Topic Article #15: Biblical Economic Systems
by Dr. Eugene Clingman, Executive Administrator
Copyright 2006, International Church Council Project
(This article may be freely distributed so long as it is not altered
and the above information remains intact.)
The International Church Council Project (ICCP) is attempting to restore to the Body of Christ twenty foundational doctrinal areas essential to the life and vitality of the Church. Topic 15, Concerning Biblical Economic Systems is one of those foundational areas. The ICCP document on this subject was written as a response to socialism.
It is evident the Bible does not teach Socialism as a legitimate economic system. Socialism is an unbiblical and wicked philosophy and system. The ICCP document was written because of the trend of the modern church toward socialism. There is a major “Christian” theological movement in Latin America called “Liberation Theology” which teaches Marxism, and claims biblical support for it. Here in America we are continually bombarded by a socialistic leaning media, and a government that has grown increasingly socialistic as it takes from some people in order to give to others.
The Bible teaches an economic system compatible with the words, “Thou shalt not steal.” The Bible also teaches an economic system compatible with the words, “He will have compassion on the poor and needy, and the lives of the needy he will save” (Psalm 72:13). The Bible teaches the right to own and hold personal property (“Thou shalt not steal.”), and also the compassionate use of wealth; everyone who owns is responsible to use his wealth in a compassionate and God-honoring way.
God gave man stewardship dominion over the earth. This stewardship has never been withdrawn. God made man with creativeness and resourcefulness. Economic activity is a major area in which man’s stewardship and gifts are manifest.
The Bible teaches that the one who works has the right both to enjoy the fruit of his labor and to direct its use. The opportunity to gain is a primary motive for man’s economic activity, and God has ordained it so. The Bible teaches that economic activity calculated to make a profit is good and moral. The same Bible also teaches that using one’s profit selfishly is immoral.
God has not given any person or entity the right to take the individual’s wealth in order to distribute it to others. Each man is responsible before God as a steward, and will be held accountable for the use of his wealth. It is immoral for another (who has not labored for the increase) to take away the fruit of a man’s labors whether he is taking it for himself or in order to give it to another. This is true whether the taker is an individual or a collection of individuals in a government. (Note: We are sure that civil government has a legitimate sphere and jurisdiction, and that there are taxes appropriate in order to carry out its functions within its jurisdiction. But the Bible principles teach that government is outside its God-ordained jurisdiction when it redistributes wealth, controls wealth, limits or regulates wealth, or economic activity.)
All men are created equal in rights, dignity, and god-likeness, yet not so in their natural endowments. One man’s abilities, creativity, or intellectual capacities varies from another’s. These giftings are bestowed by God who is sovereign over such things. All men, therefore, are not created equally in their economic opportunities. The more gifted – other things being equal – have an economic advantage.
The ICCP document Concerning Biblical Economic Systems affirms and I believe it is true in its statement, that tithing is a fundamental Biblical economic principle that applies to Christians today.
King David worshiped the Lord and said, “Both riches and honor come from Thee, and Thou dost rule over all, and in Thy hand is power and might; and it lies in Thy hand to make great, and to strengthen everyone” (1 Chron. 29:12).
You can read the actual ICCP document or print it from the internet at www.churchcouncil.org. Please tell your pastor and church leaders about ICCP and give them our website address.