Stewardship and the Economy
At one level the Old Testament year of Jubilee concept served to keep the acquisition of material possessions in perspective. Perhaps a 100 percent inheritance tax or similar policy designed to spread material wealth would serve to grow a calmer economy. It could end the need for constant economic growth at we currently live with. And it would allow an economy to be based more on creativity and less on control.
How do we solve the crisis our world is facing? Here are a few ideas from a non-economist. I can save on using water, drive my car a lot less than I currently do, buy one less shirt a year, buy fewer books and newspapers, eat less meat, ensure that my garbage doesn’t go in the ocean, and take less of a pension so someone can have access to that money. But what will it accomplish if a little bit less is consumed by me?
The problem is that people all around the world, and especially the Third World, are having more kids. Having grandkids is the ultimate joy. Watching young babies being nurtured into this wonderful creation is validation of God’s goodness to us. Family is important to us all. But where do we draw the line?
I am currently serving CRWRC overseas and watching people deal with floods, destruction of homes, loss of income, little food, more disease, and loss of pride in what they did formerly. I am seeing a creation that is tired. I am seeing soil that has been overworked. I am seeing pristine parts of God’s beautiful creation groaning under the weight of overuse.
It is time to seriously look at ways of reducing the population. When I see 180 million people living in poverty (that’s about six Canadas) along a river stretch that is shorter than the Fraser River basin in BC, with unclean water that is flooding again, garbage strewn all over, broken-down homes and buildings, and no latrines for the majority, something is wrong.
To resolve this we need to come together as Christians, Muslims, Hindus, and Jews worldwide and ask how does this affect our view of family, having children, and birth control? Is there a common ground on this issue? If we don’t try to work together, God’s creation will continue to suffer.
New Westminster, British Columbia
I’m not an economist, but one of the concepts I would love to see implemented in the church is restoring the tabernacle of David. This would create jobs. And not just any job, but something that is invested in the eternal kingdom.
King David financed the worshipers the Levites in the temple so that they could worship God around the clock and not be distracted by other duties. Out of that worship came many of the psalms. I believe the Lord will give new songs to modern day worshipers as they spend extended time in his presence.
Does supporting people to pray and worship excuse the rest of us from prayer and worship? No way. King David spent much time in the temple as well because there was no other place he would rather be.
I’m attaching the study report of the Working Group on Ethics and the Earth of the RCA, “Globalization, Ethics, and the Earth” (presented to the General Synod of the RCA, June 2005). I served on this group. The consensus among economists is that environmental regulation has not been a tremendous drag on growth. At one time, people liked to claim that the poor economic performance of the 1970s was a product of the regulatory innovations at the beginning of that period—the Clean Air Act, the founding of the EPA, etc. This was pretty much debunked in early work by long-term University of Wisconsin economics professor Robert Haveman (BA, Calvin College, 1958). Most economists believe that if environmental regulations are designed in a smart way, making use of market-like mechanisms (cap and trade, anyone?), they pose very little risk to growth.
—John P. Tiemstra
Professor of Economics, Calvin College
Grand Rapids, Mich.
Though I heartily agree with Dr. Wayne Brouwer that we have too many people in prison (“I Was in Prison . . .”, Sept. 2012), his statistics for Canada are way off. Instead of 350,000 and 1 percent of Canada’s population, the official statistics (latest figures 2008-9) indicate 23,858 in provincial jails and 13,343 in federal prisons for a total of 37,201 or 0.01 percent, ten times fewer than the article cites. That is still too many. What is worse, official crime statistics in Canada have been falling for years, but Canada’s incarceration rate after falling a decade ago is now increasing again.
Severn Bridge, Ontario
Editor’s note: We’re sorry about the error: the number Brouwer actually wrote was 35,000, which is much closer to the total number of Canadians in prison cited by Bill Dykstra, a former prison chaplain.
I wondered why there was no mention of the training received in Christian schools as having an impact on the spiritual growth of our youth in Jill Friend’s article (“Celebrating Faith Milestones: Profession of Faith,” July 2012). After being introduced to the Christian Reformed church and Christian education at Dordt College, I have spent my entire adulthood teaching, supporting, working, giving, and praying for our Christian schools.
It has been my prayer that my students would grow and learn more about a service-filled life from their church, home, and school.
—Joyce Eggebeen Oostburg, Wisc.
When Robert De Moor recommends that “The institutional church should not pretend to know or advocate for specific policies” (“Boldly Proclaim and Profess,” July 2012), he provides us with a recipe for frustration, failure, and ultimately injustice. Standing atop a church spire and shouting principles—“Respect for Life!” “Just War!”—is useless unless it is followed with action. The action can certainly take different forms, but the church must take aim at specific unjust policies. The Church Fathers, Desmond Tutu, John Witherspoon, and others have shown this to be the standard practice of the church. The real, concretely visible church must address real, concrete injustice. Failure to do so is an abdication of our responsibility.
—Kent Van Til
Editor De Moor wrote of synod delegates speaking of Christ's whole church as an “organism” while our church is a more limited “institute.” In what is probably seen as an effort to save our denomination, some delegates said that we shouldn’t tackle such issues “outside our expertise” as climate change, economic injustice and our nation’s persistent racism.
For over fifty years, I've been a sociologist studying and working homeless people. My dad, who served as a CRC minister and Army chaplain, preached on the topics of poverty, pride, and wealth in sermons such as one that concerned the rich farmer who would build bigger barns (Luke 12) and many others of Jesus’ stories. Such sermons would not go well in many CRCs today or in the wealthier parts of our society.
Are they not relevant to our church as “institute”?
—Ron Vander Kooi