with it is just a really expensive and showy form of suicide, a flashy failure.
Space is an intensely unforgiving environment: perfection is simply the base price of admission, if you want to live in the heavens.
On a long enough timeframe, with enough lives, wealth, technology, and power at stake, “committing just one sin every 1000 years” isn’t going to be good enough, either.
Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
— (Matthew 5:48)
And that’s why I believe that the heavens will be ours only after the Second Coming, and after all men have either 1) been rendered sinless and Christlike or 2) are forever rendered powerless in the Lake of Fire – suffering enough pain to prevent even a single additional evil thought (and so, incapable of doing even one additional sin.)
Focus on the Individual, not the Group
Free market economists, from Adam Smith to the modern academic economists, place personal consumption at the center: individual self-interest. This is because they adhere to the principle of buyer sovereignty. But the buyer is not sovereign. He is merely an intermediary in God’s hierarchy. God is sovereign. A man must first master production in order to be a independent buyer. Without production, he will die, unless he is supported by the production of others.
A consistent covenant-keeper lives to work. Work is the goal. Life on earth is not.
This is one of the key truths unveiled in Covenantal Economics, and something that Christians should be chewing on, long and hard.
Service to God through service to others is the biblical structure of economic hierarchy. This means that consumable wealth is a success indicator of profitable service. To the extent that consumption becomes a person’s goal of production rather than merely a success indicator, he has replaced God with mammon in his covenantal structure: “more for me in history.”
Christians must learn to discern, and understand how the universe operates.
The fundamental economic constraint on man is that he is a creature. This is inherent in man’s being. Not being God, man cannot create something out of nothing. He cannot speak anything into existence out of nothing. He does not possess any of the incommunicable attributes of God: omniscience, omnipotence, and omnipresence. Neither one man nor mankind can evolve into divinity.
As our technological competence increases, the lies will get smoother – and the consequences of trusting in lies will get more painful and ugly.
Sinful men would prefer to extend their power through violence (James 4:1). God has cursed both mankind and nature in such a way that men must suppress their preference for violence in order to prosper economically. This is the price of productive cooperation. The curse of scarcity provides grace.
Or, “things are the way they are for a reason.”
Atheists will deny this, but of course, they are fools.
From Adam until today, sin blinds men. God has cursed covenant-breaking men with blindness regarding the future. Why? Because of their sin.
God’s people are blessed with sight: they should use it.
The Miracle of Compound Growth
In 1750, almost no one believed that long-term economic growth is possible on a worldwide basis. It was believed that wealth, like empires, comes and goes. The history of mankind seemed to prove this pessimism. A Roman bureaucrat in Britain in the time of Christ, if offered by an angel the opportunity to return to Rome or live in London in 1750, probably would have chosen Rome: better weather, better roads, as good a sewer system, and much better food. Only if he was an avid reader would London have looked better: book stores. In 1400, before Gutenberg, ancient Rome would clearly have been a better choice. Only in the libraries at Oxford or Cambridge would there have been more readily available books, but their Latin would have been less eloquent. Language differences aside, an illiterate worker living in London in 1750 would have been in a more familiar economic setting in ancient Rome than in London in 1850.
The rise of steady, compound growth since ~1800 has changed the world. This is the biggest thing to happen since the Resurrection, and we have NO idea why it happened!
Third, the Mosaic law encouraged immigration through its policy of equality before the law. “One law shall be to him that is homeborn, and unto the stranger that sojourneth among you” (Ex. 12:49).
There is equality in the application of the Law as authored by God (as opposed to the ‘just us’ laws of the pagans): the same for locals, as for immigrants. This naturally encourages immigrants – which means that not only is the immigration of aliens and foreigners the natural end-point of Christian cultures (as they are to bring back news of the profitability and joy of God’s truths back to their old pagan cultures), but that Christians cannot lawfully complain about law-abiding Muslim immigrants. Christian cultures are not to imitate Muslim cultures, and trash the lives, liberties, and property of the unbeliever merely because they are unbelievers. “One God – One Law!”
Human creativity is not the ultimate resource, contrary to economist Julian Simon. God’s grace, as manifested through His Bible-revealed law, is the ultimate resource.
This is better-phrased in a later footnote:
Human creativity is not the ultimate resource. God’s grace-empowered law is.
Yes, and Amen.
The Law points to the road we must walk on, to gain justice and freedom and life: but we can follow it to the great prize only by God’s grace. There is no force on Earth that can stop the God-driven unity of love and righteousness!
And yes, I can see the massive media outlets, the uniforms and badges and guns, the central banks, and the court systems that are run by and for the various Establishments. Compared to the power of God, every last one is just so much dust, irrelevant distractions that don’t know just how unimportant they really are.
They will discover this in due time, just like all the other Establishments discovered, each in their turn.
But human creativity is the source of great wealth. So far in man’s history, human creativity has by far been the most powerful force behind economic growth. An increase in population is the source of additional creative people. It is also the source of uncreative and vicious people. But in the structure of biblical covenantalism, the righteous are favored over the unrighteous. “A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children’s children: and the wealth of the sinner is laid up for the just” (Prov. 13:22). So, population growth in the context of a society governed by biblical law leads to increased economic output.
A righteous people, multiplying in numbers and deepening their obedience to God, is an unstoppable force. The key here is not just population growth, but population growth + righteousness + entrepreneurship
- The first point, population growth, merely means survival. Don’t mock: quite a lot of wealthy societies cannot meet this basic requirement.
- The second, basically covenant-keeping children, means a pleasant life where God is exalted, justice is widely available, property is respected, marriage & family are honoured & popular institutions, and there is plenty of liberty. Because of the nature of God’s law, such a people are not going to be impoverished, but they may well be middle-class for all of their lives. This is not such a bad thing.
- The third, entrepreneurship, is the difference between a comfortable existence and a life that impacts the world around you.
To be a blessing rather than a curse, population growth must be accompanied by an increase in economic output.
I now point to Egypt and Saudi Arabia, as an object illustration of the above quote.
