Libation # 219:
John Adams
Accumulation of Power and Wealth   

"As long as Property exists, it will accumulate in Individuals and Families. As long as Marriage exists, Knowledge, Property and Influence will accumulate in Families."

John Adams in letter to Thomas Jefferson, July 16, 1814; The Adams-Jefferson Letters: The Complete Correspondence; Lester J. Cappon
The context of this quote reveals a different interpretation than we might take from an isolated reading. Adams is actually pointing out in this letter to Jefferson that the accumulation of property and wealth in families, continuing to consolidate through marriages, tends toward aristocracy and usually evil.   

Adams was lamenting the madness in the world and the abundance of opinions and philosophical views. He expresses frustration saying, "Education! Oh Education! The greatest grief of my heart and the greatest affliction of my life!" He comments that after "laboring through the tedious soil" of Plato, he learned little more than that sneezing was a cure for hiccups.

Today, we wrestle with the same frustrations. Opinions abound! Conservatives decry the evils of socialism and defend the rights of personal property. Liberals condemn "the rich" and big corporations while the socialism they propose ultimately creates the richest and most powerful ruling class (government) the world has ever seen.

I am a conservative, but I recognize that privately owned empires built through generational wealth can be just as evil and oppressive as socialized government that claims ownership of all property. What is the answer? The answer lies in the proper functioning of the three institutions established by God: 1) the Family, 2) Civil Government, and 3) The Church. I place them in that order because that is the order in which God revealed them on the earth.

Family Business
In the beginning, God established the family which was instructed to be fruitful, multiply and have dominion in the earth. Note that the definition of family here is expanded to include what we would refer to as private enterprise or family business.

Civil Government
Though civil governments had existed, it can be argued that God didn't roll out His version of civil government until Moses established the Hebrew republic under the Ten Commandments structured through the advice of Jethro. It was a government structure, operating according to God's laws, that provided limited direction for the families (tribes) of Israel.

The Roll of the Church
This brings us back to the tension between the personal property of families and the roll of civil government operating by law. Both have the tendency to become too powerful and become oppressive. The answer to this tendency is the third institution established through God: the Church of Jesus Christ. When privately owned empires and overgrown governments become evil, it is not because they are different, it is because of what they have in common-the unredeemed sin nature of man. Not until Jesus Christ came, lived among us as an example, died, rose from the dead, and sent the Holy Spirit to live in the hearts of men, was an answer provided for the sin nature of man. This was the birth of the institution called the Church.

The Church, the redeemed company of believers, are called to be the salt and the light that will arrest corruption and expel darkness in both the private sector and in the government sector. The problem we face today is that the Church has not understood its roll. The Church is not called to be an isolated institution separate from private enterprise and civil government; the Church is called and designed to be an integral part of both. The Church is called to instruct both the private sector and the government sector regarding their specific rolls. The Church is the common answer to the their common problem.

Also in his letter to Jefferson, Adams acknowledges that the study of government is relatively new to mankind. He expresses his confident belief that, if the Christian religion maintains its ground, the result will be improvement, and the horrors experienced during the revolutionary period of the past 40 years will terminate in the advancement of civil and religious liberty.

Only the law of God written upon the hearts of individuals can bring order to our culture. Rise up Christian! Engage the battle! Take the integrity of Christ into the your business and into government! Be vigilant! The answer to the world's problems is in you!
Help others learn where freedom comes from.

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