Category Archives: Implications

Coronavirus: Bursting Babylon’s Bubble

Hanging Gardens of Babylon

Our world has been hurtling toward globalization for decades. Progressives spend their lives devoted to the cause of globalization with zeal unmatched by most of their ideological opponents. And, with the enthusiastic and unwitting help of their conservative opponents, a global capital economy has engulfed the majority of today’s societies.

From the point of view of economics, a nation is simply a political barrier to the movement of the factors of production. Since capital freely flows across borders in our modern global economy, globalization is nearly accomplished from an economic standpoint. Regional economies such as the European Union already allow the free movement across national borders of another factor of production—labor.

With a global economic system in place, progressives need only consolidate political power to achieve their goal of a one-world government. Progressives hate nationalist and populist movements because they stand in their way. I think this explains the irrational hatred of Donald Trump and his supporters among the media and progressive elites as well as the opposition to Brexit.

Nations Have a Purpose

From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.

—Acts 17:26-27

People have a natural, sinful tendency to think they are self-sufficient, without any need for God to help them succeed.

You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth—Deuteronomy 8:17-18

In the Bible, Babylon represents any world system antagonistic toward God and his people. It is no wonder then, that the most famous king of Babylon was judged for failing to recognize God’s sovereignty over him.

All this happened to King Nebuchadnezzar. Twelve months later, as the king was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, he said, “Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?”—Daniel 4:28-30

This illusion is even more powerful and destructive when the entire world gathers together to solve humanity’s perceived problems without any deference to God and without acknowledging the real problem facing humanity—sin. At the tower of Babel the result of humanity’s desire to unite in rebellion would have been so disastrous that God, in his mercy, confused their language and scattered them over the earth. Better a world divided into nations than a world united in apostasy.

Recognizing Babylon

Both Scripture and history describe the world system called Babylon.

John in Revelation 17:5 describes Babylon as the great harlot (Revelation 17:5). The Bible uses adultery to describe idolatry. Idolatry is unfaithfulness to God (Hosea 1:2). Babylon opposes God’s redemptive plan and replaces it with human self-sufficiency. Babylon seeks power and wealth in an illusory attempt to get away with a sinful lifestyle opposed to God’s standards (Revelation 18:3). The great whore Babylon seeks worldly wealth convinced that its lack is humanity’s real problem. It hates the real riches we can obtain only through Jesus (2 Corinthians 8:9).

Babylon at the time John wrote the Revelation was Rome, an empire that persecuted Christians and sought to control vast portions of the world. The world system Babylon at the end of the age will be drunk with the blood of the saints (Revelation 17:6) as it seeks luxury. Its merchants will both fear and mourn her demise, one she never saw coming because of her rebellion against God (Revelation 18: 7,10-11).

We can recognize Babylon as any society that makes wealth acquisition its top priority at the expense of others (i.e., slavery in Rome, or enslavement by debt in modern societies) and one that opposes God’s standards of morality while persecuting Christians who would stand against its man-made standards.

Coronavirus vs Globalization

Globalists/progressives try to plan the world’s course without God. Our modern day situation is really not that much different than that at the tower of Babel. The predictable outcome now seen in the developed world—record individual, government and corporate debt, unrestrained sexual immorality, rampant abortion, small families and the resultant demographic crises—can be directly attributed to the all-out quest to serve money instead of God.

The coronavirus, with astonishing speed, has brought the global economy to a standstill.

Will anyone notice the spiritual implications?

We don’t know how long the coronavirus will wreak havoc on the global economy. But even if the pandemic ends sooner than expected, it will leave in its wake a worldwide economic crisis (more on that in my past and future blogs).

Has coronavirus dealt a serious blow to globalization? Or, will progressives find a way to use it to their advantage, not willing to let any crisis go to waste? It’s not hard to imagine a progressive call to unite the world to fight future pandemics and to resolve the looming worldwide economic crisis. Of course, they will want to expand government to attain their goal.

