Saturday, December 22, 2007

Gems from the North (2) - Social Order

I became a Christian in 1974, just a few months before sitting the final exams for my masters degree in Economics. One of the papers dealt with in Marxist economics. In my exam paper, I wrote that Marxism failed because if failed to create the new man that socialism promised. With all the zeal of a new Chrisitan, I did a little rant declaring that Christianity was the answer to the problems of economics, because the cross and the gospel made “new man” a real possibility. The new birth made by possible by Jesus can accomplish what Marxism has failed to do.

A few months later, one of my lecturers (not a Marxist, but an atheist) challenged me about what I had said. I listened carefully because I presumed that he was the one who had ensured that I was awarded a final grade based on my full years work, rather than one based on my preaching in the final exam.

This non-Christian man said that it is fine to say that the Christianity is the answer, but to be persuasive, I would need to show what society would be different, if everyone did become a Christian. He challenged me to start thinking about that issue.

We did a literature search and found almost nothing. There were a couple of books by Christians offering "warmed-over" socialism, but nothing else (he could see the difference). The best we could find was a couple of books applying Islamic principles to economics. They were at least an example of what could be done. That was a shocking discovery.

I went on to do other things but the question of my lecturer continued to haunt me. What would society look like if every member of society was a Christian?

Gary North was the first writer that I encountered who was actually grappling with this issue. The thing I found refreshing was that he took the Bible seriously and attempted to apply its principles to economic and political issues.

The following quote explains his perspective on why these things are important.

It has been almost two thousand years since the birth of Jesus Christ, Savior of the world....... What is also remarkable – or not so remarkable, as this book will demonstrate — is that two millennia after the Incarnation of God’s Son in history, His followers have no idea what a saved world ought to look like. They have no blueprint for a uniquely biblical social order. There is no comprehensive body of materials that would point to a solution to this question: “How would a Bible-based society differ from previous societies and present ones?” Hardly anyone is even asking the question. Hardly anyone ever has. (Millennialism and Social Theory, p.16).

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