“Biblical Economic Policy” is a thought-provoking new book written by my favorite former professor at Dallas Baptist University, Dr. Dave Arnott, and his colleague, Dr. Sergiy Saydometov. It’s so well written that it caught my interest even though I’m not an economics expert. The book offers a fascinating look at how biblical principles speak to current economic conditions.
I read the book after attending a book signing on July 19 for the co-authors. The two professors come from very different backgrounds, but share the same vision of the world. Dr. Saydometov came to the United States from Ukraine in 2001 and earned a doctorate in finance from DBU. He now teaches finance and economics at their College of Business.
Dr. Arnott was born in the United States and his doctorate is in strategic management and economics. He taught at the DBU for 29 years and currently teaches economics. Arnott and his wife Ginger live on a farm just outside Midlothian.
The conference/dedication/reception combination was filled with alumni, friends and family, fellow teachers and DBU staff. Midlothian Mayor Richard Reno and his wife were also present, along with other members of the community.
The Ten Commandments of Biblical Economic Policy
The well-researched book outlines these Ten Commandments and asks such important questions as, “How does a first-century book inform a 21st-century economy?”
Dr Arnott said: “The church-state relationship is not in accordance with the Bible. The book attempts to explain this misalignment and suggest steps to realign it. Christians care about means, while economists care about ends.
A common misconception, he said, is that government must take before it can give, but there is no biblical command to take. Government should punish evil, but not do good. The Church must do good, but not punish evil.
Fiscal and monetary decision-making
1. People should be free. God gives humans the freedom to accept or reject his offer of salvation, so it’s reasonable to assume that he wants people to have as much freedom as possible in our economic choices.
2. The work is good. God works in Genesis 1:1. God made something out of nothing. We are called to do something of something.
3. Don’t steal. This assumes private ownership.
4. Do not covet. Most complaints about income inequality are violations of the Tenth Commandment.
5. Use honest measures: The government uses dishonest measures when it goes into debt, and the Federal Reserve does this by increasing the money supply.
6. Trade is good. When people trade what they have for what they don’t have, in a competitive environment, both sides get richer.
7. Love your neighbor as yourself. If you love your neighbour, you will provide him with the products and services he demands. If you love yourself, you will make a profit doing it.
8. Care for widows and orphans: The Church is commanded to do so. The government is not.
9. Be a good Samaritan. He was a capitalist, because he used his own money to take care of the man.
10. Honor those in power: We must follow the rules of authority over us, because we believe God put them there.
Excerpts from Biblical Economic Policy
Some of the book’s most profound excerpts remind us that Jesus was involved in the production and distribution of rare furniture as a carpenter. Other excerpts state, “A market is where everyone votes, and liberty is not the same as freedom. College education can be provided for free, but it cannot be produced for free.
“In China, there are no rights, because there are no rights. The Cultural Revolution redistributed food that killed 60 million people in three years. Then, over the next 20 years, a move towards free markets lifted 760 million people out of extreme poverty. The economy matters.”
“The minimum wage causes the two evils of macroeconomics: inflation and unemployment. Policies that promote production are all that separate rich countries from poor countries. Everyone in America is learning the tools of wealth creation in an information economy: the keyboard.
Dr Arnott said: “60% of people under the age of 24 voted for a socialist in the last election, but in 25 years of teaching none of my more than 5,000 students have asked to redistribute their grade to a student who skipped class.
“The reason there are 2.2 billion Christians in the world is because their worldview matches reality,” is a quote from the book. Also: “If you love your neighbor, you will provide the goods and services she demands. If you love yourself, you will make a profit. Love your neighbor = consumer surplus. Love yourself = producer surplus. Most religions believe that you behave to be saved. Christians believe we are saved to behave.
Biblical Economic Policy is priced at $16.99 and available from online booksellers and the DBU Bookstore. Dr. Arnott says he is planning another book that will be drawn from the 90 podcasts posted on Dave Arnott’s YouTube channel or davearnott.com. The working title is “Controversial Topics in Christian Economics”.