Bursting Babylon’s Bubble

This is where American Evangelical Christians need discernment. We have been told that, before coronavirus, the United States economy was very strong; even the best we’ve ever had. That’s a lie. Our economy and the world economy were unsustainable; they were built on debt. Coronavirus was simply the pin that pricked the debt bubble. The underlying problems in our economy and that of the world are so deep and severe that two or three months of a shut down economy pale in comparison.

Years of artificially low interest rates have increased the money supply (in the form of debt) to unprecedented levels. When all of that money is unleashed on economies that have misallocated resources into non-productive assets, prices will skyrocket as competition for necessities increases amid a slowed economy. The world is awash in debt it cannot repay (Psalm 37:21). Babylon cannot solve the problems it has made for itself.

Christians Unite

God will not give his glory to another (Isaiah 42:8). Not to progressives, not to conservative politicians, not to our economy, not to a united world. God provided the solution to the world’s problems when Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins and rose from the dead. If Christians are to unite, let’s do so to proclaim God’s mercy to the world.

The Idol of Self-interest

Idol

There’s a very unpleasant breed of Christian festering in the comment sections of blogs, websites, Twitter and Facebook groups. They won’t recognize themselves in the description I give in this paragraph, but you certainly will if you have run across them. They are typically young men, many well-educated and some with a background in philosophy. Their most obvious attribute, aside from their pride and superiority complex, is that they are unteachable. They always have an answer to counter anything you say. They are especially inclined to do so when they don’t understand what you said but think that they do. As one well-known Bible teacher has noted–that’s a stupid way to live.

The Cage Stage

Somehave noticed that people who have come to accept the doctrines of grace, especially in the Reformed tradition (to which I subscribe), go through what has been dubbed a “cage-stage” in which these new converts feel compelled to correct everyone else’s doctrine in an obnoxious and impatient manner. The term comes from the idea that it might be better for all concerned if the people afflicted with this malady were locked up in a cage until they mature a bit in their faith.

Now many men, myself included, can relate to the excitement of learning new things as young men and remember their enthusiasm to tell others about what they had learned. And, we sometimes spread our message with varying degrees of hubris, forgetting that just a short time before, we too didn’t know these truths.

Unfortunately, this phenomenon can lead people to spread false teaching as well. Of course, they don’t think it’s false.

Blind Guides

One such group consists of Ayn Rand devotees who claim to have incorporated into their worldview all of her true but none of her false philosophy. Their mission, the noblest on earth, is to defend reason, individualism, and capitalism.

Their tactics include making outrageous, provocative statements to get attention. For example, they might say “There is no such thing as …” and then they fill in the blank with a term we know by common sense exists. Or they say “… is more dangerous than Cultural Marxism” and fill in the blank with an apologetics method they deem inferior to theirs. They feel compelled to point out publicly what they see as muddled thinking by people they claim to have great respect for, people they were sometimes educated by. I haven’t yet figured out how these men, who are mostly in their twenties and some still in school, so quickly surpassed their mentors in understanding, let alone wisdom.

Now, in their defense, most of the philosophies and beliefs they oppose are truly dangerous and will have disastrous consequences for our society if adopted. However, their apparent lack of humility makes it impossible for them to learn from others where they are in error.

They cannot see, for example, that to someone outside their coterie, that their defense of self-interest has gone far beyond a rejection of altruism as a guiding principle for our lives to what looks like a worship of self-interest, making it a guiding principle for our lives instead.

My advice is to run as fast as you can the other direction when you encounter this philosophy.

I suggest for your consideration the following understanding of self-interest instead: It is in our self-interest to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Jesus.

A Winsome Alternative

Anyone interested in learning more about the dangerous philosophies currently infiltrating society and the Church can find on the internet other groups of men and women who have better arguments to counter ideologies such as critical theory and who have enough humility to continue learning and listening. They have a more winsome and convincing message.

 

Notes:

  1. See these articles by R.C. Sproul and R.C Sproul Jr.: “Escaping the ‘Cage-Stage‘” and “Cage-Stage Calvinism: What Is It and What Causes It?”

What Really Causes Inequality?

