1 Samuel 8 and Monarchy

Christian democrats almost always point to 1 Samuel 8 to criticize monarchy. This is because it is the only passage in the bible that could be used to criticize monarchy, every other passage that touches on the subject always speaks of monarchy positivley.

If one does an careful exegesis of 1 Samuel 8, one will discover it is actually an endorsement of monarchy, not an attack. God is not criticizing Israel for wanting a king, but a king “like all the nations [that] may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles” (1 Sam 8:20). What the Israelites want here is an idol. “Judging” and “fighting our battles” are things that God does (for the latter, see the book of Joshua). They want a king that does what God does, so they want a god. This is why God describes their desire as them having “rejected Me, that I should not reign over them” (1 Sam 8:7). The Israelites insist on wanting a king, and God describes the king as one that “you have chosen for yourselves” (1 Sam 8:18). Saul is a populist leader. He is exactly what the people think they want, but he ultimatley ends up taking from the people and so they will regret their choice (1 Sam 8:11-18). Democracy naturally produces populist leaders. The people will always desire to have a king over themself, and democracy naturally produces that.

David in contrast is a philosopher king. He seeks after God, and writes many psalms. Solomon too is a philosopher king as he seeks after wisdom. While neither of these kings is perfect, they both desire God. A true king does not desire to rule over the people to be a god in himself, but desires to be a servant of God. When one is a servant, they are exalted. When one exalts themself, they are brought down. This is ultimatley the message of 1 Samuel 8.

It would also be quite strange if God criticized the Israelites for wanting a king given that he had promised that he would bring one (Genesis 17:15, Genesis 35:11, Genesis 49:10, Deut. 17:14-15). The book of judges also explicitly diagnoses the problem in Israel as the fact that there was no king (Judges 21:25).

“Fear the Lord and the king, my son, and do not join with rebellious officials,” – Proverbs 24:21

“Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.” – 1 Peter 2:17

The three most ancient opinions about God are atheism (or anarchy), polytheism (or polyarchy), and monotheism (or monarchy). The children of Greece played with the first two; let us leave them to their games. For anarchy is disorder: and polyarchy implies factious division, and therefore anarchy and disorder. Both these lead in the same direction – to disorder; and disorder leads to disintegration; for disorder is the prelude to disintegration. What we honour is monarchy. – St. Gregory the Theologian

“God has counted the Emperors worthy to rule over His inheritance, over His earthly Church.” – St. Gregory Palamas

“In hell there is democracy and in Heaven there is kingdom.” – St. John of Kronstadt

Further reading:

On Christian Monarchy

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The Origin of Paganism

The original humans were monotheists (Genesis 2). I think learning how humans became polytheists can teach us something about the correct worship of God.

It is important to remember that paganism is not the same thing as being a gentile. There were many righteous gentiles who believed in God, such as Job and Melchizedek. Paganism is the worship of false gods.

The bible lays out the following origins for paganism:

  1. The worship of ancestors. We see this in many ancient cultures. A good example is the Sumerian Kings List. Many historical people have been turned into gods here. This is because ancient people actually did live hundreds of years (Genesis 5 and 11), so it is easy to see how they were later seen as gods.
  2. The worship of kings. In many ancient cultures, the king was seen as being a god. This is why God condemns the Israelites for wanting a king like the other nations (1 Samuel 8). The Israelites want an idol.
  3. The worship of physical things (Exodus 32). This is because they did not glorify God, so they started to see the world around them as God (Romans 1:21-25).
  4. The worship of demons (1 Corinthians 10:20). This is proof the other gods exist, they just are not the true God. This is why many Old Testament passages appear polytheistic, when in reality they are not.

If we study anthropology, we will see that almost all tribal cultures have a most high God and lots of lesser spirits. This is no different than the Christian view of God and lots of lesser angels and demons. As we see a shift to city states, cultures develop pantheon of gods. A more orderly society require more orderly gods. The most high God becomes the sky god and the head of the pantheon. This is why almost all ancient pantheons are lead by a sky god. As monotheism developed in the Hellenistic world under philosophy, Zeus/Jupiter was often once again associated with the God of the philosophers, who Paul connects to the God of Israel (Acts 17:23).

