Why do some nations prosper and others perpetually struggle? Last week at the Family Research Council in Washington D.C., theologian Wayne Grudem shared which factors are most influential in helping underdeveloped nations grow. You can watch this entire event here.
In his new book, The Poverty of Nations, Grudem partners with economist Barry Asmus to find a sustainable solution to global poverty by listing seventy-nine factors that enable a nation to overcome poverty. The book is divided into topical categories based on four overarching factors: the nation’s economic system, the nation’s government, the nation’s freedoms, and the nation’s values.
Grudem says the first three sections are very important, but the last section is the most crucial. If the values of a culture change, the nation will be transformed.
Some economists say cultural values don’t make a difference. But Grudem disagrees:
You think it doesn’t make any difference if people believe that lying is wrong?…Don’t you think the belief that God approves of not stealing is important in a culture? Yes!
Here are ten of the thirty-five cultural values that help to transform a society according to Grudem and Asmus in The Poverty of Nations:
The society in general…
- Believes that God approves of several character traits related to work and productivity.
- Respects private ownership of property.
- Highly values individual freedom.
- Believes that economic development is a good thing and shows the excellence of earth.
- Believes the earth is a place of opportunity.
- Believes that time is linear and therefore there is hope for improvement in the lives of human beings and nations.
- Manifests a widespread desire to improve on life, to do better, to innovate, and to become more productive.
- Gives honor to economically productive people, companies, inventions, and careers.
- Believes that mutual gains come from voluntary exchanges, and therefore a business deal is “good” if it brings benefits to both buyer and seller.
- Counts family, friends, joy in life, spiritual well-being, and a relationship with God as more important than material wealth.
According to Grudem, there is only one solution to world poverty: poor nations must produce their own prosperity.
In order for a nation to produce its own prosperity, the right cultural values must be in place. And Grudem puts this responsibility on pastors:
Yes, government leaders can make a change, yes, university professors can make a change in a country, but ultimately the major factor in transforming cultural values within nations is what pastors preach.
Are cultural values really the key to overcoming poverty? Join the discussion by watching Grudem’s entire talk here and leaving your comments here.