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Jacques Ellul - Money and Power

Jacques Ellul - Money and Power

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Published by Daniel Ioan

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Published by: Daniel Ioan on Sep 23, 2011
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09/23/2011

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is simply to capitulate to today's sociological trends, and it is to follow the
herd while claiming to make free choices. Better to judge the herd
instinct beforehand and give in to it only when it is objectively valid, as
we are trying to do here; otherwise we are in exactly the situation
described by St. Paul: "children, tossed to and fro and carried about with
every wind of doctrine" (Eph. 4:14). It is painful to see countless
Christians in this situation.

Among the three or four major systems trying to apply an
organization to money, do we have to choose? And which should we
choose? In fact, neither theology nor Scripture gives us any criteria for
evaluating one system against another. Since no economic mechanism
corresponds to Christian truth, if we wish to choose we will have to do so
for purely natural reasons, knowing that our choice will in no way express
our Christian faith. If we like these superficial involvements, if we want to
work with other people in group endeavors, nothing in the Christian faith
prevents our choosing conservatism or cooperativism or socialism.
Provided that we retain our sense of the relative along with a healthy
skepticism for these inadequate recipes-and provided above all that we
not regard our activity as a direct and natural outgrowth of the Christian
faith. It is understandably disappointing not to have a system
corresponding in all points to Christian faith and doctrine. But beware:
the disappointment is not in Christianity but in the system. Christianity is
infinitely too realistic, and revelation shows us far too clearly what man
and the world really are, for us to be able to base a system on it. For no
system can either correspond to this reality or organize it. Certainly no
system in the world allows us to reduce Christianity to its political or
economic aspects, and this becomes even more obvious when we look
at actual situations. It is indeed possible to maintain illusions so long as
we are looking only at great principles and broad ideas. A given system
may, from the standpoint of its philosophy or intentions, seem to conform
to Christian ideas. But we should already be on guard because there are
not many ideas in Christianity: faith and

THE PROBLEM OF MONEY: FROM THEORY TO REALITY

25

knowledge are based on real events and situations that are closely
related to man; they have nothing to do with ideas, principles, and so
forth.

Now it happens that when we examine any economic system in
detail, we find more and more discord. While from a general point of
view a particular system may look valid to a Christian, if we look at what
Scripture clearly tells us about economic questions, we realize that the
system is neither a solution from the human standpoint nor an answer to
the question God asks us in Scripture. The same thing happens when
we look at money itself none of the major systems has anything
reasonable to say once we are aware of what money really is in the light
of Scripture.

But then, we think, could not Christianity itself propose a global
solution, an economic doctrine of its own? Most Christians who have
studied this topic have concluded that no Christian political doctrine
exists; it cannot be constructed either from biblical texts or as a logical
outworking of Christian principles.

It is not possible to speak of a Christian doctrine of money, first
because that is not why we have been given revelation through the
Scriptures, and it is even less why Jesus was born, died and was raised
from the dead. The purpose of Christianity is not to provide useful rules
for living or organizational schemes. From the perspective of salvation,
how the world is organized is not of major importance. Of course it is
fine for human beings to organize the world, but this is a fallen world and
redemption is not tied to our organization of it. Consequently God's
work, which is from the beginning the work of redemption, cannot in any
detail be expressed by social, economic or other worldly organization.
We cannot extract any system from God's revelation without twisting the
texts and coming up with unwarranted conclusions because redemption
is not a system.

No doubt the problem of money is very important, but we cannot
build a system on that basis. This is so, and this is the second reason
we cannot speak of a Christian doctrine of money, because no objective

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