The Bible describes two types of knowledge or truth: General Revelation and Specific Revelation. General Revelation are the observable truths that can be noted by anyone and everyone from observing the world around us. All truth is God’s truth and can be studied and observed in the physical sciences, psychological studies, the wonders of astronomy, the complexity of physics, and the laws of economics. These economic realities are observable, repeatable, and verifiable by evidence. Specific Revelation is the truth revealed by Divine intervention through the Scriptures. The Bible constantly gives us specific laws and truths about how money works as well. Therefore when we speak of Godonomics, we are looking for economic principles from both the observable world and the revealed Scriptures. When both are interpreted and understood correctly, they will testify to the same thing.

China raised interest rates at the end of December by 1/4 a point. This is still far below their inflation rate, so it will not solve the economic storm brewing in the East. Why? Well, when a country increases their interest rates, that means investors get more “return” (Interest) by investing in that country rather than investing in a different country. Since America’s interest rates are not going up (YET!) -the US offers less “bang for the buck” channeling money to China.  Therefore, money begins to “flow” into the country of those buying Chinese dollars. The Chinese government is now forced to print more money to keep up with the increased demand…resulting in more inflation, the very thing they were trying to stop by raising interest rates.

If you listen to economists today, they will assure us that this kind of common sense explanation is too simplistic. They will assure us that their complicated charts and sophisticated degrees somehow override the realities of common sense. Many today are even saying that with rising commodity prices (corn, soy beans had a contract high… copper, cattle, and oil are headed toward $100), business won’t pass those prices on to the consumer since wages are not going up. What a silly premise. Since we are talking about the Chinese, let’s open up a Wonton Soup Stand (after all, everyone makes lemonade).

After coming up with an idea, the business begins with:  Step 1) Buy supplies. You go out and buy some pork, some pasta, some bowls, and some green floaty things.  Step 2) Price your wanton soup so you make more than it cost you to produce.  So the supplies cost you $0.50 per bowl, but you sell it for $1.50 a bowl to make a profit and money for supplies and your employees’ salaries. There are many factors determining your success. The primary question is, “What will the consumer pay for your bowl of soup?” If the consumer will not pay $1.50 for your soup, then you need to cut the costs of your supplies and wages to stay in business. So if the prices go up for pork, corn, and soy beans on Wall Street, then what!? Well, now, you go to Sam’s Club to buy your soup supplies, and they’ve gone up on you as well. You then need to increase the cost of your soup in order to stay in business. If you can’t sell your soup for more, you must cut costs. You lay off staff, dilute the soup, take out an ingredient, etc. Bottom line, you pass on the price increase through either higher prices or decrease the quality.  The business must go out of business, or raise prices. When commodities (like food) cost more, everything costs more, and everyone in a society is hurt.  Remember what happened in Egypt?

Genesis 41:46 Joseph was thirty years old when he entered the service of Pharaoh king of Egypt.  And Joseph went out from Pharaoh’s presence and traveled throughout Egypt. 47 During the seven years of abundance the land produced plentifully. 48 Joseph collected all the food produced in those seven years of abundance in Egypt and stored it in the cities. In each city he put the food grown in the fields surrounding it. 49 Joseph stored up huge quantities of grain, like the sand of the sea; it was so much that he stopped keeping records because it was beyond measure.

Joseph bought the food cheaply when prices were low and in high supply. But a few years later, the forces flipped.

53 The seven years of abundance in Egypt came to an end, 54 and the seven years of famine began, just as Joseph had said. There was famine in all the other lands, but in the whole land of Egypt there was food. 55 When all Egypt began to feel the famine, the people cried to Pharaoh for food. Then Pharaoh told all the Egyptians, “Go to Joseph and do what he tells you.”

56 When the famine had spread over the whole country, Joseph opened all the storehouses and sold grain to the Egyptians, for the famine was severe throughout Egypt. 57 And all the world came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph, because the famine was severe everywhere.