Christian monotheism is not the opposite of polytheism. Polytheism is a distortion of the true monotheism. Christianity turns all of these polytheistic ideas on their head.

  1. Ancestors are to be respected and venerated, but not worshiped. They passed down the Holy Tradition to us, and they are now saints in heaven, interceding on our behalf.
  2. The king is to be respected, for he is appointed by God and is a minister of God (Romans 13:1-7). God wants a philosopher king like Plato describes in The Republic. God’s issue with Israel is not that they wanted a king, but that they wanted a king like the other nations. David was a righteous king, seeking after the wisdom of God. This can be seen in his psalms.
  3. Icons are windows to heaven. The important distinction here is that the veneration must not be directed at the object itself, but what the icon represents. The pagans prayed to the image itself, making it an idol. The father, who is unseen, is also never depicted.
  4. Angels are to be venerated (Psalm 103:20). However, demons are not to be venerated. They no longer contain the goodness of God.

Some Christian throughout history have sought a strict iconoclasm. This created an opposition between paganism and monotheism. This has a central theological issue. There are now two opposing forcing. This is a duotheism. A truly Christian worship of God has one source with two distortions, polytheism and iconoclasm.

The iconoclast worship fits in well with a Darwinian anthropology. Man was originally polytheistic, later developing henotheism, then monotheism, and then eventually throwing off the shackles of theism for an enlightened deism (or even atheism).

This deism produces the same fruits as polytheism: infanticide, sodomy, democracy, and even idolatry.

Further reading:

In the Beginning God: A Fresh Look at the Case for Original Monotheism, by Winifried Corduan

A Reply to Cogito, Credo, Petam on “ChristBol”

The writer of the blog Cogito, Credo, Petam liked one of my posts earlier this week. In return, I went to check out his blog. It is an excellent blog and I highly recommend it. One of his posts explored the idea of “ChristBol”, a Christian adaptation of the ideology of “Nazbol” (National Bolshevism), a combination of National Socialism and Bolshevik communism. I responded to his article saying:

“While I like some elements of Nazbol, there are elements of both National Socialism and Communism that are contrary to Christianity. With National Socialism, it is usually very aggressive, rather than following the principle of just war. It also has a very centralized system, violating the principle of subsidiarity. In terms of Communism, while it does a lot of good in helping the poor. It also does mass redistribution of property, but private property is a right in Christianity.”

He wrote me a reply which you can read for yourself if you want. I’ll highlight his main points to respond.

He first responds to my point about National Socialism not following the principle of just war by arguing that National Socialism should follow it in theory, but didn’t in practice. He likens National Socialist expansion to an army trying to break out of a siege. While I think this can sometimes apply, an ideology centered around an aggressive ideal of expansion will lead to unjust war. It creates an us vs them narrative which breeds hatred between the citizens of two countries.

Next he addresses my point about subsidiarity by talking about the sovereignty of the government. I completely agree that all government is completely sovereign over its people (Romans 13:1). However, this is distinct from subsidiarity. Christ is the King of the Church (1 Colossians 1:18). As God, Christ is sovereign over all creation. Yet if we look at the Church, we see that bishops deal with issues in their jurisdiction, councils deal with local issues, and only pan Orthodox or Ecumenical councils deal with issues for the whole Church. One Pope does not have direct, jurisdictional control over the whole church, nor does the individual believer have free reign. (The author to whom I am responding is an Anglican however, so I’m not certain of how the Anglican church is structured.) So while the king has complete sovereign reign over his people, he should willingly allow issues to be dealt with on a local level.

The last issue was in regards to redistribution of wealth. While many Church Fathers did advocate for communal ownership, such as in Acts 4, it was never advocated that the government must force this. Instead, they saw that what matters is how one uses their wealth. It would be far better to have a society where the wealthy were expected to give to charity as a social obligation, rather than have one where they are forced to give up their wealth. I’m not opposed to taxation. The rich should be forced to care for the poor. However, the poor will always be with you (Mark 14:7). I don’t see a massive redistribution of wealth as Christian or helpful to society. I will admit that I am still working on researching this topic more before I can say anything definitive as to what I think a good model for taxation is.

