(Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., Box 817, Phillipsburg, N.J. 08865) 1984
134 pages • $4.95 paperback
Theologian John Jefferson Davis’ new book is a call to look at the free-market from a Christian and biblical perspective. Though he does not see the Bible as a text book on economics, he does see some economic principles involved. “The Bible makes it clear that spirituality and economic life are related. God controls both and uses economic events to teach His people spiritual truths.” His major premise is that the free enterprise system is itself patterned after the Christian life. “[The] biblical pattern of humble service and subsequent reward lies at the heart of the free enterprise system at its best.”
As a rebuke to Christians, Davis feels that much of what we know as the welfare state today has comeabout because Christians have failed to follow Jesus in His concern for the lowly. “The early church cared for its poor. Widows who had no other means of support were to be cared for by the church. Families were to take care of their own, and children were to help their elderly parents. If the Christian church were to consistently apply the provisions today, much of the taxation for social welfare programs would be unnecessary.”
Davis views the major cause of poverty as ultimately ethical, noting that the family has lost its role in teaching moral values in Western societies. It is instructive here to see how several Asian countries, because of their close family ties and character building efforts, have begun to prosper. “One of the ironies of the modern world is that the ‘Protestant work ethic’ seems best ex emplified by non-Christian states such as Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, and Hong- Kong. Insofar as these new industrial giants of Asia have applied virtues commended by the Bible, they have enjoyed remarkable economic prosperity.”
Economic prosperity reflects the efficiency of the free market, as nearly everyone agrees. But beyond efficiency, Dr. Davis argues, the free market embodies high ethical values, and thus should recommend itself to churchmen.