Advanced Worldview Analysis - Lesson 15


Some of the root causes of poverty are government, social and religious systems.

Ronald Nash
Advanced Worldview Analysis
Lesson 15
Watching Now

The Christian Worldview and Economics
Part 9

I.  Non-economic Dimensions of Poverty

A.  Edward C. Banfield's The Unheavenly City Revisited

1.  Sociological-psychological analysis

2.  Defective time horizon

B.  Genetic or environmental predisposition? 


II.  The Extent of America's Assistance to the Poor

A.  America's War on Poverty ended as a failure

B.  James Gwartney


III.  Causes of Poverty in the Third World

A.  External

1.  Exploitation by the West, governmental intrusion, theft, corruption, oppression, etc.

2.  Focus for Liberals

B.  Internal

1.  Poor education, illiteracy, poor health

2.  Poor personal and societal values

3.  Often overlooked or ignored by Liberals


IV.  Conclusion

A.  Christians who want to help the poor need capitalism.

B.  Capitalism needs Christianity.

  • Discussion of the content of a worldview and the criteria used to evaluate worldviews.

  • Discussion of liberalism and conservatism, and statism and anti-statism.

  • Political systems fall along a continuum between the extremes of anarchism and totalitarianism.

  • People favoring statism support extensive government involvement in education and social programs.

  • From a biblical point of view, statism is evil.

  • Discussion of justice on an individual and corporate level.

  • An economy based on capitalism has much less government involvement than an economy based on socialism.

  • Interventionism is a capitalistic economic system in which government gets involved to allow free exchange within a framework of laws.

  • Discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of capitalism.

  • Two basic concepts of economics are limited resources and the choices we make that reflect our values.

  • Marxism is an economic system based on the idea of a class struggle with the goal of a classless society.

  • Article from The Free Market

  • The Bible and Socialism, Moral Defense of Capitalism

  • We are responsible to be a good steward of the wealth God gives us to manage.

  • Some of the root causes of poverty are government, social and religious systems.

  • Liberation theology is an ideology promoted by people trained in Marxism. True liberation theology delivers people from tyranny, poverty and sin.

  • Christians ought to care about poverty and oppression. People who hold differing economic and social theories propose very different approaches and solutions to these problems.

  • Discussion of the differences between evangelical liberals and conservatives.

  • Guest Lecturer, Alejandro Moreno-Morrison discussing the inflation of rights.

  • Guest Lecturer, Alejandro Moreno-Morrison discusses legal positivism.

  • A balanced approach toward environmentalism is needed because it can be a serious threat to individual liberty.

  • Discussion of how people work in a capitalistic system to address environmental concerns.

  • The public school system in the United States has fostered functional illiteracy, cultural illiteracy, and moral/spiritual illiteracy.

  • Discussion of the pros and cons of setting up a voucher system to fund the education system.

In this class, you will gain a comprehensive understanding of advanced worldview analysis, starting with an introduction to the concept of a worldview and its importance. You will explore the various components that make up a worldview, including epistemology, metaphysics, ethics, and anthropology. The course delves into analyzing different worldviews such as theism, deism, naturalism, nihilism, and existentialism. Finally, you will learn about the role of the church and individual believers in engaging with culture and responding to worldview challenges, as well as strategies for effective communication of your own worldview.