I hope Cogito, Credo, Petam enjoyed my response. I look forward to continuing our dialog.

Solar Power and Subsidiarity

image3One if the central goals I want to pursue with this blog is to create an economy that is Christian, but can function in the modern world. I think solar power is a great example of how this can work.

One of the advantages of a traditional agrarian economy is that everyone is self sufficient. In a modern economy, everyone is intertwined. This leads to globalism which ultimately leads to a Tower of Babel type society.

The principle of subsidiarity is essentially that everything should be dealt with at the most local level possible. It should be noted that this is distinct from libertarianism, which destroys all authority. The Orthodox Church has subsidiarity, with each diocese having its own bishop, and then group of bishops at varying levels can meet to have councils, but everything in this model is dealt with at as local a level as possible. This is contrasted with the vertical hierarchy of the Catholic Church where the Pope has to approve everything and the Protestant churches where there is essentially no authority above the individual believer.

A duty of Orthodox Christians is to treat the earth as a temple of God. God gave mankind authority over the earth (Genesis 1:29-30), and mankind in return works the earth to offer God’s gifts back up to him (Genesis 2:15, Revelation 4:10). Man made global warming is one of the biggest issues currently facing the environment, abusing the mandate God gave us.

Solar power helps both of these problems. Solar power offers an alternative energy source that is far better for the environment than fossil fuels. It also is great for subsidiarity. It allows every individual family to produce their own energy, rather than being dependent on oil companies (who also don’t have the best record of following Christian values with their company, such as people being kicked off their land to use it for fracking).

Sources:

Orthodox Environmentalism by Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick

Evidence for Climate Change

Good, conservative reasons to support solar energy

Good New York Times articles on what is going on with solar energy

Rome Was Not Founded as a Pagan Empire

A central debate in modern US politics is whether or not America is a “Christian Nation”. Both sides appeal to what the founding fathers said. The right cites the Christian values in constitution (which aren’t really Christian but classically liberal) and our Christian history, while the left cites documents such as separation of Church and State guaranteed by the first amendment.

I have to agree with the left here. America is not a Christian Nation. Our constitution is based off the Enlightenment values of liberalism, not Christianity. America was also founded off a rebellion, but all authorities are established by God, so we should be subject to them (Romans 13:1). The only reason to disobey the law is because it contradicts the laws of God (Acts 5:29). However, we are commanded to pay taxes even if it is going to bad use (Matthew 22:21), so rebellion was not justified here.

We can also look at the writings of the founding fathers. For the most part, they were deists, not Christians. The Treaty of Tripoli, signed by President John Adams, states that “the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion” (Article 11). Thomas Jefferson even went so far as to commit the blasphemy of editing Christ’s miracles out of the bible in The Jefferson Bible. It is quite clear America was intended to be a deist, not Christian nation.

It is clear however that the founding fathers believed in natural law. This is important because many Christian values that are directly involved in government can be directly inferred from natural law. We see this in the pre-Christian ideas of natural law in philosophers such as Aristotle, as well as the Christian use of natural law in Thomas Aquinas.

Natural law is often not enough though. It is often open to interpretation. Thus divine revelation is needed. We should not be discouraged by the fact that America is not yet a Christian nation, because neither was Rome. We don’t have to pretend Thomas Jefferson had some magic vision of a Christian future.

It is our duty as Christians to witness to the gospel to transform America into a Christian nation. We have a unique opportunity to do this in a democracy. We can witness through our votes to transform society. So if we wish to transform society, we must first go out and preach the Gospel.

Sources:

http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/bar1796t.asp

http://scholarship.law.nd.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2005&context=law_faculty_scholarship

Typological History

How should Orthodox Christians view history? Our first step is to look at how we view the scriptures. We read everything as pointing to Christ (Luke 24:27). Although we find great typological meaning in scripture, we also, as St. Basil said, “take all in the literal sense.” Literal history reflects typological theology because God is the author of both history and theology.

