From the article Gold, Silver an Precious Metals:
The Bible has quite a bit to say about gold, silver, and precious stones, and the Bible always assumes that these are items of value, and to be valued by men. Yet, modern Christians sometimes feel strange about such things. After all, the Bible also speaks against placing trust in money and precious things.
My purpose in this essay is to investigate briefly the Biblical view of gold, silver, and precious stones. The Bible has a whole philosophy about these things, a philosophy which is not primarily economic but aesthetic, not oriented primarily toward scarcity but toward beauty. There is a reason for this, and it is important for a Christian view of economics, as we shall see.
Now, this is interesting. Why all the Biblical emphasis on gold and other precious metals/stones – From Genesis 2, even up to the New Jerusalem in Revelations 21?
Divine Glory, Blessed Gold
We know that gold is much preferable than fiat paper for money (never mind digits)… but why should men desire it so much?
(A suspicion: it may not be men who want it so much, as much as certain someones who like bright, shiny, pretty things that men want to please. But before you mock women for their love of bling, I’d advise you to read that description of the New Jerusalem, decked out like a beautiful bride, in Revelations 21. Women are made by God to love bright beautiful things; it is an honourable and noble love (so long as it isn’t used to justify sins like theft, envy, etc), and God has in part set up both today’s Creation and the New Creation to support and satisfy that love, even (in the case of the New Creation) for all eternity.)
OK, back to the article. Jordan comes to his first point, where gold et al is valuable for subjective reasons: because men (*cough*) think it is: that is, value is imputed to gold.
First, the doctrine of imputed value is a direct byproduct of Christianity, and especially of the Reformation. In paganism, things are thought to have value in themselves, because all things are part of God. In Roman Catholic mainstream thought, things are thought to have value to the degree that they possess “substance” or “being.” (This is a half-way house position, since RC thought insists that God created this “substance.”) In Protestant thought, however, things have value because God counts them as valuable, and treats them as valuable.
“Count as” and “treat as”–that is what “impute” means. God takes a sinner, and before making him righteous, God imputes righteousness to him for Christ’s sake. God thus counts him as righteous and treats him as righteous. It is on the basis of this re-value-ation that God then sends the Holy Spirit to impart righteousness to the sinner. God re-valor-izes (resymbolizes) a man from sinner to saint, and then works on making him flesh out this revalorization.
Things, however bright and shiny, are not valuable in and of itself (excluding the Godhead – but They were never created). Such a concept is as pagan as the delusion of a Fair Fight, and is to be ditched by any serious Christian.
Foundations Must Be Expanded!
We have skirted around this subject, and now we need to move toward a direct answer. We might say that God has put it in the hearts of men to value gold. When He made the world, God instituted a social pattern. There were to be men and women, parents and children, rulers and ruled. There were to be economic transactions, and God created gold, silver, and precious stones to be used as money (in part). God put it into the hearts of men to desire marriage, and family, and society; and God put it into their hearts to appreciate, value, and thus desire gold.
What this means is that man’s subjective imputation of value to gold is grounded in the fact that God moves in the hearts of men to cause them to value gold. God does this to all men, as part of “common grace.”
As far as it goes, this explanation is all right. As it stands, however, it does not go far enough. All we have is a bare assertion, not a real philosophy of gold. “Why do men value gold? Because God causes them to.” Well, that is true of everything, is it not? Why does electricity work? Because God causes it to. Why do children look and act like their parents? Because God causes it to happen, All very true, but except as a confession of bare faith, such statements are of little help.
I’m more generous here: Christ really is the foundation of all of our thought, our science, our logic our wealth and power: and it is good to remember this. But after recognizing the foundations, we must go forward, to build and extend our understanding, and thus better serve our Maker. God’s children must grow, and mature, and gain a real mastery over creation, in accordance to the Dominion Covenant: with greater understanding comes greater power… and thus, greater responsibility before God. (And more severe punishment for failure: see Luke 12:46-48 for details.)
We are not just to confess our faith; we are also to understand it.
OK, let’s repeat this: We are not just to confess our faith; we are also to understand it.
We are not just to confess our faith; we are also to understand it. Thus, we are back to the question, why do men value gold? The answer is this: Men were made to value and love God, Who alone has intrinsic value. Gold, silver, and precious stones are created images of the glory and beauty of God, and this is why men value them.