But, greater numbers need not be a curse to Black Africa: if they progressively deepen their obedience to Christ, their increasing numbers will merely multiply their future greatness and authority.
A return to African failure and disgrace remains possible, which is why I pray that they get serious about comprehensive obedience to Christ. Everything belongs to Christ, not just Sunday, and not just their personal, private morality.
We need public justice, and freedom from fear. This must be rooted in the fear of God first, and only secondarily the State (that could always be hijacked by some schemer or other).
But the legitimate reach of the State is quite limited, which is why we need strong, unified families with a vision of the future, and a church that not only preaches the Word, not only leads in the care of widows and orphans, but also equips the saints to disciple the nations, and directing them to uphold God’s Holy Will. (Instead of hiding in some bunker, yelling about the End Times.)
The Bible’s doctrine of linear time lays the covenantal foundation of the doctrine of compound growth, including population growth, because it has a doctrine of final judgment. If time were unbounded, population and productivity would reach the limits of man’s environment. The Bible teaches that time is bounded. But if time is bounded, then compound growth is also bounded. The Bible’s doctrine of compound growth points to the Bible’s doctrine of final judgment. There is therefore no biblical case for either zero economic growth or zero population growth. The biblical mandate is dominion through expansion.
Growth is commanded by God: so, God’s obedient people shall grow. North restricts human activity to Earth, with good biblical reason, and so believes that this limitation points to the final judgment.
I believe (supported only by my intuition, and no substantial Scripture to back me) that man can expand into space: but I see no real ability to truly master and grow in that difficult environment, mastering time and planning and power and technology at the required exalted level of competence and perfection, without being truly sinless – which requires Christ’s Second Coming and the Final Judgement before really reshaping the lifeless worlds out there.
Just consider the Twelve Angry Men problem: as more and more technological power is placed at the fingertips of more and more men, the amount of devastation any small group of evil men can inflict on all humanity just climbs and climbs. Comprehensive Godliness, led by the Holy Spirit, is the only viable solution to this problem.
In any case, the far future that must be ours cannot be gained, without first going through the final judgement. But there will be many middle judgements, as evil develops into the failure it always was, and holiness rises to cover the earth. Christ is the only way: anything else is either bureaucratic stagnation leading to a slow death, or a false Messiah leading to a swift death.
Different Governments, Different Covenants
The alternative to this system is state ownership of capital and state control over the allocation of resources. Socialism substitutes the threat of violence for the threat of accounting loss. The socialist economy is the economy of the policeman rather than the accountant. Without accounting, producers have no rational way of matching supply with demand. Without capital markets and money prices, there is no rational accounting.
Far too many think that they can get what they want without paying for it: but slogans and guns are no substitute for accounted profit and loss.
Compound economic growth is a subset of the compound growth of God’s kingdom in history. It is a moral imperative, just as the fulfilling the dominion covenant is. It can be done, it should be done, and it will be done.
THIS is how God’s people will win: not by oppression, not by violence, not by spies or intimidation, but by the union of truth, productivity, and righteousness.
- Do what you said you would do,
- Do it at the price you said you’d do it (or a bit cheaper),
- Do it at the time you said you’d do it (or a bit earlier).
That’s where the money is!
The details of this system of covenantal hierarchy must be worked out in terms of the separate covenants: individual, familial, ecclesiastical, and civil. Each has its lawful zone of delegated authority. Each has lawful claims on a portion of men’s output. Economic theory must not begin with the assumption of the autonomy of man. This includes the doctrine of the autonomy of any one of man’s covenantal administrations. To present economic theory as an exclusive outworking of any of these covenants as autonomous and therefore sovereign leads inescapably to an error: the dismissal of the others’ lawful claims. Such an assumption justifies unlawful incursions into the delegated domains of God: trespassing. This was the sin of Adam and Eve. They violated God’s property rights.
Men just love to dismiss the rights of others. This is the express route to poverty, oppression, and slavery for the culture at large that chooses to follow him: and the unrepentant oppressor will receive his due reward after his death, as well.
God is not mocked.
The second covenant to consider is the individual covenant. Why not the family covenant? Why not the church covenant? Why not the state covenant? The main theological reason for placing the individual covenant in the first position after the dominion covenant is because the individual is made in the image of God. The family is not. The church is not. The state is not. Because the individual is made in the image of God, responsibility lodges with the individual more than it does in the family, the church, or the state. Responsibility is always primarily individual. An individual may participate in a collective group in making a decision, but the individual’s ultimate responsibility cannot be shifted to that group. Each person is judged by God in both history and eternity in terms of his thoughts, motives, and actions. Any attempt to shift primary responsibility away from the individual and toward a group violates this covenant principle. So, I begin with the individual covenant rather than another covenant.
Or, “I was just following orders” just does not cut it with God. No matter what the King or the President says, or your commanding officer, or your father, or your boss, or your pastor or priest, God’s eyes are resting on YOU.
There is another reason to place it second. This reason is more practical than theological. The individual covenant governs God’s imposition of personal sanctions. It governs the judicial status of the individual: saved or lost. It therefore governs the eternal status of the individual: initially, heaven versus hell; then the new heavens and new earth versus the lake of fire.
People respond best when the heat is on them, personally. While certainly the fires of hell is a powerful incentive, even that could be bore if it was unjust, or unwarranted. “God has no right to punish me eternally for what I did temporally.”
But the problem with that attitude is that it makes the criminal the judge of his actions – a fallacy on the face of it. And even worse, it grossly devalued the nature of God’s holiness and righteousness. Men are built to exist eternally, and God simply will not tolerate the wicked – as defined by Himself, and not by a self-serving Power Elite – to eternally destroy and spoil what does not belong to them. It is incredibly repulsive to Him to have images of Himself walk perversely and act lawlessly.
As Christ dictated, Men are to be perfect, as God is perfect. There is simply no tolerance at all for even a single sin. And rightfully so: eternity is very powerful and very long, so there must be less tolerance for a single fault in the New Creation than there is in a hospital’s electrical system, or a jet engine’s turbine.
Only pain will keep evil men from thinking evil thoughts, the seed of evil deeds: so, pain it will be, forever.
