Humpty Dumpty had a great fall . . .

Posted by Rural Missourian on Feb 21st, 2009

“We witnessed the collapse of the financial system. It was placed on life support, and it’s still on life support. There’s no sign that we are anywhere near a bottom.”

So stated billionaire George Soros at a dinner held at Columbia University on February 20, 2009 (Soros sees no bottom for world “financial” collapse). He made the very sobering claims that the world financial system effectively disintegrated (starting with the collapse of Leman Brothers in September) and the turbulence we now suffer is more severe than the Great Depression, much like the demise of the Soviet Union. I concur with his assessment.

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall;
All the King’s trillions and all the King’s men,
Couldn’t put Humpty together again.

Because the mother’s milk of a culture is its economic system, we are not witnessing just the collapse of the world’s financial institutions, but the cultures that have been built from them, especially ours, which has for several generations been the world’s premier “show home” for modeling the sophisticated debt-based culture. My biggest concern for the collapse of the world’s financial system has not been the high likelihood that it cannot be restored, as that would actually be a blessing in disguise given what a curse it has been in the destruction of the family, our Christian foundations, and the republic born of them. What concerns me is that our nation will emerge as something far different than any of us ever imagined.

If it comes out a humbled third world country, which is a distinct possibility, I could live with it as difficult as it would be, as that would open the doors to the Gospel as our nation hasn’t experienced since the days prior to the War for Independence. On the other hand, while many may think it would be a wonderful answer to prayer should America pull out of its present depression to resume business as usual, I think it would lead to horrific circumstances in the long run, if our decades long decline into state sponsored hedonism and perversion is any indication. How long will the Lord suffer us to kill the unborn, promote sexual perversion, and worship the financial gods of modern man? Though it may be pleasant for a season, worshipping mammon has enormous generational consequences.

Something we need to remember to keep us from total panic is that financial systems collapse, but not economies — per say — as they simply adjust to financial conditions, even catastrophic ones. Even in the worst days of Peru’s inflationary disaster of the 1980’s and 90’s, a robust “black market” flourished, which was the life line for many, especially the poor. No matter what happens to financial systems, the constant need to eat, drink, and live always remains and humans can be quite resourceful in establishing rudimentary economies, especially where local markets are free to build. It’s when government acts as a savior in trying to save the people through collectivism and monetary alchemy that nightmarish calamities occur, which can exact a huge human toll, as we see in Zimbabwe, where unemployment has hit 94% and people are starving.

Given the growing collectivist bent of federal policy and the trillions being thrown at our collapsed financial system, there is the possibility that in addition to emerging as a third world country that a police state could emerge in America, as our colossal central government desperately seeks to keeps its enormous power, which could involve all kinds of confiscatory schemes, if history is any indication. That said, I would much rather have the hand of God’s chastising love humble us to our very core in taking everything down to where governments and economies are once again local, than for His hand of wrath to uphold a move into an ironfisted totalitarian state.

The dilemma that American Christendom faces in having embraced debt-based economics for many generations reminds me of the dilemma that David faced when he sinned against the Lord in numbering the people and its armies, only our generational sin is on a much larger and consequential scale. He was given three choices for the punishment of his sin, all of which were to be brought upon the people. He wisely chose God’s hand of chastisement over the wrath of wicked man.

2 Samuel 24:10-16

10 And David’s heart condemned him after he had numbered the people. So David said to the Lord, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done; but now, I pray, O Lord, take away the iniquity of Your servant, for I have done very foolishly.”11 Now when David arose in the morning, the word of the Lord came to the prophet Gad, David’s seer, saying,12 “Go and tell David, ‘Thus says the Lord: “I offer you three things; choose one of them for yourself, that I may do it to you.” ‘ “13 So Gad came to David and told him; and he said to him, “Shall seven years of famine come to you in your land? Or shall you flee three months before your enemies, while they pursue you? Or shall there be three days’ plague in your land? Now consider and see what answer I should take back to Him who sent me.”14 And David said to Gad, “I am in great distress. Please let us fall into the hand of the Lord, for His mercies are great; but do not let me fall into the hand of man.” 15 So the Lord sent a plague upon Israel from the morning till the appointed time. From Dan to Beersheba seventy thousand men of the people died.16 And when the angel stretched out His hand over Jerusalem to destroy it, the Lord relented from the destruction, and said to the angel who was destroying the people, “It is enough; now restrain your hand.” And the angel of the Lord was by the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.

