What Do Ethics, Eschatology and Economic Progress Have in Common? Gary North Says: Plenty!

In a room full of scholars and economic specialists last week, Dr. Gary North gave a one-hour lecture at the 2013 Austrian Economics Research Conference, that parted the curtain on a bombshell thesis he offered in order to explain (or try to explain) the modern phenomenon of continous, compound economic growth, which inexplicably began in the Western world around 1800 and has continued unabated since then, and thus answer the unanswerable question (also the title of his speech), “How Come We’re So Rich?

I say bombshell because, in an economic school of thought that is heavily populated by atheists and anarchist-leaning libertarians, that’s exactly what it is.

Not to say that anybody in the room was surprised necessarily by Dr. North’s connecting the causational dots in his admittedly unproven theory regarding the unexpected onset of long-term economic progress and radical social change during the last two centuries.  He is, after all, the author of multitudes of books, articles, essays, tomes and commentaries spanning five decades, dealing with economic, social and historical issues from an explicitly biblical, presuppositional, Reformed/Calvinistic Christian perspective.

This is huge.

Not dry-as-dust intellectually huge.  But paradigm-shifting, preconceived-notion-challenging, random-walk-theory-demolishing, economic-myth-busting huge.

North is unique in his historical analysis because it is, in reality, a theological-historical-biblical analysis.  In Austrian, as well as in non-Austrian (anti-Austrian) circles, nobody does it better.

He alludes to the uniqueness of the uniqueness of his thesis during the final part of his lecture — namely, that a sea change in ethics, beginning in the 17th century, coincided with a sea change in eschatology at the same time to begin creating a slow and steady, compounding increase in economic output and economic growth throughout the developing world, starting with northwest Europe — specifically the British Isles — and spreading almost immediately to the United States.

But why?

That’s the $64 trillion dollar question.  One thing is for sure, according to North.  It took from the time of Moses and the Book of Deuteronomy to the time of the battle-weary, ready-for-a-new-and-profitable-adventure Dutch Calvinists of the early 17th century for, (a), the pursuit of personal wealth and profit and material gain — entrepreneurship — to be considered a legitimate (ethical) one for man, even Christian man, and, (b), the prevailing world-and-life view and outlook with regard to the future — especially with regard to the progress and success of the Kingdom of God on earth prior to the Lord’s return — to become decidedly optimistic: postmillennialism.

He says that modern capitalism, the basic concept behind Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations and Mises’s principle of corporate economic prosperity flowing from individual prosperity through the pursuit of “self-interest” in serving customers in a free marketplace, is a secularized version of the biblical-covenantal principle of corporate prosperity flowing from individual ethical obedience in the pursuit of prosperity and wealth in society for the service of the kingdom of God.

Not your garden-variety evangelical message of pietistic, premillennial poverty for God’s people!

No doubt, some in the audience took exception with his theological explanation (hypothesis) for the reasons behind the unremitting advances and successes and progress of the modern world, both in the economic and social order.  But, all were forced to admit to the fact that, to date, no one — North’s main point — has been able to offer a satisfactory explanation, economic or otherwise, for this radical transformation taking place, when it did, how it did, why it did, where it did and to whom it did.

Those of us who embrace the optimistic eschatology he spoke of, as well as the Scripture’s ethical endorsement of entrepreneurship and individual enterprise in the earthly economy of man for the service of the Kingdom of God, won’t find it hard to appreciate the mystery and majesty of the question, and the richness of the historical insights, riveting vignettes and solid theological perspectives offered by Dr. North, evinced masterfully in his speech at Mises.

A tour de force by the professor of Christian Reconstruction (and conscientious statesman of Austrian economics). Worth watching… twice!

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One thought on “What Do Ethics, Eschatology and Economic Progress Have in Common? Gary North Says: Plenty!

  1. Jesus Christ has been operating at the helm of the economy of God, Ephesians, 1:10, to produce The Modern Economy; he worked beginning in the late 1700s, to develop both the British Empire, and later the US, as two iron legs of global hegemony presented in the Statue of Empires seen in Daniel 2:25-45.

    Furthermore, Jesus Christ worked to bring forth both ethics and post millennialist eschatology, so that money, that is wealth, could become what it is today.

    And Jesus, is completing the Age of Fiat Wealth, where investment choice ruled supreme; and is bringing forth the Age of Diktat, where diktat reigns supreme in ten zones of fascist regional governance, debt servitude, and totalitarian collectivism, as seen in bible prophecy of Revelation 13:1-4.

    Jesus Christ desires that one be motivated by Him as one’s life, Colossians 3:2-4, and by Him being one’s all inclusive live experience, Colossians 3:11, whereby one keeps Christ’s Word and does not deny His Name, Revelation 3:9.

    And it is Christ’s desire that one’s conscience, that is one’s discernment of what is genuinely right or wrong, come from the price He paid for sin, that being his very life. Unfortunately, some have seared their conscience and are unable to sort out right from wrong; these manifest as poneros, which is Strong’s Word # 4190, defined as defined as bad, evil, or wicked, depending on literary or life context, and carries the meaning of diseased, calamitous, morally culpable, derelict, mischievous and malicious. The only conscience such have is that which satisfies their own carnal desires to be preeminent, confrontational, nosy, or dependent on the public at large.

    Those in Christ, as Pastor Cornelius R. Stam writes, have a clear conscience, that comes from the internalizing the sacrifice that Christ gave his life for sin, and with this resource have the ability to sort out right from wrong, and live thereby. These perceive The Present Truth and live in Christ’s virtue, and New Testament ethics, 2 Peter 1:1-12, such as pursuing peace with all men.

    It is Jesus Christ who provides the spiritual wisdom, that is the heartfelt capability, as well as the understanding, that is the insight, to live in virtue, that is in a beneficial way, both of which come from knowing, being established, and living in the Present Truth, 2 Peter 1:1-12.

    The foundation of financial morality and the foundation of ethics comes from the comprehension of what constitutes liberty.

    I am not a Libertarian, I am a Christian, and I have financial moral experience as well as virtuous living with others, to the extent that I live in, and manifest Christ.

    Jesus Christ alone provides freedom; and only His Word provides liberty. He requires that believers in Him have respect for the personal property of another, and live in a non-aggressive way, and desires that his believers manifest His virtuous characteristics in their speech and behavior.

    One is only free to the extent he knows and experiences genuine sovereignty. Christians belong to the All Sovereign Jesus Christ. Knowing His sovereignty, they experience the freedom He provides. Jesus said in John 8:36, “If therefore the Son shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed”. John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible relates, “Men are home born slaves; the chosen people of God are such by nature; they are born in sin, and are the servants of it; Christ the Son makes them free; and then they are no more foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God. This suggests, that true freedom is by Jesus Christ, the Son of God; see Galatians 5:1. He it is that makes the saints free from sin; not from the being of it in this life, but from the bondage and servitude of it, from its power and dominion, and from its guilt and liableness to punishment for it, by procuring the pardon of their sins through his blood, and justifying their persons by his righteousness.”

    Those who have life in Christ, should be ever maturing in the only right there is, and finding genuine liberty therein, as put forth in John 1:12, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.”

    The objective reality is defined as Christ, Ephesians 4:21. Motivation comes largely out of values (the things that one is committed to), virtue (beneficial characteristics), and ethics (right way with others). For the Christian these are found in the Present Truth, which enables one to be the divine person, 2 Peter 2:1-12.

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