There is a door out of that place: best take it while it’s still open.
There is a third reason: methodology. Modern free-market economic theory incorrectly begins with acting man. It should begin with the sovereign God who created acting man. This is the fundamental difference between Christian economics and humanistic economics. But, once this distinction is made clear to an aspiring economist, it is time to move to individual analysis. Free-market economics correctly begins with the individual rather than the family or the state or the church as the primary locus of epistemology. By epistemology I mean this: “What can we know, and how can we know it?” We begin with the acting individual, because this acting individual is made in the image of God, and because he is most highly motivated by the quest for positive sanctions and the desire to avoid negative sanctions. To begin with a collective as the primary locus of our understanding of economics would be a major conceptual error.
An interesting case of sharing the same focus, but for fundamentally different reasons. A humanist focuses on man because the needs and desires of men are the focus of the good life. A Christian focuses on man because men are the Image-bearers of God: what we do here has eternal repercussions.
[Men are to] be meek before God and active towards the creation. He is subordinate to God, and therefore he is superior to nature.
His plans must recognize mankind’s authority over nature. If mankind did not possess authority over nature, every man’s quest to be a guardian of nature would be an act of theft. But, because of the dominion covenant, every person serves both as a producer and a consumer. No one is autonomous over nature. Everyone is under God. Mankind must not be a destroyer of nature. Man is under a covenant: point two of the biblical covenant.
We have, inescapably, been placed in authority over nature. Just like our lives and our property, we have authority, but are commanded to handle our property righteously, and not wantonly destroy what God has given us.
They own the covenant, for God owns them. Self-ownership must be seen in terms of covenant ownership. It is delegated. It is not autonomous.
We have delegated authority over our lives, and we must give an account. On the other hand, we must primarily give an account to God, and only to a limited, restricted extent to the State, the Family, or the Church.
Men must recognize boundaries: geographical and organizational. Certain people have specific spheres of influence and authority. The social order is shaped by the boundaries of these jurisdictions. As men extend their dominion, they must discover the limits of their authority… Children may be slow to learn the concept of “yours,” but they rapidly learn the concept of “mine.” They make plans in terms of boundaries.
Crossing boundaries unlawfully invites judgment. The lawful crossing of boundaries involves some prior negotiation, either a contract between equals, or a covenant (self-maledictory oath: “If I don’t do this thing, may God harm me”) sworn before God.
(And this is why unbelievers are not to take the Lord’s Supper, as it is a covenantal oath. I Corinthians 11:23-34)
The parable of the talents teaches that God transfers control over assets to stewards. He then departs. This means that He does not tell people what to do. This is not a bureaucracy. This is a system of entrepreneurship. The new owners are expected to put this capital to profitable uses. God holds them responsible for multiplying His capital.
This is a breath of fresh air! God tells you what His goals are in the Bible: but how you get it done it is where your brains and your sweat gets put to work.
Justice, not Equality, for Stewards
The parable of the talents says there are two forms of sanctions: positive and negative. Success in multiplying capital leads after final judgment to greater authority. Failure leads to destruction. The original grant of capital is withdrawn. The steward who produces no increase is stripped of all capital, which is transferred to the most productive steward. He who produces nothing during his time of testing loses whatever he possesses at the end of the test. He who produces the most—the highest rate of increase on the largest initial capital allocation—receives whatever the failure had possessed. This is biblical ownership. There is no equality at any point: beginning or end. There is an increase in inequality. This is the biblical structure of sanctions. It applies to all of life. It includes economics.
The point is made even more emphatically in a footnote:
America’s Declaration of Independence (1776) announces: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” There is no falsehood to match this one in any nation’s founding documents. It was written by a unitarian slave owner who believed in universal salvation and who cut several Bibles into shreds to paste together his own version of Jesus’ sayings: The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth. The Declaration was ratified by other slaveholders and by legal representatives of New England ship owners who grew rich by transporting kidnapped Africans to the southern colonies. The hypocrisy was recognized at the time. It was phrased most notably by Samuel Johnson. “How is it that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of negroes?”
Equality under the Law is the ONLY Equality mandated by God. As people are very different, as their obedience to God is very different, so the rewards they gain are very different. I always like to point to Rothbard’s Egalitarianism as a Revolt Against Nature as a useful overview of just how insane (and power-seeking, and oppressive) egalitarianism is.
The office of steward involves acting on behalf of the God, the supreme Owner. This is governed by an ethical command: accumulate capital, both in history and eternity.
The temporal outcome is dependent on contract renewal. There is a renewed contract beyond the grave. This is affirmed by the parable of the talents. The successful stewards are given greater capital to be used in their exercise of authority. But the failed steward’s contract is revoked forever.
In history, there are comparable representative events. There are times of covenant renewal. An individual goes from victory to victory. But if he goes from failure to failure, he has reason to believe that he is heading toward final rejection. There is a relationship between history and eternity. The sanctions in history reflect the sanctions in eternity.
This is a great time for God-fearers to take stock, and see in which direction their lives are pointing. Especially this: “There is a relationship between history and eternity. The sanctions in history reflect the sanctions in eternity.”
But Jesus used the metaphor of the soils because His listeners would recognize the situation. Progress can be overcome: the seeds that fell in shallow soil did not take root. The seeds that fell in soil with thorns were overcome. There seems to be progress for a time, but then this progress ended. Only in the productive soil was planting rewarded with a harvest.
This is true, as any student of the dusty soils of the Middle East could tell you. On the other hand, God will have the entire world kneel to His Son, and what He wants He will get. Not by the oppressive and violent arm of men, but by the sheer unstoppable force of His will. The entire Earth is His, and it will ALL become fertile, wise, peaceful, prosperous, blooming as in spring. Not a scrap will the Evil One be allowed to keep: not there, not here, not anywhere.
The steward who subordinates his interests to God’s interests then experiences long-term progress. The experience of compound growth in individuals’ lives is the basis of corporate compound growth: the extension of the kingdom of God in history.
As a general rule of thumb, obedience to God brings prosperity: at the start only a little, but more and more, as obedience becomes more consistent and pure, generation after generation. “Change beings at the margins.”
