Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Three Mountains (10) - Low Interest Rates

In the Kingdom of God, high levels of thrift and declining demand for loans will cause interest rates to fall. A sound banking system will eliminate inflation, so savers would not need an inflation premium to compensate them for the rampages of rising prices. As honesty increases, the risk premium will disappear, so interest rates will decline.

As business becomes efficient, the prices of goods and services should gradually fall. Real interest rates will be positive, even if the nominal interest rate is near zero.

The level of interest rates is mostly determined by the value that people place on the future. When people live for the present with no hope for the future, interest rates rise. High interest rates are the sign of a sick culture. On the other hand, if people have confidence in the future, they will not need much compensation for saving, so interest rates will be low. The Kingdom Economy will bring huge confidence in the future, so the time preference premium will be low. A strong future orientation will reduce interest rates.

More on this topic at Interest.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Three Mountains (9) - Thrift

The use of thirty-year mortgages to buy houses is wrong. In recent years it has become possible and common for people to borrow up to ninety percent of the purchase price of a home on a mortgage. This has the effect of pushing up the price of dwellings dramatically. The result is that households in total are no better off. They still hold the same stock of housing, but have much greater debt. The consequence is that they will pay for their houses two or three times over in interest. This shifts tremendous wealth to the banks.

If borrowing such large amounts were unacceptable, the price of houses would fall dramatically. Households would be better off, and they would still have the same total number of dwellings.

Citizens of the Kingdom of God will be thrifty. They will know that the person who consumes all that they earns becomes poor (Prov 14:4; 21:29). Ideally, Christians should not be in debt at all. As God blesses them, they should be quickly able to repay all loans and build up their capital. Most Christians will be debt free.

In a Christian society, the main source of funds for lending will be people saving for their old age. Savings for unforeseen circumstances, such as sickness, accident, and death will also be important. Thrift will produce a surplus of resources that are available for investment in productive activities. Increased investment will make everyone more productive. Poverty should be quickly eliminated.

Christians will put most of their surplus funds into enterprises that will be productive for the Kingdom of God. They will then have control over what is done with their money (II Cor 6:14-15). They will ensure it is used for the glory of the Kingdom. For Christians, lending for interest is a second-best option, as they have no control over what the banker does with their money.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Three Mountains (8) - No Long-term Debt

The Kingdom of the world says that debt is efficient. The world economy is based on debt.

The Kingdom of God sees debt as dangerous, because the borrower becomes the slave of the lender.

A key biblical principle is that all loans should be short term. The reason for this principle is that no one except God knows the future. Since we do not know the future, we should not make contracts that bind the future. The future is the Lords. He will not allow us to commit ourselves beyond the immediate future.

God says the maximum time that we can bind ourselves for is seven years. No one should borrow more than they can repay in that time (Deut. 15:1-3; Ps 37:21). Beyond seven years, we do not know what our situation will be. Therefore, we cannot be certain that we will be able to repay the loan. An honest person does not make commitments that we may not be able to keep. We do not know if we will be living or what our situation will be in thirty years’ time, so thirty-year mortgages are dishonest. All loans and deposits should have a term of less than seven years.

Even if principle of a seven-year limit on loans is not accepted, the matching rule will push long-term interest rates up too high for people to risk taking long term loans. The seven-year principle will come about by default.

Most loans will be business loans. Christians should do their best to stay out of debt, so borrowing to buy consumption goods should be avoided. We should only go into debt as a last desperate solution to poverty, because a borrower is a slave of the lender (Prov 22:7). A lender is able to control those who are in debt to them. God wants his people to be free to obey him. If we are in debt, we do not have that freedom.

Borrowing to buy capital goods that are productive is legitimate for Christian businesses. Capital goods will produce a return to the borrower, which will cover the cost of the interest. On the other hand, Christian businesses should only borrow to get started. As God blesses them, they should quickly get debt free, so that they are free to fulfil the purposes of God. Expansion of the business will be done out of retained profits.

Christian business will try to get rid of debt.