Americans have got to awaken out of their fairy tale world where nothing really bad happens to them that money cannot fix. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows (1 Timothy 6:10). It has been their love affair with “money” that lulled them into the comatose like stupor that made them totally oblivious to the decades long destruction of their once free America, which began in earnest in 1913 when the Federal Reserve took over the nation’s financial system. Sadly, the American people sold their birthright for a bowl of fiat gruel. If ever we are to get back on our feet as a free nation under God we need to not only think “outside the box,” but repent from the gilded box of debt-based economics, which has become an inescapable plantation for the American slaves we have become. May God be merciful to us that He would awaken our hearts to Him that we may become the answer to our nation’s woeful circumstances, as we repent from being its cause in breaking covenant with Him to embrace the fiat gods of the Federal Reserve and Wallstreet (2Chronicles 7:14). — The Rural Missourian

What’s A “Reformed Church?”

Posted by Rural Missourian on Feb 13th, 2009

Some of you in commenting on my last post on The “Agrarian” Minded Church, asked me what I meant by a “reformed church.” It’s a great question that I felt be best answered in another post, rather than as just a passing comment, though my meager answer below does not do it justice, by any means. Simply put, a reformed church is one that subscribes to the “Reformed Faith,” which says far more than what appears. As I acknowledge there are variations to the position I hold, I ask my fellow brothers and sisters that ascribe to the Reformed Faith to grant me some room here in presenting (from my postmillennial-covenantal worldview) a brief, very limited description of the “Reformed Faith.” My intention here is to help give understanding to my previous post on the “Agrarian” Minded Church, and not to start a massive diatribe or debate. It would take several lengthy posts to even begin to address the rich theology and glorious history behind the Reformed Faith, which unbeknownst to most Americans today was very common among the churches in America in its early days. It was the Reformed Faith of the Puritans, Pilgrims, Baptists, and other Calvinistic minded churches that established the early communities and colonies that eventually formed our country and the one that guided our founders to give us biblically constituted forms of government that establish executive, legislative, and judiciary branches (Isa. 33:22) as checks and balances against civil tyranny.

The Reformed faith was born of the Great Reformation that took place in Europe between the 1300’s and 1600’s and spread as light to the shores of America. Its foundation is based upon the Doctrines of Grace, otherwise referred to by many as Calvinism, which emphasizes that salvation is all of God’s grace, the sole work of the Holy Spirit unaided by any human effort or cooperation. Because fallen man is born dead (not mostly dead) in his trespasses and sins (Eph. 2:1-3), an enemy of God by virtue of his inherent depraved nature (Rom. 5:10, 8:7), he is utterly unable to choose life, thus, regeneration precedes both faith and conversion (Rom. 8:29-30, Eph. 2:4-10), and not the other way around as is taught in the doctrine of Decisional Regeneration, where the unregenerate man decides to exercise faith, which action leads to the Lord regenerating him.

Reformed theology employs a covenantal approach to understanding Scripture, where the Lord is Sovereign over all aspects of His creation, where Jesus Christ, King over all rulers and High Priest of the New Covenant, is seated at the right hand of Father on His throne in Heaven, exercising all authority both in Heaven and earth over all powers, principalities, rulers, and over every name that is named.

Most regrettably, however, the Reformed faith over the last several generations has for some become a tradition where application is wanting, though its organic concept stems from the biblical mandate that the Lord’s people in every generation are—by God’s grace as He works in them both to will and do according to His good pleasure (Heb. 13:20-21)—to reform all of their ways according to the Word of God, the standard for the whole of man for the whole of life, as they love God in keeping His commandments (1John 5:2-5).

The worldview born of the Reformed Faith is not one of doom & gloom and pessimistic fatalism, but is hope filled, proactive, though decidedly sober, that unreservedly advances the cause and crown rights of Christ in preaching and living out the glorious Gospel of the Kingdom of God. Neither is it a pie-in-sky worldview that sees the world through rosy glasses, since it is also biblically covenantal, which means that the Lord is faithful and just to judge His people when they rebel and break covenant, just as He blesses them when they obey and keep covenant with Him. The testimony of God’s people under both the Old and New Covenants shows a history of ups and downs, which reflects their battle with the flesh Gal. 5:16-17, where at times they flourish in obedience and only to be followed by times where they drift into generational sin and fall into captivity (a covenantal sanction) under their enemies (which is where I see American Christendom today). I highly recommend that the reader carefully read Nehemiah chapter nine, since it details the up and down history of Israel and, most importantly, gives the reason and the solution, a return to faithful covenant keeping, which the Lord mercifully works in them.

