In Part 1 I made the assertion that the key to understanding why the West advanced so far with regard to the rest of the world over the last 500 years was because of the preaching of the gospel starting in the 1500 with what is known as the Reformation. All civilizations around the world up to that point labored under the bondage of feudalism and it was the doctrinal teachings of Luther and Calvin that destroyed the authority of the twin pillars of feudalism: the kings and its attendant nobility and the priesthoods and their various orders.

This revolution resulted in a new standard of authority: the rule of law. Now all powers were to be subject to the rule of law. Those that did not such as Charles 1 in his fight to maintain his “divine right” to absolute power lost his head to the Puritan Parliament and its army under Cromwell.  In Lutheran Europe unfortunately this half of the revolution did not succeed as the German princes co-opted the church into the state system with salaries and official state status.

In England, King James tried the same but the Puritan church resisted and stayed outside of the Church of England, much to the great anger of the King and his son Charles after him.  This allowed the English revolution to proceed to the next level of liberation which was to curb the power of the king and make him subject to Parliament. It was this curbing of both the power of the king and priests in three critical nations, England, Holland and Scotland that allowed these three nations to become the leaders in the 1600’s in financial power and scientific advances.

The Luther and Calvin theological revolutions in these three countries laid these foundations in their general societies:

  • All are subject to the law of God even the king
  • The Bible is the specific revelation of God to man and nature is the general revelation of God to man and it is incumbent upon all men to seek God’s revelation through study of His Word and study of His creation
  • The priesthood is unnecessary for interpreting God to man and unnecessary for salvation, revelation and salvation are in the hands of each seeker after truth.

This new common understanding among the people of these three nations came about because people read the Bible, the only widely available book to read in a time where there were no media, no novels or magazines. People read the Bible!  The result of this was an atmosphere of freedom.  Freedom to work, freedom to worship, freedom to travel, freedom the explore, freedom to investigate the world that God made.

The other things that common people soon discovered in the Bible especially from reading the story of Israel and the commandments of the Old Testament was that there were guidelines in the Bible for political and economic affairs and should one follow these commandments the Lord promised great economic prosperity and blessing and national victory over your enemies.

Let me outline for you the seven broad political/economic principles taught in the Old Testament that promised blessing and which when applied by the nations of the West starting with England, Scotland and Holland resulted in economic wealth and national power. The Lord told Israel as they came out of Egyptian slavery that He had a wonderful promised land before them and gave them instructions as to how they were to possess this land and how to govern themselves.  The Puritans of England, Scotland and Holland believed these instructions and applied them to their political and economic philosophy:

  • The Rule of Law

 

God gave instructions to Israel that they were not to have a king over them, the Lord was to be their King. They were to be ruled by judges who would apply the law to the land and people. Today we call this kind of political structure a Republic. This was a 1000 years before Plato’s Republic. If they did demand a king (as they asked Samuel the prophet) then the Lord said that king was to rule according to God’s law. Today we call that a constitutional monarchy.

  • Diffusion of Power

 

The entire nation of Israel was to be divided into tribes or what we today call provinces in order for power to be dispersed and no central strong power to oppress the people. Furthermore two other authorities were established apart from the tribes and the king. The Priesthood which was independent of king and provinces and the Levites who were given 42 cities where they were responsible for health, education, welfare, justice, social upliftment. Today the separation of powers is entrenched around the world as a sound form of government.

  • Private Property

In a world that for millennia was dominated by kings and priests and where these owned the land, the promise of the Lord to the enslaved Israelites that He was taking them to a land where each family was to be title holder to their own piece of land, this was revolutionary! Not only were the common people to own land but they were each to have asset producing property as well. The Lord said each was to sit under his own vine and fig tree. The property rights were extended to male and female heirs meaning women had equal property rights to men. Again, unheard of for thousands of years!

  • Sound Money

The Lord demanded that Israel was to have equal weights and balances. In that day money was a measure of weight. You had a standard weight measure and you counted out gold or silver on the other side of the scales. False weights meat you short changed someone in a transaction.  For millennia kings and emperors debased their coins with clipping or additions of copper or other metals. The Roman empire was destroyed by a debased currency.  God hates inflation! God hates fraudulent transactions.  Sound money and just trade relations are principle of God’s requirement for prosperity.

  • The Jubilee Principle

 

The Jubilee Principle relates to God’s commandment to Israel of what was to happen in the seventh year and the fiftieth year.  Every seventh year all debt was to be forgiven and every fiftieth year all property assets in the nation was to be distributed in the nation. From this Jubilee two important economic principles were developed that greatly increased prosperity. The first was the concept of “limited liability”. If you got into financial trouble you did not lose your financial independence for the rest of your life. You can start over again debt free. This developed in England and Holland in the formation of the first limited liability stock companies by which investors and entrepreneurs could join forces and create new wealth producing ventures by taking on limited risk.  Investors could limit their liability to the capital they subscribed (in case the venture failed) and enjoy the fruits of a successful venture should it succeed. The fifty year Jubilee capital dispersal program of Israel provided to the principle of diverse capital diffusion in the nation. The Lord wanted all the citizens of the nation to participate in the wealth production of the economy. In the days of Israel land was the major source of wealth production. But as wealth production moved to industry and the money economy, the development of the stock market, bond market and pension funds established the principle of capital diffusion throughout society.

  • Voluntary tithe tax

The Lord promised Israel financial blessings if they tithed. But unlike our church teachings on tithing, the tithe then was voluntary and was paid to the Levites for the administration of the nation. They were the national bureaucracy and he tithe was the tax of the day. The Levites in turn paid a tithe to the priest of the Temple. Another voluntary tithe was to be paid every third year for distribution to the poor. So the NGO sector of the nation was supported by voluntary contributions and not coercive tax extraction.

  • The Sabbath Principle

 

The Sabbath principle was that every seventh day and every seventh year a person and the land was to be at rest and be restored. Land was the productive sector of the economy and needed to be restored so that it could produce more. The principle is sound. We need to invest in our productive capacity through study, skills development, reflection and relaxation.  When this is applied in a modern economy the productive powers of the economy are greatly enhanced.

These were the broad economic and political principles that the broad section of society accepted as the Bible and its teachings became more and more dispersed in the 16th and 17th Centuries. They form the basis from which the West developed its economic, scientific and political power. The usual propaganda from historians that our western culture sprang from Greece is utter nonsense. Athens produced a democracy for a brief period of about 80 years that everyone raves about forgetting it collapsed in anarchy as the “democrats” voted for pensions and wars of conquests resulting in the Peloponnesian Wars and the destruction of Athens. The so-called Founding Fathers of America despised democracy. They chose a Republic.  The ordinary soldiers of the Dutch  and English civil wars did not carry a copy of Greek philosophers into battle. They carried a musket, sword and Bible.

Our western civilization was built on the foundation of the Bible and the preaching of the Gospel!

 

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