By Rev. R.J. Rushdoony
The Bible is full of economic wisdom which often goes neglected in
our day because the Bible, the book for all of life, is too commonly
reduced to a devotional manual and all "non-spiritual" truth is
discarded. Solomon, for example, tells us, "cast thy bread upon the
waters; for thou shalt find it after many days" (Eccles. 11:1). The
reference here is to rice planting. The rice is broadcast into water
paddies, as it were; the family's "bread" or food is thrown away, in a
sense, but only thereby is a harvest possible in the days to come. In
Psalm 126:5,6, the same fact is stated even more vividly: "They that sow
in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing
precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his
sheaves with him." Here we have a famine in view; the precious grain is
sown with tears, because life depends upon its harvest. In both texts,
the first emphasis is that present advantages must be
sacrificed for future benefits; there is no harvest tomorrow without a
sowing today. Sowing seed constitutes an investment in the future.
Second, very obviously, the man who sows seed has, on the
most basic and elementary level, some hope for the future. A society
without hope is present-oriented. It is a consumer society; it eats up
its seed grain rather than planning for a future harvest. It becomes
therefore something that God condemns, a debt-oriented society rather
than a saving and sowing one. It pays no heed to the six-year limitation
on debt, nor to the principal that the godly goal is to owe no man
anything save to love one another (Rom. 13:8). A debt society is death
oriented; it makes saving, thrift, and future-oriented planning
difficult or unprofitable, because it encourages consumption but not
production. A "tax-break" is offered to debtors on their interest
payments; savings are taxed (for accrued interest) as well as production
and profit (or harvest). The tax structures of our time are
anti-Scriptural with a vengeance. Moreover, the moral order is reversed;
debt becomes an asset to these statist humanists, and wealth a
liability and an evil. Money today does not have gold or silver behind
it, but debt. The Monetary Control Act of 1980, which went into effect
on June 1, 1981, allows the U.S. to monetize debts other than those of
the Federal Government, debts both domestic and foreign. This is eating
our bread or grain, not casting it upon the waters!
The power of a popular existentialism on the 20th century mind is
apparent in its present-oriented economics. For existentialism, the
moment, stripped of all morality and religion, and all considerations
from the past or about the future, is everything. This too is the
essence o fall the varieties of Keynsian economics. Keynes despised the
future; his premise was, "In the long run, we are all dead." This death
orientation marks modern economics, and it marks the reprobate. As
Proverbs 8:36 declares, "But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own
soul: all they that hate me love death."
The Bible requires a future orientation of us, but, not in terms of
ourselves, but in terms of Christ, the gospel, and the Kingdom of God.
Our Lord says, "For whosoever will save his life shall lose iU but
whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same
shall save it" (Mark 8:35; cf. Matt. 10:39, 16:25; Luke 9:24; Matt.
6:33). Our Lord here, in speaking of "losing" out lives, is not talking
about martyrdom, but about "sowing," casting our lives by faith on the
waters of the future, to yield a harvest to Him, and ourselves in Him.
Third,we are told that our godly investment in the future,
God's future, shall certainly bear fruit: "Cast thy bread upon the
waters; for thou shalt find it after many days." Again, "He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him."
Humanly speaking, while there is no harvest without sowing, there is
still then no certainty of a harvest. Drought, blights, floods, insects,
war, and other disasters can wipe out a potential harvest. We are,
however, promised a certain and inescapable harvest if we, in all our
ways, seek to serve and glorify God: "And we know that all things work
together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called
according to his purpose", (Rom. 8:28). This same fact is set forth
powerfully and in detail in Deuteronomy 28.
Deuteronomy 28 emphasizes beyond any possibility of misunderstanding
the moral and economic consequences of faithlessness to God. Inescapable
curses and blessings are set forth: the religious, political, economic,
personal, and agricultural consequences of denying God's law (and
becoming present and man-oriented) are clearly spelled out.
The economic world of humanism is a world of present possibilities
and no future certainties. Hence, existential economic experimentation
is held to be both possible and necessary. We have then fiat money and
economics, with man playing God and seeking to determine all
possibilities by his fiat will. The world of causality is replaced by a
world of non-consequential possibilities. Such a perspective leads to
the economics of death: a thousand and one ways of economic death are
experimented with rather than to pursue an economics of life, because
only the economics of death reserves determination to man. The world of
law is replaced by the fiat word of man.
As a result, by March 31, 1980, what Martin D. Weiss, in The Great Money Panic
(1981: Arlington House) calls "The Debt Monster," meant a $1.5 trillion
debt for the nation's corporations; a $949 billion Federal debt; and,
for homes, office buildings, and shopping centers, a$1,362 billion
mortgage debt. At the same time, cash liquidity is at an all-time low;
unemployment in the United States and aboard is increasing, and the
"solution" more and more in view is increased inflation. This is like
prescribing more liquor to an alcoholic!