No Equality: Only Different Consequences for Different Results
When God has given you a unique calling, you should not abandon it. You should pursue it. God renews his contract with you for a reason: to help you enjoy the blessings of compound growth—from victory unto victory.
A worthy exhortation! Some of use serve God best by building vast business concerns; others, by writing sci-fi stories. Fortunately, God can use even the weakest of tools, if it is completely placed in His hand, holding nothing back. But, even the mightiest of tools will fail, if it is turned against Him.
(Waves to Our Masters…)
The parable of the talents is the most important economic passage in the Bible regarding ownership in the broadest sense. Its message: there is no equality. All men are created unequal. They die unequal. Inequality increases over time for individuals. The final judgment results in a transfer of assets: from the failures to the winners. This is a biblical judicial principle. It is the story of the covenant in history. Covenant-keepers inherit the earth. Then they inherit eternity.
This is not widely believed or widely preached. But the text is clear. Covenant-breakers are outraged by ths parable. They devise systems of political coercion to offset this outcome in history, especially in economics. They preach a rival view: all men are created equal. Yet everyone knows it is not true. There is no area of our lives in which such equality exists or has ever existed. The hierarchies of life are hierarchies of inequality. There are superiors and inferiors. There are winners and losers.
Nice guys finish first. Jesus, as the incarnate Son of God who died for His people, is the ultimate nice guy. But His generosity is limited. It is not universal. His saving grace does not apply to all. Neither does His common grace apply equally to all.
There is no equality, save only this: equality before the Law.
Note that salvation is NOT given equally, but only to whom Christ has chosen from before the creation of the world. Neither saving grace, nor common grace, is given equally to all.
And before the bleating about ‘IT’S NOT FAIR!!’ starts up, recall that ‘God treating everyone fairly’ would mean that everyone goes to hell, without exception.
Life isn’t about ‘fair’: it’s about covenant-keepers being progressively blessed, covenant-breakers being increasingly damned, and God being more obviously glorified as He and His people trod on the ruins of various Total States and Final Societies.
The Legal Power of a Name
There is a book of life (Phil. 4:3). It is filled with names. It is the most important list in the world or outside the world.
God names people in order to identify individual responsibility. This act of naming makes someone legally responsible for his actions. Naming is therefore itself a judicial action.
Guard your name.
But for salvation, call on Jesus’ Name.
As you know the power of a name, you can now reflect on why the Power of Jesus’ Name is stressed in Scripture.
Purpose underlies naming. It underlies all forms of scientific investigation. The essence of Darwinism is its denial of all purpose prior to the evolution of man. This places man on God’s throne: the source of purpose. But this raises a fundamental question: Who determines purpose? Is it individual men or collective mankind?
“The Will of the People, as interpreted by the True Servants of the Masses!”
In a fallen world, nature is not normative. Neither is a man’s mind. The announced limits may not be limits, or they may be misinterpreted limits. We are back to an umpire’s three possible defenses of a call.
I call them as I see them. (nominalism)
I call them as they are. (realism)
They are what I call them. (Kantianism)
God can make all three claims. Man cannot.
The Friends of the People prefer Kantianism, for obvious reasons – “All of the Power, in Trustworthy Hands.” Naturally, only properly qualified and certified professionals will be allowed to make the call…
The system of private ownership allows individuals to compete for ownership of other people’s resources. By specifying individuals who must make these estimates and decisions, the system of private property establishes responsibility with ownership. These owners make their decisions in terms of their values and their assets. There is no way for them to segregate responsibility from ownership.
Responsibility is always tied to ownership: which is why democratic systems are careful to keep ownership in the hands of an abstract People, so the real rewards of power can be nicely siphoned off without worry. “Man, I love those Civil Service legal immunities!”
Or, “When was the last time a financial powerbroker or a powerful politician saw the inside of a jail cell?”
High Bid Wins
Knowledge, values, and scarce resources are offered for sale to the highest bidder. This is the result of God’s initial distribution of resources. The wealth possessed by individuals is put to the use of others. That which is owned sovereignly is put to use for the highest bidder. (He who gains or retains ownership is the highest bidder.) No one compels others to share their knowledge, yet this knowledge is brought into the marketplace to be put to better use by others. No compulsion is involved.
This, not some Central Commissary, is how to properly distribute resources.
To private property are attached various legal rights, meaning above all the right to exclude. The concept of a property right means the right to exclude—a legal immunity. The archetype was the tree of life in the garden. It was God’s property. He did not delegate control to Adam and Eve. He excluded them (Gen 2:17).
Our Masters despite this, of course – and so the rights we have over our property are methodically whittled down, step by step. Most people don’t care – but as God’s people should be primarily wealth-generators, not wealth-consumers, they must care, and act to defend their property.
(And yes, even the poor can build wealth in a free society: finish school, get and keep a job, get and stayed married. But thanks to the incompetence of the State – and egged on by a population dreaming of having someone else… anyone else… pay for their retirement and health care – the young and the poor will face only greater difficulties. This grinding down of society will only end with the bankruptcy of the State: and by the time that happens, there won’t be much of a middle class left.)
There is a long tradition for economics textbooks to begin with scarcity.
They never start where the Bible starts: with ownership. Why is this? The main reason is their quest for universality. Scarcity is universally recognized. It is acknowledged by every economic theory. In contrast, the question of ownership raises fundamental ethical questions. Who owns something? On what legal basis? On what moral basis?
Our Masters – and the well-paid, tenured intellectuals that serve them – prefer to evade questions with distasteful answers.
Scarcity is a curse. Therefore, it is mandatory that covenant-keepers seek to overcome scarcity progressively in history. The marks of this are rising output and falling prices. We all want to buy cheaper… [And this desire] is not confined to covenant-keepers. So, we search for ways to reduce the cost of maintaining our lifestyles. The dominion covenant was given before the Fall and the curse of the ground (place) and the curse of death (time). This covenant is still in force. The evidence that almost all mankind honors it is the universal quest for more. To gain more for ourselves, we must extend our control over more. We must subdue the earth.
