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WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT CAPITALISM?

"[The landowner said:] Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with what is my own? Or are you envious because I am generous?" (Matt. 20:15).

With these words, our Lord demonstrated that Christianity supports a free enterprise economic system. Our Lord here assumed the rights of private property as expounded in God's Law. It was Karl Marx who called this "Capitalism." That system guarantees the ownership and free control of property (i.e. "capital") by the private individual. "Socialism," he taught, is the opposite: the collective ownership and control of all property by the state. In Socialism, the state abolishes private property and, thus, owns or controls all land, houses, factories, and industries. Each individual, thus, is totally enslaved to a state which plays God. In Bible-based Capitalism, the individual can do what he wants with his property, within the constraints of God's good and kind Law, because it is given him by God!

No Compromise Possible Between Capitalism and Socialism
In Western countries, there is a pragmatic "mix" between these two systems. It won't work in the long run. Marx realized that any compromise between these two always leads to gradual enslavement to a state that replaces God, family and Church (1). Of course, he deceived us! He called slavery "freedom"! He didn't say that there are only two real alternatives: 1) the Creator is Owner and Ruler of all things. Man then finds freedom and blessing in obedience to His commandments; or 2) the state (i.e. the "people") rules by owning everything and making all laws (2).

That first alternative is private property oriented, free market Capitalism. There is no other basis for economic growth and political freedom (3). Any other system invites God's curse because it legalizes oppression, theft and covetousness contrary to the 8th and 10th Commandments. Karl Marx fought against free enterprise because he didn't want to acknowledge God's wisdom! Only God guarantees freedom and property rights against the invasion by "Big Government"! When the state begins taking or even controlling property contrary to the limits imposed by God's Law, it gains the financial resources to buy enough police and military power to oppress its citizens. Man is inherently evil and oppressive. God's Law protects the private property, free enterprise system to tie the hands of potential oppressors. God's Law limits the state's role to protection-justice alone (5). The state must not play God and attempt to "create" nor redistribute wealth:

"Otherwise, you may say in your heart, '...the strength of my hands made me this wealth.' Remember the LORD..., it is He who gives you the ability to produce wealth” (Deut. 8:17f).

Capitalism and the RSA in the Eyes of Liberation Theologians
Many SACC Churchmen claim to be Socialists and to use "marxian insights."(6) They claim that the real cause of evil is the competitive "Capitalist System." They teach that private property is accumulated only because all profits are actually wages robbed from the workers. Competition, they say, is just a rivalry in how best to “rip off” more wages from the workers. These Socialist Churchmen call this out-dated description of how people make wealth, "social analysis." This "social analysis" is the same type of analysis which Marx used to justify Socialism! (7)

Socialist Theologians say that South Africa's economy is Capitalist. It's not! The RSA is a highly centralized, state controlled, "mixed" economy. With the best of intentions, the past decades have witnessed much socialist control and wealth redistribution. The result of this has been less economic growth than is possible, a large foreign debt, a devalued currency, inflation, too many bureaucrats and regulations, and high taxation. Without obedience to God's Law, collapse into poverty and tyranny is inevitable (8). Only private Christian compassion and free market economic growth are just. They uplift people much faster than does Socialism.

Are Capitalist "Privilege," Competition and Profits "Evil"?
Karl Marx and his ecumenical followers criticize private property, profits and competition as evil and "unchristian." Total equality, they say, is the ideal. Clearly, however, an "equal" people are always slaves, while a truly free people are unequal. There is no other alternative. When the state takes "from each according to his ability" and then "gives to each according to his need," that necessitates a permanent "war" on the productive. It necessitates a huge security force to put down revolt, and a huge bureaucracy to administer the stolen booty. Marx was a false prophet. The Bible says that private property is actually God's property loaned to the owner by God Himself (9). Christ says that God gives "to each according to his ability" not his need (10). Thus if the state or an ordinary thief confiscates what God gave, God's wrath will fall. The thief has stolen God's property from God's steward. Every man is accountable to God (11). Property is a God-granted privilege!

