I’m not sure I’d push this onto deism; but what David Dunn says in response to Dave Ramsey is worth consideration and conversation. Much of what Dunn says here was said years back by Ron Sider. The issue even for a Christian libertarian, as I see it, is two-fold: (1) all that we have is not “mine!” but “God’s” and what God has given us, and (2) the fundamental idea of taxation, which runs right through Israel’s laws, is not theft by the government but support for the people.
I’m for a good solid reading of the Bible, but one has to be careful about thinking levitical laws are for today; one has to see what the law was driving at (care for the marginalized); one has to think these things into the NT teachings and the radical attitude of Jesus and the early church toward possessions and even property; and one has to baptize it all into changing times, including a vastly different economy in our world, and how best to live this out in our world. Yet, even after all those moves have been made … well, there’s too much to say here. Here’s Dunn’s response to Ramsey.
Even though the Christian financial “guru” Dave Ramsey claims not to understand Occupy Wall Street, he does know why protesters (and by extension most Americans) want to raise taxes on the wealthy: We are sinners. “At the core of this demand [to raise taxes],” he says, “is envy.”
This judgment is not just offensive and wrong (see my last post) but sadly ironic: Dave Ramsey tells people to bring the Bible to their personal finances, so he should know that God’s economy is all about (what he scornfully calls) “wealth redistribution.”
Being a theologian, I could talk about how sharing in the life of the Trinity obligates us to share our lives with others, but another excuse to “spiritualize” our wallets is the last thing we need. I am also tempted to “tear apart” Ramsey’s caricature of the “Occupy” movement (it may truly be one of the finest examples of a “straw man fallacy” I have ever seen). But I respect Dave Ramsey as a fellow Christian and a person who has helped free thousands of families from crushing debt. (He does “God’s work.”) Therefore I will focus on the practical, theological root of his economic “heresy.”…If we are truly the possessions of a loving God (Leviticus 25:23), then rights must be regulated by needs. In contrast to the deistic view Leviticus 25 (the closest thing the Bible offers to a clear economic “policy”) presents a more “open” theology of people and property. That is why this chapter gives more rights to the poor than the rich, saying that a person who falls into poverty, and sells his property to survive, has the right to buy it back at any time (with some exceptions). Or a relative may but it back for him.
This “policy” does not exactly qualify as what Ramsey calls “theft” (yet) but it does not support his deistic concept of exclusionary property, either. If Ramsey says nobody has a right to take his “stuff,” then I assume he believes nobody has a right to make him sellit, either. Though he agrees that everything we have comes from God, which is why he rightly stresses private giving, he sadly fails to let that belief get in the way of his laissez faire economics. Otherwise he might not be so quick to condemn progressive tax reform.
What Ramsey calls “wealth redistribution” the Bible calls “Jubilee.”
Ramsey says, “When someone takes my money and gives me no say in the matter, that’s called theft — whether they’re using a gun or the government.” Though this statement begs the question and shows a desperate need to Google “social contract,” it is most troublesome because of its exclusionary theology of property. Or as toddlers say, “Mine!” This doctrine does not come from Ramsey’s Christian faith.
Exclusionary property rights require Deism.