The most successful cultures, regardless of confession, are those who are best at subduing the earth. First comes the desire to do so (or live like a savage). Then comes the tools to do so – a work ethic, a love of literacy, and a sound grasp of the scientific method. “You have to know the rules of Creation, to get those rules to work for you, and so obey God’s commandment!”
The libertarian doctrine of absolute self-ownership as the foundation of property rights rests on the false doctrine of man’s autonomy.
[North goes on to expand on our ownership by God, mutual self-ownership in marriage, and our position as stewards of the property God has given to us.]
As the doctrine of absolute self-ownership is false, a Christian must modify it to accommodate both our position as stewards of God, and covenantal marriage.
‘To Judge Wisely’ is Why Men Exist
Christ’s perfection is assessed in terms of His conformity to God’s Bible-revealed law. God assesses all individual ethical performance in terms of this standard. This is the model of all casuistry: the application of God’s law to historical circumstances. God does this. As creatures made in God’s image, so must human beings.
So, we must make right decisions, as determined by the Will of God (as opposed to the Will of the People). It is especially important for Christians to judge rightly, as judgment is inescapable.
Biblical thought rests on covenantalism. There is covenantal realism, because God created everything. The creation is objective. It objectively reflects the handiwork of God. There is covenantal nominalism, because God imputes meaning and value to His creation. In contrast to biblical thought, Menger held to the autonomy of the creation and the autonomy of man.
Menger is a forerunner of Austrian Economics, and an important contributor to economic thought… but even he got it wrong sometimes. But at least he provided a useful tool that broke up the old nonsense of a “Just Price” determined by the cost of labour, or the cost of material. “It is the purchaser who decides what the correct price is, not the producer!”
There can be no actions that are outside the judgment of God. God evaluates every action. Then He renders judgment. An action is either good or bad. The final judgment will be the overall retroactive assessment (Matt. 25:32–42). This does not mean that He has made no judgments from the end of the week of creation until the final judgment. God renders constant judgments. He evaluates constantly, just as He evaluated each day of creation.
This is the archetype for man’s rendering of judgment. Man is made in the image of God. This means individual man and corporate man…. Individuals are subject to eternal sanctions. So is the church: the bride of Christ. But neither the family nor civil government extend into eternity. No institution other than the church extends into eternity.
The universe is subject to laws. Because men are to exercise dominion, they have been given minds that can render judgments. They can perform the art of casuistry: the application of ethical principles to historical cases. They can also do science: discover laws of nature, and then use these laws to exercise power over nature. What God does originally, men can and must do secondarily and analogically. This two-fold ability of comprehension and application is objectively inherent in men. God created men to do this on His behalf. The concept of “on His behalf” lead to point two of the biblical covenant: representation.
This is what we were made for: determining and executing right judgment, in according to God’s Law, tempered by His Mercy, guided by His Holy Spirit.
The philosophical dualism between hypothetically unchanging logic and ceaseless change—Parmenides vs. Heraclitus—is resolved biblically by means of a doctrine that is based on metaphysics: the absolute sovereignty of God over His creation. This doctrine affirms both His omniscience and His omnipotence. He has laid down His law. All of the creation is under God’s providence, from subatomic particles (or are they waves?) outward to a hundred billion galaxies with a hundred billion stars each. There is predictability in history because God is sovereign over history. He governs the creation. But in one tiny location in the universe, His providence is seen in linear history: creation, Fall, incarnation, redemption, and final judgment. Here, the issues of history are ethical—not mechanical and not organic.
Unlike me, North leaves the door open for extraterrestrial (if non-sentient) life. Hmm.
Anyways, the man is correct: Divine Law, issues of good and evil, are fixed. However, Divine Grace goes where it will. From the hairs of our head, to all of the stars – each of which as a name – God knows all, and holds the universe together.
God Wins, and His Enemies Lose
The doctrine of the final judgment has an inescapable economic implication: kingdom competition is zero-sum. All of that which is built up in history by the kingdom of man is transferred to the kingdom of God. This inheritance is individual. It begins in history at the time of each person’s transition from wrath to grace at conversion. This inheritance is judicial. It is definitive. The person gains a legal share of the inheritance of the kingdom of God. But definitive inheritance is not final inheritance. History is a matter of progressive inheritance (I Cor. 3). It builds up over time. Both the kingdom of God and the kingdom of man can expand their capital base. One is wood, hay, and stubble. The other is gold, silver, and precious stones (I Cor. 3:12). This is made public by the retroactive final judgment of God, but it is imputed by God through history. With respect to eternity, the wealth of the sinner is laid up for the just (Prov. 13:22). Postmillennialism teaches that this transfer will begin in history.
I am a postmillennialist myself, which is the same as saying “The good guys win – and they broadly and increasingly win in history, as well as stand victorious under Divine authority at the end of time.”
But the key point here is that “kingdom competition is zero-sum”. Win-win deals can be had in business, and even in politics, but not in ethics or Lordship. At the end of the day, Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of God. As this is true, the following must also be true: the State is not God; Mohammed, who denied Christ, is a false prophet; there is no reincarnation, only resurrection until judgment; reality is not what we wish it to be, but what God says it is; and rationalists don’t get to escape justice via the grave.
There is no point to compromise, and no reason to compromise, either. Recognition of the Lordship of Jesus Christ generally brings salvation, definitely in the next life, but progressively in this life as well. Hatred of His Lordship generally brings poverty, disgrace, and failure in this life… and, after death, always ends in the Lake of Fire.
So, the mutual benefits that market transactions offer are limited to history. Ultimately, this mutuality will prove to have been an illusion for covenant-breakers. Life really is a zero-sum competition. Winners take all. More to the point, winners are awarded all by God.
What has value? Anything that can extend the kingdom of God.
Which is why I hope and pray that my posts here – and indeed, my life – will have value in God’s eyes. I hope that you are doing your work for the Lord, as well.
