Sunday, December 03, 2006

Arguing Right

Ravi Zacharias said that there are three levels of debate.

  1. Philosphy
  2. The Arts
  3. Issues

He said that we should debate at the first level , illustrate at the second level, and apply at the third level. If we debate at the third level we produce confusion. This is really good advice.

A good example of this is the issue of the minimum wage. Many Christians ask if Jesus would support minimum wage laws. They argue that because the cares for the poor, he would be in favour of raising the minimum wage. This is a good example of how debating at the third level is misleading.

If we approach this issue from the top level, we have to ask several different questions. Are employers free to decide what wage they will offer for a particular task? Would Jesus use state power to force employers to pay higher wages? Should the state prevent people from accepting a wage rate that is lower than a particular level? The answer is that Jesus would not force employers to pay higher wages.

In the parable of the workers, Jesus told us that employers can decide what wages to offer to their employees (Matt 20:1-16). Potential employees can choose to accept or reject the wages offered. The state should not be deciding wage rates. Approached from this level, it becomes clear that a minimum wage cannot be justified from the scriptures.


Ted Gossard said...


Good thoughts here. And you may be right.

But I'm not convinced that said parable does anything except make a point from everyday life to teach something. Not necessarily that the employer should pay as they choose.

I believe, at this point, that a minimum wage should be set, BECAUSE of the greed and graft that can characterize humans. So it's a protection against such employers.

Just going by the right economical laws sounds good. Except humans intervene and take more for themselves than they should, leaving other workers (lower scale) wages and benefits that may not be just.

Ted Gossard said...

Jesus points out that just as an employer pays workers as they see fit, than God can do the same with his servants (I think that's basically what this parable is saying) in the kingdom.

But God's way is right and full of grace and truth. The human way is not necessarily right or gracious.

RonMcK said...

Greedy employers cannot force people to working for them.

You seem to be saying that you are happy to see the power of the sword being used to make greedy employers good. Where do you stop? Will use the power sword to force them to become Christians?


Aaron said...

Ron that post is right on. I would feel that you are correct in saying that Christianity has no jurisdiction over this issue. (It is interesting to note that minimum wage laws are unjustified on strictly economic grounds.)

So you've popped the lid open on the issue of state-mandated morality. I'm not sure how much this topic has already been discussed on your blog, but it's one I am intensely interested in and think is very important for today's Church to re-evaluate.

I'm staying tuned.

RonMcK said...

Could comments
You are right. Minimum wages are generally advocated by those already in work. Minimum wages hurt those who do not have work, but it shuts up opportunities that might be open to them.

However, as you say, the more important issue is the use of state power to enforce (Christian) morality.

Ted Gossard said...


I guess I see our influence, as far as church on state to be kingdom of God oriented so that we can influence the passage of good laws and policies, such as diminishing and eventually overturning the practice of abortion.

I fail to see how supporting good policies of spreading wealth is bad. Norway doesn't carry the burden the United States does, but I see their socialism as far better than what goes on in America. People struggling to make ends meet, and frankly failing, oftentimes, here. Yes, they go on in faith. While others, including good Chrisitians, live with plenty. Yes, the church should address it. But the state is responsible to God not just in handling the sword. I see this as Biblical, and can't focus only on Romans 13 as giving the whole picture.

RonMcK said...

Salvation by law is doing better than salvation by grace in Norway?