Economic Principles From the Bible – With Stephen McDowell – Why should Christians talk about money? What are the “true riches” Jesus spoke of? How do our personal choices impact the economy of a nation? How does your worldview impact your economic choices? Understanding stewardship can empower you to make a positive difference! Tune in to hear Stephen McDowel discuss his new book Stewarding the Earth, a Biblical View of Economics!
Air Date: 06/29/2022
Guest: Stephen McDowell
On-air Personalities: David Barton, Rick Green, and Tim Barton
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Faith and the Culture
Welcome to the intersection of faith and the culture. This is WallBuilders Live. We’re taking on the hot topics of the day from a biblical, historical, and constitutional perspective; really going to dive into that biblical perspective specifically on economics today.
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A lot of the good things you’re seeing in the culture right now, those were seeds planted by David Barton and WallBuilders years and years and years, literally decades ago. And we’re just so thankful that God has honored that and that we are continuing to restore America’s constitutional republic. So thanks for being a part of it and thanks for joining us today.
Who We Are
I’m Rick Green, former Texas legislator and America’s Constitution coach. Here with Tim Barton, national speaker and pastor and president of WallBuilders, and of course, David Barton, America’s premier historian and our founder at WallBuilders.
Alright, David and Tim, we got Stephen McDowell with us a little later in the program. Always good to have Stephen on the program, lots of great information at Providence Foundation. This one’s going to be about economics. And before anybody falls asleep, economics affects all of us. We’re talking about what affects your life, my life, our children, our country, our community, all our businesses, all of those things.
And there are actually just like all the other things we talk about on the program, there are principles that work and principles that don’t work. There are principles that you’ll be rewarded. And it’s just like Deuteronomy talks about, when we implement those things, we get the blessings; when we don’t implement it God’s way, we get the curses. And so Stephen is going to help us zero in on some of those economic principles from the Bible.
You’re also talking about things that have made guys like Dave Ramsay a cajillion dollars by basically taking two verses from the Bible and explaining them very slowly to people. You know, guys, it’s interesting as we talk about economics, I was a business major in college. Rick, I know you’ve done a lot of economics, dad with organizations and businesses that you run. We’ve all been around situations where economics were a necessity.
But also, even as Christians, it’s fascinating to me that when you begin to think about money, when you read the Bible and even the New Testament, and we’ve talked about this before, but you look at the parables of Jesus and the four Gospels, the fact that Jesus used money as an example in parables more than anything else, and actually gave thought to practical application when he talked about even the kingdom of heaven is like this.
It’s as if a man was going to go on a journey and he called his servants, and he gave them each money, and when you start looking at the way the Bible talks practically about deep spiritual truths, it often uses a monetary example. And even when you look a little deeper when Jesus said that if you’re not faithful with the unrighteous mammon, who can trust you the true riches?
Well, certainly I think as Christians, we would say, look, we want to prioritize, what are the true riches? And if Jesus said there are true riches, that’s what we want. But when he says, if you can’t be faithful in unrighteous mammon, then you can’t have the true riches, that means we probably should have more conversations in economics.
We should spend more time saying, what are biblical principles? How do we apply money in our situations? What do we do? Then we can talk about whether we need to tithe and save and maybe investments, and we can talk about practical things the Bible says.
But the bottom line of why money should be a very important part of the conversation is Jesus said if you’re not faithful in unrighteous mammon, then he’s not going to trust you with the true riches, this is where something like what Steve McDowell is doing with some of these basic principles of economics, it’s so important for us as Christians to understand things related to money and economics, this notion of capital and how we deal with things, because it is one of the ways that God measures our stewardship, our faithfulness. If we’ve been faithful in a little, then He will make us a leader, a ruler over much. He entrusts us with more.
This is something that I think, unfortunately, a lot of pastors, a lot of Christians have ignored or neglected when it’s very, very outlined and clear and highlighted in scripture. And then there are, fortunately, some great communicators, some great books, great teachers out there, and
Steve McDowell Certainly has Written a Lot of Really Fun Stuff About This.