Dr. Ronald Nash
Advanced Worldview Analysis
Lesson Transcript


[00:00:03] What I want to do first today is I want to make clear to you two basic points. In the last two chapters of the book, Poverty and Wealth. The last two chapters deal with the issue of poverty. And the important point I want to make. Oh, man, as I'm thumbing through here, I'm seeing a whole lot of other important points will increase to maybe three or four basic points. The first point appears around page 173 of poverty and wealth. And is this important? And I'll tell you, this is something that people ought to preach. It's a reference to a book called The UN Heavenly City and its sequel, The UN Heavenly City Revisited, authored by a sociology professor at Harvard. For pity's sake, somebody at Harvard finally got it right. I doubt that Harvard would hire Edward Banfield if he were still alive. But anyway, anyway, here's what Banfield did in his books. He discussed a group of people that he called lower class. Now, I wish he had used different terminology because the term lower class has certain connotations that totally distort his very important message. In fact, some people have even distorted Banfield statement into a racist position when there is no racism involved in this. BANFIELD wants to make a distinction between poor people about whom he has no criticism to make and lower class people. Now, the point he wants to make here is and this is debility, and you can stipulate a definition for a term if you wish. He says people who belong to the lower class habitually suffer from a problem. It's a problem that he calls a defective time horizon. A defective time horizon. What Banfield calls lower class people. And please understand here, we're not trying to be pejoratively about any group of people here that by definition, what we mean by a lower class person who is someone who suffers from a defective time horizon.


[00:02:29] What we mean here is they simply cannot think beyond the present. For some reason, they are unable to think about the future. Now, reflect a little bit on lower class people that you might have known growing up that you might know today. Maybe your church is involved in trying to help people like this. And what happens as soon as the people who are lower class in this family get their hands on a check, wherever the check comes from, the federal government, the state government, maybe it's a job. What do they do? They spend it. In many cases, it's gone Friday night. And where has it gone? It's gone to the bars. It has gone to the gambling. It has gone to the prostitutes. And there is nothing for the children to live on for the rest of the week. This kind of defective time horizon is a major reason why many, but not all of the poor are poor. These two groups are not equivalent, obviously. A person can be poor, a family can be poor, and they not be lower class people can be poor because of a major illness that strikes a breadwinner in the family. They can be poor because of horrible accidents, bad health or other kinds of bad circumstances. Conversely, some lower class people can be fairly well-off. They might because they often gamble quite a bit. They might win a state lottery, for example. They might have money running out of their ears, but they're still lower class because they have no ability to think about the future. Now, one of the reasons this is important is because to the extent that Christians and their churches want to try and help the poor, we need to take a look and see if the poor people we want to help here, what kind of time horizon they have if they suffer from a defective.


[00:05:02] Time horizon. You're not going to help these people by giving them money. You're not going to help them by giving them food and clothing, because in many cases, for example, people who have food stamps, they will go into a grocery store. And with the cooperation of the guys who run that grocery store, they can use their food stamps to buy liquor or cigarets or things that aren't. Well, this is the problem. Now, I once made these comments at Wheaton College. It was the last time I ever spoke at Wheaton College. It was a pretty good address. I said, If we want to help the poor and we know that we're dealing with people who suffer from this defective time horizon, we have got to address that problem. Otherwise, any effort to help the poor will fail. Then I said that there ought to be some investigation as to whether this kind of defective time horizon is genetic or hereditary. If it's hereditary, that is, if it's just a pattern of children, generation after generation acting in certain ways because their models, their parents behave this way, then maybe we can rescue these kids from this horrible mentoring situation so that there is a hope of recovery from it. On the other hand, if it's hereditary, there's nothing you can do about it. Well, liberals jumped up and began to foam at the mouth and they thought, well, this guy's a racist. No, there's no racism involved here, for pity's sake. We want to help people. And anybody who's the least bit observant knows that the world is full of people who suffer from a defective time horizon. What are we going to do about it now? To whatever extent it is a result of sin, it would appear as though conversion, genuine Christian conversion that brings about a change in a person's nature, along with the growth and maturation that accompanies growth in the Christian faith, could turn former losers into winners.