But as I am covenantally postmillennial in my worldview, I see the present dire circumstances of our nation’s rapid plunge into economic chaos and cultural destruction, not as the cataclysmic end of a world ostensively ruled by the devil (for he has already been dethroned – John 12:30-32, 16:7-11, Heb. 2:14-15), but as the Lord’s just wrath and sore chastisement (covenantal sanctions) upon America for the generational covenant breaking of American Christendom, which turned its back on Him (particularly His commandments) to embrace the peace and prosperity of our nation’s wicked economic system (Deu. 23:6, Ezra 9:12-15) that now enslaves the American people under perpetual debt (just as Thomas Jefferson warned us).

Being the ever faithful covenant keeper (Deu. 7:9-10, Psa. 103:17-19, 2Cor. 1:18-22), the Lord without fail keeps His word with His people throughout all their generations. Though we are discovering just how much that can hurt (Jer. 30:12-17, Heb. 10:29-31, 12:5-13), it is truly good news, as well, for He is merciful with His people and does leave them under His judgments without tangible hope (Psa. 35, 103: 8-19)!

Jeremiah 29:10-14

10 For thus says the Lord: After seventy years are completed at Babylon, I will visit you and perform My good word toward you, and cause you to return to this place.11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.12 Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.13 And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.14 I will be found by you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back from your captivity; I will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you, says the Lord, and I will bring you to the place from which I cause you to be carried away captive.

 

Now if God was this merciful with His people under the Old Covenant, how much more merciful is He under the New Covenant, which is far better being based upon better promises (Heb. 8:6)? Contrary to popular theological pessimism, there is a biblical remedy for our dire circumstances, as there has always been for the Lord’s people when they find themselves under the yoke of the wicked (because of their generational disobedience). If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land (2 Chr. 7:14). Contrary to Hollywood disaster movies where salvation and restoration happens overnight, the healing of our nation, the Lord willing (which I think He is as demonstrated throughout history), will not happen over night nor without tremendous painful cost for the consequences of our generational sins will take some time, likely a few generations, to work through (Psa. 99:8).

In attempting to answer the question first posed I know that I have likely opened the door to many more questions and plenty of doctrinal challenges, which goes with the territory. I hope, however, that I have given enough to the reader that they might know what I mean in an overall sense by a reformed church. As you can see I by no means made the attempt systematically. As there is such diversity among reformed churches, I have purposely left out church polity, worship and liturgy styles, practices, etc. Here is a link to a website where a number of articles have been posted on the subject: Reformed Theology. Here is also a link to great website on the Puritans and Puritanism, A Puritan’s Mind. — The Rural Missourian

The “Agrarian” Minded Church

Posted by Rural Missourian on Feb 11th, 2009

As I have been dialoging with various like-minded reformed denominations in seeking to find a home for CRC Rayville, a question has frequently crossed my mind. How many agrarian minded reformed churches are out there? With so many different definitions for agrarian, I need to briefly describe what I mean by an agrarian minded church, which requires that I define what I mean by agrarian. I derived my definition from the Scriptures and not from its basic dictionary definition, for the term agrarian has any number of meanings and connotations.

It’s best that I start first, however, with two dictionary definitions of the word agrarian. From Chambers Dictionary of Etymology (1988) we get the following entomological definition:

Agrarianadj. 1618, borrowed through Middle French in the phrase loy agrarienne agrarian law, from Latin agrarious of the land, from ager (genitive agri) field . . .

From the American Dictionary Of The English Language (1828) we get the following definition:

 

AGRARIAN, a. [L. agararious, from ager, a field] Relating to lands. Appropriately, denoting or pertaining to an equal division of lands; as, the agrarian laws of Rome, which distributed the conquered and other public lands equally among all the citizens, limiting the quantity which each might enjoy. Authors sometimes use the word as a noun, an agrarian, for agrarian law.

 

 

We see from the outset that the word agrarian is not talking about the vocation of farming (agriculture), as some think, but to law that deals with land, specifically with its distribution as in “the agrarian laws of Rome.” This leads to an important question. Who actually owns the land and by what terms is it to be possessed? More so, the answer to this question, since it deals with sovereignty, also will determine who decides how the land is to be used and by whom. Is it man or the Lord who has the final say? So we see already that this subject is far bigger than the word agrarian suggests for it deals with the whole of the earth and the whole of mankind.

