Petition for SDA Fundamental Belief on Economic Justice (and major action)

The 1% now own more wealth than the 99% combined which causes a myriad of injustices and abuses everywhere as Oxfam, the World Bank and others report (https://www.oxfam.org/sites/www.oxfam.org/files/cost-of-inequality-oxfam-mb180113.pdf) as well as significant unbelief in God and it also seriously cripples church finances.  We SDAs have God given simple solutions in health, economics  and other areas that can save millions of lives and trillions of dollars per year according to research. We promote our NEWSTART health principles fairly well,  principles that research shows can save up to 40 million lives and $6 trillion dollars per year if everyone followed them.  But we have many other truths, such as in economics and in biblical justice areas and many others, that can also do an enormous amount of good.

Research has shown a very serious problem:

  • Faith Communities Today is the largest survey of religious congregations ever conducted in the United States (95% representation). www.creativeministry.org/article/27/research/faith-communities-today
  • “51% of Adventist pastors report that they seldom or never preach on topics related to social concerns.”
    www.creativeministry.org/article/347/research/faith-communities-today/new-fact-information/social-justice-and-the-adventist-church

This is a travesty and just ungodly. Why does this reality exist? When I protested to Dr. John Webster (now at La Sierra) about having to study philosophy long ago as a university student, he responded, “Sometimes there’s nothing as practical as a good philosophy”.  This is true. When people accept the fallacious philosophy of methodological naturalism (which says that no evidence can point to God or creation no matter what), the only possible conclusions of the evidence will be some form of Darwinism or universal common descent. Tragic injustices have ensued in many areas because of this betrayal of truth as Dr. Weikart points out here:

Similarly, even though the Bible speaks about economic justice, human rights and godly social justice in over 2000 verses, far more than almost any other topic in the Bible (partly because nations as well as churches rise and fall largely based on how carefully they follow these principles as Prov. 14:34, Hosea 8:2-4,11,12 and Lev. 25:18-19 say. See also Acts 2:42-47, 4:32-35), we as an SDA church have still not integrated any solid statement on these areas into our fundamental beliefs. This is a travesty and needs to be changed as soon as possible.  Ellen White has said that these are crucial things for churches to be alive and vibrant and one of the most important types of mission work as well (quotes coming soon).

Our fundamental beliefs do admirably mention the equality of all, but there is not much more specific than that. Nothing about the crucial importance of economic or land rights (Nehemiah 5, Ezekiel 45:1-13, 47:22-23), nothing about church responsibilities for the poor and mistreated (James 1:27) or governmental responsibility to ensure the rights of the poor(Daniel 4:27). They rightly speak of the danger of alcohol, but not the injustice of racism. They speak helpfully about modest dress, but not the abuse of poverty. They speak about the danger of jewelry, but not the cruelty of debt slavery that destroys countless families. They speak about tithe, but say nothing about corporate greed/crime that ruins millions of lives. Why don’t we have any significant education or efforts in every church and school in the area of economic justice since Ellen White advocated them extensively, especially in the most crucial area of biblical Jubilee economics/land rights/protecting people from losing their homes (1 Kings 21, Nehemiah 5, Ezekiel 45:1-13, 47:22-23) which involves over $217 trillion dollars and is a major prevention of plutocracy?

 
Why are we not promoting God’s economic justice principles as much as we are NEWSTART since we know the Bible says that greed is the root of all evil and since research such as from Oxfam above and others demonstrates that the disease of plutocracy (which America, Europe, Canada and other nations have had for decades) is linked to a myriad of injustices and abuses in society, including ~2 million being trafficked every year, violence, racism/prejudice, broken families, corporate abuse, mental health problems, crime, obesity, higher infant mortality for all classes and many other problems?
 
