Does Christianity have an economic plan for society.
We have in the last century or so seen the rise in a number of economic plans and theories. Perhaps foremost, at least in terms of it being one of the originators of economics as a political science, is Karl Marx’s theories on economics. In more recent years we have seen Keynsianism, moneterism, MMT, the Austrian school as well as many others.
Does the bible have any thing to say about economics. The surprising truth is that the bible has a very specific prescription for the organization of economic affairs of the state.
Leviticus 25 laid out a very specific economic plan for the state of Israel. This plan made allowance for many of the features we see in a modern economy but with the provision of regular debt forgiveness. This debt forgiveness was to happen every 7 years on the Sabbath year.
This debt forgiveness was specifically designed to prevent the polarization of society into the very rich and very poor. The Israelites were not to be like their neighbors and especially not like Pharaoh’s Egypt. There was to be no slave class ruled over by God emporers like Pharaoh.
Unfortunately, for much of their history the Israelites did not follow this provision in the Law of Moses and the society increasingly began to polarize between rich and poor.
8Woe to you who add house to house
and join field to field
till no space is left
and you live alone in the land.Isaiah 5:8 New International Version
Over generations the rich bought up the lands of the poor and created large estates on which they lived in isolation. The previous occupants were presumably displaced and left to fend for themselves in a society that seemed to have forgotten the poor.
Does this picture seem familiar, how like our own Western Christian societies this sounds. The sad truth is this was inevitably a tragedy for rich and poor as the following lines detail.
9The Lord Almighty has declared in my hearing:
“Surely the great houses will become desolate,
the fine mansions left without occupants.Isaiah 5:9 New International Version
The polarization of society has serious implications for everyone, rich and poor alike. It can be seen as one of the stage of a systemic collapse that can lead to conflict, revolution and depopulation.
The provision of these laws in the bible and the consequences of not following them are not simply whimsical aspirations to justice and compassion but universal truths about the organization of society and the consequences for not providing for social and economic justice.
Societies across the world both in the ancient world and in modern times have all experienced the consequences of failing to provide some form of remedy to the problems of the concentration of wealth and power.
Our contemporary society is now faced with the same lessons faced by these ancient societies and ultimately we will have to come to realize that the same or similar solutions are the only remedy.