Inequality sign

Few topics invoke a maddening response like income and wealth inequality does. Just as Pavlov’s dogs salivated in response not only to food but also to stimuli (like lab coats and bells) associated with food, the mere mention of inequality causes many of us to salivate at the opportunity to make our ideological opponents look stupid or immoral.

Too many of us try to prove our self-proclaimed intellectual or moral superiority by describing our political adversaries either as jealous of the rich or as greedy. Both sides accuse the other of thievery.

It seems that underneath the anger lie the assumptions that the battle is about capitalism and socialism or about justice and fairness.

There really isn’t much discussion about inequality because both sides hijack the concept to argue their ideology.

Hear No Evil

When deeply held beliefs are threatened, our tendency is to conveniently ignore the arguments of those who disagree with us. Emboldened by our ideology, we give much consideration to the real evil we see in others but dismiss as imaginary the evil they see in us. We validate our arguments by focusing only on the facts that support our case while neglecting facts that undermine our worldview. And so, with civil discourse a thing of the past, we speak evil of others.

Inequality’s Lessons

Wealth and income inequality reveal the natural outcomes of human action, both good and evil.

Inequality validates the fact that we reap what we sow.

The more we work the more we produce. The better we work the more we produce per unit of time. Over time, skilled and diligent workers will attain more wealth than unskilled and lazy workers.

Inequality results from voluntary transfers of wealth.

If you produce something that large numbers of people want to buy at a price that gives you profit, you will attain much wealth as purchasers willingly give you their money to obtain your product. Even some monopolies involve voluntary wealth transfers. For example, you may have a monopoly because you have patented an invention. This is a monopoly we accept because it rewards innovation that benefits society and involves voluntary transactions. Likewise, we accept the monopoly that NBA and MLB players have because we want to watch the best athletes. The key point is that these wealth transfers are voluntary choices made with sufficient information.

Inequality results from involuntary transfers of wealth.

The Bible clearly states that God brings judgment on those who steal by force or deception. Our government grants monopolies and rents to special interests, bails out banks, practices financial repression and champions our trade deficit—all of which result in involuntary transfers of wealth from the non-rich to the rich.

But this is where defenders of capitalism and the conservative cause sometimes go off the rails. It is not sufficient to blame unjust inequality on government intervention in the economy. We must also hold accountable those who benefit from those interventions and those who take advantage of lax government oversight of the markets to transfer wealth to themselves. We must not use the fact that voluntary (and moral) transfers of wealth are commonplace to absolve the sins of the rich and powerful.

Here’s the problem as I see it. Capitalists err when they think that immoral wealth transfers to the rich only occur because of government intervention in the markets (because of crony capitalism). So, in their minds, the rich who don’t have a direct connection with government officials are off the hook. Many capitalists have imagined a self-regulating, laissez-faire free market in which no one can get away with financial sins. Therefore government regulation, particularly in the financial markets, becomes an object of scorn instead of a protection sanctioned by God.

Socialists make an equally grave error. They incorrectly see the government not as a major cause of inequality, but as its solution. This leads to the ludicrous conclusion that wealth transfers from the rich will solve the problem of inequality their big-government policies caused in the first place.

Hiding in Plain Sight

Increasing inequality is a red flag. It warns us of impending danger. Increasing inequality, much like a dead canary on the floor of our economic mine, beckons us to heed its warning that our economy is poisoned. Sadly, we either ignore the dead canary or we misdiagnose the cause of death. Debt, theft and corruption poisoned the canary. It will poison our society if we don’t wake up. We need to call out those who have done this, irrespective of their ideology. We need to reverse course.

What Really Causes Inequality?

The Bible doesn’t hide the answer to this question, but boldly proclaims it for all to see. Sin causes inequality. Our greed and our laziness cause it. So do covetousness and theft. Oppression, indebtedness, and deception cause it. Defending transgressors with our ideology instead of defending the weak and needy they subdue cause it.

The Bible tells us how to deal with economic sin. It tells us to reject the “eat drink and be merry for tomorrow we die” attitude. It tells us to be rich toward God and acknowledge that he owns everything.

The Bible warns us to stop excusing our economic sins while vilifying others for theirs.

Will our society listen?