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another (Rom 13:8).
If they are obeying God, then Christians should be in a position where they can lend to others.
The LORD will bless all the work of your hands. You will lend too many nations but will borrow from none. The LORD will make you the head, not the tail… you will always be at the top, never at the bottom (Deut 28:12-13).
Long-term indebtedness is a sign that God’s blessing has been lost, through failure to trust him or obey his Word.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Three Mountains (7) - Cooperation not Corporation

Corporate structures will change dramatically in the Kingdom Economy. Large conglomerates will be less viable, because the risks of investing in them will be too high without a limited liability laws. Growth for the sake of growth will not be a viable business model. Most big corporations will be replaced by a several smaller businesses cooperating to achieve the same purpose.

The benefit of the big corporate model is the ability to control huge resources and complex processes. This is the devil’s method. He works through manipulation and control.

Cooperation will be more important than control in the Kingdom of God. Jesus spreads authority around and relies on the Holy Spirit to coordinate numerous people to achieve a common purpose.
As big businesses wither away, control and ownership will be replaced with cooperation and contracts. For example, a business that operates large, complicated, resource-intensive processes will not be able to bring every aspect of these processes under its control, as the risks would be too large. Instead of owning and controlling every aspect of the production process, they will manage them through contracts with many suppliers and service providers. Their role will change from controlling everything to coordinating the overall process and managing relationships with a network of supporting businesses.

The modern economy is dominated by highly-visible big businesses. In the Kingdom Economy, businesses will be so small and numerous as to be almost invisible. The authoritarian managers with the big egos that control many big corporations will be redundant. They will be replaced by managers who can manage cooperation with many other businesses. Smaller businesses will be the norm in the Kingdom economy.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Three Mountains (6) - Capital

Capital goods are important, because they make humans more productive. Capital and trade are the keys to escaping subsistence.

Economists distinguish between capital goods and consumption goods. The word capital is used to describe goods that can be used to produce other goods. A spade is a capital good. You cannot eat it if you are hungry, but you can use it to produce food. Capital goods include machinery and factories.

Consumer goods cannot be used to produce other goods. They produced for household or personal in satisfy human wants and needs. A banana is a consumer good. You cannot use it to make things, but it will satisfy your hunger. Some goods are both capital and consumption goods. When I use my computer to write articles, it is a capital good. If I play games on my computer for entertainment, it becomes a consumption good.

In Jesus time, the most important capital good was land, but oxen, donkeys, fishing boats, nets and builders tools were also important. A family with a fishing boat and nets could feed and clothe themselves, whereas those without some capital might be destitute. In modern times, capital has become more complex. The capital of an airline is its aeroplanes. The capital of a courier business is its vans and computers.

The wellbeing of a community is largely determined by the volume of capital goods available. A society with no capital goods is forced into subsistence. A society with capital good will have a better lifestyle.

God blesses capital when it is acquired righteously and used wisely.

The crops of your land and the young of your livestock—the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks will be blessed. Your basket and your kneading trough will be blessed (Deut 28:4-5).
Cattle, flocks, baskets and kneading troughs are capital equipment that make people more productive in their work. God promised to bless capital that is used wisely.

Modern corporate capital to be rootless and with no loyalty except to itself.
Roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it (Job 1:7).
The shareholders of a modern business may be scattered all over the world, so the business has no loyalty to any community. Modern business managers tend to be cosmopolitan. As they climb the corporate ladder, they often have to live and work in different countries, so they tend to have more loyalty to their business than to a particular place.

Modern business concentrates huge amounts of capital equipment in a single place to achieve economies of scale. Businesses tend to gather together in the same place, often close to energy sources or their clients. Electricity and electronic communications remove many of the reasons that business concentrate in the same place.

As the influence of the Kingdom of God spreads in society, we should expect to see more capital goods being spread out in local communities and being owned by families. The owners of a family capital will have a loyalty to the community in which they live. They will use it to provide employment and income for people of their community. The families in a wider community may pool their capital into a larger company to achieve the necessary scale, but they will retain ownership of the capital as a family heritage.

Christian have a huge amount of wealth tied up in superannuation schemes and banks. This wealth is used to provide capital in other countries, often in China. They should seek ways to use this wealth to build capital in their local communities, where it will provide employment and blessing to the people they are related to.

