Sunday, August 01, 2010

Parable of the Minas (6) Economic Power

The parable exposes a flaw in secular capitalism, especially when in collusion with political power. The people watching were surprised at the king’s treatment of his servant, and especially that he gave the mina to the one with ten.

Master, he has ten minas already (Luke 19:27).
This was a good question. The Kings answer is surprising.
I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but as for the one who has nothing, even what he has will be taken away (Luke 19:26).
We must remember that these words were not spoken by God, but by a corrupt king who reaped where he did not sow and took out where he had not put. The king took words that Jesus had spoken in a different context and twisted for his purpose (this shows Jesus skill as a storyteller). Jesus spoke these works earlier in a gospel context after telling the parable of the sower to explain that those who received the gospel would receive greater spiritual insight, while those who rejected the gospel would harden their hearts. The king takes those words, which were true in a spiritual context, and uses them to justify injustice.

In the worldly system, the political powers collude with the economic powers, and sometimes with the religious authorities for mutual benefit. Those who have wealth will gain more and more. Those who have nothing, often lose what they have to misfortune and economic manipulation. This has happened again and again throughout history.

Zacchaeus is a perfect example of the problem exposed by the parable. A tax collector had to pay for the privilege from the aristocratic families who colluded with the Roman authorities in managing the affairs of the region. Because he had much, Zacchaeus could purchase a position that allowed him to gain even greater wealth. His success in extracting taxes would have led to him being promoted to his position of chief tax collector. This was the way the system worked. Those who could pay for privilege gained greater privileges. At the same time, those who had little or nothing, were lost most of what they had. If they refused to pay, or were unable to pay, the soldiers would come in an steal their livestock and destroy their home. Those with nothing would lose even what they had.

This has happened again and again throughout history. Those who have wealth have gained more and more. Those who have nothing, often lose what they have to misfortune and economic or political manipulation.

This is why the biblical teaching about sharing is important. Without that countervailing tendency, secular capitalism results in unfair distributions of income. Those with much can easily gain more. Those with less slip further behind. The trickle up is more effective than the trickle down. Paul explained God’s will.
Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality (2 Cor 8:13).
God does want those who have much to get more and those who little to get less. He prefers the opposite; that everyone should have what they need and no one should have more than they need. This is not a justification for state-enforced income redistribution. The Parable of the Minas exposes the dangers of state power.

Zacchaeus also illustrates God’s solution to the problem. It was not democratic socialism. Rather, Zacchaeus repaid everything he had stolen, and gave away half of what he owned. This type of radical give is the proper response to the kingdom. Generous giving will prevent the twisted words of the wicked king being fulfilled. As many Christian follow Zacchaeus’ example, the opposite will be true.
Those who have much will give much.
Those who have nothing will be given more.
I will develop these thoughts next week in a series of posts called secular capitalism.

1 comment:

lovemercytruth said...

Thank you for the new understanding - can't wait for next week :) . . . .