You know, the other thing that stands out with this is, Rick, as you were talking about this, everybody’s going to go to sleep because we’re talking about economics, let’s change the narrative a little bit. We’re going to talk about the Bible. And I think this is where a lot of people miss it is when you look at Israel, Israel had been in slavery for 400 years when God brought them out of Egypt.
And the problem with being a slave for 400 years is you think like a slave, you act like a slave, expectations are of slavery. Everything’s wrong. Which is why when he tried to take them into the Promised Land, the first time he said, okay, you guys don’t get it, we’re going to have to have a new generation that thinks better than you guys do. So they go back to the world and they spent 40 years in wilderness, and they take those young generations in.
But key to all of that is God tried to change their thinking. He gave them not the Ten Commandments, which we always talk about, the Ten Commandments on the Mount. He gave them 613 commands from the Mount. The 613 commands is everything anybody needs to move from being slave to being really on top of the world.
And that’s what Israel did. They became one of the great nations in the world after having been in slavery for 400 years. And it wasn’t because they were a great nation, it’s because God gave them 613 laws that governed everything they did. Among that is economics. I’ll just give you an example.
If you ask most preachers, preacher, you study the Bible, you’ve got a degree in it, probably you went to Bible school somewhere, tell me what the Bible says about the following economic issues. Let’s take the estate tax.
What Does it Say?
What does it say about the inheritance tax? Anything about minimum wage? Or, about the capital gains tax? What does the Bible say about the capitation tax or the flat tax or the progressive tax?
Or what does the Bible say about debt? What does the Bible say about savings accounts? I don’t think most preachers could tell you much of any of the answers to that. And yet the Bible dealt with all of that.
And so you see, Israel go from being slaves to being one of the greatest economic powerhouses in the entire ancient world. What they did with the free market and what they did in turning into a prosperous economy wasn’t because they were great people, is because God gave them great ideas. And I think that’s the thing with economics. If we got to get back to seeing that as a biblical thing and that’s just biblical as what God says about the family, it’s as biblical as what God says about sharing our faith with others or anything else. It’s all God’s word. And we just need to get back into that. And that’s one of the things that Steve McDowell has spent years doing is looking at Bible and economics.
And so, I’ve talked to him recently, and this is stuff he’s sharing with people, not only in America, but across the world. This is something everybody wants to learn from. And God’s principles are universal. They’re not just for America. They’re for everybody in the world. And they’ll work anywhere they’re applied. And so McDowell has got a really good handle on the Bible and economics.
Such good stuff. I mean, we talk a lot about being good biblical citizens. Well, this is such a huge part of that is understanding good biblical principles on economics and money and how to deal with those things. In fact, we’re going to get Stephen to come speak at Patriot Academy’s leadership congress this year as well to teach that to young people as well so that they are prepared to lead in this area. So let’s take a quick break. When we come back, we’ve got Stephen McDowell with us. You’re listening to WallBuilders Live.
This is Tim Barton from WallBuilders with another moment from American history. The year after the American War for Independence ended, we began addressing the issue of Muslim terrorists in North Africa who were attacking American ships and killing and enslaving American seamen.
Congress dispatched John Adams and Thomas Jefferson to negotiate peace. And when they asked the Muslim Ambassador the reason for the unprovoked attacks, he told them that it was written in their Qur’an, that it was their right and duty to make war upon them whenever they could be found.
Sixteen years when negotiations failed and in 1801, America sent its military to crush the terrorists. When that war ended in 1805, the first American edition of the Qur’an was published urging Americans to read the Qur’an to see for themselves that its teachings were incompatible with the safety and peace of non-Muslims.
To see the first American Qur’an and to get more information about America’s first war on Islamic terror, go to qallbuilders.com.
Welcome back to WallBuilders Live. Thanks for staying with us. Always good to have Stephen McDowell on. Well, I say always good, it has been way too long. Stephen, good to have you back on brother.
Well, it’s great to be with you again, Rick.