More on this topic at Capital.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Three Mountains (5) - No Collusion

To succeed in the Kingdom Economy, businesses will have to provide goods or services that people want. A business cannot force people to buy things, so if people do not want their products, the business will fail.

A major problem with the modern economy is that businesses collude with the government to obtain a privileged position. Most business regulations have the effect of protecting an incumbent business from competition. Businesses frequently ask the government to protect them from competition from imports. They always claim to be acting in the interest of their nation, but the owners of the protected business always benefit the most.

Collusion between business and government is always dangerous. When a business gains the support of the government, it is able to use the coercive powers of government to change what consumers buy. This may be good for the business, but consumers lose their freedom. As the Kingdom of God advances, the central government will wither away. Collusion between business and government will become impossible.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Three Mountains (4) - Corporate Mountain

Modern corporates have immense power and control.

They have produced great wealth, but have also done enormous harm, when they made bad decisions.

Large corporations do not emerge naturally, because the accumulation of risk is too scary for anyone to contemplate. They were made possible when the government mountain established limited liability laws and other laws that protect big business.

Limited liability laws have allowed corporations to operate on an enormous scale, because individual shareholders are not accountable for the corporation’s debts or losses. Although these laws have fostered business, they are immoral, because they transfer risk of bad decisions from those responsible to the innocent. Unlimited profit with limited losses sounds great, but is morally flawed.

When governments pass limited liability laws, they are attempting to do something they do not have the power to do. Liability can only be removed when someone pays the price. Jesus was able to wipe out the liability for sin, because he paid the penalty on the cross. Governments attempt to wipe out liability by simply decreeing that it will be limited. They do not have that power, because they are unwilling to pay the price.

Government laws do not eliminate the liability for business losses, they just shift it to other people. When a limited liability company goes broke, the owners walk away with limited losses. The rest of the losses do not disappear. They are borne by the creditors of the failed company. The clients and employees of the failed company have to bear the cost, even though they acted in good faith.

Limited liability laws foster bad decision making by encouraging excessive risk taking and short-term profit making. Businesses that run large risks can earn big profits without worrying about the risks. Shareholders can earn enormous dividends from a company that takes excessive risks, but limit their losses during the bad years that usually follow. Unfortunately, the losses are not eliminated. The losses are just passed to other businesses that bring real benefits to society. Everyone is harmed.

God holds us accountable for our actions. Jesus died on the cross to eliminate our liability for our sin. He could not wipe that liability by amending a law, but had to carry the full cost. In the Kingdom economy, businesses owners and company shareholder will carry full liability for their losses and liabilities.

Without limited liability laws, businesses would have to be more careful about the way that they operate. Boards of directors would have to be more careful in scrutinising the actions of company management. Better stewardship would result (Luke 14:28-29). If investors bare the full costs of any failure, they will estimate the costs and assess the risks very carefully and make better business decisions.

The “Too Big to Fail” banks were created by a combination of limited liability and government financial regulation. The rot set in when they switched from being partnerships risking their own wealth, to limited liability companies risking other people's wealth. The shareholders of the investment banks and hedge funds who have taken enormous dividends would have put far greater constraints on their mangers, if they knew they were liable for all possible losses of their companies. The profits that they took in the good times would no longer be sheltered in the bad times.
As the Kingdom of God expands, businesses will shrink. Some will collapse. Others will choose to change their capital structures.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Three Mountains (3) - Goverenment Collapse

Governments are collapsing under the pressure of impossible promises. This is why restoring our societies from the bottom up is so important.

Modern Governments have been making impossible promises that cannot be delivered.
  • Full employment
  • Health care
  • Pensions
  • Casting out demons.
Massive sovereign debt is a sign that this mountain is getting shaky.

Furthermore, the Government Mountain has left us with serious problems that make any situation worse.
  • Controlled interest rates
  • Manipulated money system
  • Flawed banking system.
These problems have added to the instability

The rise and fall of nations is inevitable. Deuteronomy 28 speaks of curses and blessings on rebellion and obedience. The modern monetary system exaggerates the effects of any curses.

