Wayne Grudem, research professor of theology and biblical studies at Phoenix Seminary, said a nation’s poverty is linked to low prosperity. Grudem spoke at the Business Through the Eyes of Faith lecture Thursday in the Carl Grant Events Center.
Hosted by The R.C. Ryan Center for Biblical Studies with co-sponsors, the Center for Politics & Religion and the Center for Business & Economic Development, the lecture series serves to educate students, faculty and the West Tennessee community on how to integrate faith in the work environment.
Ray Van Neste, director for the R. C. Ryan Center for Biblical Studies and professor of biblical studies, connected with Grudem earlier this year and invited him to speak at Union after hearing about Grudem’s new book, “The Poverty of Nations.”
“He is very diligent to ask, ‘What does the Bible say?’, taking the Scriptures seriously along the lines of ‘Wherever the Bible says, let’s follow it,” Van Neste said.
Grudem along with his co-author, experienced economist Barry Asmus, proposed ways for countries to combat poverty by producing prosperity. Grudem shared economic insight relating to poverty today, basing his message on Psalms 41:1: “Happy is one who cares for the poor.”
“There is only one solution to world poverty,” Grudem said. “t’s consistent with the teachings of the Bible about property, productivity, government and personal moral values.”
A country’s prosperity is linked to Gross Domestic Product, the market value of all final goods and services made per year. When you double GDP, you double per capita income as well, Grudem said.
Grudem said Natural resources, foreign aid, redistribution of wealth from the wealthy to the poor and printing more money fail to address the real problem. He said foreign aid meets a country’s immediate needs but not long-term needs that are fulfilled only by its people. God’s blessing of prosperity to the Israelites came to them through their work, Grudem said. Foundational to that prosperity was God’s gift of hills rich with copper and iron for them to mine and fields of vines and fig trees for them to harvest in the Promised Land. Instead of external contributions to the poor, the poor themselves worked by gathering the gleanings from the harvest. Grudem said the main idea of prosperity is that a country will produce products or services with value that were not there before.
Grudem proposes 79 points to save countries from poverty—points organized under three main ideas: the system must be a free-market system, the government must serve for the good of the people, and cultural beliefs and values must be consistent with the Bible and its fair standards.
“If you wanted to summarize the message of this book in one word, it would be ‘hope’ because we are saying to leaders in poor countries there’s hope,” Grudem said. “Here are the values that the Bible inculcates that help you along that path, and there are 79 things you can do—you can’t do them all at once—but pick the low-hanging fruit; choose the ones you think are more easily reformed in you culture and begin to make incremental changes because to the degree you make these changes, to that degree people will begin to enjoy greater prosperity.”