Man, we talked about biblical government a couple years ago. But several years ago, we were talking off the air, trying to remember when it was, but we did like 10 episodes in a row on the Ten Commandments, did a day on each of the Ten Commandments, talked about the blessing that they are to us and to the culture whenever they’re followed. And that might have been when not only did I have darker hair, but you and David Barton had darker hair. It might have been that long ago.
Yeah, I have had gray hair a long time. So I don’t think is that long ago.
“Stewarding the Earth”
Man, well love you, brother. Love all the great work that you’re doing and this new book on economics, “Stewarding the Earth” not just needed here but around the world and we were talking off air. Man, you’re being called to teach this in other countries as well as the US.
Yeah, for the past 10 years, I’ve been teaching a lot throughout Latin America, and in particular, people are interested in this subject of economics from a biblical perspective as every nation ought to be because this deals with our everyday living in the life and to what degree that we can have what we need to carry on the mission God has for us and be alive.
And so I was asked to kind of put together a whole book that they could use and some of their schools and training courses. And that’s what motivated me to put down in writing what I’ve been teaching for many years and it resulted in this book “Stewarding the Earth: A Biblical View of Economics”. It’s currently being translated into Spanish and Portuguese so they can continue to use this.
I love it. I love it. We need it. We needed desperately. And just a couple of basic principles to start with here that you point out in the book, first one, “Good choices produce prosperity and advancement and bad choices, of course, have their consequences as well”. That basic idea, or as you say, bad choices produce negative effects, I mean, it sounds so simple, but it’s so true; garbage in, garbage out; good principles in, good stuff out. And this couldn’t be more true with the basic laws of nature and nature’s God, and that includes the laws of economics.
Economics and Our Choices
Yeah, you could say that economics is the science of choice. You know, our choices individually determine our personal economic condition. But it’s also true of the nation at large, the choices that millions of citizens make every day affects the economy overall. So if we make bad choices, we get bad results. If we make good choices, we get good ones.
And that’s why our worldview determines the choice that we make. So our economic choices are dependent upon our moral beliefs, our spiritual beliefs, because they help determine, hey, am I going to live according to my means? Am I going to labor hard? Am I going to be productive? Am I got to be honest in my dealings? So, all of these biblical ideas impact not just our personal economy, as I said, but the whole nation.
Already was your first comment, Stephen, you’re already teaching different than what most people think of with regard to economics. Because most people when you say that word or you talking about they think this is out of my control, this is something that people can’t control that it just happens, that is just is, whatever is happening out there in the marketplace, it just is, it’s not the good stuff; and it’s not the decisions of the country, or the policies, or the collective decisions of individuals. That in and of itself should empower us to say, you can make a difference, you can choose well.
And that’ll take us to the next, that we can’t cover the whole book, but the next topic you point out in the book is your worldview is going to have an impact on your economic choices, whether or not you believe in God, whether or not you believe in the Bible. So if we do have a choice, now how we make that choice, how do we get the right good stuff in our head to make good choices on economics?
Principles for All of Life
Yeah. You understand that the Bible speaks to all of life. The Bible is full of economic principles, business principles, that we need to discover and learn and began to apply them. Because God tells us, gives the foundation of what we might call biblical economic system. We have a right to own private property that we benefit from the fruits of our labor, that the free market economy is what the Bible teaches.
It also teaches about limited government which are important. You know, these are some general principles that scripture teaches us that when you apply them, it has an immense effect on the productivity of the nation.
Yeah. And we used to do that, right. I mean, these things that you just mentioned was sort of part of the American education. We taught those principles so that most Americans understood them.
Yeah. And today, unfortunately, socialism or statism is what is predominantly communicated, if anything at all is taught about, economic ideas that we rethink. As you said earlier, hey, we can’t do anything about the economy, it’s beyond our grasp, which, interestingly, Noah Webster is original 1828 dictionary, his first definition of economics had to do with household management. Because how we manage our households determines the economic condition of the whole nation.
And then a third definition, he talks about frugality and the use of money. So those really are two fundamental things. There’s frugality, be wise, and also manage our household wealth. And I took some economics courses in college, but I wasn’t taught anything like this at all. I just thought it is some kind of system that the government sets up that helps determine all kinds of stuff that was outside my reach or much about my comprehension.