I want to propose the idea that the history of the Church reflects the history we find in scripture. We should not find this surprising. After all, the Church is the new Israel.

The Israelites started under the persecution of the Egyptians, just as the Church started under the persecution of the Romans. An Israelite woman, Jochebed, birthed a son who ended up leading the Israelites to freedom. Similarly, a Christian woman, Helena, birthed a son who lead the Church to freedom. Maxentius’ defeat by St. Constantine actually echoes back to the defeat of the Pharaoh, as the Milvian bridge broke and the Red Sea ceased to part, and both Maxentius and the Pharaoh were drowned.

In the early history of the people of Israel, the northern tribes dominated the nation (see the book Judges, every Judge was from a northern tribe). Similarly, in the early church, the eastern Church dominated the Church. This ended with power being centralized from the many ruling in Judges, just like many bishops had equal power, to the centralization of power to Saul, just as the Byzantine Emperor gained more power over the Church. Saul ultimately became corrupt and apostatized into idolatry, just as the Byzantine Emperor became an iconoclast. It is interesting that these two opposite heresies are contrasted here.

This lead to the tribe of Judah and the bishop of Rome becoming central in Israel and the Church. These both fulfilled prophecies of their eventual kingship (Genesis 49:10, Matthew 16:18-19). This was then shortly followed by the division of the northern and southern kingdoms, mirrored here in the division of east and west, with the north run by 9 tribes, mirrored by 9 patriarchates, and the south run by 1 tribe, mirrored by 1 patriarchate.

Just as the north was conquered by the Assyrians, the east was conquered by the Turks. In the west we see something much more subtle. First we see the rise of a new Pharisaism. Scholasticism, just like Pharisaism, was very legalistic. Scholasticism also has a very similar hermeneutic to the Rabbis, treating the scriptures like a science rather than allowing them to speak like art through typology. They also add to sacred tradition the traditions of men, such as purgatory, indulgences, papal supremacy, and many other things.

We then see a Babylonian Captivity in the west, with the papacy in Avignon for almost 70 years. The west remained Christian though and did not get conquered. So what does it mean for the west to have been conquered by Babylon? Just as scripture gets more complicated and the narrative harder to follow after the exile, it is the same with Church history. Isaiah 4:12-15 and Luke 10:18 connect Satan to the king of Babylon, as noted by Church Fathers such as St. Pope Gregory the Great. So the conquest of the west by Babylon is a fall of the west into heresy.

After the return from exile, the Jews never returned to their former glory. The same happened to the western church. We also see the rise of a new form of the Sadducee, the Protestants. Both reacted to the traditions of men by throwing out tradition altogether. They also both saw books not part of the original canon as only telling history, but not sacred scripture.

Can we claim the east held true to the faith though? Following this typological structure, the east should be the Samaritans who began worshipping foreign gods along with the God of Israel (2 Kings 17). However, if we look closely at the Samaritans, we see they are actually the Jews. They introduced pagan forms of worship such as Kabbalah (which is gnostic), modified the scriptures in order to defend that they were right, and rejected prophets.

Just as Judah’s reign over Israel will never end, neither will Peter’s. However, the western Rome fell into heresy. The Council of Chalcedon refers to Constantinople as “the New Rome” (Canon III). We see a common theme throughout scripture here. The older son had the right of honor, but loses his birthright, causing the younger son to be exalted. The older son of Rome loses its birthright to the see of Peter, and it is replaced by the new son, the New Rome. This New Rome is conquered by the Turks. We see the rise of a third Rome to preserve the seat of Peter. This is unlike anything in scripture among the ancient Israel. This is Christ acting to preserve his Church.

The west is similar to Persia. Persia was a monotheistic culture, but was not following the faith exactly as passed down to them from Noah. The West was not following Christianity as passed down to them from Christ, but recognized the similar faith among the eastern Christians and liberated them from their Muslim oppressors. After the collapse of Persia, Israel was subjected under the pagan Seleucids. So too is the church now subject again under Muslim rulers.

