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« Uncreated Objects? (Video) | Main | The Secret of Rejoicing While Suffering »

April 19, 2012

Comments

Amy

"In order to succeed in a free market (where the rule of law is enforced), you must find a way to serve others—to provide them with something they value enough to purchase from you. This is true, regardless of your reasons for trying to make money, whether noble or not-so-noble. At the very bottom of it all, you must serve others in order to be successful and make money in a free market. In this way, all motivations are channeled in a direction that is outwardly focused on others’ needs, and people are served."

This is the ideal. The ideal is never actually obtained in the real fallen world. There are numerous ways that unscrupulous individuals abuse this system and the rule of law in a free market economy is extremely difficult to enforce at every breach. There are many who pretend to serve others, but the deception is in place to achieve more selfish ends at the expense of those they pretend to serve. You know this because you are quite aware of the fallen nature of man and its proclivities. There are many who serve within this type of system who are not rewarded for their service, but are taken advantage of by people who see their kindness in service as a weakness to be taken advantage off for personal gain. Those who do this hide behind a facade of the "free market economy" as a front for their immoral and unethical acts. I disagree that one must actually serve in a free market economy in order to be successful. All one has to do is make it look like they serve and if they are successful in their deception, they thrive in a free market economy at the expense of the blood, sweat and tears of others. Sure there are some that get caught by the "rule of law" for this kind of behavior, but that group is but a tip off the iceberg, the very iceberg that sinks your unsinkable ship of the "free market economy". If you are wise you will have no confidence in the machinations of man, but in God only.

There are many who pretend to serve others, but the deception is in place to achieve more selfish ends at the expense of those they pretend to serve.

But the beauty of it is that as long as you're not being compelled to purchase something, you don't enter into a transaction unless it's a win-win for both of you. They have to provide something you want more than you value the money they're asking for it. If a business fails to provide good service for the money they're asking for it, they'll go out of business. It's those who provide the best service, the service that's desired by others, who will succeed. It's not something you can pretend to do. You either provide a service that's valuable to people or you don't.

If someone is breaking the law, that's a whole different ballgame, and people will break the law in every system.

Certainly I don't believe in utopia! That's impossible. I'm merely explaining how the free market channels even bad motives into providing good service to others. Every society has to have a way that goods and services are moved around. It will either be driven by the countless decisions of the people who know their own situations best (i.e., us) or by a select few who could never have enough information to make all our decisions for us (leading to shortages and surpluses). In that situation, even when people are not breaking the law, there are still serious problems.

The creation of new wealth actually argues against materialism. The creative minds of human beings, not physical material, are the greatest resource available to us.

You beg the question here by assuming the mind is immaterial.

RonH

No, I'm assuming there are minds. The mind is immaterial, the brain is material. Regardless, the creative ideas that come from human minds are immaterial, not material, and they're used to add value to raw materials to create wealth.

being compelled to purchase something

Few, if any, can convincingly claim they will never consume health care.

If someone cannot pay shall we let them die?

Shall we force others to pay?

RonH

If someone cannot pay for health care shall we force others to pay?

Yes. We force, people to behave morally all the time. I'm thinking of tickets for breaking the speed limit. Jail time for stealing. Fines for lying. Should we be compelled from within ourselves to serve others (i.e. help other receive adequate health care)? Sure. Do we? No, not usually. Will moral behavior or immoral behavior most likely lead to a robust society? I think moral behavior. So in the interest of society we force, or at least strongly encourage, people to behave in a moral fashion.

Brian,

I was working on the assumption that Amy's reference to 'being compelled to purchase something' was a reference to the individual mandate (to buy health insurance) in the Affordable Care Act.

Maybe Amy will confirm or deny that this what she is against this mandate.

Unless we let the uninsured die, someone is 'being compelled to purchase something'. If they get treatment, someone must pay.

The individual mandate says that the person getting the care is the one who should be compelled to pay; she should buy insurance rather than force others to pay.

RonH

RonH: You beg the question here by assuming the mind is immaterial.

Amy: No, I'm assuming there are minds. The mind is immaterial..

RonH: What?