Though fallen man ardently affirms that he is the owner of the earth, as he is ever seeking to take dominion of it through unending wars and ever increasing taxation, the Scriptures make it quite clear that the Lord, as the Creator of earth and mankind, is the sole owner of both of them (Deu. 10:14, Rom. 9:21) and, thus, the SOVEREIGN over all. The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness, The world and those who dwell therein (Psa. 24:1). It is thus the will of our Sovereign God, as understood by His Law Agrarian, which determines who is to possess the earth and by what terms is he to take dominion of it, live and multiply on it (Gen. 1:28, Psa. 37:7-9).

We are taught by the Lord Jesus Christ, the King of the earth (1Tim. 6:13-16, Rev. 1:4-5, 17:14), to pray that God’s will be done on earth, as it is in Heaven (Luke 11:2). Of course, the preaching of Gospel of the Kingdom and the discipling of the nations is central to this, but what about the earth itself? Does the Lord’s will for the earth also include specifics on how His people are to possess it, to live and multiply on it, as they live out their lives in successive generations while preaching and living out the Gospel? I say yes and contend that the two work hand in hand, for what other meaning can be given to the calling of the Lord’s people as the salt of the earth and light of the world, but that they are to act as the standard for all of mankind (1Tim. 3:15) in the building of godly cultures on earth in submission to the Lord, as the Gospel takes root in their hearts and begins to bear fruit. It is in the discipling of the nations (made from every nation, tribe, and tongue scattered throughout the earth) wherein they are taught Christ’s commandments and how to keep them (Mat. 28:20) that the Lord’s disciples learn not only how to love each other but how to live on the earth. Ought we not, therefore, to regard the earth with all knowledge and wisdom in serving the Lord as its stewards?

This stewardship began in the garden where God ordained man as the earth’s cultivator and guardian. Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend [work, cultivate it] and keep [guard] it (Gen. 2:15). The first calling of mankind in service to His Creator was as a working steward of the land from which the Lord would provide his physical needs, for the earth was specifically created to be tended and guarded by him, and that, according to the commandments of its Maker. This was in conjunction with the commission given to Adam and Eve to “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Gen. 1:28). It only makes sense that the Creator (Gen. 1-2) and Owner (Psa. 24:1) of the earth should also issue the manual for its stewardship (2Tim 3:16-17).

God created man to be totally dependent upon Him in a moral, accountable manner that has direct earthly consequences, depending upon his obedience or disobedience to His commandments, the terms of the stewardship. “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God'” (Mat. 4:4) Thus, the Lord makes a very clear correlation between mankind’s conduct on the earth as its stewards and its productivity, both in bounty and barrenness.

Leviticus 26:3-4

3 ‘If you walk in My statutes and keep My commandments, and perform them ,4 then I will give you rain in its season, the land shall yield its produce, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit.

Deuteronomy 11:16-17

 

16 “Take heed to yourselves, lest your heart be deceived, and you turn aside and serve other gods and worship them,17 “lest the Lord’s anger be aroused against you, and He shut up the heavens so that there be no rain, and the land yield no produce, and you perish quickly from the good land which the Lord is giving you.
 

 

Every man, woman, and child on earth, no matter whether they fear God or deny his existence, whether they knowingly tend the earth as unto Him or deny that they have any such responsibility, whether dead in their trespasses and sins or alive in Christ, are by the creation mandate the Lord’s stewards of the very earth they live and multiply on, and are accountable to Him for their every action. Man is not a free agent to live on the earth as he pleases, as though it is an expendable commodity that can be exploited anyway he chooses. A man may choose to abandon his wife to live “freely” as he pleases. His escape doesn’t mean, however, that he is not still a husband and accountable for his marriage. In the same way mankind may have long ago abandoned his calling as the Lord’s steward of the earth to live on it as he pleases, but it doesn’t mean that he is not a steward and accountable for his stewardship. He may be an absentee steward, but his still a steward.

Just because the Lord is merciful, good to all, and bestows His common grace upon both the just and the unjust (Psa. 145:9, Mat. 5:43-45, Acts 14:15-17), doesn’t mean that each and every human is not directly accountable to the Lord for how they live on the earth. Appearances can be deceiving, however, especially over short periods of time where things appear to prosper regardless of faith or its absence (Psa. 73:1-18), as though it is a “neutral” subject. The Lord’s gracious longsuffering with mankind’s sin must not ever be confused with any notion that He cares not how mankind lives on earth or what by means he builds culture (2Pet. 3:9). Every aspect of human culture at every level as it is developed on the earth—its faith; ethics and moral standards; famial, ecclesiastical, and civil governments; economics and money; judicial systems and the exacting of justice and mercy; agriculture; manufacturing; technology; science, engineering, and all aspects of education; and every aspect of human life—is to be governed by the commandments of the Lord in our love and worship of Him (1John 5:3-4). The biblical statement, whatsoever is not of faith is sin, applies to all we humans do, both for the saved and the lost alike.