The Bible makes it clear that these are essential truths for the survival and security of nations (and Jer. 12:14-17 and other verses tells us that other nations should follow Israel’s principles if they wish to do well). After explaining the concept of permanent land rights for every family, God said that these principles if followed would bring national stability.
“If you want to live securely in the land, follow my decrees and obey my regulations.” Leviticus 25:18 (NLT)
And they did, even with a king who was sometimes corrupt:
  • “During the lifetime of Solomon, all of Judah and Israel lived in peace and safety. And from Dan in the north to Beersheba in the south, each family had its own home and garden.” 1 Kings 4:25 (see also Prov. 14:34, 29:2, etc.)
 
And they did, even with a king who was sometimes corrupt:
  • “During the lifetime of Solomon, all of Judah and Israel lived in peace and safety. And from Dan in the north to Beersheba in the south, each family had its own home and garden.” 1 Kings 4:25
Ellen White agrees that this concept is crucial, saying:
  • “In God’s plan for Israel every family had a home on the land, with sufficient ground for tilling. Thus were provided both the means and the incentive for a useful, industrious, and self-supporting life. And no devising of men has ever improved upon that plan. To the world’s departure from it is owing, to a large degree, the poverty and wretchedness that exist today.” Ellen White, Welfare Ministry, p. 195
She also said helping people to live independently on their own land was the greatest possible mission work to do for many (quotes below).
 
There are small efforts here and there by a very few, but why don’t we have a GC level department and a major emphasis on training and seminars in every church on how to work for economic justice at all levels of society (individuals, churches, the wealthy, government, business, etc.)? Why don’t we teach about this in our schools (I studied 14 years in the SDA school system, including a religion major through Andrews and never heard a peep about this at any time)?
 
When land rights are protected they have worked incredibly well for people and the church, including in recent places such as South Korea where I was a missionary, helping it rise from the ashes of war to rank #1 or close to it internationally in dozens of areas. Missionaries like the Stahls also worked hard for land rights and won many to Christ because they cared about one of the most crucial earthly needs that protect justice and freedom.
The Bible, Ellen White and research warn against greed as the root of all evil and emphasize economic justice, especially every family owning their own home and garden as a crucial solution to the problem and the most important protection of human rights as well as one of the very greatest mission efforts possible to engage in, esp. since land value worldwide is ~$217 trillion and most is monopolized by a few leading to massive injustice for millions. Our NEWSTART principles could save up to 38 million lives a year and $6.5 trillion a year. These along with other solutions could help us reverse the horrible economic injustice and robbery taking place and help people be financially independent.
 
Ellen White worked very hard on this area and told us that this is one of the greatest missionary things that can be done for many. This is a simple concept, but it really is the most fundamental crux of peace and human rights for society. Jews as well as the early church made sure to take care of the poor and tried to make each family independent as much research has shown. Ellen White says this is one of the greatest mission efforts for our SDA church in quotes such as these.
 
• “I am straining every power I possess to help different families to obtain a spot of land, where they can support themselves and obey the truth. I wish you could see some of these families. Lt 72, 1898 and
 
• There are multitudes of poor families for whom no better missionary work could be done than to assist them in settling on the land and in learning how to make it yield them a livelihood. {MH 192.2}
 
• Cut off to a great degree from contact with and dependence upon men, and separated from the world’s corrupting maxims and customs and excitements, they would come nearer to the heart of nature. God’s presence would be more real to them. Many would learn the lesson of dependence upon Him. Through nature they would hear His voice speaking to their hearts of His peace and love, and mind and soul and body would respond to the healing, life-giving power. {MH 192.1} [See also MR. 8 [Nos. 526-663], p. 143]
 
Work like this for economic justice was even more important than praying and fasting:
• “I have been instructed to refer our people to the fifty-eighth chapter of Isaiah. Read this chapter carefully and understand the kind of ministry that will bring life into the churches…When you meet suffering souls who need help, give it to them. When you find those who are hungry, feed them. In doing this you will be working in lines of Christ’s ministry…All our praying and abstinence from food will avail nothing unless we resolutely lay hold of this work.” Welfare Ministry, p. 29-30
 
