By RJ Moeller
It is a legitimate question to wonder why I waited to address sin until four or five posts into my explanation of how I – a post-being-post-things evangelical Christian – arrived at my free market convictions. The answer is simple: I like to know what I’m aiming at before I start firing.
In his treatise on the state of social conditions in early 20th century Great Britain (What’s Wrong With The World), G.K. Chesterton wrote this:
“It is the whole definition and dignity of man that in social matters we must actually find the cure before we find the disease.”
I couldn’t agree more. For the Christian attempting to live “in, but not of” the world, our proverbial North Star should be what God’s standards are, not the mess we’ve made of things here on earth. I began my series of essays with a few of the basics: man made in God’s image, work is man’s divine task, work is noble, dominion over the earth, etc. These are the positive fundamentals of a biblical worldview one should use when trying to figure out how a God-fearing citizen ought to think, act, and vote in regards to socio-economic decisions.
If you’re not starting with those presuppositions and end-goals in mind, you will inevitably lose your way.
And sadly, many Christians have. Lost their way, that is.
Sin is a reality. It pervades every aspect of our lives. From the biblical account of man’s fall in Genesis 3 to the moment you are reading this post (and until Heaven), one cannot escape the clutches of our hereditary spiritual disease. Here are some of the low-lights from the 3rd chapter of Genesis:
2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”
4 “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.
11 And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”
12 The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”
13 Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”
The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
16 To the woman he said,
“I will make your pains in childbearing very severe;
with painful labor you will give birth to children.
Your desire will be for your husband,
and he will rule over you.”
17 To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’
“Cursed is the ground because of you;
through painful toil you will eat food from it
all the days of your life.
18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you,
and you will eat the plants of the field.
19 By the sweat of your brow
you will eat your food
until you return to the ground,
since from it you were taken;
for dust you are
and to dust you will return.”
23 So the LORD God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken.
Not a very pretty picture. We have deception, pride, accusations, shame, guilt, punishment, the fate of all mankind, and the promise of redemption all rolled up into one less-than-700-words chapter of the Bible. There’s a lot to digest there. A lot to discuss. Obviously in the limited remaining space of this post I will not even scratch the surface of all that sin means and implies. Also, for the purposes of this series I’m merely interested in fleshing out how I became convinced that Scripture encourages free enterprise.
So let me keep things simple today: if sin did not exist, progressive liberalism, collectivism, socialism, and even communism would be appropriate ideologies for a Christian to embrace.
Or as Ronald Reagan once put it: Socialism works in Heaven where they don’t need it, and in Hell where they’ve already got it.
Some might accuse me of contradicting myself in that I began this piece by stating that we must first assess our end-goal and then pursue figuring out how best to achieve it. So if Reagan’s quote is even tangentially accurate, shouldn’t we be aiming for some form of collectivism?
This is a good, however misguided, question. Our end-goal isn’t a system of government or economy – it is God himself. Our eventual end-goal is to personally know our Maker and spend eternity with Him. Our eventual end-goal is not free health care or governing world bodies that will divvy up rich people’s money and re-distribute it “equitably.”
Think of the weight of evidence against collective rule:
- While on earth, and despite our fallen nature, we are to have dominion over the earth and subdue it.
- We know that we are right to seek to maintain our individual identity while at the same time we are called upon to be a functioning member of a “body.”
- As we will discuss in an upcoming posts on The Tower of Babel and Israel’s demand for a king, God has made His disdain for centralized power very clear.
- Factor in that the creative and entrepreneurial tendencies in human are actually the sparks of the Divine (in whose image we were created) flickering through the cloud of smog that sin envelops mankind in.
The list could go on for pages, and we’ll be coming back to these themes and ideas again, but all I am trying to do here today is point out that if sin is a reality, and if our ultimate goal is to live out God’s word in every aspect of our lives, then we ought to be able to roundly reject much of Leftist socio-economic thought.
This doesn’t mean free market capitalism is flawless, or even that it is for sure the best, most Christ-honoring system possible, but if in trying to help a sick patient the doctor refuses to eliminate cures that he knows (or should know) can never work, then it’s time to find a new doctor.