Friday, December 30, 2011

Hopeless Material for Gospel

"No material could have seemed less promising as the raw data for a gospel story than that which is provided in the first chapter of Ruth:  a famine, three deaths, three widows, and anarchy." - Eugene Peterson, Five Smooth Stones for Pastoral Work

Possibly an overstatement, for there are plenty of other tragic stories in the Scriptures from which the gospel comes forth (the Exodus story itself comes immediately to mind).  However, his point is poignant and important.  This is the stuff of life that God works with and brings forth salvation and glory as no one else can.  Real life.  Your life.  Right where you are now.  There is a gospel story being written and all you have to do is believe.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Taxation III

And so, we have two forms of taxation with biblical precedence.  First, we have a flat tax, the poll or head tax.  Second, we have a progressive tithe-tax.  The first apparently takes care of the civil order expenses (and is controlled by the civil order).  The second takes care of the ecclesiastical, educational, and social welfare needs of the society.  But the tithe is not directed at all by the civil order, and even the ecclesiastical order does not have full control over the direction of the tithe.  Every third year, the tithe is given locally to support the local Levites, the poor and the foreigner, with the believer taking a vow before God that he had given all of his tithe according to God's commands (Deut 26:12-15).

In both situations, society would be strongly motivated to encourage a robust covenant community that followed the commandments of the Word.  They would be motivated because revenue would flow to deal with the needs of the community and the general welfare of the society.

And of course, worthy of note - no sales taxes, no property taxes (the earth is the LORD's), no inheritance taxes, and no other taxes to speak of.  (And people think that imposing the OT law on us would be oppressive!)

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Taxation - II

The poll tax was imposed on every male over the age of twenty.  Every male was required to pay the same amount, a half-shekel (Ex 30:13) and was used "for the service of the tabernacle of meeting, that it may be a memorial for the children of Israel before th LORD, to make atonement for yourselves."  But this atonement wasn't part of the sacrificial system of Leviticus.

"The fact that atonement is cited as one of the aspects of this tax misleads many.  The meaning of atonement here is a covering or protection; by menas of this tax, the people of Israel placed themselves under God as tehir King, paying triubte to Him, and gained in return God's protecting care." - Rushdoony, IBL, pp281-2.

Becuase it was equal amount for all (30:15), it could not be too large or it would be oppressive upon the poor, and by being an equal amount, it would not be oppressive upon the rich.  All equally needed the protection of the LORD as King, for no one was to trust in their riches for such protection.

Such a flat-tax would probably immediately be welcomed by half of our population.  Women would not be taxed!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Taxation - I

If we consider the work of the tabernacle as solely religious and fail to see it as a religious-ecclesiastical as well as a religious-civil center, we conclude that the Old Covenant administration has nothing to teach us about taxation.  But if the tabernacle was central for understanding all of life because all of life is religious, then the home, the state, and the church find instruction from the tabernacle and we can see funding for them in what was brought there.

Rushdoony suggests that the poll tax (Ex 30:11-16) is the flat tax to provide for the civil needs of a society, while the tithe, an income tax based upon one's increase, is to provide for the ecclesiastical and social needs of a society (Institutes of Biblical Law, pp 281-2).  This could help a society grounded in submission to God's Word recieve direction in determining what kinds of taxation are biblical and right.

There is much more on this - even in just the few pages Rushdoony deals with it, and I am sure many others have expounded on it elsewhere.