Millions lose homes in every economic crisis because we aren’t teaching economic justice principles in the Bible and this cripples the church economically as well. Research shows that people then have to pay ~40% of their income in rent and more in other expenses and so they of course can’t support the church as much. When churches are crippled, community development and services also is crippled. Why don’t we have anyone explaining these things not just to all churches, but also in our evangelism to unbelievers, esp. since the early church protected each other from economic injustice with real love and this was a huge factor in turning the world upside down (Acts 17:6)
 
This is crucial for many reasons:
1) In hundreds of verses, the Bible teaches that land rights are crucial for freedom, peace, long term national stability and more and one of the biggest issues for prophets was advocating for economic justice.(Nehemiah 5, Ezekiel 45:1-13, 47:22-23) and many verses say that the laws of Israel are also for nations in the future (Jeremiah 12:14-17)
 
2) Economic researchers like Dr. Michael Hudson, (who is considered by many to be one of the most insightful economists of modern times), points out that we have a class war by the rich against the poor going on now which caused 10 million people to lose their homes in 2008 and that they now have to pay ~40% of their income on rent and up to 35% on food. This and other expenses leave them less than 20% to spend on all other goods and services. See:
https://sputniknews.com/radio_double_down/201608021043866518-bread-circuses-taco-bowls/
Michael Hudson: How Private Debt Makes the Rich Richer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gfg4yv7fnww
 
3) Archer Torrey (grandson of R. A. Torry, president of Moody Bible Institute) writes:
“Henry George and Scripture teach the same thing: that..this globe has been created by God and not by man. Any man who does not have an “right” to any space of his own has been robbed….without a space of his own, a human being is completely at the mercy of whomever ‘owns’ the space…Without a right to land, a person will have to search for a job from someone else to ensure his basic needs.
…To say that everyone has a right to work, to health care, to this, that and the other without at the same time recognizing his right to land…is to frankly declare that he is a slave. The United Nations has published a list of 30 “human rights”. But they omit the right to land, which is the basic human right given by God and clearly defined in the Bible. If the right to land were recognized, the other rights would follow automatically and would hardly need to be defined. As it is the UN’s “human rights” are only the rights of slaves! p. 8.
 
The practice of denying families right to land and charging interest which Nehemiah condemned in Nehemiah 5, have their origin in Baal worship (as Dr. Michael Hudson and others have shown) which is one reason prophets routinely condemned Baal worship as wicked. Going against these principles causes the loss of trillions of dollars per year for the middle and lower classes. Just like new age is modernized witchcraft, so too has capitalism incorporated 2 of the most heinous and diabolical traits of idolatrous religions such as Baal worship. esp. in the way it obliterates land rights and allows the wicked charging of interest. These 2 practices always result in oligarchy and plutocracies long term. Communism is of course worse, and many of the 13 forms of socialism are just as bad as capitalism to be sure. Only God’s simple, Jubilee system is perfect and ideal and we should do all we can to get as close to that as we can, by influencing the government, by working through churches, individuals, godly people and others.
 
Some of the first chapters can be read here. Read especially chapter 4-5 on the conflict between Naboth/Yahweh’s and Jezebel/Baal’s views of land rights.
Archer Torrey, Jane Grey Torrey, Biblical Economics,
https://books.google.co.kr/books?id=GqMhHAivCTwC&pg=PA8
 
A summary of each chapter starts here:
http://www.landreform.org/be1.htm
 
See especially these parts on God/Elijah/Naboth vs Baal/Ahab/Jezebel
http://www.landreform.org/be4.htm and http://www.landreform.org/be5.htm
 
Rejecting land rights has also lead directly to plutocracy and revolution in a great number of cases. Quite a few intellectuals, both conservative and liberal, have agreed with this. The liberal U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis said:
“We may have democracy in this country, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we cannot have both.”
 
