About the Economic Theology Project
Economic and financial issues are staring everybody today in the face. As financial systems continue to meltdown, the effect on personal incomes, employment, investments, and savings, can be readily seen in the lives of both sinners and saints alike.
Christians have several distinct advantages, however. One of them is the fact that both economics and personal finances are addressed within the Bible. From Genesis to Revelation, the Creator has seen fit to reveal to us some of His omniscient insights into how economies are supposed to work, why they fail, and what a person or family needs to do to succeed regardless of which occurs. In fact, I am not aware of any single book of the Bible where these issues are not elaborated upon to some degree.
Moreover, certain books—e.g. the Pentateuch (Torah), Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Gospels—have extensive content regarding these important issues. For example, wise King Solomon observed, “…money answers everything” (Ecclesiastes 10:19, NKJV). Nonetheless, Jesus later pointed out the temporal limitations of that fact when He stated clearly, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses” (Luke 12:15, NKJV).
So financial matters are important and address every area of our earthly existence—but they are not the most important things for us to pursue. Thus, Peter tells us where we can find the appropriate balance of doctrine concerning both the temporal economic issues that we deal with daily, as well as the more important eternal matters that concern our souls. That source is God’s eternal Word:
For His divine power has bestowed upon us all things that [are requisite and suited] to life and godliness, through the [full, personal] knowledge of Him Who called us by and to His own glory and excellence (virtue).
By means of these He has bestowed on us His precious and exceedingly great promises, so that through them you may escape [by flight] from the moral decay (rottenness and corruption) that is in the world because of covetousness (lust and greed), and become sharers (partakers) of the divine nature.
(2 Peter 1:3-4, The Amplified Bible)
For Christians, there can surely be no more trusted and pure source of truth regarding our lives here on earth AND in the eternity to come, than the Bible itself. Of course, since God is the Creator of all men, this fact applies to non-Christians as well—though it is up to us believers to explain and convey that fact to them for their own eternal profit.
A Touch of History
Within all genuine Christian and Jewish theologies, the Bible is known to be the infallible and eternal Word of Almighty God Himself (though we Christians have more of it to read than many of our Jewish friends recognize, despite the fact that the New Testament was written mostly by Jewish people and is also available to them also). Consequently, the Bible has served as the “textbook” for economic studies for nearly two millennia among Christians, and about three and a half millennia among Jewish people.
Famous Christian ministers such as Thomas Aquinas, Augustine, and John Calvin, all addressed financial matters during their days. Several of the economists who founded modern economics as a scientific discipline happened to also be devout Christians. Notable among them was Adam Smith, who considered many of the market forces that we will examine within Economic Theology™ to be no less than the “invisible hand” of God working within human markets and societies.
Inspired in-part by Smith’s influence, the most notable Jewish economists then took the modern science of economics much further. Notable among them is Carl Menger, who is credited with founding the branch of modern economics known generally as “Subjectivist Economics,” the most well-known subdivision of which is called “Austrian Economics.”
So obviously, the history of theological influence upon financial matters and economic science is extensive (though some might want to argue details). So how am I approaching this topic differently than the many others before me?
I propose using an epoch-based approach that mirrors how the Bible reveals God to humanity within its pages. Let me first review the four main epochs of the Bible in reference to God’s revelation about Himself to mankind, and then explain how that applies to my own unique approach to the subject of Economic Theology™:
- Genesis: The story of God and His dealings with humanity begins with this account. Therein we find not only the details of Creation, but also the Fall of Man, humanity’s quest for survival, development of the earliest civilizations, the stories of the Patriarch, and etc.
- The Law: The Books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, describe how God separated a nation unto Himself through which He would reveal salvation to the entire world. God gave the Israelites the Moral Law (the Ten Commandments) through which He demonstrated to them their inability to be truly righteous in His sight through their own efforts. He then gave them the Levitical Laws that provided them superior legal and economic systems, as well as a form of religious worship through which they were able to “cover” their sins and relate to the One true and living God.
- The Gospels and New Testament: The same God Who wrote the Moral Law also took upon Himself flesh and dwelt among men in the person of Jesus Christ, known in transliterated Hebrew as Yeshua Ha Meshiach Ben David (e.g. John chapter 1; 1 Timothy 3:16). He lived a sinless life under the Law (e.g. Hebrews 4:15; 2 Corinthians 5:21) and taught the people higher truths about the Kingdom of Heaven—thereby announcing the new spiritual order that was to come. He then died under the terms of the Law for all the world who sinned against God’s holy Moral Law—Jew and Gentile alike. Jesus (Yeshua) took the full punishment for our sins upon Himself. In the process, the Messiah cut a “New Covenant” with humanity, through which any that repented of their idolatry and sins, and received His Lordship, might be saved and “adopted” into the very family of God (e.g. Acts chapter 13 and 26:20; Romans 8:15-17; 1 John chapter 3). The writings of the apostles within the New Testament expound upon these topics.
(For more on this topic, please review my article on The Supreme Value of Righteousness.)
- The Apocalypse: The prophetic books of the Old Testament (Tanach), and especially the Book of Daniel, tell about a coming evil one that will wage war on God’s people. The New Testament elaborates upon this theme, especially within the Book of Revelation. This coming “Beast” is most often referred to as the “Antichrist,” and his 42-month reign of terror upon the earth is infamous (e.g. Revelation 11:2; 13:5).