The third Rome had a similar captivity under pagans from communist rule. Once again the West acted as Persia in liberating Russia from communism. I want to look at the full typological implication of the United States in more detail in a future post.

So what does the future of the Church hold? If we can learn anything from history, we should never look for typology going forward. Just as we needed Christ to understand the Old Testament, we need to wait until the future to understand the past.

Sources:

Revised Standard Version Bible

Hexameron by St. Basil

Why Constantinople Matters

http://hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/8066/why-is-isaiah-1412-15-interpreted-by-some-to-refer-to-satan

http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf214.ix.viii.iv.html

Jesus is All Over the Old Testament: A Study in Typology

In Defense of the Death Penalty

I often see articles wishing to challenge conservative Christianity by arguing that you’re not “true pro life advocate” unless you oppose the death penalty. After all, all humans are made in the image of God and thus the death penalty is unjust. In 1989, the OCA released a statement condemning the death penalty because all killing is wrong. These views of the death penalty are completely unscriptural and go against Orthodox tradition.

Let’s first deal with the argument that all humans are made in the image of God. In Genesis 9:6, God commands that “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for God made man in his own image.” The exact logic that people use to oppose the death penalty is invoked by God here to support the death penalty. The logic here is also still completely sound. There is no basis here for saying this law has been abolished. If someone has committed murder, they themselves have lost the right to their life.

The next common argument is that only God has the right to take life. This is completely true. However, God has given the state the right to “bear the sword… [because] he is the servant of God to execute his wrath on the wrongdoer” (Romans 13:4). Paul was also in prison when he wrote this, so he knew well the injustice the state could commit. This is contrasted with Paul commanding Christians to “never avenge [them]selves, but leave it to the wrath of God” (Romans 12:19). Paul here draws a clear distinction between the role of the church, which is pastoral, and the role of the state, which must judge the wrongdoer.

If we look at compare Genesis 1-3 with Genesis 9, we can understand why the state is the minister of God. Just as God filled the earth with animals (Genesis 1:24-25), Noah fills the world with animals (Genesis 8:17,19). Just as God planted a garden (Genesis 2:8), Noah plants a garden (Genesis 9:20). Just as God gives out blessings (Genesis 1) and curses (Genesis 3), Noah gives out blessings and curses (Genesis 9:25-27). Noah takes on the role of God, ministering as king to his subjects. So just as God has the right to give the death penalty (Genesis 2:17, 3:19), so does Noah (Genesis 9:6).

Opponents of capital punishment often label it as unjust. However, Christ criticized the Pharisees refusal to put children to death (Mark 7:10) without any hint the law was unjust. Now I am not advocating for putting children to death here. Clearly there is a difference between out modern law and the Mosaic law meant for the ancient Israel. I am only saying that the argument that the death penalty is cruel is biblical.

The only biblical argument usually brought up against the death penalty is usually that the ten commandments say “You shalt not kill”. The problem here is that the actual meaning of the commandment is “You shalt not murder”. Otherwise, the mosaic law would be quite contradictory when it commanded the death penalty in many places.

Two common traditional arguments are used against the death penalty. One is that St. Nicholas interceded to save those about to be executed. If we look at the Exapostilarion of St. Nicholas though, it says that ” he saved many men who were unjustly condemned to be executed,” not those who were innocent. The other argument from tradition is that St. Vladimir abolished the death penalty in Russia after converting to Christianity. However, the Byzantine Empire still had the death penalty at the time and St. Vladimir reinstituted the death penalty later in his life at the behest of the Church. The churches opposition to the death penalty rightly used is actually quite modern.

The only good argument I see against capital punishment is that life in prison gives people time to atone for their sins and convert. A great example of this is Jeffery Dahmer. I don’t have a good counter argument to this. All I can say is that the wisdom of God as shown through scripture and tradition seems to disagree.