The collapse of the government mountain will cause huge economic pain.

Economic collapse will not be universal. Some countries will sink but others will continue to grow.

Some commentators are saying that that the United States is finished; that the dollar will collapse and die. The situations is not that simple. Some local and state governments will collapse. The federal government will corrode, not collapse. It will continue to grow and become more powerful. Like the Roman Empire in its later stages, it will demand more and more tax to fund its military adventures, but give very little back to local communities. America will eventually become the greatest empire the world has ever know, and not necessarily for good. When it does eventually collapse, as all empires do, it will cause enormous economic pain.

Government is not the key to the Kingdom. As kingdom expands, government authority will be fractured apart and pushed down to ordinary people.
We must learn how to handle this authority God’s way.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Three Mountains (2) - Goverenment Mountain

The last two centuries have seen an enormous increase in Government power. Modern governments have unprecedented authority and power to impose it. Traditional empires were ruthless in killing people and seizing power, but they had very limited objectives. If the empires border was secure and wealth continued to flow to the centres of power they were content. They had no agenda for reforming society.

The Roman empire provided “bread and circuses”, but they were joking about the bread. They preferred people to be hungry, as they would be less likely to reveal. Nebuchadnezzar would be shocked that Obama is worried about 12 percent unemployment.

Modern governments have far greater power. They are able to control over every aspect of life, but the have much greater agendas too.

Human government is collapsing. It is rotting from within as power corrupts character.
Democracy empowers inadequate people.
  • If they can work the system, they will be unsuitable for power.

  • If they are suitable for power, they get chewed up by the system.

The job of leading has become too big for one person. Bush and Bama are examples.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Three Mountains (1)

The Holy Spirit is at work to expand the Kingdom of God throughout the earth. In the next few decades, we will see a greater release of the kingdom being manifested.

I see three mountains.

These mountains must fall away before the Kingdom of God can come. John said,
Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.
Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low.
The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth.
And all people will see God’s salvation (Luke 3:4-6).

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Transforming Society (13)

Preaching the gospel and planting churches is not enough. We must start transforming our communities from the bottom up. If a number of churches do the same thing, an entire society can be transformed in the same way. Christian communities should deliberately take up the tasks that are currently seen as the responsibility of the government. Then when the state begins to collapse, we will have something to put in its place. The Kingdom of God will advance locality by locality.

The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into a large amount of flour until it worked all through the dough (Matt 13:33).
Christians are experts on loving one another, so building local communities should be “bread and butter” for us. If we provide social support for everyone living in our neighbourhood, a radically different lifestyle could emerge. Motivated by love, strong communities will emerge on a voluntarily basis:
  • The stronger encourage the weak
  • Children are educated
  • The sick are healed
  • The poor are be lifted up
  • The weak are protected.
  • Justice will be administered
  • Old people makea contribution.
  • The glory of God will be revealed.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Transforming Society (12) - Kingdom of God

Something amazing had happened in this community. The leadership of Alf, Ernie, Richard, Bill and Phil is recognised by everyone in A Street, because they have made good things happen, without coercion. Even the people who are not Christians, generally go along with their decisions, because they recognise their wisdom and can see that they are dedicated to serving the community. On most decisions that affect the community, the people gladly submitted to these five guys, who are submitted to Jesus. Most of the time in A Street, his will is done.

That means God’s kingdom had come.

A dozen government departments have been made redundant by the Kingdom of God.
  • Department of Sanitation
  • Department of Employment
  • Ministry of Justice
  • Department of Social Welfare
  • Police department
  • Defence Department
  • Department of Courts
  • Department of education
  • Department of Health

Friday, August 19, 2011

Transforming Society (11) - Money

A great deal of giving and sharing will take place in A Street, but there will also be some market transactions. Jack has always paid for someone to mow his lawns. When he realised that a man from D Street had a lawn mowing business, he gave him the business. Jack could afford to pay for getting his lawn mown, so he preferred to keep on paying.