Maybe this will help. Is a computer program immaterial? Is the execution of a computer program immaterial? How about the flow of a river? The burning of a fire? The growth of a fetus? The work of a brain?

RonH

I was working on the assumption that Amy's reference to 'being compelled to purchase something' was a reference to the individual mandate (to buy health insurance) in the Affordable Care Act.

My only point was that transactions entered into freely are win-win. This is definitional. You only enter into a transaction freely if you think you'll be better off after it's completed. Transactions only become win-lose when someone is being forced into them. I wasn't referring to health care, just explaining the free market as a response to Louis.

And yes, the creative information from the minds of humans that is used to create physical software is immaterial.

Physical software?

RonH,
Point?

Ron, sorry for conflating the software and hardware. The information is immaterial, but it's encoded in some physical way.

Where's the Facebook Like button?

Transactions only become win-lose when someone is being forced into them.

What about, for example, when one party has information the other side lacks.

The information is immaterial, but it's encoded in some physical way.

Can information be encoded in some physical way by a natural process?

Can information be encoded in some physical way by a natural process?
What's a natural process?

Daron,

A a natural process is one no supernatural thing takes part in - no gods, ghosts, immaterial souls, spirits etc.

RonH

Why are you equating material and natural?

"So unlike gluttons, entrepreneurs must save rather than consume much of their wealth."

What should Christians do when Christ tells us not to lay up treasure on Earth, and many possibly are starving while we save this wealth?

Many also are saved from starving by being offered jobs by these entrepreneurs, who also make goods (that relieve poverty) available much more cheaply and abundantly than they otherwise would be. Even in this country, we would have extreme poverty if there were no entrepreneurs who saved, invested, and risked, enabling that poverty to be relieved.

It's the creation of new wealth that reduces poverty, and that's done by entrepreneurs. The best long-term strategy for reducing extreme poverty all over the world is to develop entrepreneurs (and property rights and the rule of law) all over the world.

And in the meantime, it's only when we have an abundance beyond our needs (because of the creation of new wealth) that we're able to alleviate the immediate needs of the poor all over the world. But it's thanks to these entrepreneurs that we can "labor, performing with our own hands what is good, so that we will have something to share with one who has need."

"Many also are saved from starving by being offered jobs by these entrepreneurs, who also make goods (that relieve poverty) available much more cheaply and abundantly than they otherwise would be."

Are any of these entrepreneurs called by God to this vocation when it flies in the face of Christ's words about not amassing wealth? No doubt God uses the reprobate and their greed for the benefit of all, but is this our calling as Christians??? Why didn't Paul start a Tent Super Mart and create jobs?


Because he was an apostle, not an entrepreneur. There are many members of the body. There are also good, wealthy people in the Bible, including Abraham and Job.

There were also wealthy women who supported Jesus. Thank God they had the wealth to help others. You're actually quite wealthy yourself, when compared to the rest of the world.

Christ wants us to hold everything we have loosely, and to not put anything we have above Him. He also wants us to be generous. But I promise you that the head of Chick-fil-a has helped far, far more people with his wealth than you or I ever will. He is not a reprobate. He's someone who cares about serving people with his product, about his employees and customers as individuals, and about honoring Christ with everything he has because he knows where it came from and where it is going.

You and I are not in abject poverty right now thanks to entrepreneurs, Christian and not.

If a Christian forsakes all, and comes into a place of wealth by God's hand, it probably would be managed according to the dictates of love and benevolence. It seems however, many choose their own road to riches and try to work serving God into it.

Back in the day I used to call them fire insured yuppies. That is they use God just enough to get to Heaven while at the same time conniving as much luxury and social status as they can muster.

The rich young ruler especially comes to mind. Jesus should have told him to go start a chain shoe store or something entrepreneurial, go to church once a week, create a few low rung jobs and live it up.

No, because his wealth was his idol, so Jesus called him out on it. Is your wealth an idol? Because you are very rich compared to most people. If your wealth isn't an idol, why would you assume that the wealth of every person who is richer than you is their idol?

And why does it seem to you that every Christian who is wealthier than you chose their "own road to riches?" Should Christians in poverty-stricken countries be saying that of you? Did you? Or did you work hard to provide for yourself and probably others?