[00:07:15] And we all know people like that who've been saved, right? So clearly the gospel can remedy this situation. And look at another point here that to what extent can we really help the poor? Their rejection of the gospel continues to lead them to live in ways that are harmful to themselves and their families. So I think George Bush deserves credit here. Here's a president who recognizes by following a lot of the thinking of Marvin Olasky, that if government wants to help the poor, we'd better enter into some kind of partnership with religious organizations that are active in changing the natures and the character of human beings and teach listen in a very important sense. You can't become a Christian unless you've got a time horizon that leads you to think beyond the present moment. Right now, am I right? The first thing the gospel does is teach you to think about eternity and the future. Am I getting too excited here? I got to think, why has no one ever invited me to preach on a rescue mission? Well, I probably make them mad, too, you know? Well, that's that's the way that goes. Well, that's point number one. Another point from this Chapter 16 is titled This is page 176 The Extent of America's Assistance to Its Poor. Just last night, I watched a man whom I will not name, but I heard him on C-SPAN. He was a presidential candidate in the year 2000, and he lost. Can you think of who that might be? And he made his first comeback speech right away. He's kicking around the party in power because there's not enough concern about the poor. This is just a mantra. Hmm. Come on. Calm down. Well, we'll be through with liberalism in a little while, like the end of the semester.


[00:09:21] The real Read this stuff on pages 176 and 177. I won't go into the specifics about the numbers. They're shocking enough. But the simple fact is that this country does give enough to fight poverty. The problem is we don't dispense it very wisely. We often connected with bad incentives, such as those bad incentives that produce so many illegitimate children inside of our inner city areas. So it's not as though we're not giving enough to help the poor. It's that it's being dispensed so badly, so unwisely, and in ways that really hurt the. Here. Here is a do I want to read this long quote from my friend James GWARTNEY? Yes, this is page 179. The last I knew, James GWARTNEY was a professor at Florida State University in Tallahassee. He is the author of the second or third bestselling economics textbook. And some of you, I think, have had a chance to look at this. The book is In My Office, a second or third bestselling economics textbook in America, maybe in the Western world. Here's what Jim says. Jim GWARTNEY says on page 179 about the Christian left seeking to promote the welfare of the poor, the disadvantaged, the unemployed and the misfortunate, well-meaning citizens, including a good many evangelical Christians. And I hold up here my book, Why the Left is Not Right. Soon to be published under the better title, The Religious Left, published by Academic Renewal Press. Man, that ought to shoot right to the top of USA Today's best selling books. But anyway, for too long, James Courtney says socially concerned Christians have measured policies by the intentions of their advocates rather than the predictable effectiveness of the programs. Put simply, in our haste to do something constructive, we have not thought very seriously about the impact, particularly in the long run of alternative policies on the well-being of the intended beneficiaries.


[00:11:38] Well, thank you, Jim GWARTNEY. Now, a couple of points about the last chapter Third World Poverty. And incidentally, in this chapter you get some pretty specific economic data about various poor countries in the world. Now, the data that I had available when I wrote the book is now very old, but I keep looking for new data. If I could find new data, I'd write a new edition of this book, but I haven't seen this kind of data. I forget where I even get it. The statistics available from the years that were available to me and they were the most recent years available to me when I wrote the book is this The more capitalism is in play in these economic systems, the stronger the economy is. Back in those days, the nations in the world that had the strongest percentages of economic growth were the nations of Southeast Asia, and that would have included Taiwan, South Korea. Now, some of these countries leave a lot to be desired as far as their political situations are concerned. But what we are talking about here is an economic system that helps people gain deliverance from poverty. All right. That's one of the things that we're supposed to be doing here. The other nations here would be Malaysia, Singapore, countries like that. Now, these statistics are still worth looking at because they draw a clear causal line between economic systems and deliverance from poverty on a national level. To me, the most important thing in this last chapter is my distinction between two kinds of causes of poverty. Let me write the word poverty on the board. Let me draw a little two prong dividing thing here. There are two kinds of causes of poverty. There are internal causes, and there are let's see how creative a teacher I am here.