With all this, we have seen a reversal in moral order. As even one
"Reverend Doctor" wrote me recently, "gay" is good, and heterosexual is
evil (and all "straights" should be put into concentration camps, he
held!) Abortion is good, and pro-life is fascistic, it is also held.
Such moral disorder is to be expected in an era which sees debt as an
investment in the future and an economic asset.
One of the great evils of modern economics is its purported
scientific basis. Mathematics of a sort, and science of a sort, are
substituted for morality. It will not do to tell our statists that their
economics is a form of theft by law; their graphs and statistics are
designed to replace economic morality with economic "science."
Economics was once taught as a branch of "moral philosophy." Adam
Smith himself was a Professor of Moral Philosophy (although his ethics
followed Hume, unhappily, but his economics presupposed an "Invisible
Hand"). Today, moral considerations are banished from economics in favor
As a result, economic issues are seen, not in terms of moral
considerations, which require character, work, and a future orientation,
but in terms of "needs" and "lacks." Because of this, we speak of
"underdeveloped" nations, which Peter F. Drucker, in Toward The Next Economics, and Other Essays
(1981; Harper and Row; p. 64) calls an error: no country, he holds, is
underdeveloped because it lacks resources; rather, it does not utilize
its resources; its capital in such forms is not productively employed.
Neither its human resources nor its physical resources are put to
We must add that productive use requires a faith and character geared
to the future, and to a vision of a growing and dominion-oriented
society. Unless such a faith revives, all nations will soon be
"underdeveloped." As Proverbs 29:18 summarizes it, "Where there is no
vision, the people perish; but he that keepeth the law, happy is he."
To abandon moral and theological considerations in any area,
including economics, is to abandon reality and meaning. It is to deny
knowledge. Drucker cites the shift to a new definition of knowledge as
"whatever has no utility and is unlikely to be applied." p. 49). We can
add that such "knowledge" cannot successfully be applied. This certainly
would cover the contemporary economics of death and suicide.
When a civil government rules by fiat, and when its economics is a
violation of moral order, the result is either anarchy, or a return to
or a revival of, the most conservative forms of moral order, or,
usually, both of these at the same time. The U.S.S.R. has no lack of
anarchy; it is a way of life for many. For many others, very ancient
forms of family life and order are providing a close world of meaning.
As a result, even the levirate continues within the U.S.S.R. (Helene
Carrere d'Encausse: Decline of an Empire, The Soviet Socialist Republics in Revolt; Newsweek Books, 1979, p. 256).
The pre-occupation of contemporary national economic policies is with
"the problems of unemployment and inflation," as Lewis E. Lehrman has
pointed out ("The Creation of International Monetary Order," in David P.
Calleo, editor: Money and the Coming World Order, P. 71;
N.Y.U. Press, 1976.) Economic order having been violated, the
consequences of national economic policies are disorders and increasing
In the face of all this, the silence of the church on economic evils
is amazing. Not only so, too often it manifests hostility to any mention
of the critical issue of debt. In the past decade, my own comments and
those of Gary North on unbiblical debt policies have brought forth some
outraged responses. Just recently, because of references to the question
of debt in some Chalcedon Position Papers, some highly emotional and
angry letters have.come in from people who have been handed copies of
these papers. This is not surprising. we have in such cases a very
obvious fact. The person of the church is heavily in debt, and in debt
for many, many years to come. They are also in a serious economic
"bind." Instead of confessing to the Lord that their debts are
violations of His law, and seeking His help to re-order their lives,
they pray for "blessings," i.e., to be relieved of their debt situation
by some miracle, and without penalties. To be told that they are in sin,
and that the wages of sin are always death (Romans 6:23), triggers in
them an angry hysteria. They want a god who will let them eat their cake
and have it too.
There is a fourth aspect to the religious, moral, and
economic implications of Psalm 126:5,6: He who is future oriented and
sows with hope in the Lord, "shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bearing his sheaves with him."
The result is not only productivity, but joy. David, in Psalm 144:12-15
prays for an obedient people, a faithful people, faithful to their
covenant God and His law, "That our sons may be as plants grown up in
their youth; that our daughters may be as corner stones, polished after
the similitude of a palace; That our garners may be full, affording all
manner of store that our sheep may bring forth thousands and ten
thousands in our streets; That our oxen may be strong to labour; that
there be no breaking in, nor going out; that there be no complaining in
our streets. Happy is that people, that is in such a case: yea, happy is
that people, whose God is the LORD."
Such a society begins with your faithfulness and mine. It is time to
say, "as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD" (Joshua 24:15).
(Taken from Roots of Reconstruction, p. 1060; Chalcedon Report No. 192, August, 1981)