I find it troubling that you describe work the way you do. Work--providing for yourself and others and contributing to society--is ennobling, and is in no way contrary to living a Christian life.

Did the Disciples have the same problem as low life fishermen when Jesus told them to forsake all?

Dave, did Jesus ask everyone to take the same exact actions and fulfill the same exact roles? Did he ask the wealthy women to leave all their wealth behind? Or was their wealth used to accomplish other things by the grace of God?

Dave, instead of giving a poor person money, wouldn't it be better for their self esteem and human dignity to give them a job. What other financial model do you think would work? Simply giving someone money over and over creates a culture of dependence, it is better to invest and create jobs that treats poor people like rational human beings than like children that have to be provided for. And in order to do that you need capital (i.e. lots of money).

And what does it even mean to come to a place of wealth by God's hand. Do you mean I walk outside my house and a duffle bag full of hundred dollar bills falls on my head? And isn't it a bit hypocritical sitting there at a computer in a climate controlled room with good clothing (as in its not falling apart) in a country where you literally have to work to not get fat denouncing people who are rich? What exactly is rich to you? Is it living in a apartment with adequate food and water and clothing? Is it having a job at all? Are the only Christians doing it right those living in cardboard boxes? What is your standard of living? Are you living up to your complaints?

I hate to tell you this, but by most of the world's standards, you are rich. If someone is prioritizing their wealth over God, they are in the wrong, but denouncing people for being successful is just another form of tall poppy syndrome.

What you're doing is proof texting with a literalist mindset. Let's not forget proverbs which denounces layabouts who don't work. Now a strict literalist would have an apoplexy as they look to proverbs that denounce the lazy and praise the hardworking wife who is rich enough to buy a field and Jesus telling the Rich Young Ruler to give away his wealth (and as was pointed out, those wealthy women who provided for Jesus and His disciples, why didn't Jesus say anything to them?). I can't say this strongly enough--the Bible must be read in its situational and cultural context. If you don't you can make just about any sort of theological idol out of anything.

You should check out this series on capitalism by a Christian who addresses your concerns in detail:
http://www.tektonics.org/guest/bhcapital00.html

I should also point out that what should be admired is honest entrepreneurship and hard work and frugality because as was pointed out, the system is corrupt and you can make a buck through technically legal but dishonest means. And (I think I might be a bit unpopular here) we should also support programs, including government ones, that support those who are unable to work themselves. Of course, all economic systems are going to be corrupt because they are run by people, it is only when Jesus Christ comes that society can be truly good. Serving God should be our top priority, unlike people, God will never let us down.

It comes down to this. You cannot love your neighbor (enemy) as yourself and be rich.

And this. There are none righteous, not one. This means nobody including entrepreneurs do anything for the right reason. If entrepreneurs cannot do anything for the right reason, what is left? Is it greed?

Also, what if I as a "Christian" started a junk food business that caused people's hearts to explode. And then made the food so appealing that they would surely come back for even more heart trouble. And then spent my profits persecuting a small segment of society, alienating them instead of evangelizing them?

Is this what Jesus wants?

This means nobody including entrepreneurs do anything for the right reason.

Why do you work? Because of greed, or something else? Is it because you're a creative person made in the image of God? Is it because you're providing for yourself and your family? Is it because you want to be productive and contribute to society? Is it because you want to have something to give to others? Is it because you want to enjoy the fruit of your labor to the glory of God (as was commanded in the Old Testament)? Are you working in faith and dependence on Christ? Are you using your gifts given to you by God?

It comes down to this. You cannot love your neighbor (enemy) as yourself and be rich.

Dave, do you realize you're condemning yourself? You are rich.

What Jesus wants is for us to live for him. Paul did not agree with you:

I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

In abundance and prosperity, Paul still lived in the strength of Christ for His glory.

Jesus certainly did not command us to hate and demonize the rich. In fact, we're specifically told to love our neighbors, and there is no qualification that excludes rich people from our love.

Dave, are you a homeless wandering evangelizing ascetic? Do you not see the hypocrisy of you, a rich person, denouncing people who are marginally richer than yourself.

