The Economics of Worship

Matthew 13:44-46 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.”

Have you ever gone to the store to buy something you thought would cost you $20 and found out that they wanted $50 for it? What did you do? Did you buy the item? Well that depends, doesn’t it? If you’re like me you probably stood there for a few minutes and mulled it over before ultimately making a decision either to buy it or to walk away. What determines the outcome of that choice? What are you considering as you mull this over?

Essentially what you are doing is making a value judgment. You are deciding whether you really need or want that item. What goes into this decision depends in large part on your circumstances and what the item is, but ultimately it comes down to your values. What is important to you? What do you consider to be of greater worth, the item or the $50 you would have to spend on it? Whatever the outcome, you have acted according to your values. You may feel grumpy about the situation, for you may have preferred to buy the item for $20, but if you bought, you showed that you really did value that item more than your $50. If you didn’t buy, you showed that you valued it less than $50.

This is a fundamental principle of economics. If two people engage in trade through voluntary mutual consent, then they both expect to benefit. If I have a pen, and you have $5, and I sell you my pen for $5, then you wanted my pen more than you wanted your $5, and I wanted your $5 more than I wanted my pen. In this case, we both expect to win. Economics is based on this assumption. For who would voluntarily consent to an action they do not expect to benefit from? It’s like two baseball teams. Team A has four good outfielders, but only four good starting pitchers. Team B has only two good outfielders, but six good starting pitchers. So Team A says to Team B, I’ll give you an outfielder for a starting pitcher. Team B thinks it over and agrees. Now both teams are better off because they both have a full outfield and a full starting rotation.

When individuals participate voluntarily in a free market, then it can be assumed that they expect to benefit from the transactions they agree to. If I’m at the store hoping to buy printer ink for $20 and the store wants $50, I have to decide how important it is to me to have that printer ink. If I have a super important document I need to print, then I may just value it that much. If I’m just supporting a hobby, or looking to buy a backup, then I’m likely to pass and wait for a better deal. In any case, my circumstances and my values determine to me which is more important. Indeed, trade is made of win.

But this post isn’t really about economics, it’s about worship. What does this economic principle have to do with worship?

Continue reading The Economics of Worship

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Theology of Human Authority and Civil Government Part 4

This is it, I promise!. This post is the fourth and final part in a 4 part series on a Biblical Theology of Human Authority and Civil Government. You will really be lost trying to read this post on its own without the context of the other posts. I strongly recommend getting caught up first.

In Part 1, I laid a foundation for the discussion, noting that my opponents and I share critical common ground and that we need to properly contextualize Romans 13 if we are to understand what it means to us as we stand in the place of the civil magistrate in the voting booth.

In Part 2, I discussed the foundational principle of human ethics: that each individual person is made by God and for God and in his image, which means that each individual person has inherent human dignity and the right to his life, liberty and property. It is with those things in mind that we turn our attention to Romans 13.

In Part 3, I analyzed Romans 13 and discovered that there are some Biblical commands for the civil magistrate that we ought to consider: namely that the civil magistrate is commanded to punish criminals and that he is commanded not to be a terror to good conduct. 

In today’s post, I deal with a potential objection, discuss some additional concerns, like what light 1 Peter 2 and Titus 3 shed on this, and lay out my Conclusion. Thank you for reading!

OBJECTION! Surely the Government Can Do Things That Don’t Involve the Sword?

No, it can’t.

Continue reading Theology of Human Authority and Civil Government Part 4

Theology of Human Authority and Civil Government Part 3

Thanks for stopping by. This post is the third part in a 4 part series on a Biblical Theology of Human Authority and Civil Government. I really do not recommend reading this post without first coming to grips with what I have said in previous posts, so please check them out.

In Part 1, I laid a foundation for the discussion, noting that my opponents and I share critical common ground and that we need to properly contextualize Romans 13 if we are to understand what it means to us as we stand in the place of the civil magistrate in the voting booth.

In Part 2, I discussed the foundational principle of human ethics: that each individual person is made by God and for God and in his image, which means that each individual person has inherent human dignity and the right to his life, liberty and property.

It is with those things in mind that in today’s post we turn our attention to Romans 13.

Romans 13

Now we get to Romans 13. For starters, here’s the text of Romans 13:1-7. As you read this, lets’ remind ourselves what perspective we are reading this from. We are not reading this as citizens under the authority of government. We are reading this as civil magistrates casting our votes for how the government will rule. We must ask ourselves, what does Romans 13 reveal about how God wants me to govern?

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. (2) Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. (3) For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his  approval, (4) for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. (5) Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. (6) For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. (7) Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

Certainly I must be stretching the text to say that it contains commands that must be obeyed by the civil magistrate!

Continue reading Theology of Human Authority and Civil Government Part 3

Theology of Human Authority and Civil Government Part 2

Hi there. This is Part 2 of a 4 Part series on a Biblical Theology of Human Authority and Civil Government.

In Part 1, I laid the groundwork necessary to interact with this discussion adequately, noting that my opponents and I share critical common ground and that we need to properly contextualize Romans 13 if we are to understand what it means to us as we stand in the place of the civil magistrate in the voting booth.

For that reason, we turn our attention in today’s post to a fundamental Biblical principle for all human ethics and consider how it applies to civil government.

The Foundational Principle of Human Ethics

As discussed in my previous post, I will get to Romans 13 and deal with it in-depth. However, in recognition of the fact that Romans 13, at least as traditionally understood, speaks to citizens, and we are interested in God’s mind as it pertains to civil magistrates, I want to first back up to determine if there are any foundation and universal principles we can glean from Scripture that will give us some parameters that we need to keep in mind.

Continue reading Theology of Human Authority and Civil Government Part 2

Theology of Human Authority and Civil Government Part 1

This is part 1 of a 4 part series on a Biblical Theology of Human Authority and Civil Government. This first post sets up the latter posts by introducing the topic and then laying some ground work. Please stay tuned for the next installments.

Introduction

I’ve found myself roped into several debates lately over political issues in which I have needed to defend my position as a Libertarian. This is partly because of my nature to debate things. I hope that nobody perceives me as an argumentative person, or as one who is arrogant or condescending. I suspect, however that such is the unfortunate case. In truth, while I do have to fight against these temptations, the stronger forces that drive me to debate are the strong conviction I have on these matters and the fact that I’m an optimist.

Yeah, I’m a bit of an optimist. I generally have a positive outlook on the nature of human discourse. I truly believe that if we can discuss things rationally, we can come to an understanding of the truth. This is not to place too much faith in human reason or ability, but rather in the authority of Scripture, which ought to be our rule, and in the power of the Holy Spirit to guide us in the process. That being said, when someone engages with me, I assume that they are genuinely curious and that they are truly interested in hearing my side of things. On that assumption, I seek to explain myself as fully, clearly and accurately as i can. I refuse to project ill will on another, insisting that the benefit of every doubt be given. When a question is asked, I assume an answer is expected. I therefore strive to give the best one I can.

However, things very often devolve, as is the nature of the Internet. Sometimes intentions are not noble. Sometimes discussions get hijacked. Sometimes we are limited by time and media. Whatever the reason it seems that I am rarely able to give a full and well-reasoned defense of things. This is what drives me here. I maintain my hope that when believers discuss these things and when their discussion is guided by the Word of God, they can come to a better understanding of the truth, and a better bond with each other, regardless of whether the go away agreeing. For our sure hope is founded not in the correctness of our political platform, but in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ, his resurrection, and his promise of future glory.

To that end, I seek to lay before you my treatise on all things political.