Biblical Economics

9. The Church and the Land

few words about the Christian church and the Bible's land laws. For three centuries Christians practiced the "freewill jubilee" (sharing goods voluntarily) and eventually there were so many followers of Christ that the emperor Constantine felt obliged to recognize Christianity. However, nothing was said about changing the land laws. When Rome conquered Carthage 200 years before Christ, the laws of Baal, under which Carthage had been governed from the time it was settled by Jezebel's relatives at the time of Ahab, stimulated the greed of many Romans. In time the old Roman system was replaced by the Baal system and the sturdy independent farmers of Italy became serfs on the estates of the new landowning class. The same system which "found Rome brick and left it marble" also led to the decline and fall of the Roman empire. But the church did not offer to change it. On the contrary, the church became dominated by the landlords to the extent that all of North Africa rebelled against Christianity and became Mohammedan under the slogan (taken from the Bible), "The ]and belongs to God."

The same pattern was repeated in the Middle East. In Europe, after the barbarian invasions had destroyed what was left of Roman civilization, the church did make various efforts towards a more equitable land system, but by the 16th century, when the Anabaptists (modem Mennonites) called for Biblical land reform, both Catholics and Protestants persecuted them ruthlessly. In nearly all of Europe the church had become the biggest landlord. In the wars between Protestant and Catholic the real issue was not religion at all, but land. This can be seen most clearly with regard to Ireland -- where successive kings of England, under the pretext of saving the souls of the Irish, seized their lands and bestowed them on their Anglican or Presbyterian henchmen. The "Irish problem" is nothing but the Baal problem. The same "Christian" Europeans, parceling out Africa to land-hungry Colonists, destroyed the relatively fair land systems of Africa and instituted the Baal system with disastrous results in impoverishment of the Africans and the breeding of bitter hatred along with the corruption of the colonists and a continent torn by war and murder, anger, fear, soil erosion and starvation.

Almost every country that, since the Russian revolution, has gone communist, was once a Christian Country -- nominally. In every case the underlying cause of the problem was the practice, by the Christians or their allies, of the land system of Baal and the rejection of the Biblical system or anything resembling it. Where there has been land reform or a land-value tax, L.V.T. (based on the concept that the land is to be rented, not sold, an effort to modernize the jubilee concept), there has been successful resistance to Communism and outstanding prosperity (e.g. Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, New Zealand, Australia, etc.). It is notable that severe poverty and starvation is not a product of "overpopulation," but of improper land distribution. The most densely populated countries of the world have less poverty than some of their neighbors, because of more equitable land systems. Corrected for the amount of arable land and the number of growing seasons, the most densely populated countries are South Korea (5000/sq mi.), Japan (4000/sq mi.), Mainland China (2115/sq mi), North Korea (1900/sq mi), England (1300/sq mi), Taiwan (1250/sq mi), Benelux and Lebanon (1100/sq mi each), and Java (800/sq mi). Relatively underpopulated are Bangladesh (750/sq mi), India (250/sq mi), and Pakistan (150/sq mi).

Let us Christians pray earnestly that our country will not be tempted to adopt the Baal system but, on the contrary, move in the direction of a Biblical system of land distribution. Christians can begin, as some are doing in America by organizing land trusts and buying land and seeing that it is used to benefit those who are willing to work it, as well as working for land-value taxation.