The Book Corner
Wealth & Poverty, Four Christian Views of Economics. Edited by Robert G. Clouse. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1984. 228 pp. Paper, $5.95.
Robert Clouse is professor of history at Indiana State University. This is the third volume he has edited for InterVarsity Press. All follow the same format—four evangelicals present their views on the subject at hand. Each author’s article is followed by shorter responses from the other three authors.
In this volume, Gary North argues for free market capitalism. He claims the laws of the Old Testament should be the basis of a Christian position today. “The topic of wealth and poverty should not be discussed apart form a consideration of the law of God and its relationship to the covenants, for it is in God’s law that we find the Bible’s blueprint for economics” (p. 27).
The guided-market system is defended by William E. Diehl. While advocating private ownership and a competitive market, he feels government should set certain limits and exercise some control. This is to prevent the abuse of power by the wealthy and the exploitation of the poor. The present policies of the United States generally follow this approach.
Art Gish advocates decentralistic economics. His is a very idealistic approach. He feels that the major causes of poverty in the world are oppression and injustice (p. 135). The rich oppress the poor. The solution is for the church to practice community and to share possessions. The church should influence the world by example, not by legislation.
“Private property is not a Biblical concept,” claims Gish (p. 136). “As Christians we need to make a complete break with the capitalist economy. Capitalism stands in clear contradiction to Biblical values. Profit and growth are its primary moral commitments” (p. 144).
Gish seems to want to apply voluntary Christian commitment and ethics to a fallen world in rebellion against God. His is a radical view of property which many Christians will not accept as Biblical.
John Gladwin urges centralistic economics. He argues that “unless central government takes a leading role through structural change and large provision, the problem of poverty will never be adequately met” (p. 189). Instead of less intervention by government, Gladwin wants more involvement. “By taxation there can be redistribution of wealth” (p. 194).
The subtitle of Clouse’s volume may be a misnomer. Perhaps it could be better called “Four views of Economics by Christians.” These views certainly differ drastically. Can all of them have equal Scriptural validity?
The book will certainly stretch one’s mind in thinking through these different positions on critical issues. Hopefully, it will help the reader come to a more Biblical position in his thinking.
—Donald L. Norbie
Classic Christian Commentary. Books for Christians. Charlotte, NC, 1987. 617 pp. Cloth, $7.95.
From the publishers of The Serious Christian series comes the first of a set of commentaries by Brethren writers of a past generation. The volume consists of four books, dealing with the four Gospels. Each writer uses a different style, characteristic of his writings, but all are faithful to the spirit and intent of the holy Word of God.
The section on Matthew is entitled “Messiah, The Prince” and stresses the Kingdom theme of the Gospel. It is in narrative form, with a final portion consisting of notes and outlines of each chapter, thus providing helpful material for the student and preacher in his study of Matthew’s Gospel. The author of the Matthew commentary is L. Laurenson, Editor of “Loving Words.”
The commentary on Mark’s Gospel is by Hamilton Smith and is a true verse-by-verse exposition. It is devotional in nature and emphasizes the dominant theme of the Gospel, the Servanthood of Christ as He served both men and God in His earthly ministry in complete submission to His Father’s will.
J. G. Benet is the author of the commentary on Luke, the book being a reprint of articles by the author which originally appeared in “Present Testimony” and “Christian Truth,” Christian periodicals of 1867 and 1957, respectively. It is in narrative form with a strong and warm personal touch which will appeal to the reader who is interested in the Manhood of Jesus as revealed by divine inspiration.
The commentary of the Gospel of John is by F. B. Hole. Each chapter is a reprint of an article originally published in the magazine “Scripture Truth.” It is narrative as well as expositional in form, one of the highlights of the book being the author’s explanation of our Lord’s last conversation with Peter in John 21. The deity of Christ is uppermost.
This volume is one that every believer should read along with his Bible in order to apply the message to his own heart and life.
—Arthur F. Wilder