Economics and the Church. Why The anti-Prosperity Preachers Are Wrong!-5
Until the mid to late 19th century, history has shown that neither the church nor the world has contributed positively to the poverty of the nations.
First, regarding the world, Roger McKinney in his incredible book ‘God is a Capitalist; writes, “In 44 B.C. Cicero declared that “commerce*, if on a small scale is to be regarded as vulgar…”” (pg22). On page 63, McKinney continues, “…from at least the time of Aristotle until the 16th century AD Europeans held business in low esteem, often lower than prostitution. The culture valued plunder in war, bribery of state officials, kidnapping for ransom and monopolies on trade as the ‘noble’ means toward greater wealth.”
Second, and as usual, when the church leaves the Word of God, it becomes worse than the world!! On page 63 McKinney unveils the church’s attitude toward business, “Commerce was considered worse than prostitution, and so evil that it condemned the merchant’s soul to hell. As a result of this disdain for their profession, merchants who became wealthy did not reinvest their wealth to expand their businesses but gave much of their wealth to the Church to redeem their souls from hell.”
Although I’m uncertain exactly when the Church became corrupt, one of the methods they invented to extract money from the people—which tragically contributed to mass poverty--is the blasphemous notion of ‘Indulgences’. One false practice of ‘Indulgences’ declared that during the celebration of Communion---which they unscripturally declared was the way to salvation--- priests withheld the Communion elements until a parishioner paid them money!!! As evil as the doctrine of ‘Indulgences’ was, it did not stand alone, but originated from another false doctrine known as Transubstantiation, which taught that a priest’s prayer over Communion miraculously turned the bread and wine into the literal body and blood of Christ.
Of course, although wicked, one can easily understand the flow of thought, or how Transubstantiation could have given birth Indulgences: the miracle of turning the bread and wine into the literal body and blood of Christ---ought to be compensated!!! In other words, as we now know from the practice of the sin of lasciviousness(Gal5:19), without the intervention of the Holy Spirit, one sin often leads to another.
Another name for the diabolical heresy of ‘Indulgences’ is Simony**-- the making of profit out of sacred things; after Simon the sorcerer who tried to pay Peter to receive the Baptism with the Holy Spirit in Acts 8.
However, the church’s tragic misunderstanding of economics did not begin with Simony. It probably first occurred with St. Augustine (354-430AD), and later Thomas Aquinas(1225-1274), who “carried the utilitarian approach to property into the thirteenth century, asserting that property comes from practical law, not natural, or God’s law.”*** “In other words, property is good or bad depending on its use. Proper use involves the pursuit of higher, spiritual, ends.” McKinney continues, “It logically follows that if a wealthy person does not use his wealth properly as defined by theologians, that is, by giving most of it to the poor or the Church, his improper use nullifies his ownership. Excess wealth retained by the owner became the equivalent of stealing from the poor.” (pg135)
However, McKinney offers a defense for the church’s unbiblical thinking: “In their defense, the Church father’s worried about the poor, and rightly so, for much of the population lived on the edge of starvation. Church fathers had no idea that investment in better tools could improve worker productivity, raise wages and rescue most of the poor from their starvation. Even today few theologians understand it and too many economists refuse to acknowledge it. Another two centuries would pass before Adam Smith discovered how the dynamics of this ‘system of natural freedom’ could lift an entire nation to levels of wealth not imagined by the nobility of the late Middle Ages.” (pg136)
Yet, McKinney continues to highlight the Church’s doctrinal errors that in practice led to poverty, “Theologians failed the common church members by applying different principles to the nobility and king. While the church insisted that wealthy merchants should give their excess wealth to the poor they often justified the conspicuous consumption of the nobility and kings as necessary because of their status in society. They insisted on the sanctity of property between common people, but ignored the theft by the nobility and kings of property owned by commoners. And while preaching the importance of free markets and condemning monopolies, they allowed the state virtually unlimited power over the market.” (pg136)
What we have learned is that just like yesteryear, the contemporary church is guilty of ignoring both God’s abundant nature, and His word--in the area of economics, i.e.money. While I have personally found 1,000 verses on the subject of money, Pastor Robert Morris of Gateway Church in Dallas/Fort Worth Texas, in his book “The Blessed Life” writes, “There are more than 500 verses in the Bible concerning prayer and nearly 500 verses concerning faith, but there are more than 2,000 verses on the subject of money and possessions.” (pg13)
The following is just one scripture unveiling God’s will for prosperity:
Let them shout for joy, and be glad, that favour my righteous cause: yea, let them say continually, Let the LORD be magnified, which hath pleasure in the prosperity of his servant.
Finally, anytime the church**** departs from God’s word, the devil fills the void (1Tim4:1) by sending ungodly men to “spoil”, i.e.“to take men captive”(Col2:8) who substitute their own demonic philosophy; and/or who raise up “high things” that exalt themselves against the knowledge of God(2Cor5:10). Therefore, it is my humble opinion that the church’s complete disregard for the Word of God--over centuries of time---in the area of economics, i.e.property ownership, i.e.finances, i.e.financial prosperity---literally drove the world, including many supposed Christians, directly into the arms of Karl Marx(1818-1883), i.e.Communism/Socialism/Fascism!
*he refers to business.
***God is a Capitalist, Roger McKinney, pg 135.
****or an individual