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Will-E Coyote had incentive: a Roadrunner Stew, but he never had to face the consequences of falling off that cliff. Sure, he’d fall 100 stories and a puff of air would replace his outline; but in the next scene he was fine. He never learned to reap what he sowed (Galatians 6:8). The cartoonists rescued him from the pain of his actions. Socialism does the same. Throughout the Proverbs are two characters:  The Ant and the Sluggard. The ant works hard, gathers his food in the summer to prepare for the winter (Proverbs 6:6, 30:25) while the sluggard oozes around. Socialism and corporatism try to punish the ant (the saver, the wise spender, the frugal buyer) by taking from him to help out the sluggard (the poorly managed company, the corrupt union boss, or the “needy” political cause). And the sluggard learns that laziness pays. The ant learns that hard work is punished. So the sluggard hires lobbyists to petition the government to take from the mean ant with “all his food” to provide for the poor, helpless sluggard shivering in his trail of goo.

Godonomics is built on a principle of the universe: You Reap What You Sow (Galatians 6:8) unless someone comes in to rescue you from the pain of making a bad decision. They “bail you out” even if you run your company poorly, waste your money gambling, or lay around the house playing X-box. What happens when you reward laziness, inefficiency, and corruption with reward? Hmmmm. Well, if someone can make money playing X-box and eating Doritos off their chest OR going to work for 10 hours a day, which will they choose? When you take away the reward of work and consequence of bad behavior, chaos ensues. A national economy is built on the admonishment to “go to the ant.”

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The Bible teaches us alot about money and making good financial decisions. One of my favorite theologians is Greg Brady. 🙂 I learned Latin for the first time on the Brady Bunch: “Caveat emptor” meaning “Let the buyer beware”. I learned some more while watching Robin Williams in Dead Poet’s Society: “Carpe Diem.”    We used to say, “Carpet Denim” just for fun. One of the best ways to “seize the day” is to make sure that “the buyer is aware” of the hidden costs of any purchase. Mr Brady tried to explain this to his son Greg in a powerful, tear-jerking episode of the The Brady Bunch.

When it comes time to buy a new car, new house, or any major purchase, here is some practical advice from the Bible and Greg Brady on how to “Caveat Emptor”

1. Get advice from others

Proverbs 15:22 Without counsel, plans go awry, But in the multitude of counselors they are established.

Am I Making This decision Alone or within Community? Think of how many people in your life are making dumb decisions. I bet you can think of many people in your family or your workplace, or your life in general or are doing foolish things. You can see that they shouldn’t “buy that car” or “parent that way” In fact, there are many times that everyone around us can see what we can’t. They have a much more objective view of the landscape. Think of yourself. Aren’t there dumb decisions you’ve made that could’ve been avoided? If you had asked someone you loved for advice, could you have avoided some dangerous paths? Had you asked someone you trusted and knew cared about you before you jumped into that new mortgage payment, wouldn’t they have tried to “talk you out of it” and into a better decision.
In America today, we live in an extremely individualistic society. And we suffer for it. We think we are “more free” to do what we want when we do it on our own. A Godly decision maker restricts his freedom through the “constriction” of other’s input, so he can be MORE free by utlizing the wisdom of the community. We should ask others about our decisions. We should ask others about our financial giving and tithing. We should ask others before we jump into any new financial endeavor.

2. Learn from your mistakes and the mistakes of others.

A wise man and woman seeks wisdom anywhere and everywhere. We look for wisdom. We examine our own past experiences. We hunt for wisdom in the pain of our past and the dead ends of others we know. We pursue the words of Proverbs 4

1 Hear, my children, the instruction of a father,
And give attention to know understanding;
2 For I give you good doctrine:
Do not forsake my law.
3 When I was my father’s son,
Tender and the only one in the sight of my mother,
4 He also taught me, and said to me:

“ Let your heart retain my words;
Keep my commands, and live.
5 Get wisdom! Get understanding!
Do not forget, nor turn away from the words of my mouth.
6 Do not forsake her, and she will preserve you;
Love her, and she will keep you.

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Inscribed on the Liberty Bell are the words of Leviticus 25:10: “Proclaim liberty to all the inhabitants of the land.” This phrase was a reminder that what brought prosperity to our history and nation is God’s commandment to teach and build a society on freedom. Christianity and the teachings of the Bible have been the catalyst for every major movement of freedom throughout history. It has been the catalyst for the destruction of slavery, the rescuing of children from infanticide in China and India, and the power of free market capitalism which began in England as part of a Presbyterian revival. No where can Godonomics be seen more clearly than in the life of Aleksandr Solzenhenitsyn. His conversion to Christ began the process of crushing Marxism in Russia.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was a Russian novelist, dramatist, and historian. He wrote about the Soviet Union’s forced labor camp system. He was thrown out from the Soviet Union in the 70’s, but he received the Nobel Prize in Literature for his great work for liberty.

