By Joel McDurmon
The UK Independent reports that “the Archbishop of Canterbury spoke today of the ‘broken bonds and abused trust’ in a British society torn apart by riots and financial speculation.
Delivering his Christmas Day sermon from Canterbury Cathedral, Rowan Williams asked the congregation to learn lessons about ‘mutual obligation’ from the events of the past year.
“Whether it is an urban rioter mindlessly burning down a small shop that serves his community, or a speculator turning his back on the question of who bears the ultimate cost for his acquisitive adventures in the virtual reality of today’s financial world, the picture is of atoms spinning apart in the dark,’ he said.”
The Archbishop recited the Prayer Book: “If ye shall perceive your offences to be such as are not only against God but also against your neighbours; then ye shall reconcile yourselves unto them; being ready to make restitution.”
Like the Bible, the Prayer Book can be taken out of context and made to mean anything the reader needs it to mean.
Restitution is, of course, the biblical remedy of repayment for the losses you’ve caused others. This includes the Bible’s prescribed civil penalty for theft (see Exodus 22:1–15).
“If a man steals an ox or a sheep and slaughters it or sells it, he shall pay five oxen for the ox and four sheep for the sheep. If the thief is caught while breaking in and is struck so that he dies, there will be no bloodguiltiness on his account. But if the sun has risen on him, there will be bloodguiltiness on his account. He shall surely make restitution; if he owns nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft. If what he stole is actually found alive in his possession, whether an ox or a donkey or a sheep, he shall pay double. If a man lets a field or vineyard be grazed bare and lets his animal loose so that it grazes in another man’s field, he shall make restitution from the best of his own field and the best of his own vineyard. If a fire breaks out and spreads to thorn bushes, so that stacked grain or the standing grain or the field itself is consumed, he who started the fire shall surely make restitution. If a man gives his neighbor money or goods to keep for him and it is stolen from the man’s house, if the thief is caught, he shall pay double. If the thief is not caught, then the owner of the house shall appear before the judges, to determine whether he laid his hands on his neighbor’s property. For every breach of trust, whether it is for ox, for donkey, for sheep, for clothing, or for any lost thing about which one says, ‘This is it,’ the case of both parties shall come before the judges; he whom the judges condemn shall pay double to his neighbor. If a man gives his neighbor a donkey, an ox, a sheep, or any animal to keep for him, and it dies or is hurt or is driven away while no one is looking, an oath before the Lord shall be made by the two of them that he has not laid hands on his neighbor’s property; and its owner shall accept it, and he shall not make restitution. But if it is actually stolen from him, he shall make restitution to its owner. If it is all torn to pieces, let him bring it as evidence; he shall not make restitution for what has been torn to pieces. If a man borrows anything from his neighbor, and it is injured or dies while its owner is not with it, he shall make full restitution. If its owner is with it, he shall not make restitution; if it is hired, it came for its hire.”
It is therefore ironic that the same Archbishop just weeks earlier lent his support to a “Robin Hood tax” — a tax on stock and other market transactions, meant to redistribute money from investors and traders to the State, allegedly for the poor and middle-class.
In other words, the Archbishop supports the State taking from investors to give to the poor. But since when does the Christian religion support “taking” at all?
“Thou shalt not steal” is also in that Prayer Book, Mr. Williams, just as it is in the Bible.
The “Robin Hood tax” is clearly a socialistic scheme, and the Bible is against all such attacks on private property, including those perpetrated by the government.
There are, no doubt, issues to deal with — genuine corruption and biblical inequalities — in the modern banking and monetary systems, but we can’t bring about restitution until we admit the real underlying problems. Until Christian leaders condemn fiat money (inflation) and fractional reserve banking outright, we will continue to hear confused and contradictory positions like that of the Archbishop.