So how should the death penalty be instituted in modern times? For one thing, many states in America still carry out the death penalty on purely circumstantial evidence, but Mosaic law required two witnesses to sentence someone to death (Deuteronomy 16:7, 19:15). The average person on death row now waits almost 16 years before being executed. It is better simply to abolish the death penalty than to have such a barbarous process. We lie to ourselves by doing it in such a way that it is “more civilized”. We also hide away the executions, using painful methods like lethal injection, pretending that it is humane.  This is a perfect example of science gone overboard. Even though we now think of things like public hangings and beheading as backwards, they were actual quite humane, usually killing the criminal instantly.

Another issue with the modern death penalty is that it is almost exclusively used against poor minorities. The rich should not receive better treatment in regards to the death penalty. This needs to be reformed. The command in Genesis 9:6 seems to me to be a command that the death penalty should be invoked in all instances of murder, and the other various mosaic laws seem to allow the government to invoke it in other instances (although only in accordance with God’s laws), but do not seem to be commandments requiring the death penalty be invoked in modern times outside of ancient Israel.

I remember watching a video years ago on a local new station where a man on death row was being interviewed. He said that although he had killed someone almost 20 years ago when he was 18, and even though he had grown as a person and the victim’s family had forgiven him, he still thought the death penalty was a fair sentence. I never understood that until many years later when I was reading Mere Christianity by CS Lewis. Lewis said that “[i]f one had committed a murder, the right Christian thing to do would be to give yourself up to the police and be hanged.” Paul says a similar thing when on trial. “If,” he says, “I am guilty of doing anything deserving death, I do not refuse to die” (Acts 25: 11). Another famous example of this is Socrates’ arguments for why he must sat and die in Crito. We submit ourselves to the law, even if causes us to die.

Sources:

https://orthodoxwiki.org/Capital_punishment

https://oca.org/parish-ministry/familylife/capital-punishment-and-the-gospel

https://www.ancientfaith.com/podcasts/stevethebuilder/capital_punishment_part_1

Revised Standard Version Bible

Through New Eyes by James Jordan

God Gave the Greeks Philosophy: The Biblical Foundation for Christian Hellenism

http://www.pravoslavie.ru/english/90931.htm

https://theopolisinstitute.com/the-death-penalty-in-the-mosaic-law/

http://www.onepeterfive.com/getting-it-wrong-about-the-death-penalty/

The Orthodox Church by Metropolitan Kallistos Ware

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capital_punishment_in_the_United_States

http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/time-death-row

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/an-inhumane-execution-reveals-a-deeply-flawed-system/2014/05/03/3661ab66-d0aa-11e3-9e25-188ebe1fa93b_story.html

Crito by Plato

An Economy of Debt

It is an undeniable fact our modern economy is founded on debt.The average American household is $134 thousand in debt. Our country is almost $20 trillion in debt. There is no signs of this getting better. It’s only gotten worse since 2008 when the world economy collapsed (which was heavily connected to the European debt crisis).

How can this be solved? In a Christian society, this would not be an issue. After all, charging was not allowed in the Mosaic covenant (Exodus 22:25), and all debts had to forgiven every 7 years (Deuteronomy 15). The Church Fathers were also universally against usury. St. Cyril of Jerusalem lists usury as a sin along with “gluttony… licentiousness.. [and] covetousness” (Catechetical Lectures 4.37). St. Basil tells the poor not to get involved in any debt, describing “[t]he lender run[ning] like a hound after the game [and t]he borrower like a ready prey crouch[ing] at the coming catastrophe” (Homily on Psalm 14.2). Other ancient thinkers also disparaged usury. Aristotle attacked usury because it “makes a gain out of money itself, and not from the natural use of it. For money was intended to be used in exchange, but not to increase at interest. And this term Usury which means the birth of money from money, is applied to the breeding of money, because the offspring resembles the parent. Wherefore of all modes of making money this is the most unnatural” (The Politics of Aristotle 1.10).

