Lund University economist Andreas Bergh explains how Sweden has managed to increase economic productivity by becoming increasingly capitalistic. Bergh says that despite popular mythology, Sweden is not a socialist success story.
Elias Boudinot served as President of Congress and signed the Peace Treaty of Paris to end the War for Independence. He was a framer of the Bill of Rights and respondent to Thomas Paine’s The Age of Reason with The Age of Revelation. He also called on Congress to begin each morning with prayer:
“Let us enter on this important business under the idea that we are Christians on whom the eyes of the world are now turned… [L]et us earnestly call and beseech Him, for Christ’s sake, to preside in our councils. . . . We can only depend on the all powerful influence of the Spirit of God, Whose Divine aid and assistance it becomes us as a Christian people most devoutly to implore. Therefore I move that some minister of the Gospel be requested to attend this Congress every morning . . . in order to open the meeting with prayer.”
Imagine the following scenario: At church this Sunday, while reviewing the list of announcements and upcoming events for your church, your pastor added, “Oh, and don’t forget: on Sundays we have our regular target practice. Make sure to bring your rifles. Make sure to bring your pieces to church.”
Absurd, right? Not so. It used to be the American way. For example, a 1631 law in Virginia required citizens to own firearms, to engage in practice with them, and to do so publicly on holy days. It demanded that the people “bring their pieces to the church.” Somewhere along the line we have lost this mindset. Today the ideas of church and arms are assumed to be at odds, as if loving your neighbor has nothing to do with the preservation and defense of life and property.
What is the most Scriptural and edifying way to preach gospel invitations to sinners? God and Christ are never exalted more than when full weight is laid on the free omnipotence of the mercy from which salvation flows. It looks, indeed, as if the old Reformed preachers of the gospel are the only people whose position allows them to do justice to the free offer of Christ to sinners. According to J. I. Packer:
The old gospel of [John] Owen, first of all, contains no less full and free an offer of salvation than its modern counterpart. It presents ample grounds of faith (the sufficiency of Christ, and the promise of God), and cogent motives to faith (the sinner’s need, and the Creator’s command, which is also the Redeemer’s invitation). The new gospel gains nothing here by asserting universal redemption. The old gospel, certainly, has no room for the cheap sentimentalizing which turns God’s free mercy to sinners into a constitutional soft heartedness on His part which we can take for granted; nor will it countenance the degrading presentation of Christ as the baffled Savior, balked in what he hoped to do by human unbelief; nor will it indulge in maudlin appeals to the unconverted to let Christ save them out of pity for His disappointment. The pitiable Savior and the pathetic God of modern pulpits are unknown to the old gospel. The old gospel tells men that they need God, but not that God needs them (a modern falsehood); it does not exhort them to pity Christ, but announces that Christ has pitied them, though pity was the last thing they deserved. It never loses sight of the Divine majesty and sovereign power of the Christ whom it proclaims, but rejects flatly all representations of Him which would obscure His free omnipotence.
Does this mean, however, that the preacher of the old gospel is inhibited or confined in offering Christ to men and inviting them to receive Him? Not at all. In actual fact, just because he recognizes that Divine mercy is sovereign and free, he is in a position to make far more of the offer of Christ in his preaching than is the expositor of the new gospel; for this offer is itself a far more wonderful thing on his principles than it can ever be in the eyes of those who regard love to all sinners as a necessity of God’s nature, and therefore a matter of course. To think that the holy Creator, who never needed man for His happiness and might justly have banished our fallen race for ever without mercy, should actually have chosen to redeem some of them! And that His own Son was willing to undergo death and descend into hell to save them! And that now from His throne He should speak to ungodly men as He does in the words of the gospel, urging upon them the command to repent and believe in the form of a compassionate invitation to pity themselves and choose life! These thoughts are the focal points round which the preaching of the old gospel revolves. It is all wonderful, just because none of it can be taken for granted. But perhaps the most wonderful thing of all – the holiest spot in all the holy ground of gospel truth – is the free invitation which “the Lord Christ” (as Owen loves to call Him) issues repeatedly to guilty sinners to come to Him and find rest for their souls. It is the glory of these invitations that it is an omnipotent King who gives them, just as it is a chief part of the glory of the enthroned Christ that He condescends still to utter them. And it is the glory of the gospel ministry that the preacher goes to men as Christ’s ambassador, charged to deliver the King’s invitation personally to every sinner present and to summon them all to turn and live. (From Packer’s Introductory Essay to John Owen’s “Death of Death” published by the Banner of Truth Trust)
There was nothing in the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, or the ratification process of the federal Constitution that created a national (rather than a federal) government.
Do the poor benefit most under a socialist, state-directed economy or are they more likely to prosper in a land of free markets and capitalism? While secular progressives continue to demand more government control over the American economy, Walter E. Williams – who serves on the faculty of George Mason University as John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics and is the author of More Liberty Means Less Government: Our Founders Knew This Well – writes that the free market is misunderstood and unappreciated for the upward mobility it provides people of all economic classes:
Listening to America’s liberals, who now prefer to call themselves progressives, one would think that free markets benefit the rich and harm the poor, but little can be further from the truth. First, let’s first say what free markets are. Free markets, or laissez-faire capitalism, refer to an economic system where there is no government interference except to outlaw and prosecute fraud and coercion. It ought to be apparent that our economy cannot be described as free market because there is extensive government interference. We have what might be called a mixed economy, one with both free market and socialistic attributes. If one is poor or of modest means, where does he fare better: in the freer and more open sector of our economy or in the controlled and highly regulated sector? Let’s look at it.