When the money broke down, Bert started recording transactions between people in the two streets to allow trade to continue. When the time is right, Bert and some friends will start new bank to serve the people of A Street. It will become essential for the functioning of society, during a time of economic collapse, but that it is too big a story to tell here.

The full story is told in this parable.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Transforming Society (10) - Defence

Things got pretty bad in the economy. When the government failed to pay their wages for several months, the police went on strike. Gangs of youths began to roam the streets looking for people and places to loot. The local guys parked a couple of cars at the entrance of the street to block the entry by undesirables.

William, who was retired, agreed to act as a look out. Whenever, unsavoury people came up to the entrance of the street, William would call some of the men from the neighbourhood together. When intruders saw them standing at the entrance to the street, they would go off to look for easier pickings.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Transforming Society (9) - Crime

One day a boy living in D Street was accusing of stealing a bike. He claimed to have bought the bike, but the previous owner claimed he had not been paid. Phil and Alf pointed out that Jeremy was a very wise person. They suggested that both parties to the dispute present their case to Jeremy and let him suggest a solution. Jeremy looked at all the evidence and decided on a fair solution. Both the boy and his accuser accepted his verdict, so the dispute was resolved and peace was restored to the community.

Jeremy’s wisdom gradually became well known and even non-Christians began to bring their disputes to him. A system of justice had begun to emerge in the community. This is important, because biblical justice functions better in a community than in a bureaucracy.

On one occasion, Jeremy decided that a girl living in A Street had stolen something things from the local supermarket. Alf and Phil made fourfold restitution on her behalf. They allowed her to make weekly payments back to them until the debt was cleared. She could not avoid the payments, because she wanted to remain living in the community. If she had scarpered, Alf and Phil would have carried the loss, because they wanted their community to have a reputation for justice.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Transforming Society (8) - Schooling

Deborah had been home schooling her owned children, so she offered to teach all some of the children living in A Street. When the government schools ran out of money, all the children A Street started attending the school in her house.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Snow Again

We woke this morning to six inches of snow on our lawn. I was due to fly out to Wellington for a couple of days, but the flight was cancelled. This is the second snow of the winter, which is very unusual here. Many winters we do not get any snow.

Transforming Society (7) - Cleaning and Coffee

The city council defaulted on some of its debts and had to cut back on sanitation services. A couple of retired people living in A Street agreed to keep the street clean. Once a week, they collect the rubbish from every house in the street and take it to the dump.

When a couple of women in the street lost their jobs, Phil opened a coffee bar on the balcony of house round the corner that was by a park where children brought their children to play. He arranged for the women who had lost their jobs to work at the café.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Transforming Society (6) - Deacons

In a very short time, the church had grown to about thirty households, but this is just part of the story. Something more important was going on at the same time. These households bound together by love and had become a community. Alf, Richard and Ernie had always done things together, and when other people came to the Lord, they joined them. Their strong relationships with each other drew others in.

The couples in the dwellings marked D have developed into the ministry of the deacon. The deacon is one of the most important ministries in the body of Christ, because, they channel social assistance to people in the neighbourhood who face poverty. One couple in an orange house chose to follow Jesus after they received financial help during a period of unemployment. Another deacon eventually found a new jobs for both of them. If the neighbourhood was wealthy, the deacons might channel resources to other neighbourhoods where people are poor.
Times were tough, and the government was facing a problem with sovereign debt, so was unable to pay pensions for several months. The Christians in A Street committed themselves to providing financial support to all the people in their street who depended on the pension for income. One was a Christian, but two were not one. One became a Christian. The other steadfastly rejected the gospel, but his neighbour chose to follow Jesus, after seeing how the Christians continued to provide support for someone who was hostile to their message.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Transforming Society (5) - Gospel Growth

Ernie loved to share the gospel, so within a few months, the people in the green houses had come to faith and were being discipled by him. Richard tended to be a bit black and white, so he was not quite so good at sharing the gospel, but he agreed to look after the people in the red houses, who had been touched by other Christians in the street.

