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I’ve been reading Just Generosity by Ron Sider for my Theology of Poverty class. It has caused me to thing a lot about the role of society. Sider examines Levitical law and concludes that it places a strong concern on caring for the poor.
He discusses the conflict between communist and free market economics and how these interface with Biblical, Levitical economics. While he addresses the foundation problems with communist economies, I found his discussion of free market economies more relevant because, well, I live in one.
According to Sider, Levitical law encourages the accumulation of wealth. This aspect of free market economies is solid. People need motivation to work and be productive. However, unchecked free markets have the danger of elevating personal wealth to an unhealthy level. According to Levitical law, he says:
The common good of the community outweighed unrestricted economic freedom.
When the accumulation of wealth occurs in spite of or at the expense of others, we violate Biblical principles. While wealth is not discouraged (in fact, the contrary is so), Sider argues that our primary concern must be the welfare of the community. If we fail to address the issues of poverty in our society, we disregard God’s vision for our society.