Did Carnegie, Mellon, Rockefeller and Guggenheim start out rich? Andrew Carnegie worked as a bobbin boy, changing spools of thread in a cotton mill 12 hours a day, six days a week, earning $1.20 a week. A young John D. Rockefeller worked as a clerk. Meyer Guggenheim started out as a peddler. Andrew Mellon did have a leg up; his father was a lawyer and banker. Sam Walton milked the family’s cows, bottled the milk and delivered it and newspapers to customers. Richard Sears was a railroad station agent. Alvah Roebuck began work as a watchmaker. Together, they founded Sears, Roebuck and Company in 1893. John Cash Penney (founder of JCPenney department stores) worked for a local dry goods merchant.
Samuel Adams was a signer of the Declaration of Independence, who also helped ratify the Constitution, and was a governor of Massachusetts. He is quoted below concerning his Christian faith:
“I . . . [rely] upon the merits of Jesus Christ for a pardon of all my sins.”
“I conceive we cannot better express ourselves than by humbly supplicating the Supreme Ruler of the world . . . that the confusions that are and have been among the nations may be overruled by the promoting and speedily bringing in the holy and happy period when the kingdoms of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ may be everywhere established, and the people willingly bow to the scepter of Him who is the Prince of Peace.”
A Proclamation For a Day of Public Fasting, Humiliation and Prayer signed by Samuel Adams included the following:
[That] “the peaceful and glorious reign of our Divine Redeemer may be known and enjoyed throughout the whole family of mankind”; “we may with one heart and voice humbly implore His gracious and free pardon through Jesus Christ, supplicating His Divine aid . . . [and] above all to cause the religion of Jesus Christ, in its true spirit, to spread far and wide till the whole earth shall be filled with His glory”; with true contrition of heart to confess their sins to God and implore forgiveness through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ our Savior.”
The Word of God must be taught and applied to us consistently. The church must encourage and facilitate such teaching whether in preaching, Bible studies, reading, or conversations. We must always be growing in the Word. It is not just information, however, that we are to be gathering from our Bibles. We must be growing in knowledge of the will of God for us. According to W. Robert Godfrey:
Many American churches are in a mess. Theologically they are indifferent, confused, or dangerously wrong. Liturgically they are the captives of superficial fads. Morally they live lives indistinguishable from the world. They often have a lot of people, money, and activities. But are they really churches, or have they degenerated into peculiar clubs?
What has gone wrong? At the heart of the mess is a simple phenomenon: the churches seem to have lost a love for and confidence in the Word of God. They still carry Bibles and declare the authority of the Scriptures. They still have sermons based on Bible verses and still have Bible study classes. But not much of the Bible is actually read in their services. Their sermons and studies usually do not examine the Bible to see what it thinks is important for the people of God. Increasingly they treat the Bible as tidbits of poetic inspiration, of pop psychology, and of self-help advice. Congregations where the Bible is ignored or abused are in the gravest peril. Churches that depart from the Word will soon find that God has departed from them.
What solution does the Bible teach for this sad situation? The short but profound answer is given by Paul in Colossians 3:16: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” We need the Word to dwell in us richly so that we will know the truths that God thinks are most important and so that we will know His purposes and priorities. We need to be concerned less about “felt-needs” and more about the real needs of lost sinners as taught in the Bible.
When the gospel was first preached, instead of being accepted and admired, one universal hiss went up to heaven; men could not bear it; its first preacher they dragged to the edge of the cliff, and would have sent Him down headlong; yes, they did more-they nailed Him to a cross, and there they let Him spend His dying life in agony such as no man has borne since. All His chosen ministers have been hated and abhorred by the worldly; instead of being listened to, they have been scoffed at; treated as if they were rubbish, and the very scum of mankind.
Look at the holy men in the early days of the church, how they were driven from city to city, persecuted, afflicted, tormented, stoned to death, wherever the enemy had power to do so. Those friends of men, those real philanthropists, who came with hearts big with love, and hands full of mercy, and lips pregnant with celestial fire, and souls burned with holy influence; those men were treated as if they were spies in the camp, as if they were deserters from the common cause of mankind; as if they were enemies, and not, as they truly were, the best of friends. Do not suppose that men like the gospel any better now than they did then. There is an idea that you are growing better; but the heart within is still the same. The human heart of today dissected, would be just like the human heart a thousand years ago; the gall of bitterness within that breast of yours, is just as bitter as the gall of bitterness of Simon of old. We have in our hearts the same inherent opposition to the truth of God; and hence we find men, just as in the past, who scorn the gospel.
The Founders confronted a basic problem: How to vest government with sufficient power to get things done without giving it the instruments to exercise tyrannical control? To protect individual liberty and rights, they established (among others) two basic principles at the center of our constitutional order: representation and the separation of powers. To assure that government operated by consent, they provided that those responsible for making laws would be held accountable through elections. Moreover, legislative, executive and judicial power would be separated so those who made the laws were not in charge of executing and applying them.
Our modern administrative state violates these principles. That also is by design, courtesy of the progressives – the original architects of the administrative state. Progressives such as Woodrow Wilson disdained the idea of government “by the people” and sought to replace it with government by the experts. Wilson complained of America’s “besetting error of … trying to do too much by vote.” “Self-government does not consist in having a hand in everything,” he argued.
The progressives sought to circumvent representative government by transferring power from Congress to a newly created fourth branch of government, our modern bureaucracy. Congress would no longer make laws but merely pass bills that consist of assignments to agencies. The actual laws then would be passed by agencies in the form of “rules” carrying the full force of law.