Guest: Wayne Grudem
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Dr. Wayne Grudem is one of America’s leading theologians and co-founder of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. He’s also the General Editor of the ESV Study Bible and author of, “The Poverty of Nations: A Sustainable Solution” and author of, “Business for the Glory of God: The Bible’s Teaching on the Moral Goodness of Business.”
The first half of the discussion focuses on the Bible teaching the moral goodness of business. The conversation then turns to international economics, including how the poor can escape poverty and if the Bible’s teachings support the idea that nations must produce their own prosperity. Dr. Grudem then provides his solutions to cure international poverty.
Find out more about Dr. Wayne Grudem at www.waynegrudem.com.
Wayne Grudem is Research Professor of Theology and Biblical Studies at Phoenix Seminary in Phoenix, Arizona. He received a B.A. from Harvard University, an M.Div. and a D.D. from Westminster Seminary, Philadelphia, and a Ph.D. (in New Testament) from the University of Cambridge, England. He has published twenty books, including his newest book, The Poverty of Nations: A Sustainable Solution, which was published in August, 2013. He was also the General Editor for the 2.1 million-word ESV Study Bible (Evangelical Christian Publishers Association Book of the Year and World magazine book of the year, 2009). He is a past president of the Evangelical Theological Society, a co-founder and past president of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, and a member of the Translation Oversight Committee for the English Standard Version of the Bible. He and his wife Margaret have been married since 1969 and have three adult sons.
ANNOUNCER: Welcome to the Solomon Success Show, where we explore the timeless wisdom of King Solomon and the Bible, as it relates to business and investing. False prophets and get-rich-quick schemes are everywhere; let’s not be distracted by these. Instead, let’s go to the source: the eternal principles that create a life of peace, power, and prosperity. Here’s our host, Jason Hartman.
JASON HARTMAN: Welcome to the Solomon Success Show. This is your host, Jason Hartman, where we talk about Biblical principles applied to business and investing. Learning from King Solomon, of course. And we will be back with a fantastic guest for you in just a moment here. But be sure to visit our website, www.solomonsuccess.org, or www.solomonsuccess.com. Take advantage of our extensive blog library, and our free content. I think you’ll find some fantastic things there. So, be sure to visit us on the web at www.solomonsuccess.com.
JASON HARTMAN: It’s my pleasure to welcome Dr. Wayne Grudem to the show! He is one of America’s leading theologians, co-founder of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, general editor of the ESP Study Bible, and author of The Poverty of Nations: A Sustainable Solution, and also author of Business for the Glory of God: The Bible’s Teaching on the Moral Goodness of Business. And he’s got about 18 other books, so I’m just mentioning those too. Wayne, welcome! How are you?
WAYNE GRUDEM: Doing well, thank you Jason.
JASON HARTMAN: Well good, good. And you’re coming to us today from my town, which is Phoenix, Arizona!
WAYNE GRUDEM: That’s right.
JASON HARTMAN: So it’s great to have you. So, tell us a little bit about The Poverty of Nations, if you would.
WAYNE GRUDEM: A few years ago, Jason, someone asked me, why is Africa so poor? It was a fairly prosperous couple from Nairobi, Kenya, actually. But, they were wondering why most of their nation, and most of Sub-Saharan Africa remained in poverty. And I didn’t know. Began to read some economic history, and began to talk with a friend of mine, Barry Asmus, a professional economist. And he and I found that his background as an economist, and my background as a professor of theology and Biblical studies, really meshed with the same kinds of answers to why nations become prosperous, or why they remain in poverty. So we’ve developed this book, The Poverty of Nations: A Sustainable Solution, that explains solutions—real steps, actually 79 specific steps, that nations can take that will every one of them help their nations grow out of poverty to increasing prosperity. And the steps are anchored in the wisdom of the Biblical principles found in the teachings of the Bible, but they’re also proven through economic history over the last 250 years. So, that’s what the book is. We’re very encouraged about it, because it gives hope. It says to poor nations, there are some specific things you can do. Changes within your nation that will release your people to become much more productive and eventually increase the prosperity of your nation.
JASON HARTMAN: Well, fantastic. Well, talk to us about some of these principles that Africa hasn’t followed?
