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Left, Right & Christ: A Book Excerpt
The Christian moral objection to the welfare state is not only that it corrupts the character of those who otherwise would have responsibility for giving, but also that it violates the eighth commandment. One of government's fundamental tasks is to protect people in their property. "Thou shalt not steal." God instituted government in part to protect people against being despoiled by their neighbors. Man being sinful, there will always be some who would rather take the fruit of someone else's labor than labor on their own. Theft, in that regard, is a kind of slavery. It forces the victim against his will to work for the thief.
Thieves come in different forms. They can be particular people or they can gather in a mob, in which case we call their theft "pillage." Mobs can be crude, such as when they rampage, or they can be sophisticated. A sophisticated mob, when it wants to pillage a propertied minority, knows that rather than fight the government, it can use the government. After all, the government's power to secure property is also the power to take it away. When a mob uses government to pillage its more propertied neighbors, we call it progressive taxation, or redistribution of wealth. Sometimes we call it fairness. But it is theft all the same.
I wish I could say that the Republican Party embraces all these principles fully, consistently, and with deep conviction and understanding. Alas, that is too much to expect in a fallen world. None of us is perfectly true to the principles we profess. Why should we expect greater fidelity from a political party?
Human frailty always creates a gap between ideals and institutions, between principles and practice.34 A party, like the country as a whole, is sometimes closer and sometimes farther from its ideals. But small government and a free economy for the liberty, prosperity, and ultimately happiness of the people are the principles the Republican Party upholds. Despite the shortcomings and departures of the two Bush administrations, despite McCain-Feingold,35 No Child Left Behind,36 prescription drug entitlements,37 and a binge of government pork-barrel spending under Republican watch, the GOP is still in principle the party of Reagan. For that reason, a faithful political warrior can call the party back to these principles. But whereas in the Republican Party someone appealing to these principles is a reformer, among Democrats, he's a revolutionary.
LISA SHARON HARPER
Business is not the devil and neither is money. Business is just people providing goods or services for money, and money is just paper--or metal. In and of themselves, money and business have neither positive nor negative value. They just are. There are plenty of business people mentioned in scripture. Consider the Proverbs 31 woman. An entrepreneur, "She makes linen garments and sells them; she supplies the merchants with sashes." Consider Lydia of Thyatira, a dealer in purple cloth, who the writer of Acts lists by name (Acts 16:14). Consider four of the twelve disciples: Peter, Andrew, James, and John who were likely owners of a fishing cooperative in Galilee.38 Consider the parable where Jesus compares the Kingdom of Heaven to a merchant who sells everything to buy one pearl. Jesus used the language of profit to help his hearers understand the immense value of the Kingdom of God.
Business and money are important and socially valuable, but they bring up two important questions: 1) How does human depravity fuel our chosen economic system—the system of expansionary free-market capitalism? and 2) How do the outcomes of that system square with God and God's purposes on earth? To begin to answer these questions, we will start with God and the latter question and work our way to the first.