Resources

Recent Letter to the Editor

December 12, 2017
The following is an email comment received and the FFAOL editor's response to the article "Where Do We Stand" -- A wide ranging assessment by Jean-Marc Berthoud" in the Sept/Oct issue of FFAOL.

Dear Sirs,

Regarding "Where Do We Stand" A wide ranging assessment by Jean-Marc Berthoud.

Wide ranging indeed, I read this tedious treatise twice, so as to try to fully grasp all that is being said. 

Two points: First the author immediately attacks several of the founders of economic thought, questioning the principle of the "invisible hand". Second, he contradicts Pastor Robert Jefferss statement in dealing with the Korean dictator Un.  Professor Berthoud would have us believe he has all the answers, however he offers nothing concrete with regard to how we should deal with Un.

As for his comments on the "invisible hand", perhaps he should dedicate his genius in the field of economics to dealing with the bankrupt economic state of his own country before attempting to rescue the USA. Apparently Berthoud has forgotten that American blood and treasure has saved France from their own folly twice in just the last hundred years. 

And my final question for you folks at Chalcedon, what was your purpose for publishing this article? If your purpose was to irritate your readers, you may have succeeded.  (J.R.)


Dear Mr. R.,

Thank you for writing us with your concerns about the recent article by Jean-Marc Berthoud. 

In regards to the Korean dictator, I’d assume Berthoud is seeing King Josiah’s situation being reflected in current events, where it’s not a matter of offering up something concrete to DO, but rather to AVOID. And Josiah’s violations of biblical law, resulting in his death as he mounted a preemptive military action against Necho and the Egyptians, was the entire reason the Book of Lamentations was written. But good men of God do differ on the contemporary application of these points (for a more systematic yet brief treatment, see the Chalcedon Position Paper “National Defense and the Bible"). 

We are perplexed by your advice to Berthoud as proposed here: “As for his comments on the ‘invisible hand,’ perhaps he should dedicate his genius in the field of economics to dealing with the bankrupt economic state of his own country before attempting to rescue the USA. Apparently Berthoud has forgotten that American blood and treasure has saved France from their own folly twice in just the last hundred years.” Berthoud is Swiss and not French. No American blood or treasure saved Switzerland in either of the two world wars, nor is the Swiss economy in any worse shape than our own. 

The fact that Berthoud was Swiss was stated in the Editor’s Introduction to the article (”the preeminent Reconstructionist thinker in Switzerland, Jean-Marc Berthoud, is with justice considered ‘the Swiss Rushdoony’”) and in the biographical statement at the end of the article (“Jean-Marc Berthoud was born in 1939 in South Africa from Swiss missionary parents and lives in Lausanne, Switzerland”). While I’m aware that you indicate that you’ve “read this tedious treatise twice, so as to try to fully grasp all that is being said,” it appears these geographical landmarks were not fully digested. 

Berthoud is a theologian, but his economic views (in positive presentation) are best put forward by his son-in-law, Daniel Depelteau, in the feature article for the Nov-Dec 2017 issue of Faith for All of Life. Depelteau, mentored by Berthoud, has fairly robust economic credentials: MA (Economics) McGill University, Canada; Consultant in Public Health Finance; former Deputy Under-Minister of Health and Advisor to Minister of Finance (Canton of Vaud, Switzerland); achieved a reform of finance for the chronic care of the elderly, applied in all cantons of Switzerland; Finance Director, Boas Group; Director of FH Switzerland, a fundraising NGO, etc. The views of Berthoud as developed by Depelteau (who credits Berthoud at the end of his analysis) do provide a biblical alternative to the “invisible hand” promoted by Adam Smith. That heavily-footnoted article can be read here (and if you have specific critiques of Depelteau, we would welcome hearing them in the spirit of Prov. 18:17): 

https://chalcedon.edu/magazine/on-the-origin-of-value-and-its-relationship-to-profits-interest-and-money 

We are also surprised at your “final question”, viz., “what was the purpose for publishing this article?” The purpose was laid out in the Editor’s Introduction (which also put forward Berthoud’s Swiss citizenship). I’ll repeat the content of that introduction here. If it is found insufficient to answer your question, perhaps you could be more specific about your concerns so we can work toward a satisfactory response. 

[Editor’s Introduction: The preeminent Reconstructionist thinker in Switzerland, Jean-Marc Berthoud, is with justice considered “the Swiss Rushdoony.” Chalcedon is planning a volume of Faith for All of Life that will focus on his contributions to the faith, to appear in early 2018. 
Seeing America and American theology through the eyes of a European Christian can occasionally be jarring.  Berthoud approaches certain matters in ways that discerning American readers may not be used to. Berthoud is not in blind lockstep with Dr. R. J. Rushdoony on every single point (e.g., on usury, certain details of eschatology, etc.) and his promotion of theonomy is nuanced so as not to undermine the principle of the one and the many (in answer to the question, How do we get to a society governed by God’s law?). Berthoud realizes that the end doesn’t justify each and every means: the means must also be governed by the whole counsel of God, and chosen accordingly. By opening up these questions (against the backdrop of his formidable and wide-ranging research), Berthoud urges us to strive for better understanding and application of our faith. Some of his ideas may be controversial, inviting our readers to exercise wisdom and grace in grappling with them. Important ideas and thinkers need to be published, despite disagreement over details. Jean-Marc Berthoud’s ideas meet this criterion, a criterion put into action by Dr. R. J. Rushdoony, who counted Jean-Marc Berthoud as both a friend and a fellow warrior for Christ.]

 Thank you again for writing the Chalcedon Foundation with your concerns.

 For the King,

 Martin G. Selbrede
Vice President, The Chalcedon Foundation
Editor, Faith for All of Life magazine and The Chalcedon Report

 

On National Defense and the Bible:

https://chalcedon.edu/resources/position-papers/national-defense-and-the-bible