WAYNE GRUDEM: Yeah. It’s not only Africa, of course. It’s Haiti, which is not too far from the United States, it’s—
JASON HARTMAN: The poorest country in our hemisphere. Yeah.
WAYNE GRUDEM: Yes. And a number of poor countries in Latin America, and of course, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, a number of countries in Asia. So, it’s Africa to some extent, but other countries in Central America as well. So, why. What’s the problem? Well, we aim at three broad categories. We have first of all, the economic system in a country. A country has to have a free market economy. That’s where the people, not the government, decide what is bought and sold, and what is produced. Along with a free market in the economy, the economy has to have private ownership of property, it has to have a stable currency and low taxes, and we discuss what it means to be a free market economy under the rule of law. So that’s the first area: the economic system. That is saying to nations, get away from the idea that government can plan everything and control everything in the economy. It never works. It hasn’t worked under socialism, it hasn’t worked under communism, and it will not work in the 21st century. So there are six principles to do with the economic system.
Next, we have actually 38 principles or standards or factors having to do with the government in a nation, where basically we’re saying, here are the steps a nation can take whereby it will rule for the good of the people rather than the benefit of the rulers and their friends. And that is the problem that comes back again and again in poor nations where you have powerful, wealthy, corrupt rulers, and their friends own all the businesses and have all the power. And then their other friends are the judges in the courts, and poor people don’t have an opportunity to hold the government accountable, or to have wrongs righted in the courts. So, we have 35 areas where, such as, the government accountable to the people, courts showing no favoritism or bias, there are separation of powers in government, limitations of the powers of government, government protecting citizens against crime and disease, and then protecting freedom—freedom to own property, to buy and sell, transport goods, to relocate, to take a different job if you want, and many other freedoms. So, that’s the second large area. The things that government has to protect people from, and the freedoms that government has to preserve so that a government really serves the good of the people. And if poor countries will begin to make changes in any or all of those 38 specific factors that we mentioned, again, we think they will be fulfilling the teaching of the Bible in Romans 13:4 where it says the civil authority is God’s servant for your good. And so, that’s God’s principle, that government should do good for the people rather than do ill, or harm. It should punish evil and reward what is good and right. That’s the second area of the three.
JASON HARTMAN: Let’s talk—I mean, certainly we know that African countries do not have stable currencies. I mean, Zimbabwe’s the poster child for that, obviously. But, the countries do differ. A lot of them have lawlessness, they have dictators, and so forth. But the one thing I sort of question, is your first statement about free markets. I mean, if markets are corrupt, they’re not truly free. But at least conceptually, they do have free markets in most African countries, don’t they? I mean, versus communism, or socialism.
WAYNE GRUDEM: No, they don’t. No they don’t. And there is, every year the Heritage Foundation and Wall Street Journal jointly publish something called the Index of Economic Freedom. I just got the 2014 Index of Economic Freedom last week, or two weeks ago. And the—this ranks 178 countries in the world from the most free—Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, Switzerland, New Zealand are the top five; Canada’s number six—and down to the bottom is Iran, Eritrea, Venezuela, Zimbabwe, Cuba, North Korea, are the bottom five or six. And uniformly, those free nations are much more prosperous, and the oppressed nations are much more stricken with poverty for the majority of the people, though there are a few wealthy rulers even in North Korea. So, no, they don’t—and as far as African nations, the only African nation—well, there’s Mauritius, an island nation, very small, off the coast of Africa. But other than that, the only Sub-Saharan African nation to make it in the top 30 countries of the world was Botswana. And it’s doing pretty well. But many of them—they don’t have protected property rights, they don’t have a fair court system, and they don’t have protection against crime, and so, no, they don’t have free markets. Free market doesn’t mean crime runs rampant. Because if people steal something from you, you’re not entering into a voluntary free transaction; you’re losing it against your will, so that’s—
JASON HARTMAN: Right. I would just—
WAYNE GRUDEM: Free market means subject to rule of law.