In a practical, down-to-earth sense we Christians, as stewards of the Lord’s earth, the salt of the earth and light of the world, who have been commissioned by Him to take the Gospel of the Kingdom to the nations to make disciples of Him and teach them to observe His commandments, are in its daily outworking to apply the whole of God’s Law to the whole of life to all we do on the earth. This is what I mean by agrarian. What ties the whole of our duties together is the New Covenant. As we keep covenant with God in seeking first His Kingdom and Righteousness, so we fulfill by grace through faith our various duties according to His will, and, as He promised, He adds unto His people all things necessary for life on earth (Mat. 6:33). The priority is God and Kingdom first, and life on earth second. Thus, the biblically agrarian focus is not on cultivating and stewarding the earth, not on preaching the Gospel to win souls and make disciples, not on any of one of our duties, important as they are, but on Christ, Whom we are to love with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our strength. And there is only way to love God and our fellow brothers and sisters but by keeping the commandments of God, which are not burdensome, but effectual in overcoming the world by our faith in Christ (1John 5:1-5).

Now, as much as I cringe to have given such a brief, incomplete definition, I am forced too come back to the purpose of this post. Before I finish it, I must say that I have found by experience that no matter how careful one is to define their terms and clearly present their ideas, that someone is going to take them wrong and ascribe all kinds of evil to them, or go the opposite direction and read far too much into them. This is especially true when one attempts to describe a work they are involved in. Misunderstandings will abound, nonetheless, we must communicate with each other the best we can, trusting the Lord that His will be done in these matters. To that end, I hope I communicated well enough what I mean by agrarian.

Our church here in Rayville is looking for like-agrarian-minded reformed (there’s another loaded word) churches to alliance with. We are not talking about perfect churches where everyone of its members would make the cover of Better Home Businesses and Gardens. All churches have their weaknesses, blind spots, and shortcomings. There is no believer or church that has “arrived.” All of us are somewhere in the transition between the old life dominated by the old man and carnal mind and the abundant life led by the Spirit who renews our minds. Lastly, lest we be accused of being Luddites, we are not talking about churches that are hidden in the boondocks where all its members forsake electricity, don sanctified “agrarian” clothing, and farm for a living.

But, as we do hold that covenant keeping is central to the life of the believer and the church, as the testimonies of the Scriptures bear witness as well as history, particularly the early days of colonial America, we believe that the biblical model for the local church—acting as the salt of the earth and light of the world in being the standard for human culture in proclaiming and living out the Gospel of the Kingdom—necessitates that its members live in close proximity to each other, wherein the vast majority of them in keeping covenant with each other live where they work and worship, as they labor separately and together in various vocations to be productive stewards as unto the Lord. Of course, there will be exceptions due to particular circumstances in the lives of believers and in different types of ministries and vocations, but for sure the local church is to be known by the local, visible community it has defined and built.

In its most biblically prosperous and free time America use to be covered with hundreds of such distinctly Christian communities. Except for the Amish (and a few other like minded communities), the days are long gone in America when the local church was the central hub of a local community, where its members employed a common worldview and moral ethic that shaped the character of the community, where its members worked on or near the same land they lived and could pass it on to their children in generational continuity, where they could interact daily with each other and render help at a moment’s notice, and where they could labor together and pool resources and equipment to be effectual producers of various products and services to establish a local economy, which is one of the greatest preservers of civil and religious freedom. I feel that it is from this position of strength and deep community character, that the local church can best duplicate itself in various missionary endeavors.

To their credit, the Amish publish a newspaper, The Budget, which serves the Amish-Mennonite communities throughout the Americas. On the front cover is an extensive index which lists each community by it’s location and the page where one can go to read the news specific to it. When was the last time that reformed churches in America were noted by the vibrant local communities they had formed? I believe that American Christendom is long overdue for a great reformation. Perhaps it’s time that biblically agrarian minded churches unite together by covenant in forming alliances (confederations, denominations) where its member churches live in such proximity that together they can play a role once again in forming the surrounding culture?

