Monday, October 6, 2008

Justice of jubilee in Luke

A Bible study
Sang Chang

It is no exaggeration to say that until recently the church largely was not concerned with economic issues. Its interest in economic issues usually remained at the level of individual charity. Recent theological phenomena like the emergence of liberation theology or Minjung theology are a reaction to and supplementary result of the church's neglect of general economic questions. Furthermore, the collapse of socialist countries seems to indicate capitalism's superiority, and this allows one to stress openly the basic principle of capitalism: econo-centrism. This econo-centrism will prove to be the most important principle in future international disputes. Any ideology or moral principles will become secondary. The phenomenon of economic exploitation will be aggravated in international relationships.

Already, the western first world strongly proclaims economic reciprocity in its trade with developing countries. It is the simple principle of 'you scratch my back; I scratch yours.' The GATT convention (the so-called Uruguay Round (UR)), is the most typical institutionalization of unlimited economic reciprocity. Westerners suggest it as a fair principle; however, nothing can be more unfair than requesting undifferentiated reciprocity from nations with different degrees of national power under anarchic international relationships. It is like a boxing match between a feather-weight boxer and a heavy-weight boxer; the outcome is quite clearly determined before the match even begins, and the match is hardly fair. To enter the world of unlimited competition in the name of reciprocity means the continuous acceleration of the vicious cycle of the rich-get-richer and the poor-get-poorer.

As a matter of fact, people in this capitalist world are starving not because there is not enough food to go around, but rather because food is being wasted. The USA will not bring its surplus food to starving African nations because the USA is a strictly capitalist nation and African nations cannot afford the price. If the US government freely offered food to African nations, the price of grain would drop in the world market as the demand would decrease. Thus, the government buys surplus food to keep the price level from dropping, and simply dumps the surplus food in the Pacific Ocean or lets it decay into fertilizer. When 'price' instead of 'need' becomes the standard of production, such phenomena are seen frequently.

In this situation, the church cannot help but make clear the Christian understanding of God's law and economic life. Economic issues are of the essence of the Christian gospel and faith. We can learn this more clearly from Jesus as seen by Luke. In Luke, economic issues are directly connected with faith and mission, and gospel is the realization of jubilee.

---Read more: Here.

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