Occasionally we do hear of people (especially in the Marxist and Keynesian camps) who affect to despise gold. Generally, however, fallen man uses the truth of the value of gold as a means to suppress the truth that men must depend on God for security and protection. They misuse gold (money), trusting in it for deliverance, food, security, etc. Thus, they commit idolatry with gold. Even in the act of idolatry, however, they still have to confess that gold has value, and they cannot give any explanation for it. Even their act of idolatry testifies to the truth (as do all acts of idolatry).
Keynesians hate gold, loyal to their immoralist leader. And indeed, gold is not money today, as we don’t use it as the unit of measuring worth: fiat currencies, especially the American Dollar, do this function. I believe that this will end, even in this century, but it has already lasted far longer than I would have thought.
I have the same problem with Communism: that vicious and wantonly destructive philosophy lasted for a whole 70+ years, when it would have collapsed in ten years, if American businessmen didn’t back it with capitalistic profits. For more info, start with Anthony Sutton’s books, like The Best Enemy Money Can Buy...
FIRST Aesthetics; SECOND Economics
By asserting that the bottom line on gold is that it is an emblem of the glory of God, we have made a point which is primarily aesthetic, and only secondarily economic. This is important to understand. Men prize food, clothing, and shelter because they cannot live without them. We may say that their primary value is economic, in a scarce world (if we define economics as the science of scarcity, as is usually done).
Gold, silver, and jewels, however, men can easily live without (and many of us do live without them, right?). Thus, their value does not reside in their scarcity. Men do not prize gold because it is scarce. If that were the case, they would prize rare-earth metals far more. (For instance, lanthanum, cerium, praseodymium, neodymium, samarium, europium, etc. These are metals, thus divisible, portable, etc. Why don’t they function as gold has and does?) Of course, the scarcity of gold and diamonds does add lo the price it commands, but scarcity alone is not the primary explanation of why men value them.
Thus, we arrive at an aesthetic explanation. The reason men value gold, silver, and jewels is because they are glorious and beautiful. Thus, their primary value is aesthetic (since aesthetics is the “science” of beauty). And from a Christian point of view, beautiful things are things which image the glory and beauty of God.
The Bible presents the glory of God to us in several dimensions, each of which is helpful in understanding the value of gold. I shall discuss three: heaviness, radiance, and color.
The Hebrew term translated “glory” in the Old Testament actually primarily means “heavy.” To say that God is glorious is to say that He is weighty, impressive, heavy. (Indeed, the term is used negatively to refer to heavy sufferings, or the burden of sin.) Modern English slang also uses the word “heavy” to refer to impressive things (“Oh, wow, man; heavy, man!”)
Simple heaviness by itself is no virtue. A heavy stone in a field you want to clear is a pain, not a blessing. Heaviness must be accompanied by the other attributes of glory in order to be valued. All the same, the simple heaviness of gold is striking, especially the first time a person picks up a gold coin. We are used to lighter weight coins (and other nations, using aluminum, have still lighter coins). People are impressed at how heavy a gold coin is. This “feel” is very much part of the aesthetic impression gold makes on people, and part of its virtue in imaging the glory of God.
The second component is radiance. When God manifests Himself, not only is His presence weighty, it is also shining. Indeed, “Our God is a consuming fire” (Heb. 12:29). Thus, when God appears, His glory cloud is seen to have fire in it.
Beautiful colors are found everywhere in the description of the tabernacle and temple. Beautiful dark wood, gold overlay, richly colored fabric-these run through Exodus 25-40 as the tabernacle is described. The lampstand in the Holy Place was made all of gold, as an idealized almond tree, and its burning oil lamps reflecting off the myriad surfaces of the tree would have provided a brilliant radiance. The laver of cleansing was made of bronze mirrors (Ex. 38:8).
Similarly, the Second Adam, the new guardian, the High Priest who would minister in this house had to be adorned with “garments of glory and beauty” (Ex. 28:2, 40). On his breastplate were twelve “stones of fire” for the twelve tribes of Israel (28:15-21). Thus, the Bible explicitly here tells us that such jewels and gold are glorious and beautiful.
