How does the free market defender make his case for the continuation of freedom, liberty, and capitalism against an unknown, but certainly changing future?
What is the basis of a free market proponent’s knowing we should not move to a more centrally planned and “more highly evolved” government-run society?
Throwing in the towel is tempting. There is too much to leave to chance, randomness, and chaos. Wouldn’t it be good to take control of telecom bandwidths or medical insurance to rein in the madness of the marketplace and make it safe for the public? So thinks the central planning admirer. No matter how well the free market works, man gravitates towards design, control, and structure — anything but chaos.
Biblical basis for appreciating the free market
Only the biblical claims about reality account for a market economy. The market needs inherent design, structure, and universal laws. The market has that with God’s designing the world with His universally fixed laws and principles that govern how reality, including the market, works. God’s government is over and through all things, according to the scriptures.
There stand economic principles such as the law of supply and demand because God designed and structured human relations in society that way. Creation’s resources are finite. Man must produce efficiently to save scarce resources to reflect the dominion and stewardship mandates for man God has built into the fabric of reality.
The marketplace is most prosperous and sends benefits to the lowest echelons of society, the commonest sort of man, because it envisions individual liberty, entrepreneurship, privately faced risk, responsibilities and accountability to the customer. People are made in the image of God with various gifts, talents and desires. The opportunity provided by free market choice reflects what we morally value either in what we produce or what we consume. Every economic choice is a moral value reflector.
The market becomes a great measuring tool because it allows us access to the moral aptitude of actors in a given culture, direction as to where improvements ought to be made and services rendered. Free choice allows for the heart to be revealed. Jesus said this very thing: “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt 6:21).
Think how God develops community via individual talents. No man is an island. We all need each others’ gifts and various labors. Mutuality produces an interdependence among people. Christianity accounts for mutuality in the doctrine of the Trinity. God Himself is a community in His nature. He is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The market in shadow form gets to reflect the Creator when it serves the interests of its members and builds community via your various talents and your individual gifts — and those of others.
Predestination from government bureau
Without a God who designs and acts, mankind is becomes the replacement of God. He will in his idolatry play the role of God the designer, and he will wield the power of the central planner who predestines all things before him. The scriptures require an alternative.
He will withdraw the claim of being one who foreordains the deeds of others, and instead conceives of everyone in the marketplace as operating upon his own free will, his own “sovereign” choice, if you will, in an open and liberated market.
An evolutionary basis of the market will lead to having man either as the elitist god-like planner, the sovereign, autonomous chooser, an idolatrous position that goes back to the very promise Satan made to our original parents. In the garden Satan vowed if they would throw of God as the basis for their life: “You shall be as gods, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5). Central planning fails. But its backers call for a larger, more “inclusive” (aka globalistic) planning to solve the myriad problems it creates. Central planners never finish making their interventions, and erect a sort of Tower of Babel to unify the peoples of the earth.
A biblical worldview conceives of a foundation for structure and design while accepting the liberty of all the actors in a marketplace.
When we build our lives on who God is and how He made us then a structured (via laws/principles) and freedom of choice market can exist and be profitable. In the biblical worldview, we are able to account for the unity in diversity. All the free, diverse choices find their unity under the Sovereignty of God and His laws. The evolutionary basis leads to man acting as god resulting in the death of the market.
But man under God’s design and freedom leads to life for society.
Channing Kilgore is associate pastor of South Whitwell Baptist church. He writes regularly about Christianity.