Understanding Our Origins
But economics is really simple concept to understand. And I think what’s important, we need to understand that from the very beginning when God created man in His image, He gave him a mission that dealt with economics. He told him to be productive, to take the natural resources I’ve put in the earth, to rearrange them to create new and better goods and services to benefit mankind.
So our original mission to take dominion over the earth or rule and subdue the earth has to do with economics. And so we as Christians need to recognize we have a mission that involves economics, from the very beginning. Added to that, once man fell is certainly the redemption commission, we need to redeem man. But the original mission of being productive and ruling over there still applies to us.
Yeah, I wish we had more time. I got to get you to drill down on one thing that you mentioned, though, because nobody uses this word anymore ‘frugality’. You talk in the book about live frugally. While enjoying material things, you’re not talking about being hermits and never using the money that God’s blessed us with. But you do point out that that is a vital principle. So for most of our audience that may have never even heard the word before, that’s it’s not used anymore, what do you mean, ‘live frugally’?
Well, God created a world that has renewable resources. We have an abundance of resources that animals reproduce, plants grow, water recycles, energy from the sun. So we don’t live in a resource short world, as your secular socialists will tell you” they’re unlimited. But the amount of resources any individual has in his lifetime are limited.
Therefore, we need to use them very carefully. We need to not be a prodigal with those, a wasteful. We don’t want to waste everything God puts into our hands. So we need to live frugally, live wisely and just use what we have to for it to produce fruit 30, 60, 100 hundredfold.
So frugality just involves a wise use of the resources God puts into your hands. And as you said, God wants us to live in a blessed state. He wants us to have wealth and have riches in order that we might fulfill our mission to rule over the earth. That’s why He gives us resources so we can accomplish our mission.
That’s so good. I mean, even the comparison that you threw out there not to be the prodigal, not to be that one that takes the inheritance, takes the blessings that God’s given and just waste, waste, waste, and then come to the end of ourselves, but to be the servants that multiplied the talent. And you even mentioned why. We want to take those blessings, multiply them, work hard with them, and multiply them so that we can then turn around and bless more people, advance God’s kingdom, as you talk about in the book.
And you even mentioned, from the Westminster catechism, that first question, what’s the chief end of man? It’s to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. And then you even have a section on how to enjoy Him. I love this application of economics to our walk with Christ. I think that’s the best way I could describe what you’re doing with the book.
Well, that’s a good explanation, because I do talk about through the book, principles and policies for economic flourishing, both national and personal. And in the book, I really answered the problems that we face today with inflation and other things that affect everyone. And so I think it’s a timely book, and folks would enjoy reading it.
Good stuff, brother. Good stuff. Okay, best place to get it, still Providence Foundation?
Providencefoundation.com. You can order it from our website. Of course, you can also get it at Amazon as well. But we’d love to send you a copy. And we have it on sale at our website, Providencefoundation.com.
Small Group Classes
This is a unique time, I think, where people are more interested and hungry for this kind of information than I’ve ever seen in my lifetime or the 30 years that I’ve been engaged in this arena. I would think this is the kind of thing that you get multiple copies of the book, sit around with the family and study it together or read it on your own and come together and talk about it or maybe even almost like a Bible study or even a Sunday school class. Is that an appropriate use of the book as well?
Without a doubt, yeah, there are many people already using it as a text, when I say text, don’t think of like when I went to school, it’s a textbook. God’s principles are liberating, they’re life-giving. They’re enjoyable to learn. They’re applicable to our lives. And that’s how I wrote this book. It’s full of myth, but it’s easy to understand.
And it’s also very applicable to our everyday life because I’ve been dealing with personal business and principles of business in the book. So it helps you carry on the work that God’s called you to do and your work and calling and to the nation at large now, how do we take care of inflation and how to control government spending, but then also elements of good personal finance, we discussed as well.
