The Individual, The Collective, and Economic Value

After considering Psalm 119, a psalm hated or ignored by most preachers…

(of course, both active hatred and passive avoidance are two sides of the same coin!)

…North ties together the individual, the collective, law, justice, and economic success.

[The bold is mine.]

Biblical law is the God-given, God-mandated means by which all men are required by God to order their scale of values and their lives. By means of biblical law, all men are required to subdue the earth. By means of biblical law, all men are supposed to evaluate decisions and render judgment.

Biblical law applies to individuals and collectives. Both are under biblical law’s historical sanctions. This is true of collectives, contrary to libertarian social theory (Deuteronomy 28). A collective is under temporal sanctions, but not under eternal sanctions. Eternity trumps time. So, the temporal realm of personal sanctions elevates individualism over collectivism in history, but not in all cases. With respect to history, the collective is sometimes more important: the survival of nation, family, and church. Individuals often sacrifice their temporal interests for the sake of these larger interests. In doing so, they gain positive sanctions in eternity. Their inheritance (point five) is beyond the grave. “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on the earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. Instead, store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:19–21).

Ethical value is 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, contrary to what 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.

Christian Economics: Scholar’s Edition, pages 261-262

So:

  • Obedience to God’s Law – as given by Moses, and modified by Christ – is the key to both individual and collective success.
  • The individual is more important than the collective… usually.
  • Ethical value is the very core of economic value.

And already, we are far above the standard seminary student or graduate, in knowing the road God wants us to walk on.


Oh how I love your law!
It is my meditation all the day.
Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies,
for it is ever with me.
I have more understanding than all my teachers,
for your testimonies are my meditation.
I understand more than the aged,
for I keep your precepts.
I hold back my feet from every evil way,
in order to keep your word.
I do not turn aside from your rules,
for you have taught me.
How sweet are your words to my taste,
sweeter than honey to my mouth!
Through your precepts I get understanding;
therefore I hate every false way.

Your word is a lamp to my feet
and a light to my path.
I have sworn an oath and confirmed it,
to keep your righteous rules.
I am severely afflicted;
give me life, O Lord, according to your word!
Accept my freewill offerings of praise, O Lord,
and teach me your rules.

Psalm 119, verses 97-118, English Standard Version

“Oh, how I love your law!”

The solid majority of pastors & priests — joining hand-in hand with the secularists — prefer to have God Just Shut Up, and for the Voice of (Powerful) Men to define the law and to determine some arbitrary flavour of ‘justice’.

Believing Christians, confident in God’s victory over His enemies in time and on earth, are not to join them.

I have more understanding than all my teachers,
for your testimonies are my meditation.
I understand more than the aged,
for I keep your precepts.
I hold back my feet from every evil way,
in order to keep your word.
I do not turn aside from your rules,
for you have taught me.

Do this, Christian: follow the Law, as engraved in your heart, and as empowered by the Holy Spirit, with your evil cleaned by the blood of Jesus Christ.

Do this, and and live.

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