As a result, Jews heavily ended up running money lending in the middle ages. In the late middle ages, the Catholic Church began to turn a blind eye towards usury, such as that of the Medici family or the Florentine bankers. Money lending was necessary to finance large trading empires. The Protestant work ethic and the liberalism of the Enlightenment lead to the birth of Capitalism, ultimately causing usury to become societally acceptable. Martin Luther in fact thought that loaning money was necessary for a functioning society, separating Christian ethics and business. Luther still thought it was a sin, but John Calvin went further to rule it not a sin. The Catholic Church eventually capitulated and allowed money lending the 19th century. The Orthodox Church has never officially changed its stance however.

CS Lewis reflected on all this in his book Mere Christianity:

“There is one bit of advice given to us by the ancient heathen Greeks, and by the Jews in the Old Testament, and by the great Christian teachers of the Middle Ages, which the modern economic system has completely disobeyed. All these people told us not to lend money at interest: and lending money at interest — what we call investment — is the basis of our whole system. Now it may not absolutely follow that we are wrong. Some people say that when Moses and Aristotle and the Christians agreed in forbidding interest (or “usury” as they called it), they could not foresee the joint stock company, and were only dunking of the private moneylender, and that, therefore, we need not bother about what they said.”That is a question I cannot decide on. I am not an economist and I simply do not know whether the investment system is responsible for the state we are in or not. This is where we want the Christian economist. But I should not have been honest if I had not told you that three great civilizations had agreed (or so it seems at first sight) in condemning the very thing on which we have based our whole life.”

Lewis is very right. We have based our economy on something clearly against the very basic ideas of natural law. We can see this playing out around us. How can we modify our economy to fit this though. Some have advocated for not taking interest in money in the bank. This is in fact what muslims in the west do. This seems quite Pharisaical to me. It is not as though the banks will stop loaning money if we stop collecting interest. It simply fulfills the letter of the law. Most economists would also (probably rightly) recognize that if we banned loaning money, the US economy would collapse.

I think what we should all individually do is to avoid debt ourselves. We should pay off our credit card bill every month (or even better, use a debit card or cash). If you can in your country, perhaps seek to use things like “shariah mortgages.” We should never charge interest when loaning to a friend or loaning from a business we own. We should forgive any debts we can every Forgiveness Sunday before Great Lent, even if it would harm us. It is better we fix our relationships with even our enemies rather than trying to make a few more cents.

Sources:

https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/average-credit-card-debt-household/

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/this-is-how-much-credit-card-debt-americans-racked-up-in-2016-2016-12-20

http://www.usdebtclock.org/

The Oxford Handbook of Christianity and Economics

http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/310104.htm

http://www.earlychurchtexts.com/public/basil_homily_psalm_14_against_usury.htm

https://www.theobjectivestandard.com/issues/2007-fall/morality-of-moneylending/

https://www.theguardian.com/money/2013/oct/29/islamic-finance-sharia-compliant-money-interest

Witnesing to Christianity in the 21st Century

How should a voter witness to Christianity in the 21st century? We’re often left with two choices. We can side with the left. After all, wasn’t Jesus’ mission to help the poor? Putting aside this deeply misguided understanding of the Gospel, the left continues to push Christianity out of the public life and into the private, but Jesus was crucified publically as a public sign. The left continues to support the murder of children under the idea of bodily autonomy, but our body is a temple of the Holy Spirit and thus not our property, but God’s (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

Other Christians side with the right. After all, it is the right that defends pro life ideas, traditional marriage, and Christian values. However, the right also defends big banks, who make their money by charging excessive interest, but charging interest of any sort is forbidden (Exodus 22:25).

It seems that a Christian cannot be a true Democrat or a true Republican. In fact, both party names imply democracy, but democracy chose Barabbas over Jesus (Matthew 22:17-24) and leads to anarchy (Judges 21:25). After all, Christ is our king (Revelation 19:16), not our president. Those who reject him will be judged regardless of their vote against him.

We should not be suprised that there is no Christian choice. After all, Christ’s kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36). I want to use this blog however to explore what a Christian society looks like, and what we can do to make it such. It is our job as Christians to preach the Gospel to every nation, so that “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:10-11).