The Spirit of the Law, the Letter of the Law
This raises a question. How are we to discover the standard? The Bible has two legal concepts: the spirit of the law and the letter of the law. The two are consistent in the mind of God. They are also consistent in the work of God. Paul contrasted them in operation. “But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter” (Rom. 7:6). The letter of the Mosaic law kills. The Holy Spirit of God renews it in the lives of individuals and institutions. This is a basic theme in the epistle to the Romans.
Balancing the Spirit of the Law, and the Letter of the Law, is critical for believers. So, I hope that you download North’s book, and read his discussion for yourself.
[And this is tied to the reason why I read and quote him so much: no other living writer of a high caliber actually takes the Law seriously. After all, if like most Christians you dismiss the Law with a wave of the hand, there’s no reason to carefully consider the Letter and the Spirit of the Law that you despise. (You know the standard Christian viewpoint: “Any law, any law at all, rather than God’s Law!”) In contrast, North takes the Law of God seriously, as a believing Christian should.]
“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matt. 6:19–21).
Ethical value is inescapably the foundation of economic value. This conclusion opposes modern economic theory all the way back to the mercantilists. Not only is economic theory not value-free, as economists insist, it is value-derived. The very concept of economic value is undergirded by the concept of ethical value: extending the kingdom of God in history. There is nothing ethically neutral about economic theory.
Now, this is the most striking reproof of modern economic theory I have ever read. And I also understand why Jesus talked about money all the time…
The Nonsense Claims of Ethics-Free Economics
Because of the epistemological separation of value and price in humanistic economics, critics of the free market argue that the rich man who can out-bid a poor man has an unfair advantage. The poor man needs an item more, the interventionist insists. The poor man values it more. He just cannot afford to bid more. The interventionist rejects any suggestion that the allocation established by the free market is morally correct or even desirable. It lacks legitimacy, he says. This places the humanistic defender of free market allocation at a rhetorical disadvantage. He insists that economics is value-free. He refuses to invoke morality. He concedes the moral high ground to the critics of capitalism, because he denies that there is any moral ground in economic theory. But the public thinks otherwise. The public knows instinctively that ethical neutrality is a myth in social affairs. So, defenders of the free market have always had a problem persuading the public of the benefits of an unhampered free market. The public wants moral reasons for accepting any explanation of economic cause and effect. The humanistic free market economist refuses to provide any moral explanations. He thinks he occupies the epistemological high ground. The public does not care about epistemology. It cares about justice. The critics insist that they are calling for economic justice when they demand state intervention.
The public is right to demand justice. The interventionist is wrong to steal from Peter, to give to Paul (and buy his vote). The humanist isn’t going to stay a defender of the free market order for long, I reckon: he specifically renounces the Commandments and the Law as authoritative in economic (or any other) affairs, and at the end of the day would prefer to lose to collectivists than publicly kneel to God and win.
Mises, Rothbard et al have their economics right: but they refused to kneel to Christ, and so died without any impact in the real world. Things are changing now, but only because pro-liberty Christians are willing to use tools made by unbelievers, if they can be used to further the glory of God. (See: Solomon’s Temple. Or any decent Japanese car.)
This is just as well. If Christians refuse to seek out and uphold what’s right in their desperate groveling for Establishment Approval, then God will just have to use a Jewish atheist to get some sense into our skulls and strengthen our grip on reality. However, Christians would receive a LOT more honour and respect if they would stop lusting for an official pat on the head, and instead fight for what’s right, whatever the cost.
Money in Heaven
Every system of economic theory has a concept of ideal prices. Economists use this concept as a way to explain pricing in the real world. It is a pricing system that would exist if there were no uncertainty. These would be prices that would prevail under conditions of universal human omniscience: no profits and no losses. This is an unrealistic assumption theologically, because omniscience is not a communicable attribute of God. The assumption of omniscience leads to an inescapable conclusion in economic theory: money prices would cease to exist. If everyone were omniscient, there would be no need for money. In a world of omniscient decision-makers, there would be no uncertainty. Money evolves only because there is uncertainty.
OK, so we get a bit of rationalist insanity here: the search for an idea pricing system requires no uncertainty, but if there were no uncertainty, there would be no need for prices.
People use money—the most marketable commodity—in order to reduce their uncertainty about future exchanges. Without money, there would be no money prices. So, there could be no money-based prices in a world of equilibrium. The very concept of an equilibrium price is self-contradictory. Therefore, the use of equilibrium prices to explain pricing in a world of uncertainty is illogical. It literally makes no sense. Yet I have never seen this obvious implication of omniscience discussed in any economics textbook or treatise, other than my own.
So that’s another subset of an essentially useless abstract theory that can be cut off: so, this means that more thought can be directed in avenues that can actually be productive.
In contrast to omniscience, sin-free living is a communicable attribute. The proof of this is Jesus Christ, who was fully human and also sin-free. There will be prices in the New Heaven and the New Earth. There will be scarcity. There will be uncertainty. There will be money. There will be allocation decisions. But there will not be sin.
So, money isn’t the root of all evil, as by necessity it will exist in heaven. (God’s people will be holy, but not omniscient.) It is the love of money that is hated, not money itself, which is simply a device to reduce uncertainty.
Seeing that we are not far from simply printing any material object or food we desire – give it a century or less – I wonder what money will actually be used for. The purchase of ideas, human effort, experiences, or someone’s time looks to be the most likely purchases.
Actual Rewards for Actual Obedience
Deuteronomy 8:18 offers the promised sanction of increased corporate wealth for a covenant-keeping nation. There must be ways for citizens to see if the promise is being fulfilled. Otherwise, the promise was empty: unperceived sanctions. So, the concept of wealth is objective, in that it can be measured. It is also subjective, in that it can be perceived. So, in Christian economic theory, wealth is a legitimate goal and also a perceivable goal.
So, society-wide wealth is the result of obedience. Fair enough: a real God provides real results to real nations.
As opposed to the “short-term fun & benefits, long-term costs & curses” that the idols have to offer.
