Torch, Winter 1981

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them . And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, andfill the earth, and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish ofthe sea , and over the fowl ofthe air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth Genesis 1: 27, 28 . When Christ was asked which is the great commandment in the Law, He answered , .. . Thou shalt love the Lord, thy God, with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself Matthew 22:37-39 . Within this commandment are the requirements of the honor and glory of God on the one hand and the dignity of the individual on the other. THE SANCTITY AND RIGHTS OF INDIVIDUALS ARE IMPORTANT ECONOMIC CONSIDERATIONS. One of the great achievements of the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century was the fact that it released on the world the energies and rediscovery of the worth and dignity of the indivictual. If we love our neighbor as ourselves, then we should want to avoid unnecessary or excessive concentrations of economic power, whether that power is held by industrial and business monopolies, or by trade unions for reasons of short-sighted and selfish gain, or by the undue concentration of power in the hands of government. If we love our neighbor as ourselves we would not want to give unjust weights or measures (Lev. 19:35-37) . We should want to give to our neighbor a just remuneration for his labor. We would want to avoid all fraud or deception. Dishonest merchandising is as serious a matter as dishonest judges and courts . Furthermore, man has been given a divinely appointed task of developing his environment in such a manner that the original purpose of all things would be conserved and redound to the glory of God . MANWAS AND IS GOD'S STEWARD OVER ALL THINGS ENTRUSTED TO HIS RESPONSIBILITY WITHIN HIS CREATED ENVIRONMENT. God has delegated to individuals, not to the state , the responsibility of acting as stewards of His property. This is the essence of free enterprise. Most free market advocates, although not always recognizing a proper Biblical starting point, practice responsible stewardship by making their use of property as productive as possible. Stewardship over property and the derivative and delegated nature of power enable us to Scripturally develop a proper view of societal affairs . We must always keep in mind that property as well as power has its ultimacy in God . The Psalmist has well said, "The earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein" (Psalm 24: 1). No man should fall into the error of concluding that "My power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth ." But every man was to" .. .remember the Lord thy God: for it is He that giveth thee power to get wealth . .." Deut. 8:18 . Notice the warning is against the proud who forget God in their wealth, not against the fact of wealth . All property , together with all power, resides in God, who is not only our Creator but our Provider and Sustainer as well. As well as the responsibility to work, God in His sovereign providence has given to men the skills and abilities to perform economic tasks . Herein lies THE ECONOMIC CONCEPT OF SPECIALIZATION AND THE CONCOMITANT IDEA OF INTERDEPENDENCE. These concepts were not developed in the 19th or 20th century, but their origin is found in the first family . Abel was a pastoralist; Cain , an agriculturalist. In these early beginnings, God had clearly disposed different men to different economic functions by His providential distribution among them of a variety of skills, abilities, and motivations. Man is confronted clearly with a mandate and responsibility to work , to cultivate, and to develop. All wealth, all reward, all wages, and all economic benefits accrue because of our responsibility to labor. Ephesians 4:28 exhorts, "Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good , that he may have to give to him that needeth." This verse clearly indicates that we are to be wise stewards with what he has entrusted to us. IN SUMMARY Economics has its source in God and began with the creation of man as a worker. As a result of Adam's sin the curse fell upon all men and required his production, exchange, and consumption of goods and services for survival. God promised to bless man's work as he respected the dignity of his fellow worker; and as he realized that all power and property come ultimately from the Creator, man found that he could better cope with conditions of scarcity by specializing . Man therefore needed to cooperate economically with other men to be able to live and increase his economic well– being . We Christians face what might be called an existential paradox . We are redeemed from the dominion of sin and joined to Christ. We have a citizenship in heaven, but nevertheless we are called to work and witness in this world for Christ our King . And so it is our God-given task to understand and, where possible, to influence societal structures so that they are brought into closer conformity with the preceptive will of God as revealed in Scripture . Although we are not ushering in the Kingdom nor creating a perfect world, through the providence of God we are called to work and to witness in the cultural milieu and the economic arena in which we have been placed. 1 Douglas Vickers, Men in the Maelstrom ofModern Thought; An Essay in Theological Perspectives (Nutley, N.J.: Presbyterian and Reformed , 1975.) 13