It is apparent to me that fewer and fewer folks — even those who have been “educated” — really know or understand the Bible. On June 1st Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, in a speech given to Princeton graduates, gave “Ten Suggestions” alluding to the Ten Commandments. While it is not my purpose here to examine those ten suggestions, I mention the allusion because I feel he hoped to create a less authoritarian appeal and a more tolerant attitude by contrasting his warm fuzzies to the perceived hardness of the Biblical standard.
By addressing the “fairness” of “meritocracies”, he laid down two significant assumptions, upon which the audience’s acceptance of his message would be based. First, he established the concept of fairness as an important, meaningful issue for the graduates to take along with them into the future. Second, by highlighting the political philosophy of meritocracy, he kept the traditional bedrock values of faith, freedom and the U.S. constitution in the background, out of focus.
Ben Bernanke’s speech reflected a political movement dedicated to the total transformation of America from a sovereign nation, pledged to the freedoms of its citizens, to a regional homeland controlled by global interests. The fact that his message was revolutionary was sugar-coated by his laughter-inducing remarks. Laughter helps words go down like candy, and all but the most critical of thinkers are kept off-balance long enough for the message to sink in.
Chris Henrichsen described Bernanke as a “Rawlsian” in his article at:
According to the Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy, Rawlsianism presupposes “most reasonable principles of justice are those everyone would accept and agree to from a fair position.” This liberal political philosophy looks for “universal” principles of justice, which tend to give greater consideration to international laws and a willingness to deemphasize national sovereignty as constitutionally defined.
But rather than help to define a cogent philosophical view for the graduating students, Bernanke actually stirred confusion into the pot, by his politically-correct and distorted use of the term meritocracy. Coined by Michael Young in 1958, meritocracy originally meant a system where “merit is equated with intelligence-plus-effort, its possessors are identified at an early age and selected for appropriate intensive education, and there is an obsession with quantification, test-scoring, and qualifications.” (Fontana Dictionary of Modern Thought).
But in his speech, Bernanke interjected another liberal and politically-correct attitude: that success is all about luck, rendering meritocracy (however you define it) unfair on its face, and therefore unethical. He said, “A meritocracy is a system in which the people who are the luckiest in their health and genetic endowment; luckiest in terms of family support, encouragement, and, probably, income; luckiest in their educational and career opportunities; and luckiest in so many other ways difficult to enumerate–these are the folks who reap the largest rewards. The only way for even a putative meritocracy to hope to pass ethical muster, to be considered fair, is if those who are the luckiest in all of those respects also have the greatest responsibility to work hard, to contribute to the betterment of the world, and to share their luck with others. As the Gospel of Luke says (and I am sure my rabbi will forgive me for quoting the New Testament in a good cause): ‘From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from the one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded’ (Luke 12:48, New Revised Standard Version Bible). Kind of grading on the curve, you might say.”
Michael Savage pointed out on his radio show that Bernanke’s reference to Luke 12:48 was intended to give the impression that the Bible agrees with Karl Marx, who wrote, “From each according to his ability; to each according to his need.” Bernanke was implying that those who have succeeded and profited have done so simply because they have been “lucky”. And in a “fair” and “ethical” society, those who “have” must support the unlucky “have-nots” (or, using his euphemism, “share their luck with others”) — others who only are that way because of an arbitrary twist of fate.
The message of Luke 12:48 does not complement or connect to the political theory of Karl Marx. In order to equate these two oppositional concepts, one must either be ignorant or intellectually dishonest, which pretty much describes both the speaker and much of his audience. The redistribution of wealth under socialism is confiscatory and implemented by the dictatorial power of government over individuals. But the Bible teaches that helping the poor is something each individual is to do according to his own personal response to God.
Frankly, I’d like to know how many Christians understand this. Do Christians know their Bible anymore? Do we read and study Scripture? Does the Bible matter anymore? The reason I ask this is that I have indeed heard some Christians basically agree with Bernanke’s position. So to those Christians, as well as to anyone else who is prone to swallow the swill of our liberal institutions, I suggest you actually examine what the Bible says in this regard.
The quote from Luke 12:48 relates to parables Jesus was telling his disciples in the preceding verses. “Much will be required” and “more will be demanded” refers to God calling believers to account. Jesus is talking about what God requires and what God demands. We are held responsible by God. But the quote from Karl Marx refers to the redistribution of wealth, done on the authority of a government. In this case, the “haves” are held responsible by the government while the “have-nots” become wards of the state. Luke 12:48 is about the believer’s personal accountability to God. The Karl Marx quote is a socialist expectation for the design of government, which supersedes the individual’s freedom to do with his possessions as he chooses.
Since God creates us with free will, the giving of our possessions, as in the case of every other act of obedience toward God, is voluntary. For example, in Exodus 35 and 36 Moses took up a collection in order to build the tabernacle. Notice that he asked for contributions from those whose hearts were “willing”. He did not tax everyone “fairly”. And yet, more than enough contributions were made. This is what is meant by, “God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7) because people are glad to give of their own free will, but resent being forced to contribute. Also, we are not to be judged by others as to how much we give (Mark 12:42-44). We will all be judged by God himself, as to our obedience (2 Corinthians 5:10).
It is not government’s right or function to take the place of God. Matthew 22:21 tells us that the things of government and the things of God are two different things. In reality, the socialist ideal of “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need” never helps those who are “unlucky”. But rather, it causes entire nations to become “unlucky”, as their creativity, industry and economy crumbles under the burden of wealth redistribution. The history of socialism is consistent. Not only has it failed everywhere it has ruled, but it has always resulted in the brutal death of millions of innocent people who got in the way of the approved agenda. They were the real “unlucky” ones.
I sincerely hope that Christians understand this, and are able to refute the twisting of Scripture when confronted with popular misrepresentations. One of the enemy’s tactics is to confuse us over the meaning of Scripture. He did it in the Garden of Eden and when he tempted Christ in the wilderness. And in my opinion he’ll try to take advantage of Mr. Bernanke’s speech. Know the Word and stay free!