The essence of the dominion covenant is adding value. This is what Matthew 25:14–30 is all about: the parable of the talents. Man’s goal is to increase value in the broadest sense. He who fails to do this will have his inheritance transferred to the more productive members of society in the final judgment. The spiritually rich get richer. The spiritually poor are disinherited. Put differently, the poor in spirit inherit the kingdom of God (Matt. 5:3). This is the fundamental New Testament principle of inheritance.
This inheritance procedure is supposed to be reflected in the economy. Those who subordinate themselves to the demands of customers will get richer. Those who do not will get poorer. The market-based sanctions system of profit and loss rewards those who are efficient servants of customers. They have subordinated their efforts to the demands of customers. This is how stewards prosper. They accumulate wealth. Then they die.
And so we get to the famous bottom line: you gotta serve the customer!
And you had better do a good job of it, precisely because death is not the end, but only the start of the final reckoning.
The Great Retreat: From Greek Demigods to Eternal Meaningless
Each covenant has a doctrine of the last things. The kingdom of God predicts a future eternal extension of its reign. The kingdom of man predicts either the heat death of the universe, in which everything does, energy dissipates completely, and time ends, or else endless cosmic cycles. In each case, meaning dies at the end, either at cosmic end or the end of this cosmic cycle. Death swallows up life. Meaninglessness swallows up meaning. There is no sovereign to impute permanent meaning to the past, present, and future. All meaning is temporal, problematical, and transitory.
No longer gods in their own eyes (except for the Leader of North Korea), powerful men just want to escape the consequences of meaning, as meaning implies truth, which implies judgment.
Ain’t happening – not even in North Korea, which continues to writhe under their self-inflicted judgment.
Anytime the locals get tired of the Benevolent Rule of Dear Leader, it will be 25 million verses perhaps a few thousand loyalists. But if they remain as they are, I am uninterested in some kind of humanitarian “We had to kill them to save them!” invasion to save them.
(For one thing, such aggression, even against the likes of North Korea.. or Iran… or China, would be a completely unjust war. God will not bless unjust wars. Which reminds me: how many wars has been won by the West since 1945?)
So, I advise no invasion of North Korea.
Instead, leave them to live under the god of their own choosing, ignoring the overwhelming evidence that they have made the wrong choice, and face the definitive consequences after they die.
“But nations don’t have souls!”
“True, that. So, the nation of North Korea – as opposed to the individual North Korean – will just have to be judged in this life.”
Production, not Consumption
[Adam Smith’s] distrust of producers was grounded in an accurate understanding of their motives. But in order to oppose their interests in getting such legislation passed, he grounded his entire theory on a statement that needed to be proven: Consumption is the sole end and purpose of all production. These 10 words have been adopted by virtually all free market economists ever since. His assertion—he offered no proof—is in direct conflict with Jesus’ words: “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matt. 6:33). To the extent that any defense of the free market as an institutional arrangement rests on the assumption that consumption is the sole end and purpose of production, to that extent it is wrong. It is the philosophical foundation of this: “Come ye, say they, I will fetch wine, and we will fill ourselves with strong drink; and to morrow shall be as this day, and much more abundant” (Isa. 56:12). It is dead wrong—eternally dead wrong (Rev. 20:14–15).
At one time, North summarized his life’s work as a refutation of the Fable of the Bees [paywall], where vice is supposed to lead to prosperity for all.
Christians would be wise to follow North’s example, and put in the sweat work to clearly refute and deny the claims of consumption-oriented economists – and all the other covenant-breakers.
The heart of Christian economics—and every other academic discipline and practical organization—is the dominion covenant: the subduing of the earth on God’s behalf (Gen. 1:26–28). The heart of Christian economics is stewardship. It calls for compound growth of the kingdom of God in history and eternity. Compound growth is based on thrift: reduced consumption. Consumption is a reward for profitable service. Throughout most of human history, consumption was mainly a tool of production. It just barely kept people alive, so that they could fulfill the dominion covenant. To the extent that consumption replaces production as a man’s main lifetime goal, to that extent he has substituted himself for God. He has substituted the kingdom of man for the kingdom of God.
God’s people are to build a better world: this is tied to production, not consumption. The world is not ours to consume wastefully, but to improve on, build up, strengthen, and make better. Following the passage above, North goes on to briefly touch on Rothbard view of the difference between Roman Catholic and Calvinistic economies, ending with “Rothbard was correct. This attitudinal difference between late-medieval Roman Catholicism and Calvinism was grounded on rival views regarding epistemology: Aristotelianism vs. the Bible.”
I say, go with the Bible!
Jesus spoke these words: “Go, and do thou likewise” (Luke 10:37b). These words are the foundation of all imitation. Imitation is a crucial aspect of kingdom expansion over time.
Imitation of Christ, and of other servant-minded men who truly serve the customer.
The best managers know that the best way to learn how to manage any organization is to work under an effective manager. This was the way of American business until the 1970s, when bureaucratic training in graduate schools of business administration began to replace the ancient systems of apprenticeship and mentoring. Here was the old rule: on-the-job training. It assumed that management involves far more than what is revealed in ledgers. People are not digital creatures. We learn analogically, not digitally.
MBA = the enemy of productive business, bringing American industry to its knees. Read The Puritan Gift for more on how we got into this fix – and some advice on how we can get out of it.
Here is the heart of the matter: “The activities of the entrepreneur consist in making decisions. He determines for what purpose the factors of production should be employed.”14 He can buy low only because other entrepreneurs do not see this opportunity. He can sell higher only because other entrepreneurs have not brought competing goods to the market. Why not? Because they did not see the opportunity.
The essence of entrepreneurship is forecasting future customer demand.
The system of profit and loss is governed by future-orientation: faith in continuity over time. To increase his wealth, a producer must meet future customer demand. Not being omniscient, forecasters make guesses. They take hunches seriously. Some win. Some lose.
And that’s how it gets done: not by Servants of the People who will never face any consequence for failure – except demand bigger budgets and more rules and more headcount to enforce more rules – but by actual servants of the population: servants that can get fired, go to jail, or lose their shirts if they get their service wrong or if they harm the customer.
Real servants know: the master holds the hammer. If the customer isn’t happy, the servant is going to bed hungry tonight.
