Have you ever driven on smooth, straight highway, only to be jarred when your car dropped unexpectedly into a pothole? That’s what Godonomics felt like to me. It’s an excellent survey of biblical thinking on basic ethical/economic principles. Chad Hovind’s explanations are clear, his illustrations engaging. He has excellent advice. The book comes highly recommended. I’ll add my voice among those recommendations.
But that’s only if you know how to steer around the potholes. A couple of them are axle-breakers. On page 63, Hovind writes,
In about 400 BC, Aristotle taught that money was sterile and nonproductive. He, like other Greek gnostics, believed the material world was inherently evil. He taught that pursuing money and productivity was creating a yoke that bound a person to a wicked world.
What he got right about Aristotle was that he was Greek (so far so good) and taught that money was “sterile,” something I didn’t know until I played Google scholar on it this morning. This sterility, however, was in respect to money earning interest. Being infertile (so to speak), money could not reproduce, or so Aristotle thought. He said nothing of the kind of thing Hovind ascribed to him here. Gnosticism arose centuries after Aristotle, who by the way was born in 384 BC.
Some may dismiss that as ancient history, but there was also this on page vii:
I wade in with both feet, discussing religion, politics, and money. However, it is necessary to do so. These subjects have been left without deep philosophical and biblical insight for too long. Not since the groundbreaking work of Francis Schaeffer has the biblical worldview been pushed boldly and strategically into the public forum.
I think the Colson Center, Acton Institute, Witherspoon Institute, and others might be disturbed to find out they haven’t applied “deep philosophical and biblical insight” into pushing the biblical worldview on these matters “boldly and strategically into the public forum.”
Neither of these errors has any material effect on Hovind’s message, but here’s the problem: every good book contains both familiar and unfamiliar material. Both are necessary: if everything is familiar the book is unnecessary, and if it’s all unfamiliar it’s unreadable. With egregious errors like these sprinkled in among the familiar material, I can only wonder how many there were in the unfamiliar. I don’t know what to trust and what not to trust.
That’s why I recommend this book to those who know how to steer around the potholes. I’m not quite sure how you’ll know whether you’re one of those drivers, though, unless the entire content is familiar, in which case you need not read the book.
But maybe there’s a way to get from here to there without breaking your suspension or your back. Look at the principles Hovind teaches. In the big picture, his biblically based advice toward various economic perspectives, he’s accurate and effective. He stayed on familiar territory enough for me to be confident of that. He does an outstanding job of tying an appropriate law-based, just form of capitalism to biblical roots.
Christian readers will find it a strong corrective to some beliefs, an anchor for others. (Non-Christian readers probably won’t read a book titled Godonomics, which is fine: Hovind intended it for a Christian readership.) In fact, reading the book has motivated me to adjust some of my behaviors with respect to earning, spending, and saving. Time will tell, but I think I may end up being very grateful for this.
Thus my cautious recommendation: learn the principles well. Just be careful with the details.