Furthermore, the Bible teaches that just profits are a reward for obedience, generosity, a servant heart, efficiency, careful planning, thrift and saving. In other words, "profits" are the reward for wisdom and doing what is right. In a truly free economy, no one is necessarily exploited as Socialist churchmen claim. Both the seller (the Capitalist), and the buyer benefit. The seller gets the best "reward" possible for his goods. A buyer, poor or rich, seeks and finds the best deal because the state allows many different shops to be open, all with different prices.

Only in a controlled socialist economy can the businessman "earn" an unjust profit. Only truly free enterprise keeps prices low and profits down. The reason is simple. Businessmen must lower prices when buyers have freedom of choice. Free consumers can avoid shops that have oppressive prices. The "oppressor" will then go bankrupt because he did not have the "servant attitude" Christ commanded. Consumer avoidance and the resulting bankruptcy is God's method of bringing judgment on the exploiter. In a non-free, controlled economy, customers have no choice but to 1) pay whatever price the businessman asks, and 2) take whatever quality he gets. God hates the powerful businessman or bureaucrat who develop socialist controls, monopolies, and cartels! (13) That is what oppresses the poor (and middle class)! Monopolies are inseparable from Socialism! They can form only when the state restricts competition in any way (14).

"Competition" is the ugly word Socialists use to describe "freedom of choice." Only competition gives an incentive for the "servant ethic." Competition, thus, is good. It protects against oppression. Obviously, competition must apply both to business and to unions. Employers have the right to fire lazy or negligent workers. The threat of replacement is not unjust. Hunger is a Biblical motivation for work! (15) Workers must be free to work wherever they wish without union coercion. "Scab labour" is the Socialist term for freedom for the unemployed to work for less than what the oppressive union dictates. Clearly, coercive labour unions oppress the poor by forcing many people to remain unemployed who could otherwise work. The result of coercive, closed shop unions is devastating. As wages rise without an increase in worker productivity, employers can hire fewer workers. Indeed they turn to increased mechanisation, leading often to layoffs. On the other hand, competition strongly motivates the employer to treat his workers fairly and to pay them a good and motivating wage. If not, the workers have the freedom to strike or quit. A truly free market economy-will boom, thus a worker who quits one job can find a more satisfying job elsewhere.

Anti-Christian Socialism Contrasted with Biblical Capitalism


Marx’s Steps to Abolish Private Property and Establish Socialism

God’s Ten Commandments for a Just and Prosperous Social Order

1. "Abolition of property in land...."

1. Don’t steal, respect property – cf. 1 Kin 21.

2. "A heavy progressive income tax."

2. Don't covet; no bias for poor or rich -Lev 19:15.

3. "Abolition of all right or Inheritance."

3. Theft: The wise lays up inheritance -Prov 13:22.

4. "Confiscate...property of all emigrants."

4. Be content: Don't steal or covet.

5. "Centralization of credit in the hands of the state, by means of a national bank with state capital and an exclusive monopoly." Central bank must steal and then control all gold/silver.

5. No bias in favour of any class - Lev 19:15. Monopoly is state bias for one group.

6. "Centralization of the means of communication and transport In the hands of the state." state plays god.

6. Don't covet or steal. You shall not bear false witness. No state monopoly bias.

7. "[Nationalize]...factories and [centrally plan all agricultural production]."

7. Don't steal or covet. No other gods before Yahweh. Central planning is man playing god.

8. "(Forced labour for all in industry and agriculture]."

8. Don't covet or steal. Kidnapping to sell into "slavery" penalized with death [cf Mao's China).

9. "[Redistribution of urban population into rural areas]."

9. Don't steal. Don't kidnap to "enslave." [Pol Pot tried this in Cambodia = 3 million dead].

10. "Free education for all children in [state] schools"(16). Financed by theft.

