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Book Reviews

Book Review – The Poverty of Nations

As a college student 30 years ago, I was confronted with the fact of world poverty. At that time, Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger was the book that spoke to Christians about this issue. The thesis was that the rich Christians in the West should help their poorer brothers. But the underlying motivation was guilt. How can we be so rich and do nothing to help others?

Enter The Poverty of Nations by Wayne Grudem and Barry Asmus.

This profound and comprehensive book argues that the question we should ask is, “Why have some nations become wealthy and others stayed in poverty?” If we are really going to help the poor in a systematic way, we ought to ask how the wealthy got this way. Specifically, they say “the primary causes of poverty are factors that affect an entire nation.”

Grudem and Asmus start with a section that serves as a helpful primer on economics. Then they describe wrong goals and systems that will not lead to prosperity.  The bulk of the book is 78 principles that flow from Scripture and economics that help a nation produce more wealth and reduce poverty.

My Take

It is to my shame that I have been ignorant of economics for so long. The Bible speaks to these issues. I found myself with new understanding of biblical principles. It reinforced my belief that the free-market is the best economic system for mankind.  How many poor nations could have been helped if these principles were understood and taught. The best endorsement I can give is this: I see the world in a new way.

Who needs to read this book?

Pastors who will realize how economic principles that flow out of the Bible. We can speak to these issues!

Additionally, this should be required reading for Christian college students. Liberal ideas that exist on some many college campuses are thoroughly refuted. Consider this book a biblical apologetic for the free market system. Christian parents should consider giving a copy to their college children.

Compassionate Christians need to read this book to understand systemic ways to bless the nations.

Government officials in our country and in impoverished countries need to read this book. It would turn our foreign aid strategy on its head.

Missionaries who want to help their country long-term would be helped by this book.

The Poverty of Nations is not a compelling murder mystery. But it does solve an even more compelling mystery  – wealth and poverty.  I plan to buy several copies to give away.