The Economic Theology™ Series
God Himself has chosen to reveal Himself to humanity in various stages, so it is not surprising that each of these epochs also contains unique insights about Him and His Creation (including mankind). Consequently, I propose using a similar epochal approach to the study of Economic Theology™. The corresponding four categories that I have identified, and have named, are the following:
- Organic Economics™ (corresponding to the Genesis account)
- Levitical Economics™ (based upon the Mosaic Law)
- Messianic Economics™ (reflecting the teachings within the Gospels and New Testament)
- Antichrist Economics™ (comparing some modern economic policies with the nefarious policies of the final evil dictator)
Let me now briefly explain each within its own subheading.
Organic Economics™, views God as the Creator of mankind and the universe—and thereby we discuss the Organic Laws™ which He also created.
In our study, we are using the word “organic” as a metaphor to refer to the core and basic elements of properly functioning economies and financial strategies. This healthy sounding term is in common use today, and it often denotes within the marketplace those products of the highest natural purity. Consequently, we are using the term to denote the things we consider to be the most “natural” (i.e. the closest to God’s original design) with regard to economic and financial considerations.
These Organic™ laws govern the function and behaviors of everything within His creation. Through our use of the Book of Genesis, along with supporting Scripture from other books of the Bible, and insightful reference to key archeological and historical information, we discuss:
- The gracious and complete provision given to mankind within the original creation.
- Humanity’s fall from that grace through sin, and the resulting scarcity that required people to adapt to their new environment for both survival and prosperity.
- The earliest development of labor specialization, trade, and money.
- Subsequent economic and cultural advances within the civilizations that emerged after Noah’s Flood (including the archeological discoveries that confirm these facts).
- The highly sophisticated trade, accounting, banking, and legal systems, that developed in the Third Millennium B.C. around the area of Abraham’s ancient hometown of Ur, within Mesopotamia—which were not “discovered” by modern Western civilizations until nearly 4,000 years later.
- And even more…
It is available to read absolutely FREE and I encourage you to begin your evaluation of this overall project with that study.
However, Organic Economics™ is only the first installment of the developing Economic Theology™ series.
Once we lay a foundation of economics and finances with regard to God’s created order, the next installment of this series will focus on God as the Great Lawgiver as we examine the Levitical Economic™ system He gave to the nation of Israel (and by extension, to all of mankind). Therein, He elaborated upon many of His creative principles, while also directly addressing the sin issue which caused disruption in both humanity’s relationship with Him as God, and with each other as coexisting human beings.
In doing so, God has revealed to mankind the most perfect economic, legal, and governmental systems the earth has ever seen. Understanding these laws will give us further insight into what policies are best for the long-term prosperity of any economy.
This will also illuminate the destruction that inevitably falls upon financial systems that disobey God’s divine laws; and help us to map out personal strategies that will preserve our own families’ financial safety—despite what disastrous consequences the rest of the society may inflict upon itself.
Further into this series, we will examine the New Testament to understand the Lord God within His role as Redeemer of mankind. Therein, we will examine the Messianic Economic™ truths that were revealed to us by God’s promised Messiah, Jesus Christ, and subsequently by His apostles within their writings.
These Messianic Economic™ principles confirmed many of the Organic Economic™ and Levitical Economic™ truths revealed earlier within Scripture, and expanded them even further into a spiritual dimension. Jesus and the apostles emphasized that eternal things must be our first priority, while they still advocated many of the other economic truths from God’s Word. (And a sampling of these Messianic Economic™ truths are embedded within Organic Economics™ in order to confirm that certain key points are still applicable to Christians today.)
In our last installment of this series, we will then take an eschatological track and view the economic policy of the most nefarious character of the Last Days within Antichrist Economics™.
Therein, we will not only see how his totalitarian fiscal policies are in direct opposition to those truths revealed within the first three studies of the Economic Theology™ series, but also the fact that MANY of those very same policies are in use today in nearly every nation of the world. (And for everybody’s comfort and advance knowledge, that section will also examine some “good news” about the Antichrist, i.e. God’s limitations which He imposes upon both the scope of the Antichrist’s jurisdiction and the duration of his reign.)
This epochal approach to Economic Theology™ mirrors perfectly God’s biblical revelation of Himself to mankind: As Creator, Lawgiver, Redeemer, and Soon-Coming King.
According to my research to date, it seems that nobody has thought to develop such a comprehensive systematic theology on the subject of economics and finances within Christendom before. Even among the writings of the famed Spanish Scholastics of the School of Salamanca during the Sixteenth Century A.D., I have not yet found an equivalent. I consider this somewhat remarkable, given both the obvious need for such teaching among God-fearing people and the epoch-based manner in which God has revealed Himself to mankind through the Bible.
Nonetheless, it seems as if our efforts are establishing a new theological standard for how to approach financial subjects in the light of God’s Word. It is my hope that my own meager efforts in this project will inspire other Christian ministers and theologians to join with me in developing this approach to its utmost capacity, for the benefit of all Christendom—and humanity in general.
Now with all of the above in mind, I trust most of my readers now have a fairly good understanding of my approach to these topics.
For more information about Rev. Rich Vermillion, please view the brief bio at the bottom of TheWisdomOfGold.com’s Website Introduction page, or visit his public LinkedIn profile page at: http://www.linkedin.com/in/richvermillion
EconomicTheology.com is Copyrighted © by Rich Vermillion, and is hereby licensed to the public for printing and redistribution under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. All other rights are reserved under U.S. Copyright law and applicable international laws and treaties.
The terms Organic Economics™, Levitical Economics™, Messianic Economics™, Antichrist Economics™, Economic Theology™, and their variants, are all trademarks of Rich Vermillion. All commercial rights are reserved.