JASON HARTMAN: And I agree, I would just say that a little differently, I would say they have rule of law. So that’s, that’s obviously a pillar of a free market. But the laws are open and free, and people can seek recourse against perpetrators—
WAYNE GRUDEM: And I would add, Jason, I know your radio emphasizes Biblical teachings and Biblical principles for business and investment and financial stewardship. And I would say as far as the Biblical support for free markets, we see it in the assumption of private property, right in the Ten Commandments, where the 8th Commandment says, you shall not steal. If I shouldn’t steal your donkey, or your ox, or your land, of course that assumes that those things belong to you, they don’t belong to me! The Commandment against stealing assumes private property. And so, that’s part of a free market. And then there’s a Biblical teaching on stewardship; we’re responsible before God to be stewards of what he entrusts to us, and that—you can’t be a good steward of something if you don’t own it. And then there’s a Biblical teaching on the limited role for government. It’s supposed to punish those who do wrong, and praise those who do right, or do good. But in the Book of Samuel, in the Old Testament, Samuel is a model of a righteous king. He stands before the people at the end of his [unintelligible] in 1 Samuel 12 and says, whose ox have I taken? Whose donkey have I taken? Whom have I defrauded? And they say, you have not. But, he warns them, if you get a king, this is what the king will do. And in 1 Samuel 8, he says the king will take and take and take and take. He’ll take your sons and take your daughters to be his servants; he’ll take your lands, he’ll take your fig trees, and he’ll take the best of your produce, and you will be slaves. And so, that’s the prediction of the corruption of a government that wants more and more and more from the people, rather than leaving the people free. So, we see those things, and some other things about equality, and image of God, and limitations of the role of government, we see as justifications for the idea of private property, limited government, and that means you have a free market system.
JASON HARTMAN: Yeah, well, great points, definitely. Okay, well, what else can we know about The Poverty of Nations?
WAYNE GRUDEM: Well, we talked about the first area, a free market economic system; the second area is a government that serves for the good of the people, not for the good of the rulers. But the third area, we have 35 cultural values and beliefs that really are important in a nation, and we say that pastors have a big role. Pastors, priests, rabbis, religious leaders, have a big role in influencing the values in a culture. And I’ll mention a few of those, Jason, if I could. The society values truthfulness, and it values private ownership of property; it doesn’t believe that stealing is good. I mean, if you compare a country where people tell the truth, as opposed to the one where they don’t, you can imagine what a difference it is to do business in those countries, or to try to develop a business. Truthfulness is a huge asset. When you don’t have truthfulness you can’t trust your accountants, you can’t trust your employees on the receipts they bring to you, you can’t trust your inventory managers to tell you what they’ve done, you can’t trust your employees to tell you how many hours they’ve worked. So when truthfulness breaks down, it destroys the economic productivity of a country. But behind that is the belief in God, and a belief that God holds all people accountable for their actions. If you have an atheistic society, people will not feel accountable, and they won’t nearly be as likely to be honest and diligent and productive in their work. On the other hand, another cultural value is not only a belief in God, but belief that God approves of several character traits that relate to productivity, such as diligence in one’s work, faithfulness, devotion to production, worthwhile—production of worthwhile products from the earth, and people working as for the Lord and not for men, meaning they’ll be taking pride in the goodness of their work, that God believes in and honors literacy, so if people are able to read, read the Bible, of course, but then they’re able to read and advance in understanding how to be more productive economically. Well, there are a number of traits like that. Diligence, productivity, honesty, the view that things can get better in life, that time is linear, those are cultural values. There are other things—
JASON HARTMAN: Before you go on, I’d like to talk about one of those that I’ve given quite a bit of thought to over the years. And that is the concept that when people only feel that they’re accountable to government, or a man-made institution like government, whatever it be, but you know, usually it’s government—in these secular cultures, like you know, the former Soviet Union, etcetera—it’s interesting that all of these dictators—I mean, I’m not an expert. I don’t know if all of them squashed religion. But the vast majority of them, at least. The big ones we know of. They don’t want anybody to believe in anything, do they? They just want them to believe in government only. Government as the highest power.
WAYNE GRUDEM: Right. Russia, Cuba, North Korea, other nations, when they’ve tried communism for a while. The tendency—the obliteration of religion, of course, I think Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto, he wanted to abolish private property, but he wanted to abolish religion as well, and the family, because those were threats to this government control of all of life.
JASON HARTMAN: It’s unbelievable. But I’ve been sort of wondering, what is going on in the human psyche? Is it really that simple, that they think, oh gosh, I can get away with something because the government won’t catch me? And if there’s nothing beyond the government, and that’s the highest power, there’s no concept of morality?
