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Can the Bible Help Solve World Poverty?

Can the Bible Help Solve World Poverty?

"a robust proposal for fighting poverty on the national level."

An economist and a theologian have teamed up to offer what they believe to be a time-tested blueprint to solve world poverty: a mixture of free market values and the Bible.

Image source: Crossway Image source: Crossway

In their book "The Poverty of Nations: A Sustainable Solution," economist Barry Asmus and theologian Wayne Grudem outline what they call "a robust proposal for fighting poverty on the national level."

The secret, they say, is a unique mix of free market principles and a dose of the Bible's teachings on social ethics.

Asmus and Grudem believe that mixing these elements will yield economic prosperity and long-term stability.

"It's huge, because the Bible gives us all kinds of the moral advantages of a system of works, freedom of choice, truth telling ... the Bible tells us to be accountable, to promote earned success, personal charity is important," Grudem told TheBlaze. "It seems like the Bible on private property, rule of law is just full of information that, if one reads it, they're kind of like, 'Oh really -- that's what the Bible says about this?'"

The theologian said one doesn't need to embrace the Bible as the written word of God to see the book as offering up wise ancient wisdom that can be practically used in the real world.

As for what led the authors to pen "The Poverty of Nations," Grudem told TheBlaze that he first began considering world poverty more intensely after having a conversation with a couple from Nairobi, Kenya.

"The woman asked, 'Why is Kenya so poor?' and she asked, 'Are we under a curse?,'" Grudem said. "I had no answer, and I thought, 'Wow, this really needs to have an answer.'"

That set the groundwork for the book. Grudem began teaming up with Asmus to compare notes on the root causes of poverty. The two began giving talks and initially developed 37 different factors that they believed would yield prosperity for countries around the globe.

"Eventually we ended up with 79 factors that either will create prosperity or, if they are lacking, will leave the country trapped in poverty," Grudem said.

They decided to codify their findings in "The Poverty of Nations," offering up what they've dubbed a Bible-based blueprint for success.

Asked what they believe impoverished countries are doing wrong, Asmus said that ignorance is one of the many culprits: ignorance to the problem of poverty and to some of the antidotes needed to empower the populace.

"They're missing property documents," he said. "If there's anything Thomas Jefferson taught us in 1787, we need to know who owns what."

Asmus said that ownership and property rights are essential. When one has an address and property, he or she can "collateralize," he said.

Grudem added that dependence on foreign aid, depleting natural resources, blaming outside sources for poverty and attempts to "redistribute wealth from the rich to the poor" are also impediments to success.

The two argue in the book that some effective principles for lowering poverty are governments that uphold freedoms like property ownership, the freedom to buy and sell, the freedom to travel, the freedom to trade and freedom from excessive government regulation.

Watch Grudem speak about these theories below:

Considering the premise of their book, it's not surprising that Asmus and Grudem also believe that there are certain moral beliefs that lead to economic success.

Believing that there's a God who will hold people accountable for their actions, valuing truthfulness, supporting the traditional view of marriage and honoring moral values are only a few of the other essential elements they explore in "The Poverty of Nations."

Asmus and Grudem said that the U.S. isn't immune to violating or ignoring some of these principles, as they believe the nation has experienced a "decline in biblical, cultural and moral values."


Featured image via Crossway

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