Rising Tide at Sunset

The Credit Crunch

The Cause and the Cure - 5

by Bob Keall

A Challenge to the Church

5 - Scripture

Moses defined it. (Lev 25:23) “Your land must not be sold on a permanent basis, because you do not own it, it belongs to God and you are like foreigners who are allowed to make use of it.”

Israel divided over it. (Deut 19:14—11th Commandment) “Thou shalt not move thy neighbour’s landmark.” Ahab did, and laid field to field.

The Prophets looked for it: (Isaiah 61:1) “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek [the dispossessed]; he hath sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;” and (Isaiah 61:2) “To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn;”

Jesus affirmed it:
(Luke 4:18) “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are bruised¹;” (Luke 4:19) To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. (Matthew 5:17) “ Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy but to fulfil².”

The Church has ignored this essential part of Jesus’s; Mission Statement. Instead the Church has focused on the miracles of Advent and Easter, with appropriate pageantry. Accordingly, Christianity as the foundation of Western civilisation is dismissed as largely irrelevant to the global condition, and the search for alternatives proceeds apace.

Collectively we, like Ahab, have rejected it. We have made a sacrosanct industry out of buying, selling, speculating in, and monetising the illicit unearned gains from privatising public property—the "land!" The privatisation programme is engineered by the World Bank which has infiltrated both Socialist and Conservative Governments, and the bureaucrats of Central and Local Government. This has now backfired.

Today we not only "sell the land (the earth and its resources) on a permanent basis" , but we also give tax concessions to promote what is now a sacrosanct industry!

"...our last sacred cow ... to seriously tax the capital gains on property investment ... is the political equivalent of swearing in Church" (NZ Herald 13.12.08)

So we have a problem.

We have the solution!

Do we have the will?

1. This significant theme persists in recent translations of the beatitudes and the psalms in which (Mt. 5:5) "the meek" is now translated as the humbled, oppressed, down-trodden, dispossessed—for they shall inherit the earth! And "those who hunger and thirst for justice; for they shall be satisfied". Refer Geophilos, Autumn 2002, pages 44/5.

2. A significant part of the above is the affirmation of the Mosaic Law. The terms "acceptable year of the Lord" and "year of the Lord's favour" are interchangeable in this and other translations. The term clearly refers to the Year of Jubilee as explicitly explained in Leviticus 25 v28. Leviticus 25. v23 encapsulates the principle for land tenure in words meaningful for those days and now. "Your land must not be sold on a permanent basis, because you do not own it, it belongs to God and you are like foreigners who are allowed to make use of it" (Good News Bible). It specifies our relationship with the earth on which we live out our days. Land could be leased but not permanently alienated, and reverted to the original family tribal holders every 50 years—the Year of Jubilee.

The misperception that Luke 4:19 refers to Jesus’ own advent is clarified at 4:21. Refer also to the New International Version p.1545. It arises because leasehold tenure is comparatively uncommon and is enjoyed without fuss wherever it is in place. Substantial parts of Masterton and Greytown are leased by Trust Lands Trusts with singular acceptance, even modest pride. Many Local Bodies and Central Govt. have inherited harbour reclamations, Hospital and Education Board leases etc regulated by the "Public Bodies Leases Act". The Act is brief and usually only in the news because the 21 year rent reviews are an anachronism under the impact of modern, rapid, inflation—mainly caused by [rising] freehold land price! The same remarks apply to the endowment Melanesian Mission leases of the Anglican Church on the most valuable residential sites in NZ. Likewise the big transport rigs worth millions are leased by operators. Smart developers prefer Council leasehold land because they can then invest more capital in the building.

Ahab rebelled against the Mosaic Law, "withdrew his neighbour's landmark and laid field to field"³. This rejection of the Law divided Israel, and inspired the prophets Isaiah, Amos, Micah and others to denounce it and the social consequences.

The two concepts of tenure traversed Europe. The Romans adopted privatisation, and despite whatever else they contributed to civilisation, nevertheless disintegrated. In Northern Europe the feudal concept vesting proprietorship in the king on behalf of all, with delegated fiefdoms, was eventually abused in the Enclosure of the Common lands. The delegated baronial privilege is today fragmented and sold as the "fee simple" i.e. a fief or holding on trust.

At Luke 4:18,19 above, Jesus declares his personal credentials and mission, specifying the basic essential social prescription as a significant part of that. By citing Isaiah's prophecy, his audience understood full well the significance of his affirming the Mosaic Law, versus Ahab's rejection which had divided the nation—the land laws specifically. Likewise, it would be no great surprise to Jesus that soon the incited mob would call for the release of Barabbas, (a common thief), and to crucify Him, who would undermine the House of Privilege!

By affirming the principle with His authorityJesus saw that the underlying cause of wealth disparity, injustice, and all the consequential problems of social values etc. would be addressed, not the symptoms; that involuntary poverty would not be dependent on voluntary charity—an added luxury for those involuntarily rich but demeaning for the involuntary poor. Social justice would not depend on just being nice to each other4, nor even on taxes, in the face of an adverse systemic flaw. By promising fulfilment of the law and the prophets, he provided for application of the principle, in the right spirit rather than in the letter of the law i.e. the issue was purpose not methodology. Not the Jubilee Year but Resource Rentals.

The later example in Acts of sharing and of holding all things in common might have been appropriate for a small group in those days but would be impractical now for the infrastructure of a big city, a vast country, airports, the radio spectrum, natural monopolies, or for international trade. The issue now is to unselfishly recognise the distinction between public and private property, each requiring its own responsible stewardship, locally and in global trade; to reverse what has become a sacrosanct industry! Not everything is for sale.

When we allow private property in what is really public property (resource rent) we then have to condone making public property (taxes on wages and interest) out of what should be private property. Law and morality should reinforce each other. Giving the force of law to that which would be wrong as between individuals (theft and misappropriation) brings the law into disrepute and contempt. This conflict and the man-made authority of law over morality corrodes the rest of the social fabric.

This is not a forum to debate the theology of the Triune God. St. Paul did that.

It is not a platform to promote sectarian profiles. We are well-blessed in history with new light. This is not an international movement seeking support of the Church.

It is a challenge to the Church to use the resources of an international movement to fulfil its own Mission, or else ...

In the face of debt, inflation, poverty, inordinate wealth, injustice, our failure to address the cause, specifically a significant part of Jesus' Mission Statement, makes ritual and pageantry a second crucifixion—by His disciples.

3. Deut. 19:14. " Thou shalt not move thy neighbour's landmark" (11th Commandment)
Deut. 27:17. "Cursed be he who removeth his neighbour's landmark"

4 Geophilos 02(2)p.30. Dr. Michael Hudson, Wall Street Financial Analyst Also refer to:

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