Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Bible and Economics

Continuing in Job...

[Job speaking...] I cry out to you, God, but you do not answer; I stand up, but you merely look at me...

Surely no one lays a hand on a broken man when he cries for help in his distress.

Have I not wept for those in trouble? Has not my soul grieved for the poor?

Yet when I hoped for good, evil came; when I looked for light, then came darkness. The churning inside me never stops; days of suffering confront me.

...I have become a brother of jackals, a companion of owls...

~Job 30

[Job, still...] If I have denied justice to any of my servants, whether male or female, when they had a grievance against me, what will I do when God confronts me? What will I answer when called to account?

Did not the one who made me in the womb make them?

Did not the same One form us both within our mothers?

If I have denied the desires of the poor or let the eyes of the widow grow weary,

if I have kept my bread to myself, not sharing it with the fatherless - but from my youth I reared them as a father would, and from my birth I guided the widow -

if I have seen anyone perishing for lack of clothing, or the needy without garments, and their hearts did not bless me for warming them with the fleece from my sheep,

if I have raised my hand against the fatherless, knowing that I had influence in court, then let my arm fall from the shoulder, let it be broken off at the joint.

For I dreaded destruction from God, and for fear of his splendor I could not do such things.

~Job 31

[Job's friend speaking...] Is God not the One who says to kings, ‘You are worthless,’ and to nobles, ‘You are wicked,’

who shows no partiality to princes and does not favor the rich over the poor, for they are all the work of God's hands...?

...God's eyes are on the ways of mortals; God sees their every step...

God punishes them for their wickedness where everyone can see them, because they turned from following God and had no regard for any of God's ways.

They caused the cry of the poor to come before God, so that the Lord heard the cry of the needy.

~Job 34

As noted in the previous post, Job moreso than most books of the Bible must be handled carefully. Job's friends speak, but not every word from them is a good word. Job speaks, but not every one of his rants speak for God.

Having said that, I think we can see clearly in Job, the great reverence/importance that ancient Jewish folk placed on the treatment of the poor and otherwise marginalized.

How one treats the poor and marginalized and how one deals with one's employees and customers is a measurement of one's morality. Even the "friends" of Job with their sometimes flawed reasoning echo this great biblical concern, and do so frequently and emphatically.


Marshall Art said...

So then, based upon the words in your conclusion, it would seem that placing this lesson under the heading "Bible and Economics" is a misplacement of said lesson, as it says nothing of economics at all, but how one person should treat another. Certainly that's the case with the verses you've chosen to highlight.

Dan Trabue said...

I'm not sure of your meaning, Marshall. This whole series has been about looking at what various Bible passages say about matters of economics, of wealth and poverty. All along, I've looked at these passages with an eye towards how we ought to live. These Job passages contribute to that study.

What am I missing?

Marshall Art said...

How does it tie to economics at all? Job was stinking rich. After his trials, he was stinkier. Thus, wealth accumulation holds not negative issue for the Lord as He gave Job all his wealth. It as always been about keeping the Lord first and above all things. This is possible for the wealthy and equally difficult for the poor. If your point has to do with behaving in a Christian manner, then you have made no point about economics while doing so and thus, the heading is misplaced.

In other words, none of this particular post (or it's previous partner) says nothing about economics, wealth or poverty. Simply because it mentions wealthy people and poor people doesn't make it about either. It does not speak to their status at all, but only about their behavior.

Marshall Art said...

In fact, it's quite clear that you are far more concerned with any verse that seems to pit rich against poor, as if the wealth of the rich is why they are jerks. That's rarely the case if it's ever the case at all. Indeed, in this story, it is clearly not, since the main character is filthy rich and considered a good servant of the Lord.

Dan Trabue said...

Economics (Merriam Webster):

1. a social science concerned chiefly with description and analysis of the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services...

3. Economic conditions

These posts have always looked at any verses that have to do with economic conditions, with the philosophies of what we do with material goods/money. They have always dealt with issues of money, materialism, with poverty, with wealth, with what we do with wealth, with how we treat the poor, of how we work/make a living, etc. I don't see that this post is any different than any of the other posts.

These verses DO say something about wealth and poverty. Did you miss those?

"Have I not wept for those in trouble? Has not my soul grieved for the poor?..."


Grieving for, being concerned for, assisting the poor IS about wealth and poverty. How could it not be?

I'm not at all sure what your beef is here, Marshall. It sounds like you're just trying to be disagreeable for the sake of being disagreeable.

So where you say, this " a misplacement of said lesson, as [these passages] say nothing of economics at all, but how one person should treat another."

I would just point to the definition of economics...

a social science concerned chiefly with description and analysis of the production, distribution, and consumption of goods

How one produces and distributes and consumes goods INCLUDES how one treats others as it relates to production, distribution and consumption of goods...

These passages deal with economics by definition.

So, again, I have no idea what you're griping about.

Do you have any comments on the passages themselves?

Marshall Art said...

You're stretching the definition way beyond recognition. There is NO, I repeat, NO talk of "production, distribution, and consumption of goods" in ANY of the "Bible and Economics" posts you've put up, and certainly none here. Speaking of how we treat the poor, of how some specific nasty people with wealth were spoken against...none of it has to do with economics simply because some have dough and some don't. All the production and distribution has taken place (or not), but the verses about the treatment of the poor is has nothing to do with money. It has to do with how one group treats another. These ARE my comments on that passages themselves. You are misleading by framing them as economics issues. Why do this if not to make some political statement?

If you want to speak of how God feels about wealth, why not focus on Job's riches? He's a great guy that was the richest around, and God later rewarded him by making him richer still.

Or how about the parable of the talents? Despite its true meaning, the lesson is based on the story of servants using money and using it to make more. This is called, "creating wealth". If God is so opposed, as you seem to suggest by your many such posts as this, why would Jesus use such an example to create a parable? He has the master scolding the dude who DIDN'T use the money wisely and takes his cash and gives it TO THE DUDE WHO HAD THE MOST!!!!

THAT speaks to science of economics!