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The Biblical Way Out of a Recession

By Joe Johnson
August 01, 2002

The big question in the business world these days concerns whether or not we are in a recession. If we are in a recession, the next biggest questions are when and how do we pull out. If we can answer these questions correctly in today's economy, we can make a fortune.

From a Biblical viewpoint, however, we must ask ourselves whether or not we are experiencing God's economic curses. A recession is a temporary period of reduced economic activity or a cyclical slowdown. God's economic curses may or may not look like reduced economic activity or cyclical downturns due to market manipulations. God says that He will send economic curses if His people rebel against Him:

Cursed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl. Cursed shall be the fruit of your body and the produce of your land, the increase of your cattle, and the offspring of your flocks.... The alien who is among you shall rise higher and higher above you, and you shall come down lower and lower. He shall lend to you, but you shall not lend to him. (Dt. 28:17-18, 43-44)

According to Deuteronomy, our economy has been under "economic curses" for quite some time, even during the prosperous years preceding the recession. As an example, our national debt alone, not counting all of the consumer and other kinds of debt, is over $6,000,000,000, which translates to over $21,000 per citizen, and is increasing at a rate of over $1,000,000 per day.

Sometimes we do not feel like we are experiencing economic curses due to our current macroeconomic policies. Just as a troubled business owner may continue borrowing because he does not want to face the facts about his current financial situation, today's civil authorities prefer to ignore the dangers and gratify the current desires of the people through market manipulation tools such as regulation, interest rates, and debt. In the long run, however, both the individual business and the greater economy will end up bankrupt.

The Solution
The Bible does not necessarily indicate how to get out of a recession as much as it does how to stay out in the first place (Dt. 28:1-2). In order to get out from under God's economic curses and experience His economic blessings, we must get to the root of the problem, which is disobedience to the law of God:

But it shall come to pass, if you do not obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all His commandments and His statues which I command you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you. (Dt. 28:15)

Since disobedience to His law is sin, the only answer is to repent by turning back to God's law (Jn 3:4; Ac. 3:19).

Repentance does not just mean pointing the finger at the state for its unbiblical economic policies. When a society suffers economic curses, we can safely say that all God-ordained institutions have sinned and must repent. Then long-term economic recovery will be on its way.

The Family
God has given the institution of the family the responsibility of material stewardship, which can be exercised through business and trade (Pr. 13:22; 2 Cor. 12:14). Since business, trade, and household financial management is such an important component of our economy, the focus on microeconomics rather than macroeconomics will have the lasting impact. Therefore, the institution of the family must repent of the following sins:

  • Coveting: Most of the average family's debt burden is an economic curse on coveting, for we desire what we cannot have, thereby becoming a slave to the lender (Ex. 20:17; Pr. 22:7; 1 Cor. 7:23).
  • Irresponsibility: Another form of slavery is fearing entrepreneurial activity and thinking like a short-term employee, which Christ justly condemned in His parable of the minas (Lk. 19:20-27). This irresponsible and faithless fear is prevalent in our Christian circles, as we would rather become servants/slaves (employees) by showing-up to work for forty hours and getting a pay check at the end of the week instead of taking responsible dominion through entrepreneurial enterprise or self-employment (Pr. 12:24).
  • Gambling: On the other hand, we have dreamers who take risks without hard work, always looking for the free lunch (Pr. 12:11). Prosperity comes through combining entrepreneurial spirit and hard work (Pr. 14:23).
  • Self-sufficiency: One of the greatest sins that seems to be growing among Reformed circles is the need to be self-sufficient, which is an unbiblical doctrine. God encourages a large division of labor through excellence in specialization (1 Cor. 12:4-18; Rom. 12:4-8). This is a key Biblical concept to economic prosperity.
  • Sabbath breaking: Not only must we rest on the Sabbath, we must shut down our businesses and discourage any economic activity other than issues related to Biblical necessity, charity, and worship (Neh. 10:31; Mt. 12:1-14; Lk. 6:6-10). Then we will be ready to work a full six-day workweek instead of the typical four and half days (Ex. 20:8).

The State
Unlike the family in its proactive economic activities, the state must return to its Biblical limits of being God's restrainer of evil. The civil government's power, the sword, should be used only to protect its citizens. Hence, our current civil government would have to repent by taking these economic actions:

  • Economic philosophy and practice: The state must return to a true and Biblical free market economy in philosophy as well as practice. We must repent of our current socialistic and fascist economy by properly obeying the eighth commandment (Ex. 20:15). This means ending all business regulatory practices and privatizating all industries (i.e., banking, currency, transportation, education, and retirement benefits).
  • Regulatory law: After removing all of our unbiblical regulatory law, we must replace it with Biblical contract law. Different parties would be free to negotiate their own terms aided by the enforcement of Biblical civil law (i.e., against bribery and deception) and without regulatory interference.
  • Financing: Unbiblical government financing must be eliminated, whether it is the graduated income, excise, property, death, unemployment, worker's compensation, Medicare, Social Security, or capital gains taxes, as well as debt financing and theft through inflation.
  • Property ownership: The abolition of property tax will return private property to its rightful owners (citizens), who are currently renting from their landlord, the civil government. Additionally, the civil government must sell all its property (i.e., land and gold) to the new free market and use that money to start paying off its debt (Dt. 17:16-17).

The Church
The church is the institution that must call for and lead in repentance. If the church falls, all other institutions follow. Likewise, if the church is holy and pure, reformation in all areas of life will follow. The church must remember the following:

  • Lack of influence: The church is God's instituted rock, the center and foundation for all of life (Mt. 16:18-19). God's economic blessings will not come unless His church lays the foundation.
  • Theology: Proper theology is absolutely critical to the long-term economic prosperity of any culture. For example, Biblical economic prosperity is rooted in proper long-term optimistic eschatology, the focus on future generations versus self, the concentration on Christ's dominion versus current gratification, and freedom versus slavery.
  • Leading by example: If the church is not repentant, why should we expect any other institution to repent? The ministers of God must first repent, so they may also lead by example (Lk. 6:39-42).

Emerging from God's Economic Curses
If we truly want God's pleasure and thereby His economic blessing, we need to think long term, because it certainly will not come overnight. Though the Biblical prescription for getting out of a recession is not as complicated as most bureaucratic economists think it is, it is not a magic bullet either. The Biblical remedy for coming out from under, and staying away from, economic curses is simple, but it requires us to humble ourselves and repent, that we may truly love God (Is. 57:15; Jn. 14:15).

We must individually repent and continually pray for cultural repentance at all levels, engage in our own economic activity and political action, educate our neighbors and future generations, and pray that God's rock will once again become the salt and light in our economy.


Topics: Biblical Law, Church, The, Culture , Economics, Family & Marriage, Government, Statism, Theology

Joe Johnson

Joe Johnson is a business consultant and President of the Business Reform Foundation. He holds an MBA in Executive Business Management and a BA in Business Administration and Economics from Ashland University. He can be reached by phone at (419) 334-9403 or by email at [email protected].

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