A year later, Phil had grown quickly, so Alf was able to leave him to look after the blue houses. Alf moved his family into D Street, where he rented a next door to a Pat who was already a part of the blue group. Pat believed that many of his neighbours were interested in the gospel, so Alf came to give him a hand to get things started.
Ernie stayed in the same house, but left Bill to exercise oversight over the Christians in the green houses. They were all doing well and did not need much help anyway. Ernie switched his attention to some people at the other end of the street and started building relationships with a group of believers connected to the person in the green house in D Street. Before much time passed, people living in the orange houses were seeking to follow Jesus, and Ernie was helping them get connected.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Transforming Society (4) - Alf Richard and Ernie

A group of Christians living in the same location can form the body of Christ there, and transform their local community. They can be a community where the Kingdom God is manifested. Here is how it could happen.

Alf, Richard and Ernie were friends. They had served together in a church for some time. They had been praying about starting a new Church and were seeking guidance about where they should go. The Holy Spirit led them to A Street, as shown in the diagram. Each square represents a dwelling. A Street could be the main street in a rural village, or a street in any city. People who live in city of apartments will need to imagine these squares stacked on top of each other in groups of four.

Alf found a house to rent in A Street (A) and Ernie and Richard bought houses nearby (R, E). The person living next door to Alf was called Phil (P). He was a networker, one of those people who knew everyone living in his street. In the New Testament, he is called a Man of Influence or Person of Peace.

The major blight on Phil’s life was that his daughter was crippled from birth. Everyone knew her and felt sad as she struggled down the street to catch the bus. One day when Ernie and Richard were over at Phil’s place, they got talking to Phil. One thing led to another and before the end of the day, they had prayed for Phil’s daughter and she was healed. This had a huge impact in the street. Phil gave his heart to the Lord and became a hard-out Christian. He told his friends what had happened, and with a few weeks, the people in the blue houses and all decided to follow Jesus. Alf discipled these new Christians, so they grew quickly.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Transforming Society (3) - Challenge

The collapse of society presents huge opportunities for the gospel and the Kingdom of God. Those who understand their times and know what is happening can make a huge difference, if they know what to do. It is too late to start planning when the crisis comes. Those who make plans in advance and get prepared will be the ones with influence ( See Ambush).

Christians should start rebuilding their local communities from the bottom up. Jesus taught that we should love one another and the rest of the New Testament is full of One Another Stuff, so we should be experts at building communities.

As the Kingdom of God advances, society will be transformed from the bottom up, as local communities are restored to peace and unity. The Holy Spirit is also an expert at building communities, but he works household by household. When Jesus commissioned his disciples, he sent them to a particular place, and urged them to focus on one household (Luke 10:6,7). The good news can spread from house to house through an entire community.

The basic building block of Israelite society was a group of ten families living close to each other (Deut 1:15). These families would sometimes be related, and they would care for each other. They provided protection and social support for their community.

Several of these groups of ten would join together for defence, dealing with crime, or economic purpose. If a serious attack, was threatened, a large number might form together to form an army. Authority passed from the ten, to the hundred, to the thousand by voluntary submission. If the leaders of the tens withdrew their submission, the leaders of the hundred and thousand lost their authority. Authority flowed from the bottom to the top, with no loss of freedom.

This contrasts with the pattern in the world, where authority flows the other way. The group at the top of the hierarchy has control and power and authority flows from the top by force.

Christians should take up the challenge of restoring their local communities. Belonging to a church is not enough, church tend to stand apart from the local culture. House Churches are a step in the right direction, but their impact on society is limited, because Christians are still scattered thinly throughout their cities. We have to become villages that change the world.

In the next few posts I will tell a story that explains how this could happen.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Transforming Society (2) - Community Crushed

Modern societies have been gutted by industrialisation and urbanisation. In recent times, globalisation has made things worse. Community life has been shattered by several modern trends.

  • Industrialisation
  • Urbanisation
  • Nationalism
  • Commercialisation
  • Bureaucratic social services
  • Suburban lifestyle
  • Commuting to work
  • Consumerism
  • Mass entertainment
  • Individualism
  • Family breakdown
  • Migration
  • Social Mobility
The collapse of community is greatest in modern cities, where migration and urbanisation have broken down traditional community relationships. Social mobility prevents stable relationships from developing and family life is breaking down. Life is characterised by loneliness and personal insecurity.

