|The Spirit of God and Free Markets|
|Written by Douglas Wilson|
|Monday, 27 December 2010 12:55|
Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty (2 Cor. 3:17). And wherever there is true, lasting liberty, the Spirit of God is to be thanked for it. There are momentary sensations of liberty that are not to be credited to Him, like jumping off a bridge and flapping your arms, which can feel like flying, but which actually is not. But real liberty, the genuine article, is always the work of the Spirit of God in the world.
And flipped around, all opposition to liberty in the world is opposition to what the Spirit is doing. The arguments against liberty are nothing if not confused, particularly economic liberty, and the work of the Spirit is a work of order, not of confusion (1 Cor. 14:33).
“And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubile unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family” (Lev. 25:10).
Everything about God’s purposes and plans converge upon liberty. This is the Spirit of jubilee. Proclaim liberty throughout the land, which cannot be done apart from the gospel. And when the gospel is preached in power, men are set free.
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised” (Luke 4:18).
And when these men are set free from their sins, these freed men in turn set their markets free. Slaves have never built a free economic system, and they never will. They always build tyrannies, with the people enslaved to their lusts and their masters at the bottom, and their masters enslaved to their lusts at the top.
One of the fundamental confusions that drives much of our discussion of American free markets is the confusion between businesses and markets. Being pro-free-market is not at all the same thing as being pro-General-Electric (say). Over the course of our history, American markets have only been comparatively free, but the Spirit of God is nowhere near done with us. We have been free compared to Cuba and Sweden, but we are not yet free compared to the standards of a postmill biblical republic.
The free market consists of the rules of the game. Someone who is pro-free-market thinks that clipping should be clipping for all teams, holding should be holding, and so forth. Someone who is pro-business only sees the rules of the game as one instrument among many that can be used to advance the self-interest of their favored team. Their only rule is winning. Now in the American game of free market football, our refs still make plenty of bad calls, with more than a few of them on the take. But the rules of the game are (still) somewhat recognizable.
Enter the Jim Wallis types, who point out all the cheating, and want to solve the problem by making it legal to bribe the refs and, for good measure, to make it legal for the refs to threaten the wife and children of any of the players. If pressed, he might even cite the Jubilee laws of the Old Testament, apropos of nothing.
So it is hard to determine which is sillier—professed Christians manufacturing chains with Lev. 25:10 stamped on every link, or atheistic Austrian economists pulling theories of true liberty out of the unregenerate heart of man. The former tries, using confused appeals to Augustine, to make the Spirit a slave trader, and the latter tries, using confused appeals to the Scottish Enlightenment, to make the devil the Lord of Manumission.