During World War II Solzhenitsyn served in the Red Army as a commander who was decorated and well established. His faith journey resulted in growing doubts about the moral foundations of the Soviet regime. His personal reflections were put to paper in 1945.

“Solzhenitsyn was arrested for writing derogatory comments in letters to a friend, Nikolai Vitkevich,  about the conduct of the war by Joseph Stalin, whom he called “Usatiy” (“one with mustachios,”) “Khozyain” (“the master”), and “Balabos”, (Yiddish rendering of Hebrew baal ha-bayis for “master of the house”). He was accused of anti-Soviet propaganda under Article 58 paragraph 10 of the Soviet criminal code, and of “founding a hostile organization” under paragraph 11. Solzhenitsyn was taken to the Lubyanka prison in Moscow, where he was beaten and interrogated. “

He was sentenced to eight years in the labor camps for his new found concern for liberty.  In 1950, he was sent to a “Special Camp” for political prisoners. His torturous experience and front row seat to the harsh reality of Marxism, socialism, and Communism formed the basis for the book One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovic He would find out later that he had cancer that was undiagnosed until 1954. At that time he was permitted to be treated in a hospital in Tashkent, where his tumor went into remission. His experiences there became the basis of his novel Cancer Ward.

During this decade of imprisonment, Solzhenitsyn abandoned Marxism and began studying the Bible. It’s teachings and principles began to shape him as he realized his need for forgiveness for the horrible things he did in the Red Army. He asked Christ to be his forgiver and leader. He became a student of the Bible’s teachings on liberty, government, and God given rights.

” He repented for some of his actions as a Red Army captain, and in prison compared himself to the perpetrators of the Gulag: “I remember myself in my captain’s shoulder boards and the forward march of my battery through East Prussia, enshrouded in fire, and I say: ‘So were we any better?'” His transformation is described at some length in the fourth part of The Gulag Archipelago (“The Soul and Barbed Wire”). “

Throughout history, the prosperity of a nation (economically, spiritually, and politically) is directly proportionate to that nation’s freedom. Wherever God’s declaration of freedom has been applied, there has been profound liberty, prosperity, and generosity. Rodney Stark, a sociologist documents this in his book The Victory of Reason: How Christianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism, and Western Success lays out the historic evidence for these facts.

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The teaching of Christ continued through another Christian economist named Dr. Zaichenko.

“Dr. Alexander Zaichenko is a leading economist and a former member of the council of ministers under Gorbatschov. His conclusions on his economic research, however, were so controversial, that they were not published until Perestrojka. Only then was he allowed to travel abroad. In November 1989 he was the first non-communist and Christian in the council of ministers. He has been on TV and regularly publishes in papers and leading business magazines in Russia.

Moscow is changing fast into a modern trade center. New powers arise, as many Russians start to put their hopes in money and acquiring possessions. Through this new paradigm, the thinking of the Russians in all areas of their life and society will be influenced, as it was in communism. Alexander Zaichenko, Muscovite, is trying to influence the main stream in societal thinking towards positive developments for the whole of the Russian economy and society.

Now, his Christian conviction is widely known in Russia. His first ‘coming-out’ came as a surprise to him. During a live TV-show he was asked: ‘Are you a Christian?’ After some hesitation I said that I was. Only a short while previously, the last martyr Marchenko had died in prison because of his faith. The next day, a big crowd was waiting for me at the council of ministers, and they asked me again. I assured them I was, and everybody disappeared. Only one of them approached me and asked for a bible.’

Alexander feels the bible has a message for today’s builders of society: ‘Our time is a time, where myths are destroyed, wherein terrible secrets are being exposed, and mysteries discovered and revealed. However, one of those mysteries, vital for the state, for the country, for everyone of us individually and collectively, is being slowly revealed; the social and economic roles of morals and religious consciousness. The success of an attempt to modernize our society, of our efforts to overcome the stagnation of our economy in the social sphere of state power transformation, primarily depends on the transformation of our ideology as a whole, on the transformation of individual and social consciousness, based on a humane society,  oriented to common values.’

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