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Huwebes, Hunyo 12, 2014

The Bible and the Study of Economics

Article # 2

"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" (Genesis 1:1).

Biblical creation is the most important basic assumption in Christian theory of knowledge. Only faith in God and His word will cause someone to accept this basic assumption. 

The God of the Bible is incomparable for in it we read that He created everything out of nothing by His word. And since He created everything, He is the Ultimate Owner of all things. 

The being and the character of the God of the Bible is different from the being and character of His creatures. Only an all-powerful God can perform such act of creation. 

Moreover, the Bible does not only tell us that God is the Creator and Owner of all things, it also tells us that He governs His creation. If this is true, then the idea that the world and the human mind operate on the basis of some notion of independent "natural law" is wrong. 

Studying the Bible is so important to know about this God who created all things. Besides knowing God, studying the Bible helps us obtain true knowledge of the world and of ourselves. If this is true, then any notion of God, of the world, and of ourselves that is contrary to the Bible is false. 

In the study of economics, we are studying both the world and man. And since a true understanding of the world and of man can only be obtained through the study of the Bible, it therefore follows that the study of the Bible cannot be separated from a true understanding of economics.

The Bible shows us both the potential and the limitation of the human mind in the study of economics. Man has great potential simply because he is made in the image of God. At the same time, man has limitation simply because he is both a creature and under the power of sin since the Fall. 

The mind of man before and after the Fall is no longer the same. Nevertheless, since man does not cease to be an image of God metaphysically, though his knowledge is not exhaustive, he still thinks and discovers many things that are true. On the other hand, since man is no longer an image of God ethically, much of his thinking and discovery are corrupted by sin. Instead of giving God all the glory for his works, he claims them for himself. 

This is why we need the Bible in our study of economics. The Bible through the Law exposes our sin and leads us to Christ for us to obtain grace. Such grace, though not perfectly, restores our mind to its ethical purpose. We accept our limitation and we are grateful for our discoveries. 

Evolution is a popular example of man's refusal to accept the ethical limitation of his mind. Since you cannot find this idea in the Bible, to believe in it in interpreting the world, man, and his economic activity is therefore false. And any false interpretation, ultimately will end in confusion, chaos, and disillusionment. 

The free market since it is part of God's created order, understanding it properly requires the study of nature, of man, and of the Bible. However, by doing this, it does not mean that man will know everything about the operation of the market. Instead, it does mean that this endeavor will lead into harmony, meaning, productivity, and wealth.

Note: This is the devotional summary of my lecture in Genesis delivered at the Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Philippines. The lecture is based on Chapter 1 of Gary North's economic commentary on Genesis, pages 8-20. You can read the original content of the lecture here. 

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