Communities are fragmented and people are lonely and isolated. As communities have broken down and fear has risen, high fences have gone up between houses isolating people from each other. This isolation means that most people do not belong to the community where they live.

Modern government has attempted to fill the gap by holding society together, but has failed and social breakdown is endemic. Worse still, the government solution has choked the life from local communities at the neighbourhood level.

The aggregation and accumulation of political power to the modern state has led to the bizarre situation where needs are concentrated in individuals, but power and money is concentrated in the national state. This leaves families and individuals powerless before a faceless government.
Church has become part of the problem, becoming something that we drive to, not a thing that shapes the community where we live. Most modern churches are almost as socially fragmented as the rest of society.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Transforming Society (1)

The coming of the kingdom requires a radical change in the way that society is structured. This new society will be radically different from the world we know.

We must begin building this new society at street level by establishing beachheads from which we can expand out. Just as Israel was meant to be a light to the nations (Deut 4:6-7), this renewed society will appear so amazing to people outside, that they will want to be part of it.

Our challenge is to build the institutions needed for a functioning society without imposing them from the top.

Jesus is the King.
His humanity means the he is constrained to being in one place. This makes him a powerless king.
The Holy Spirit is the Kingdom Builder
He is active everywhere on earth. He listens to Jesus and tells us what Jesus is saying. He empowers us to obey commands.

Jesus is enthroned as king when we obey the Holy Spirit.

This is a radical idea, which will change our understanding of the Kingdom, if we get hold of it.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Hierarchy and Money

The world system uses hierarchy, because it is great way to extend the power and control of those at the top of the system.

In the world, money flows from the bottom to the top through compulsory taxation.

Programmes for salvation begin at the top and attempt to penetrate down to the bottom. By the time they reach people in need, they have usually been distorted, corrupted or ripped off.

In the Kingdom of God,salvation is transmitted sideways from person to person and house to house, as it is carried by the Holy Spirit. It is transferred relationships, not by programmes.
Money goes sideways from person to person through giving and sharing within one another relationships.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Changing the World

There are two ways to change the world: from the top down or the bottom up. Modern efforts usually attempt to improve the world work from the top down, using political power in its various forms. However, people do not like be controlled, so they resist change imposed from the top. Jesus changes the world by transforming lives, one person at a time. The world will be improved from the bottom up.

In the world, authority is imposed from the top using coercion and force when necessary. There is no escape from imposed authority, except death or becoming an outlaw.

Democracy does not remove this imposed authority. It can change the person who controls it from the top, but it gives them greater authority, because they appear to have greater legitimacy. People cannot escape the authority of democratic powers.

The world system uses hierarchy, because it is great way to extend the power and control of those at the top of the system.

Many Christians just accept the world model of authority. They want to put Christians at the top of the power mountain and impose God’s authority from the top.

The puritans in America tried this approach. They built a society that they controlled, but the ended up with a half way covenant and all sorts of problems. Unfortunately there are still many Christians who wish to advance that project in America today. The English puritans beheaded King Charles and put Oliver Cromwell in his place. He did not handle power any better.

The Kingdom of God is totally different from the world. Authority is never imposed from above in the Kingdom. All authority comes from below, through free submission. The only way that authority can be obtained is through voluntary submission. Until a person submits, no authority exists. This submission is voluntary, so people are free to withdraw their submission from those with authority. Those who freely submit can walk away at any time. When submission is withheld, authority disappears.

People will only submit to people they know and trust. This means that submission will not go very far up a hierarchy, because it can only go as far relationships of love and trust extend. Authority structures will be very flat in the Kingdom of God.

Jesus does not accumulate authority; he chops it up and spread it around. The Kingdom of God is held together by love and trust. He trusts the Holy Spirit to guide those to whom he has given authority.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Normative Economics

Academic economists like to distinguish between Positive Economics and Normative Economics. Positive Economics describes how things work. For example, if prices go up, demand will go down. Normative Economics describe what should be. It seeks an ideal economy.

