Lipscomb on Jubilee–Wisdom for Governments

David Lipscomb favored the “working man” over the rich industrialists. He believed his opposition to the concentration of wealth in the hands of a few was rooted in Israel’s economic practices.  Hear his voice (Gospel Advocate [7 June 1906] 355):

“The Bible furnishes protection against social evils. One of the clouds on our horizon is the tendency to the accumulation of extreme riches in the hands of a few and the extreme poverty of another element. The Bible, in its arrangements for the release of debts, the return of lands, and the general restitution of Sabbatical years and jubilee years, was a preventive of such evils, and teaches a lesson of wisdom the governments of this world have yet to learn.”

Immersed in the flow and life of Scripture, Lipscomb believed the economic ethics of Israel has something to say the capitalism of American democracy.  Me too!

11 Responses to “Lipscomb on Jubilee–Wisdom for Governments”

  1.   Jeff McVey Says:

    I, too, have always been impressed with the Old Testament provisions for the redistribution of wealth at certain appointed times, i.e. the “Year of Jubilee”, etc.

    Good post, John Mark !!!

  2.   Steven Hunter Says:

    I read an article a while back by Jared Jackson and he showed the similarities between bankruptcy and forgiveness of debts in the Mosaic Law. It was very interesting to say the least.

    I appreciate you sharing these historical insights; especially in an election year.

  3.   K. Rex Butts Says:

    Lipscomb’s words are a prophetic voice for our time, where many American Christians have fragmented the Bible and absorbed those fragments into democracy and capitalism. Such Christians criticize socialism but do so from the vantage point of capitalism as though the later is ordained of God. If we would read the Bible so as to develop a biblical worldview, I think we would find that whatever criticisms it might have about communist socialism, it would also have equal criticism of western democracy and the capitalism it prides itself in.

    •   JC Wade Says:

      Socialism and Communism are not the same, at least in the context of the last century of economic/political history.

      •   K. Rex Butts Says:

        Thanks for that clarification. I connected the two because they seem to be so (or at least be kissing cousins) in the mind-set of many Americans who are ardent defenders of democracy and capitalism.

  4.   Terrell Lee Says:

    Appropriate timing for this discussion, considering the presidential election just around the bend. It’s intriguing to offer a theological hearing to the various candidates and the media.

  5.   Bobby Valentine Says:

    Lipscomb was near the truth of Scripture I believe. Christopher Wright in his The Mission of God calls Jubilee God’s model of “restoration.” I think Lipscomb could probably get on board with that.

  6.   Alan Scott Says:

    Perhaps this is more of an economic observationrather than a theological one, but there is a radical difference between the economic realities of Mosaic Israel and Western Capitalism. What was the economic likelihood that an average Israelite could move beyond the status quo in which they were born ? This is where Western Capitalism differs – there is a strong likelihood of one growing beyond the status they were bord in. Even the economic realities at the turn of the 20th century differ significantly from the realities of the 21st.

  7.   John Mark Hicks Says:

    The economic structures of Israel were intended to lift the poor out of poverty and hinder the rich from exploiting the poor in accumulate more wealth so that every one could sit under their own fig tree and have their own vine.

  8.   Ernest Taylor Says:

    I am searching for celebration of Jubilee among Churches of Christ. This subject came up in a Sunday morning Bible class. I did not see the importance of it in reference to the lesson of First Timothy. Please Help!

    •   John Mark Hicks Says:

      Do you mean “Jubilee” in terms of the event in the 1990s called “Jubilee” in Nashville, or do you mean “Jubilee” in terms of the Biblical text and its practice in Israel?

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