"You cannot love your neighbor (enemy) as yourself and be rich."

First, where did you get the idea that your neighbor is your enemy? That is not the second commandment.

Second, the Bible is filled with counter-examples of rich people who indeed love their neighbor. So your argument doesn't stand.

At any rate, getting back to the original post, I get the basic premise--that the economic system is set up to reward service to others (self-enlightened interest)--but I think this is an ideal that is often missed because of (besides corruption in general):
1) Misleading advertising.
2) Poorly constructed products.
3) Consumers who are easily mislead and tricked.
4) People who don't know their limits.
5) People who don't know the most effective ways to shop.

I suppose the widow who gave her last two mites is the standard for all money handlers to measure themselves by. She is said to have given more than the rich who give a lot, yet only a small portion of their wealth.

I see no justification for the materialistic life style you champion, only petty few exceptions in Scripture of the rich ever making it to Heaven.

The Apostle James doesn't qualify his diatribe against the rich with any exceptions. He lumps them all together.

Dave, again, are you a homeless wandering evangelizing ascetic who has given away everything he owns? Yes or no?

"Dave, again, are you a homeless wandering evangelizing ascetic who has given away everything he owns? Yes or no?

I've lived according to Matthew 6:24-34 as a career Christian for the past 40 some years. Without savings, freely giving it to those in need. I gave up what could have been a lucrative career pursuing this. God is faithful, I've never been unemployed even during two severe recessions and have not required medical attention to date. I'm not at liberty to aspire to be a wandering ascetic but would do so if necessary.

Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Job, David, Hezekiah, and Josiah were all godly and we are specifically told of their wealth. In the New Testament we have Joseph of Arimathea, Lazarus and his sisters, Jesus' women patrons and the follower who let Jesus use his upper room on Passover as examples.
His own Disciples were often entrepreneurs with their own businesses.

Daron, this is not the normal Christian calling or experience in the Bible or throughout history. Granted there are a few exceptions, but by and large we are not to seek material wealth. If so, James would have made exceptions in his condemnation of the rich. And Jesus wouldn't have used them as examples of failure as in the Parable of Lazarus, the widow giving her last two mites, and in the "eat, drink, and be merry" episode of the rich man and so on. It appears that the false "Prosperity Gospel" has made serious inroads with many on this forum.

Hi Dave,

by and large we are not to seek material wealth.

So true. We are supposed to seek the kingdom of God.
This does, though, disprove the claim that you cannot be godly and rich, or you can't have God's favour and be rich, or that all of God's people are commanded to give everything away, or that you are not to be rich at all.

It does not lump together all of the rich.

It appears that the false "Prosperity Gospel" has made serious inroads with many on this forum.
Does it really? I don't think so. It does seem there are a lot of Pharisees on this forum who want to self-righteously condemn others, though.
It appears that the false "Prosperity Gospel" has made serious inroads with many on this forum.

That couldn't be less true. Nobody here is arguing that we should use God to make us rich, nor are we saying that He wants us all to be rich, nor are we saying that if we follow God's principles, we're guaranteed riches. The notion is appalling, and I spit on it. That insult is completely uncalled for.

If anyone is seeking wealth for it's own sake, especially if he's putting it above God, then I agree with you that's a big problem. But Christian entrepreneurs who are seeking to build a business to provide for their families, to give to others, and to be the best they can be at providing a service to their fellow man don't necessarily fall into that category.

The wealth is not the failure. The failure is the bad stewardship of that wealth, the worship of that wealth, and the lack of concern for others. Those things are not by necessity connected with wealth (as you prove by the fact of the wealth you have).

Do you love your rich neighbor, particularly your rich Christian neighbors? Only you can answer that question--I wouldn't presume to know only from these comments. But even if you gave away every penny, if you have not love, you have gained nothing for Christ.

Would you counsel seriously poor Christians in other countries to hate you, to call you a failure as a Christian? Or do you excuse yourself? Or have you made yourself the standard of the right amount of wealth--those who have less are okay, but those who have more are condemned?

It's a Pharisaical Christianity (as if that were possible) that sets rules for the amount of money you can have and judges Christians who don't meet that arbitrary standard. It's not grace + poverty that earns our salvation.

