Where do we find the resources for the development of communities and nations? Our answer will reveal which economic model we embrace.
The Atheistic-Materialistic model assumes that human beings are fundamentally animals who consume resources. Resources, in this model, are material things that lie in the ground and thus, by definition, are limited. This mindset leads to Statism, the notion that government by man is sovereign. A political elite knows what is best for the common and “ignorant” citizens, thus this elite should hold absolute power over society. The accompanying economic goal is equal distribution of scarce resources. A ready example of this model is seen in the collectivism (and the devastating failure) of Socialist and Communist societies.
Contrast this with the biblical view. The Bible presents human beings as imago Dei, and resources as the product of human imagination and creativity. As such, resources are limited only by human innovation and stewardship of creation. Human beings are not just consumers of resources; they are creators of resources. This view leads to the concept of freedom under law. God is sovereign over the universe. Human beings were made to be free and responsible moral agents. Economic and political structures are to support human freedom and allow individuals and nations to flourish. The goal is is not equal outcomes, but equality before the law.
In my young adult years, even as a Christian, I was governed by a redistributionist mindset as a means of solving poverty. An essay I, Pencil, by Leonard E. Read, powerfully influenced me toward a more Biblical framework.
Read (9/26/98 – 5/14/83) was an American economist and the founder of the Foundation for Economic Education, the first free market think tank in the United States. Written in the first person, I, Pencil describes the wonder of human discovery and innovation and the power of free men and women working in social networks to discover resources in their own communities and create wealth. Enjoy this mind expanding essay!
I, Pencil was critical in my own understanding of the creation and stewardship of wealth as described in the books Discipling Nations: The Power of Truth to Transform Cultures and The Forest in the Seed: A Biblical Perspective on Resources and Development.
For a practical treatment of how to discover and use local resources to bless the larger community, go to the Harvest Foundation materials on Seeds and Seed Projects.
- Darrow Miller