In the meanwhile, as the Lord directs us, we shall continue to seek an alliance such as we can. To that end, we invite inquiries by churches and denominations. May God grant us all that we come into the unity of the true faith. — The Rural Missourian

Quotes & Quips — February 5, 2009

Posted by Rural Missourian on Feb 5th, 2009

These quotes deal with the economic history of Missouri. At one time it was the mule capital of the world and the developer and source for the world famous “Missouri Mule,” a large, dependable, docile, hardworking mule that could handle the equipment necessary to work the rich, deep soils of Missouri and those of surrounding states. At one time the small family farm flourished here in Missouri and it was due almost entirely to the many advantages of the draft mule. Other than the Bootheel of southeast Missouri, the wooded, hilly farmlands of Missouri are not conducive to mono crop agriculture or large corporate farms . . . thank God . . . but to the small family farm, which I believe to be the biblical model for sustainable stewardship and generational prosperity.  I believe employing living assets to work the land that can be sustained without having to go into life long debt is the biblical model for sustainable agriculture.  What do you think?   Feel free to join in discussing where we are today and where you think we need to go.

Hired farm workers were an integral part of commercial and most family farms early in the 20th century. As employment opportunities increased with industrial development in cities, farmers found a decreasing supply of farm “hands” in their communities. This situation, combined with the mobilization of armed forces for World War I, left farmers short handed. Yet, at the same time, they were urged to increase food production. The result stimulated larger hitches (more animals per driver) and a response by machinery companies who manufactured larger machines. To pull this machinery, larger sized mules and horses were needed.

(Melvin Bradley, The Missouri Mule: His Origin and Times)

In Missouri by the end of World War II the tractor began to rapidly replace the draft animal and, ultimately, the small family farm, which augmented itself handsomely every year by breeding and raising draft mules (and horses). With the nation’s manufacturing working at full capacity in supplying the war, when it ended it had to be quickly converted to peace time manufacturing to keep the post Depression momentum going. This grew into the enormous agribusiness system of today, which, sadly, has turned farmers into consumer slaves of bigger and more complex technology, all geared around the corporate control of our nation’s farmland. The economic behemoth of corporate agribusiness was entirely built through credit (debt-based) driven economics, which is now in major decline, as the debt load has finally caught up with reality. As we are no longer a manufacturing economy, and as only a very small percentage of the populace work the land anymore, where does this leave a nation going into a depression that will far surpass the one of the 1930’s? The credit driven, corporate agrarianism of today is simply not sustainable, for it works against the God ordained scale of creation where the land is to be carefully stewarded at the local level of family and community.

The part that mule production played in the farm economy of Missouri is truly amazing. In Missouri there are a third of a million mules and they currently pass as coin. The country banker looks upon them about as he would as cash and places them first in the collateral column.

(April 23, 1913 edition of the Breeder’s Gazette)

The chief reason the mule was considered as good as coin (back when it was made of gold or silver) was because it was a form of true wealth, a tangible means of production that not only produced labor but also manure, which the farmer could put back into his land to help sustain it. Likewise, mules consumed fuel the farmer could raise himself, thus he was able to provide a good portion of his farming needs from what he produced himself off his own land, which included breeding his working mules from mare stock that earned their keep doing light farm work and jack stock that took very little to keep healthy. The small family farm back in the days of draft animal power was in many ways truly self sustaining.

Thousands of two- and three-year mules were loaned by dealers and owners to persons who could not afford to buy them for a summer’s work. The borrower “broke” the mules to work and returned them that fall after harvest. If the mules had been well cared for, they were worth considerably more to the owner than when the deal was struck. Thus, both parties usually benefited from this time honored practice and many farmers and dealers maintained this arrangement for years.

(Melvin Bradley, The Missouri Mule: His Origin and Times)

Here you have a biblically charitable form of loaning that did not enslave the borrower (Pro. 22:7). The farmer who for whatever reasons could not afford a team to work his land could borrow a young team and by adding his labor and know how to it both work his farm for a season and increase the value of the team. He gets his crop in and the mule owner receives back a more valuable asset, a win-win situation. There were no usurious agreements made that guaranteed a return to the mule owner, no matter what. The mule owner had to trust the farmer’s skill and quality of care and the farmer had to trust that the team was comprised of quality mules that had no hidden problems. They both shared in the gain and the losses. This could never happen with a tractor that begins to lose value the second it is used.