Can people's wealth destroy their relationship with Christ? Absolutely! I don't deny that. I just deny that it necessarily does so. I also deny that those who are working hard and creating jobs for the rest of us are condemned because of their work.

I thank God for the rich people who had the money to donate to build a gorgeous concert hall in my town that I get to create beauty in--beauty that benefits the whole community, as people can come and hear echos of God's beauty.

I thank God for the rich people who had the money to donate to build hospitals. To build schools. To support missionaries, and ministries, and tutoring centers, and on, and on, and on. God blesses our entire community through the good, generous stewardship of their wealth.

I wonder sometimes how people think money comes to be in the offering plate, or how they came to have the jobs they do so that they can earn the money they can put in the plate. Do jobs just happen? Do products invent themselves and innovations create their own markets?

I am reminded of the godly wife in Proverbs 31:

11 Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.
13 She selects wool and flax
and works with eager hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up while it is still night;
she provides food for her family
and portions for her female servants.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She sets about her work vigorously;

her arms are strong for her tasks.
18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
and her lamp does not go out at night.

19 In her hand she holds the distaff
and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
20 She opens her arms to the poor
and extends her hands to the needy.

21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
for all of them are clothed in scarlet.

22 She makes coverings for her bed;
she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
and supplies the merchants with sashes.

I am reading 1 Timothy today, which is what reminded me of the godly wife, as Timothy was talking about widows and caring for your extended family.

Later, in chapter 6:

17 Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 18 Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. 19 In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.

Notice that sharing, not poverty, is the command to the rich.

Jesus said that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for the rich to enter the kingdom of God. Why are you so determined to make it as difficult for those who would buy into your scheme to enter the Kingdom of God???? Sure it's possible, but not the norm.

Who are you working for???

Whose scheme? What scheme?
What's wrong with being Biblical instead of vilifying people?
Why did God tell the Israelites to work hard and prosper in Babylon?
Why all the extra punctuation?

Jesus said that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for the rich to enter the kingdom of God.
At which point His Disciples realized that nobody could enter the Kingdom ... event eh pretentious poor. No, for man it is impossible, said Jesus, but for God all things are possible.

"said Jesus, but for God all things are possible."

Yes, but He wouldn't have had to say this if wealth were the norm.

Nobody said wealth was the norm. We are saying neither Jesus, the Father, no Scripture claims it is evil, nor do they say you can't be godly and righteous with wealth.

Rich or poor ...
Matthew 19:
25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?”

26 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Daron, you beat me to it.

Dave, it's not just "difficult" to enter the Kingdom of God, it's impossible. And not just for rich people. It's only by a work of God that anybody loves God, repents, and comes to Him. Which is why Jesus' response was, "With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." I needed as much grace from God as any rich person.

The rich man's wealth wasn't a sign that he was good with God, as some people assumed. This is why the disciples were so surprised by Jesus' statement. But neither is a person's poverty a sign that they're good with God.

Only by God's grace is any of us united with Christ, receiving His righteousness. The rich don't deserve it. The poor don't deserve it. Those who give up all their wealth don't deserve it. It's impossible.

It's about LOVE. If you love others as your own self, you cannot be rich. You can go to Heaven as an immature Christian, but you cannot develop spiritually with out striving to treat others, especially those in need, as your equal.

Jesus also states that we enter the Kingdom of God through MUCH tribulation. Rich people buy themselves out of every trial they can afford. Lower rung Christianity is the proving ground for faith, it's not about burnt toast or loosing a soccer match.

Also, take the Widow giving her last two mites. Christ made a memorial to her for this act of love. You, on the other hand don't commend her when you commend entrepreneurs for doing just the opposite. You need to take another look at the Sermon on the Mount and Scripture's low estimation of the rich.

It's about LOVE. If you love others as your own self, you cannot be rich. You can go to Heaven as an immature Christian, but you cannot develop spiritually with out striving to treat others, especially those in need, as your equal.

Three questions:

1. How is being rich incompatible with "treating others, especially those in need, as your equal?"

2. Do you understand that, as a rich person, you condemn yourself with your words?

3. Do you love people who are richer than you?

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