[00:13:48] What would be the other cause of poverty? Internal and external. What a teacher. I tell you, this is just incredible. You just are thinking my thoughts are after me. Now, what do liberals concentrate on? They concentrate on the external causes of poverty. I do not deny that there are external causes of property. Now, what would some of these be? Coercion, other governmental or social actions that deprive people of an opportunity to better their lives, to better the lives of their families? And what would be the solution to external causes of poverty? Well, a new government wouldn't hurt. People of Venezuela tried for one day to get rid of their Marxist president. And of course, all of the people who were feeding at the public trough, they wanted the Marxist president to come back. So who knows how Venezuela is going to go next. But what no liberal talks about when we deal with poverty and third world nations are the internal causes of poverty. Now, I've admitted that bad government, bad leaders, theft, corruption. Unjust taxation. A lack of proper educational institutions. I mean, my goodness, if people can't read and write and their inability to read and write is a function of a corrupt or incompetent government. That needs to be addressed. But what are internal causes of poverty? And again, I hope no one will interpret any of this in some kind of. Pejorative way. It's just a fact of life. There are people who are lazy. They don't want to work. But there are also people tell me if you want to disagree with me here, take illiteracy. Sometimes that functions as an external cause. If you're dealing with a government that doesn't take steps to provide people with a decent education.


[00:16:10] But there are times as well, I think, when illiteracy can be an internal cause of poverty, lack of equipment, lack of tools. Is that external or internal such that if people don't have the tools, they can't grow enough food, they can't feed their own families, perhaps they can't grow enough food to sell on some kind of market. Now what is the Liberal's solution for what they call external causes of poverty? Foreign aid. Foreign aid. If liberals didn't have foreign aid, they wouldn't know what to do with American taxpayers money. But do you want to know who the real beneficiaries are of most foreign aid programs? They're the corrupt big shots in that government who make sure that none of that foreign aid ever reaches the projects or the people for whom it is intended. And most of that foreign aid. And if you want the proof, all you have to do is visit some of these countries. They went to begin the building of expensive and wasteful projects to glorify certain political leaders. And many of those projects never got 10% of the way done. And now they're standing in ruin and the money is gone. Many times those projects were started simply to cover over the fact that the money was then shifted privately to Swiss bank accounts. Foreign aid is, for the most part a fraud because American consciences are soothe by the knowledge that we've given so many billions of dollars, many, so many millions of dollars to people in this poor country, when in fact, none of it reaches anybody. None of it. And in the meantime, people are starving, people are poor. And this cycle of poverty just continues again and again and again. So how do I conclude the book, since I assume that you all will have read all of the stuff that we have skipped over? Well, let me read a little bit from just the conclusion.


[00:18:30] This is page 198 199. It is time to bring both this chapter in the book to a conclusion. In this chapter, I have argued that the most important causes of Third world poverty today are internal, not external. Many of these internal reasons are non-economic factors, such as the morals, attitudes and motivation of the people, along with relevant features of the culture. The refusal of people in India, for example, to eat beef. Why? Because you worship the cow. You don't think that has significant effects upon poverty. Other internal factors include the conduct of a nation's rulers with respect to providing political and economic stability. And of course, there is the crucial matter of which economic system will be adopted. There is no easy set of answers as to why different nations are poor or what they can do to begin the alleviation of poverty. But we have certainly noticed some important signposts along the way. And let me tell you this. I've read so much stuff about poverty and forgive me or not. I do think that the comments made in these last two chapters about poverty in the United States and poverty outside the United States will hold promise of much more long lasting help than anything that you'll hear from any politician on the left, and much more than what you'll hear from a Ronald Sider or a Tony Campolo, who this book is a reflection of the growing Christian interest in economics. Well, let's just go to the last paragraph. This book then has two important messages. Christians who want to help the poor need capitalism. Rational economic activity is quite simply impossible, apart from a market system. But. And let all friends of a market system pay heed. Capitalism needs Christianity. Say amen.


[00:20:37] Amen. Amen for the listener here. All 600 people in the auditorium whispered so as not to drown out the microphone. Oh, Presbyterians. That's right. If we had 600 Charismatics here, they'd have blown the tubes out of the recording. Showing the West's continued movement in the direction of secularism and humanism holds disturbing implications for economic life. Thank you for listening to this lecture. Brought to you by biblical training, dawg. Your prayers and financial support enable us to provide a biblical and theological education that all people around the world can access. Blessings. As you continue to study and live out your faith and as you grow in your relationship with the Lord.