Friday, August 12, 2011

The Great Magician

by Peter Briscoe

The alchemists throughout world history have sought to create something out of nothing and more specifically gold out of base metal. Today modern financial alchemists endeavour to create wealth out of money – something which can never happen.

In God’s economy, wealth is represented by what He has created (people, land, natural resources, animals, plants) and by the work of man to add value to these expressions of wealth by honest work. Money, as such, has no intrinsic value. It represents a promise and only has value because of government regulation or law. This value is constantly diminishing due to inflation, printing more money and even governments purposely devaluing or even walking away from their obligations.

This has been happening ever since the gold standard was abandoned. This gold standard has been in use almost since trading began (using gold and silver as coinage and later as a guarantee for paper money) as a fixed, absolute standard of value and was finally abandoned in 1970.

The great German author Goethe wrote a classic drama called “Faust.” Part One opens with Mephisto entering into a bargain with God for the soul of Faust. Faust thirsts after knowledge and understanding. In parallel with the testing of Job, God gives Mephisto freedom to lead Faust astray but determines eventually to lead Faust towards the light.

In Part 2, Faust attends the Emperor’s court with his constant companion Mephisto. The empire is in financial ruin through the extravagance of the court, but Mephisto and Faust devise a cunning solution to these problems. The currency of the empire has been always been based on Gold, but there is insufficient Gold to cover all the Emperor’s extravagant spending. Mephisto comes up with an answer. The Emperor owns much land under which there must be a lot of undiscovered gold. A promissory note can be issued for the value of this gold. The court of the Emperor is showered with this new paper money. The foundation of the empire has been moved through Mephisto’s cunning from the solidity of metallic gold to insubstantial promises on paper.

Goethe illustrates the truth that everyone who tries to be superior in knowledge to the Creator runs the risk of losing his soul. We ought not to think we are smarter than God and can create wealth by issuing paper money!

Jesus unmasked a fallen power behind money which he called Mammon. This power tries to enter a Faustian pact with us today by tempting us to increase wealth by trying to multiply money without any real and tangible wealth (gold, silver) or honest work behind the process. This can begin by gambling which morphs easily into speculation. It is also happening with today’s money supply that economists call ‘fiat money’, which has grown into electronic money and this is pro-creating like Mephisto’s money to become a monster. We experienced the terror of this monster in the credit crisis of the past few years.

Jesus asked a penetrating question. “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matt. 16:26) Learning to live and work in God’s economy means to work with Him to multiply true wealth – not money!

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