Good stuff. Stewarding the Earth: A Biblical View of Economics by Stephen McDowell, our guest today. Providencefoundation.com is the place to get the book or at Amazon. Stephen, always good, man, thank you so much for coming on, and thanks for continuing to pump out such good material that’s applicable to our lives and again, that biblical application of these principles brings blessings, not just for ourselves, but the people around us. Appreciate you, brother.
Thank you, Rick.
Stay with us, folks. We’ll be right back with David and Tim Barton.
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Welcome back to WallBuilders Live. Thanks for staying with us. And thanks to Steven McDowell for joining us as well. We’ll have a link today to this new book he’s got and to the website Providence Foundation so you can get more of the materials from Stephen.
But guys, as I was saying before coming to the break, I thought I think it’s so important to teach young people these things early in life so they can start with good biblical principles with regard to how they take care of their money, how they manage their money, when they start a business, how to start that business, such good stuff for us to be instilling not just for ourselves, but for the kiddos too.
Yeah, and there’s no doubt. One of the things that you guys pointed out was that you don’t want to be the prodigal son, but you want to be the servant that multiplied. And this is something that a lot of young people need to hear, it needs to be repeated, needs to resonate for them. This is one of those things you put in the playlist and you just put repeat over and over and over.
And so often for young people, they want to go off and explore and experience and do their own thing. And the reality is you’re always going to learn from experience. It’s just a matter of who’s experienced you’re going to learn from. Are you’re going to learn from your experience or somebody else’s experience?
And it’s better to learn from other people’s experience so you don’t have to go through the things for yourself where you look at the prodigal son, and he wanted and was selfish and pursued his own things and then he lost everything. And only when no one would give him anything that he finally come to his senses, said man, I should just go back and work for my dad because even those servers are taken care of. But the reality is we want to be the kind of stewards that when we are entrusted something, we don’t want to waste it on our own selfishness, but we’re able to multiply what God has given us. We are faithful stewards.
And these are definitely the kind of lessons that young people need to learn so that they’re not 25 or 28, or 30, and finding themselves in tens of thousands of dollars in debt, but rather they’re in a place where they have built up a nest egg where they have savings, they have investment, they are financially responsible. And this is where even as you guys talked, one of the things that Steve said was the goal is to learn how to manage your household and wisdom and frugality. Well, frugality doesn’t mean being cheap, right. That’s part of where wisdom comes in. It means that you don’t have to have the top brand most expensive item for what you’re trying to accomplish.
And really in the midst of inflation and the craziness right now, there’s a lot of people who are learning new levels of frugality. We are now looking at all these different options of where we’re going to get groceries or whatever the case is like, where can I find the cheapest? Where can I get gas the cheapest right now?
We are more interested in frugality. But these are actually biblical principles on many levels that if we would instill these in young people, it would actually help the future of our nation be so much better. When we talk so often about how often is Congress so wasteful and spending, like the federal government wastes so much money, they don’t exercise wisdom or frugality, which are biblical principles of finance.
ESG, WallBuilders History, And Recalling Representatives – On Foundations Of Freedom
And the thing I point out too is this stuff has to be learned. It doesn’t just come inherently; you don’t wake up. I mean, look at the federal government, they still haven’t learned these lessons. But these are things we used to teach. Literally, when I was in high school, we had budgeting classes in high school, we said whatever income you make, 25% can go to this, 15% to this, etc. we budgeted everything, we lived within the budget.
Even when I was on staff at churches, we had budgeting courses, we taught at churches for young families, for teenagers, others. This used to be something we really focused on and it was a biblical lesson. But we just don’t hardly teach us anymore. Now we’re paying for it.
So people really do need to learn what the Bible says about that. And the new books Steve’s got is going to be great for that, helping understand these biblical principles. And then once we get them, we need to teach them to others as well.
Alright, friends, we’re out of time for today. That was Stephen McDowell with us today. Be sure and visit Providence Foundation, we’ll have links in our website. We sure appreciate you joining us. You’ve been a part of a program that is making a big difference in the culture. Just by listening, you’re a part of it.
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Thanks so much for listening. You’ve been listening to WallBuilders Live.