Fake servants say a pile of self-righteous words about their ‘dedication to the public’, evade any and all consequences for their failure – up to and including the killing of the innocent – and enjoy getting paid a lot more than the mundanes and peons they supposedly serve.
Inheritance, False and True
The French Revolution’s cry—liberty, equality, fraternity—was completely wrong about equality, and the guillotine did not secure either fraternity or liberty. But the structure of the biblical covenant does encourage both liberty and fraternity within the covenant. This should be true in the church covenant, the family covenant, and the civil covenant. Whenever it is not true, men’s first task is to identify which laws are being broken. The task does not end there. Three of Job’s four visitors assumed that the negative sanctions that Job was enduring indicated sin on his part. They were wrong. But if over several years a covenant is not bringing greater prosperity to its members in response to their greater self-discipline and greater intra-covenantal cooperation, start looking for hidden sins. Covenant-breaking is most likely the cause.
It is natural for God’s obedient people to prosper, wherever they are. Even in the Muslim world, one source of Islamic enmity is that Christians tend to prosper, and Muslims don’t. (Hmmm… I wonder why…) I have little doubt that it’s much the same in much of the developing world. As for the developed world… most of the West has carefully and thoroughly abandoned God by this point: I will let you guess if they will get more or less prosperous over the next few decades.
The dominion covenant assigns to all mankind the task of adding value to God’s creation. The creation was created perfect, but it remains incomplete. Man was created perfect, but remained incomplete. Both man and nature will always remain incomplete. They are not infinite. Man will never understand God’s infinitude. Yet an infinite God governs the world. To understand this world, men would have to understand God comprehensively, for God interacts with this world. Hence, man can never comprehend the world.
So, in the New Creation, there will always be new vistas to explore, new horizons to conquer. North is careful to restrict the Dominion Mandate to this world, which is Biblically justifiable: I believe (but can’t biblically prove) that it will be extended to the stars.
The fifth point of the biblical covenant is inheritance. This points to continuity over time. It also points to net added value. A person is to leave more behind, as evaluated by God, than he received at birth. This means that there must be per capita economic growth. The members of each generation are to have more capital to work with than the preceding generation.
This has been fulfilled for more than consecutive two generations only since about 1800.
Sometimes, it takes centuries, even millennia, before God’s people get serious about obedience.
Value-added living mandates thrift. Capital must be accumulated in order to fund increasing production. This means that consumption cannot legitimately be the sole end of production. There must be self-restraint on consumption individually to please God. There must be self-restraint corporately to achieve economic growth.
Calvinism Christianity mandates serious obedience, consistently, over time, to redeem the world. As God demand, we must deliver.
One Last Bit: Amillennialism vs Postmillennialism
This series of notes only covers the first two sections of Gary North’s book, The Covenantal Structure of Christian Economics. However, I just had to bring up one last point, brought up later in the book.
I have now at long last arrived at the crucial dividing line between the Bible’s explicit teaching on inheritance and the statistical reality of inheritance in the modern world. A tiny handful of anti-Christians control most of the world’s wealth and power. There about 6,000 people who are at the top in terms of wealth and power…. Jesus said that few rich people enter the kingdom of God (Matt. 19:24). So, the issue is this: Given the fact of the Pareto 20/80 distribution of wealth, which is close to universal, is Proverbs 13:22 annulled by Matthew 19:24? Is the wealth of the just laid up for the sinner?
…there is no question that the truth of Matthew 19:25 remains true. Few rich people enter the kingdom. Then what of Proverbs 13:22? If it is still in force, as I believe it is, it points to a world-transforming Christian revival in the future that will change the theological confessions of the very wealthy. They will inherit from sinners, by being delivered from their prior judicial status as covenant-breakers. In short, this passage points to the truth of postmillennialism. For, if postmillennalism is not an option, then the wealth of the just is laid up for the sinner.
If we take Matthew 19:24 as fixed throughout man’s history, then we must adopt amillennialism: the doctrine of utter failure of the gospel to displace the society of Satan. The wealth of the just is laid up for the sinner. Money and power will remain the inheritance of covenant-breakers throughout history. They will provide leadership in all areas of life outside the Christian household and the Christian church, both of which will remain under siege until time ends.
I refuse to believe that the Church will forever retreat, as history makes that claim false (and so does Matthew 16:18, which speaks of the Church on the offensive, assaulting the gates of hell.) God’s people will grow in strength, even as the various New Orders are systematically discredited, one by one.
The gospel spreads to fill the earth. Steady, multi-generational economic growth has arrived (assuming you don’t go out of your way to slaughter as much of the next generation as you can). The gospel spreads across the world, and social orders based on force and violence fall back, hiding their wickedness, able to expand into fewer areas while retreating across a wider front. (Does anyone truly believe in Properly Certified Bureaucratic Managers anymore?)
And the greatest advances are yet to come – and they won’t just be technological, either!
Good amillennial doctrine is summarized as follows:
The amillennialist necessarily argues as follows. “The promise of the Second Commandment is hypothetical. It is an ideal. It is not connected to historical reality. It never has been. It never will be. Bible prophecy teaches this. History reveals that the blessings of God are showered on covenant-breakers, who down through the ages keep and extend the kingdom of man, which is the kingdom of Satan. God visits the iniquity of the fathers upon the third and fourth generation of those who hate him, and then He rewards this iniquity. The kingdom of man in culture will not be replaced by the kingdom of God. It is in fact a sin for covenant-keepers to pursue the creation of a Christian civilization. It is triumphalism. It is Constantinianism politically. God shows lovingkindness to covenant-keepers by placing them at the mercy—the tender mercy—of covenant-breakers. So, the correct way of interpreting the Second Commandment’s historical manifestations of blessings and cursings is to reverse the cultural positions of covenant-breakers—thousands of generations of cultural victory—and covenant-keepers: three or four generations of cultural victory, and then defeat through replacement of the confession. Or, putting this in the words of the Brooklyn Dodgers’ baseball manager Leo Durocher, ‘Nice guys finish last.’”
I have no time for such doctrines.
You shouldn’t have any time for them, either.