The conservative Ronald Reagan said.
“Our founding fathers knew that the American experiment in individual liberty, free enterprise, and republican self-government could succeed only if power was widely distributed, and since in any society social and political power flow from economic power, they saw that wealth and property would have to be widely distributed among the people in the country … Could there be anything resembling a free enterprise economy, if wealth and property were concentrated in the hands of a few?“ President Ronald Reagan
 
Billionaire Nick Hanauer writes in an article about the dramatic dangers of serious inequality in an article called “The Pitchforks Are Coming…For Us Plutocrats”. He writes:
What do I see in our future now? I see pitchforks….Unless our policies change dramatically, the middle class will disappear, and we will be back to late 18th-century France. Before the revolution. And so I have a message for my fellow filthy rich…Wake up, people. It won’t last. If we don’t do something to fix the glaring inequities in this economy, the pitchforks are going to come for us. No society can sustain this kind of rising inequality. In fact, there is no example in human history where wealth accumulated like this and the pitchforks didn’t eventually come out. You show me a highly unequal society, and I will show you a police state. Or an uprising. There are no counterexamples. None. It’s not if, it’s when….We think we’re immune to the same forces that started the Arab Spring—or the French and Russian revolutions, for that matter…You’re living in a dream world…Any student of history knows that…revolutions, like bankruptcies, come gradually, and then suddenly. One day, somebody sets himself on fire, then thousands of people are in the streets, and before you know it, the country is burning.
www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/06/the-pitchforks-are-coming-for-us-plutocrats-108014
 
Many nations are right now very close to the level of inequality that has set off many revolutions in the past. The US, Europe, Canada, Australia and many other developed countries are plutocracies or oligarchies according to research from places like Princeton.
 
“America is no longer a democracy — never mind the democratic republic envisioned by Founding Fathers.
 
Rather, it has taken a turn down elitist lane and become a country led by a small dominant class comprised of powerful members who exert total control over the general population — an oligarchy, said a new study jointly conducted by Princeton and Northwestern universities.
One finding in the study: The U.S. government now represents the rich and powerful, not the average citizen, United Press International reported.
 
In the study, “Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups and Average Citizens,” researchers compared 1,800 different U.S. policies that were put in place by politicians between 1981 and 2002 to the type of policies preferred by the average and wealthy American, or special interest groups.
 
Researchers then concluded that U.S. policies are formed more by special interest groups than by politicians properly representing the will of the general people, including the lower-income class.
 
“The central point that emerges from our research is that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence,” the study found.
 
“America is an oligarchy, not a democracy or republic, university study finds”
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/apr/21/americas-oligarchy-not-democracy-or-republic-unive/#
 
Robert Reich, former US secretary of labor, writes that:
“most Americans have no influence at all. That’s the conclusion of Professors Martin Gilens of Princeton and Benjamin Page of Northwestern University, who analyzed 1,799 policy issues — and found that “the preferences of the average American appear to have only a miniscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.”
http://www.salon.com/2015/03/10/robert_reich_most_americans_have_no_influence_at_all_partner/
 
Researchers found that the views of the majority of people usually lose to those of the wealthy elite and major corporations which control U.S. policies:
“The central point that emerges from our research is that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence,” the study found.
 
The study also found: “When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites and/or with organized interests, they generally lose.”
Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=9354310
www.princeton.edu/~mgilens/Gilens%20homepage%20materials/Gilens%20and%20Page/Gilens%20and%20Page%202014-Testing%20Theories%203-7-14.pdf
 
Dr. Michael Hudson makes the case that most European countries are becoming oligarchies.
http://michael-hudson.com/2011/12/europes-transition-from-social-democracy-to-oligarchy/
 
God emphasized over 20 major economic principles in the Bible that can be followed by people at every level of society. Each family’s permanent right to land is the most important, but others can help us in dramatic ways as well. If we follow God’s principles wisely, we can beat the sin of greed and economic injustice as the early church did in its time. We just need to trust God’s ways and act on them to show the world a different way of living!
 
For more info see other articles under the human rights topic on the menu and also this site:
http://www.truth-is-life.org/jubileeeconomics.html
 
 

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