It has been asked: why are Protestants so poor writers, compared to Catholics? I believe that Protestants discount,spiritualist, and downplay the uncontrollable and fearsome Glory of God. Without His glory, Protestants – most definitely including Calvinism – becomes boring, dull, dry, tasteless. Too intellectual and abstract, not enough meat in the bones, or light in the eyes.
From Failure to Success
Remember the destruction and complete rout of American Christianity in the Cultural War? (Well, actually, a one-way Culture Slaughter…)
It isn’t only derived from cowardly, man-pleasing pastors; not only the willingness of lazy Christian parents to send their children to be offered to the Moloch of the public schools (BUT IT”S FREEE!!!); not only because of the laziness and defeatism of premillennial thought (“Why polish the brass of a sinking ship?“), and not only the innate corruption of the seminaries – rooted in pagan Greek thought and the need to control, and without an ounce of Biblical support.
The complete and abject failure of American Christians in the Culture War is also tied to our utter neglect – bordering on contempt – of God’s Sacred Glory. A habit that originated when Christian intellectuals chose to ape materialistic atheists (who despise beauty and grace with their every breath), instead of actually reading and following the instruction of the Bible. The failure to actually obey the Lord’s Commands is tied to this: you cannot excel in art without serious self-discipline and sacrifice, and since American Christians Simply Will Not Sacrifice, they will not generate any remarkable or exalted cultural works worth noting.
Tell me when American Christians stop sacrificing their children – in the womb and in the schools. Tell me when they decide that they want to win, and when they are willing to pay the price for it. Tell me when they stop their aping of their Intellectual Betters – atheistic/secularistic to a man – to gain the respect of secualrists who have always hated them, and who always will hate them, regardless of how Christians grovel before their Masters.
After a generation or three of this, their can be Christian cultures – Christian societies – even free and independent local Christian governments (of a county or city scale) worth talking about.
Thus, the first general observation is that gold (etc.) is of great value in growing men, who are the true created gold of God’s House.
Second, precious metals and precious stones are said to be the adornment of the bride in Scripture. The New Jerusalem, the description of which I have alluded to already, is said to be “made ready as a bride adorned tor her husband” (Rev. 21:2). Ultimately, humanity was made to be the bride of God, in a covenantal sense.
This is shown within the created order of humanity by the fact that the woman is to be “the glory of the man” (1 Cor.11:7). This has a practical application, which is that a man should adorn his wife with gold, silver, and precious stones of fire, to the best of his abilities.
Finally, at the beginning of this essay I stated that the fact that the primary value of gold is aesthetic (beauty) rather than economic (scarcity) is important to a Christian philosophy of economics. We are now in a position to set forth a thesis along these lines, which is this: Before there was scarcity (the fall) there was beauty (the creation), so that aesthetics is ultimately prior to economics. When this canon is born in mind, the universal appreciation of gold (etc.) can be seen to have a theological as well as an economic relevance. From a secular point of view, economics is the science merely of scarcity; but from a creationist point of view, economics is the scientific side of aesthetics. The valuation of aesthetically desirable objects along economic lines is the form economics would have taken had there been no fall of man, and it remains that apart from an understanding of this fact there can be no genuinely Christian, creationist theory of value. The goal of history is not simply to overcome scarcity, but to beautify the creation and bring it to its most glorious fruition.
When Christians decided to give over the ‘household management’ science of economics to materialistic atheists, they not only chained themselves to a tyrannical idol, the Secular State, they also deadened the eyes of men from the beauty, grace, and truth that surrounds them.
Christians must stop their worthless rebellion against the God they supposedly worship, and ditch the man-fearing cowardice.
Not only because it incurs the wrath of God.
Not only because Secularist States have no stable standard of justice, no predictable rule of law, other than “whatever gives the Right Sort more power, and a greater ability to grind filth and contempt and powerlessness into the faces of the Wrong Sort, namely Christians.”
Not only because the Secularist State hates gold – and so loves inflation, and the destruction of middle and lower class wealth.
Not only because the tyrannical Secularist State only lives to transfer power from churches and business and families and free men, and to itself and its favourites – all in the name of an unachievable equality that will never be gained (and so will justify ever more controls and police and bureaucracy and rules and punishment, for all time.)
Not only because the government that despises God will always move to impoverish the population, to better feed its inexhaustible appetite for More Power.
But also because Secularist States, like Secularist Societies, are just plain ugly.