WAYNE GRUDEM: Well, Margaret Thatcher famously said that Socialism is not only inefficient, it is evil, because it produces morally corrupt people. It diminishes people’s responsibility and stewardship for their own property and their own wellbeing. So that’s the overview of the book. Other values, just, honoring business transactions, and honoring workers who are productive. Viewing business as a place where a good transaction in business, a good agreement benefits both parties, not just the seller, not just the buyer, but both parties. And then we come back at the end, Jason, to say look, we write this as evangelical Christians; we believe the Bible, and we think that overcoming poverty is very important, but it’s not the most important thing in the world. The most important things are what Jesus said are the first two commandments: love for God, and love for people. You should love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and mind and strength, and your neighbor as yourself. So, we want to say that more important than material prosperity, is loving friends and family, and many poor countries do well at that. And more important, even than loving friends and family, is the personal relationship with God, and loving God above all things. So, while we’re talking about poverty, we of course need to focus on economic productivity, because that’s the way nations will come out of poverty. But if we’re talking about ultimate things, then relationship with God has to be put first above all.
JASON HARTMAN: Yeah. You know, I want to ask you, just for a moment, as we’re talking about these secular cultures, and the atheist movement in America, which I view as really just kind of ridiculous, frankly. I think atheism is a religion. I mean, these people are so high minded about it, they look at themselves as like these elites that know everything, and oh, you know, I’m so above this, you know, it’s just not logical. And you know, you ask them a simple question, and they can’t answer it! It’s really kind of amazing.
WAYNE GRUDEM: I’m on your side on that.
JASON HARTMAN: Yeah. But, talk—speak to it a little bit! I mean, what do you think about that? This drive in the left-wing media to create this secularist country?
WAYNE GRUDEM: Yeah. It’s no mystery. It’s a drive to be rid of accountability to God for one’s moral actions. And when people admit there is a God, then they’re accountable to Him. Or they realize they’re accountable to Him. The book of Romans of the New Testament says that the culmination of a long string of various kinds of evil that people do is, there is no fear of God before their eyes. Romans 3:18. And when people cast off a fear of final judgment, a fear of God, then of course, they’re free to engage in all sorts of selfish and immoral behavior. But the moral standards of the society spiral downward and downward and downward, and it’s a harmful thing. Very destructive.
JASON HARTMAN: Yeah, it really is. It sort of gets a little bit hard to kind of think about some of this stuff, because one of the authors I like quite a bit is Ayn Rand, who is like a devout, or was a devout atheist. And I disagree with her on that. However, I agree with her on pretty much everything else, you know? So, I would—
WAYNE GRUDEM: Well, people can have partial understanding of the truth. Understand the truth in one area of life, because it actually is a lot of common sense, in being productive, and having the freedom to enjoy the fruits of your labor. So that’s common sense, even though people don’t follow through with it in other areas. Adam Smith, in 1776, said that freedom, which the laws of Great Britain give to every person that he will enjoy the fruits of his labor, together with the security to enjoy that, is enough by itself to drive any nation to prosperity. So, when people have freedom to enjoy the fruits of their labor, then they will work to better their own conditions! And Adam Smith said that will drive any nation onward to increasing prosperity, and I think that’s true, if government will allow that rather than tax and tax and take and regulate.
JASON HARTMAN: No question about it, no question about it. Well, thank you very much. Give out your website, if you would, and tell people where they can—
WAYNE GRUDEM: Website is, yeah, www.WayneGrudem.com.
JASON HARTMAN: And books available at Amazon.com, all the usual places.
WAYNE GRUDEM: www.WayneGrudem.com, and yes, this book, The Poverty of Nations, is at Amazon.com, or other outlets.
JASON HARTMAN: Fantastic. Dr. Wayne Grudem: thank you so much for joining us today.
WAYNE GRUDEM: Thank you, Jason.
ANNOUNCER: This show is produced by the Hartman Media Company. All rights reserved. For distribution or publication rights and media interviews, please visit www.HartmanMedia.com, or email [email protected] Nothing on this show should be considered specific personal or professional advice. Please consult an appropriate tax, legal, real estate, or business professional for any individualized advice. Opinions of guests are their own, and the host is acting on behalf of Platinum Properties Investor Network, Inc. exclusively.
Transcribed by David