Wealth and Poverty: Four Christian Views

Ed. by Robert Clouse (IVP)

I understand why IVP pulled this book after a year of successful selling.  North publicly destroyed everyone in it.  That wouldn’t work with IVP’s “proto-SJW turn.” Gary North offers the free-market view.  William Diehl offers a mostly free-market view, with a little govt thrown in. Art Gish offers the hippie commune.  John Gladwin is a Communist.

Aside from North, only Diehl actually shows some knowledge of economics. (And despite Diehl’s antipathy towards the Old Testament, his essay and most of his responses were quite good).  All of the responders attacked North on his insistence that the Bible gives a blueprint to stuff like law, politics, and economics.  Admittedly, OT law is a hard sell to hippie evangelicals, but North’s comeback is unanswerable: what good does it do to speak of “Christian guidelines” if you don’t fill in the content?

Art Gish’s essay on decentralist economics should be interesting today, given the current Benedict Option fad.  It’s the standard “Let’s live in community, man” and “God liberates the poor.”  North gives a wise response:

“The Bible also does not teach that “God intervenes in history to liberate the oppressed poor” (p. 135). What the Bible does teach is that God intervenes in history to liberate the righteous oppressed, whether rich or poor. Did God liberate the poor who lived in Canaan? No. He had his people exterminate them. There were wicked poor people in Canaan, after all. They lived under the domination of “unrighteous structures,” to use a popular phrase. God destroyed both Canaan’s oppressed and Canaan’s “unrighteous structures” when Joshua and the Israelites invaded the land (163).”

It does no good to say “Let’s look to Jesus” if we divorce Jesus from the Bible he read.  Diehl moves in for the finishing blow:

but to advocate a nonsystem seems irresponsible. Koinonia, on a global scale, without any blueprint, is a nonsystem. Because it is a nonsystem it can hardly be called a “New Testament economic program.” Utopia it is; an economic program it is not” (Diehl 173).

Gladwin’s essay is pure Communism, so no need to refute it here.  The book is a let-down.  Don’t pay money for it.  Read it here.


About J. B. Aitken

Interests include patristics, the role of the soul in the human person, analytic theology, Reformed Scholasticism, Medievalism, Substance Metaphysics
This entry was posted in American Evangelicalism, Book Review, Economics and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Wealth and Poverty: Four Christian Views

  1. cal says:

    Wow, if Gary North’s incoherent blend of capitalism and bizarro-covenanters trounces them, then truly the book is trash.


    • North’s position isn’t airtight, but he is a trained economist and none of his opponents, perhaps save Diehl, even bothered to show what their economic system would look like.


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