Most modern economists concentrate on Positive Economics. Having no agreed ethical standards, they have no option. They use economics in a pragmatic way. They seek policies that will work, that will produce a desired outcome. The best that they can do is find policies that will produce economic growth or reduce inflation.

What will work does not matter for Christians. What matters to us is what is right, even if it does not work well. The fact that a market system is very productive does not make it right. The fact that market system produces inequality does not make it wrong. These are questions of what works. Christians should be asking what is right, according to God’s standards.

For Kingdom economics, all issues are ethical questions: what should be done? This is Normative Economics. Christians have God’s standard of what is right and wrong, so we are in a great position to do say what should be done. Two questions should be asked about every economic policy. Is it morally right? Does it comply with God’s word? A good economic policy complies with God’s standards.

Economists are arguing about whether Quantitative Easing will be effective. The answer is that easing out what money will buy is immoral (Deut 25:15,16).

We should understand that morally correct economic policies might not always produce the results that people desire. However, Christians should always be advocates for the right policies, not effective policies. In the long term, obedience to God will lead to blessings, so everything will be okay, but it the short term, the right economic policies may make people worse off. However, they are still the right policies. God’s way is the best way.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Populist War

The tragedy in Norway was so terrible that it left most political commentators grasping for words. Most no longer believe in God, and even fewer believe in personal evil, so they have no explanation for such an horrific event. The word “evil” is ascribed to events they find appalling, but it no longer has any causal meaning. Their only way out was to suggest that Anders Brevik is mad. This is slightly comforting, as it means that he is different from the rest of us. The problem with this diagnosis is that it misses a change in the nature of warfare.

Prior to the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, any political or religious upstart who could scrape together and army could start a war. Since then, war has mostly been a monopoly of the state. This monopoly was reinforced during the nineteenth century by the industrialisation of war. The cost of war became so great, that only a government with the support its entire population could afford to start one.

Now, economies of scale and the globalisation of the weapons industry have significantly reduced the cost of entry for small players. In the future, we will see many different groups declaring war. Business groups protecting access to resources and splinter groups pushing their political and religious agendas will challenge the monopoly of the state in declaring war.

In a previous post, I suggested that war would become more personal, with governments taking out the leaders that they perceive to be a threat, rather than declaring war on the rest of the population. In Norway, we have seen the other side of the same trend, an individual person declaring war on a government and its leaders. In the future, we will see more of these personal attacks and declarations of war. This trend will contribute to the demise of the modern state.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Salvation Problem

The United States has averted its debt crisis. Most commentators believe that this is temporary political expediency and the debt crisis will eventually return.

I have a different view. The United States does not have a debt problem. It has a salvation problem. Too many Americans believe in American salvation.

American salvation promised to solve every problem that exists in American society using government power. Not content with saving its own society, American salvation believes that the world can be saved by military power.

However, saving the world is expensive. Jesus had to give his life to save the world. Most Americans are willing to make that level of sacrifice, so the United States does not have resources to provide salvation for its own society, let alone the entire world. Saviours unwilling to sacrifice, end up in a debt crisis.

The only solution to the debt crisis is an alternative salvation. Christian Americans have one, but they do not seem to believe in it.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Blessed Eschatologist takes a Break

Thats It. My long series on Change of Season is finished.

The Blessed Eschatologist is going back to being the Blessed Economist for a while.

In a few days time, I will start a series on the Kingdom and Community. This is important for understanding how the Holy Spirit will use Suffering Church to release the Kingdom on Earth.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Jesus Appearance (11) - Surprise

The people of the world will be surprised by Jesus appearance.

The day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape (1 Thes 5:2-3).
Just as there is no advance warning of where and when a thief will strike, so there will be no warning of Jesus appearance.

Many Christians claim to know the timing of the Jesus appearance. Jesus warned that there would be no preliminary signs.
But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father (Matt 24:36).
There is no point in trying to second-guess Jesus. Christians should be ready at all times, so we will not be embarrassed when he comes.
Therefore, keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him (Matt 24:42-44).
Those who do Jesus will, will be ready whenever he comes.