Thursday, July 28, 2005

Contrarian View From the Pew: Aspects of our Nature

Many years ago, when I was a young, and not so smart, Marine, I needed to punch a guy who was trying to start a fight with me. I knew the guy was going to beat me to smithereens, but I had to defend my honor. However, I must have been slow, as well as dull, because before I got my punch thrown, one of my buddies had the other guy on the ground beating him to smithereens. I’m not saying that Derek is asking for a fight, or that I need to defend my honor against him, or that I’m any smarter or faster now than I once was, or that Jennifer is beating Derek to smithereens, but I will say that Jennifer can be in my squad anytime she wants. Derek can too.

Derek and Jennifer left such great comments. Before I start addressing any of the specifics of Derek’s critique and Jennifer’s earlier concern, I first need to clarify an aspect of all of the factors that have made capitalism the best economic system and an aspect of capitalism that will also be present if our Churches were more willing to use an ownership model.

When I wrote that free will, property rights, and competition, were three of the main reasons why capitalism is successful and why I believe these same factors should be a part of a model for improved Church organization, I wasn’t trying to claim these three aspects of capitalism were morally good. Free will, property rights, and competition are morally neutral. I don’t think any of these three factors are part of our sinful nature or part of our good nature. They are simply part of our nature that can be used for good or evil. Jennifer did a great job of showing how Scripture describes these aspects of our nature are as being used for good. Free will, private property, and competition are also described in Scripture as aspects of our nature that are used for evil. The free will that God gave us, we use to separate ourselves from him as did Adam and Eve. We sometimes hoard our property, as did Cain and Abel and Esau and Jacob. We sometimes compete at the expense of others, as did the apostles to sit at the right hand of Jesus.

These same negative aspects of free will, private property, and competition will be present in our Churches if we change the model. However, this is not a reason to keep the old model because the old model doesn’t take advantage of all of the good aspects of free will, private property, and competition. I believe Capitalism has proven to be the superior economic model because of these aspects of our nature and I also believe it will prove to be a better Church model because of these aspects of our nature.


Jennifer said...

David, You’re approving of women in the military???? Don’t go down that route again! LOL! Before I had a chance to respond to Derek, you took the words out of my mouth. I was also going to say that those aspects of competition you mentioned can be used for evil, just as they can be used for good.

Derek, I appreciate your civil response. In regards to our rewards being heavenly vs. earthly, I think in terms of church finance the ultimate reward is heavenly when the money is used to win souls. But there are earthly factors to be considered – such as the church electric bill. So is feeding the poor. When I look at what Jesus has to say in the Bible (and I don’t have mine with me right now so I can’t quote specifics), I see that we are commanded to feed the poor, specifically the widows and orphans. We are not commanded to pay the electric bill for a building, because the church is not a building. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have a building; just that it’s not necessary nor commanded. The church I am in now doesn’t support a certain missionary that I have supported for many years. I continue to send support to that person, and I view that as a part of my tithe. I don't think that's unbiblical, nor do I begrudge my church for not supporting her.

In regards to the Parable of Ten Virgins, I see that as an admonishment to go out and work to provide for myself. Paul echoed that in Corinthians when he said, “If a man will not work, he shall not eat.” The problem with socialism, in church and society, is that inevitably a few work hard to pay the bills while the rest are lazy and expect to be taken care of. That’s why he instructed younger widows (which I became at age 25) to remarry ~ so that those who are truly no longer able to provide for themselves are taken care of.

I think the point David is trying to make (he’ll correct me if I’m wrong), is that we could potentially accomplish much more as a church if we tried looking at the finance issue from a different angle. We can’t put God in a box. So why have we kept His finances in a box for so long?

David M. Smith said...

Hi Jennifer,

I am against continuing any tradition just because something has always been done a certain way. If there is a reason for the tradition, or if the tradition can’t be improved, or if the tradition is the known will of God, I don’t think we should change. However, whenever there is a better, more effective way to do anything, I want to do it the way that is best, not the way it has always been done.

Dennis Day said...

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Keep up the good work,