10. Don't kidnap. Honour your parents not "Big Brother"- cf Dt 6:5f; Eph 6:4.


In sum, the Gospel of Christ establishes private property because it eternally validates God's Law. Biblical Capitalism obeys God by honouring the Lord — not the state — as the Creator of wealth and the sole Liberator of man from slavery. It trusts God alone to be the controller of the market to work everything for the good of all. To trust the state to do this is to disobey the first two Commandments. Biblical Capitalism (as compared to laissez faire "capitalism") declares the family, not the individual, to be the basic institution of society. God rebuilds the family. The monogamous, sexually faithful family in which the children honour their parents is essential to prosperity (19). Biblical Capitalism in the long run keeps inheritance, wealth, and property in the hands of righteous, diligent and wise families (20). In God's system, every "paper" Rand must be 100% backed with precious metals. The Reserve Bank's virtual monopoly on the possession of gold would be abolished. Taxes would be reduced (22) to free money for job creating private investment. Lastly, Biblical Capitalism would deregulate industry except for violations of God's Law. State owned enterprises would be privatized except for those necessary for justice (23).

Conclusion
Only free enterprise limits tyranny and creates jobs. Socialism can only confiscate wealth, not produce it. Only a precious metal backed currency and a truly free market can create enough wealth to feed an exploding population with no inflation. Christian America and the UK were the fastest growing economies in the world in the 19th century under just this type of economic system. Their economies had virtually no inflation in that 100 year period. They produced millions of new jobs to feed millions of new mouths. The free market Capitalism based on God's Gospel and Law, thus, gives no room for a man who hates God's freedom, private property, Church, or His family order. Nor does it give room for any state that tries to replace God, Church or family. There is no escaping the Lordship of King Jesus!

"The Lord's curse in on the house of the wicked but he blesses the home of the righteous."(Proverbs 3:33)

Stand firm In the Lord, South Africa! Spirit-wrought obedience to God alone maintains God's blessing!

(1). Cf Nobel Prize economist F.A. Hayek. The Road to Serfdom. Cf Samuel and Hosea's discussion of the "oppressive king" - 1 Sam. 8:9-18; 10:17-19; 12:1-25; Hos. 13:4, 10-11. His tax rate is only 10%! Today's is much higher!
(2). Jesus: "You are either for Me or against Me" — no neutrality.
(3). L von Mises: Socialism: Economic & Sociological Analysis
(4). See: RJ Rushdoony, Institutes of Biblical Law and Politics of Guilt and Pity
(5). RJ Rushdoony, Christianity and the State, cf paper no. 2.
(6). Cf. Desmond M Tutu, Inside South Africa. April 1988.
(7). On Marxist roots of LT: Berghoef and DeKoster, Liberation Theology—The Church's Future Shock.
(8). Deut. 28; cf D. Chilton, Productive Christians.
(9) Lev.25:23; Ex. 19:5: Ps. 24:1: The earth is the LORD's!
(10). cf "The Parable of the [Silver] Talents"- Matt. 25:14f
(11). Rom 2: 1ff: Every man accountable before God's Throne.
(12). Mt 25:14-19; Prov 10:6, 22, 13:13, 21,11:31, 28:25b; Is 3:10
(13). Ps 9:8-9, 10:1-18, 12:5, 35:9-10.
(14). Louw and Kendal, South Africa: The Solution, p. 174f.
(15). 2 Thes 3:10-14; Pr 16:26.
(16). Maxe and Engels, The Communist Manifesto, p. 96.
(17). Matt 5:17f; Rom 3:31, 7:12-13, 8:4,13:8f; 1 Tim 1:8f.
(18). Ex. 20:2: “I am the Lord who brought you out of slavery."
(19). G. Gilder, Men and Marriage. Prov. 5:7f, 6:26; Eph. 6:1f.
(20). Ex 20:12; Deut 5:16; Matt 15:3-9; 1 Tim. 5:4, 8; Eph 6:lf; cf. Ps. 37, Prov. 3:9-10,13-17, 33,13:21-22,14:11; et al.
(21). Gary North, Honest Money. Biblical Principles of Money and Banking (Fort Worth: Dominion Press, 1986).
(22). 1 Sam 8: To God is due 10%: The state mustn't play god!
(23). Rushdoony, Politics of Guilt and Pity, p. 331f. Paper no. 2

Mark Kreitzer, July 1988.

Gospel Defence League
P. O. Box 587 Sea Point 8060
Cape Town South Africa
Tel/Fax: 021-510-6854



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