I am an Epistemological Capitalist.
Every so often I change my tag on Facebook to better describe myself to the public. Last time it was, “That pen and pulpit ‘go home’ t-shirt guy who preaches sexism mostly – Jory Micah.”
Before that, it was “I choose to self-identify as a Camouflage American,” “Also known as ‘News Division‘” and “Ian Paisley is my Spirit Animal.”
But the new term of my invention in which I choose to self-identify is Epistemological Capitalist. I like making up terms, as many of you are aware, and sometimes they catch on. Evangelical Intelligentsia, the Evangelical Dark Web, and choosing to employ the word polemics to describe discernment ministry are all of my invention. It’s a little joy I have in this dark and dreary world.
Anyway, back to Epistemological Capitalism.
This is probably the best way to describe what Pulpit & Pen does. We do business in the Marketplace of Ideas. We take advantage of the Free Market and leverage supply-and-demand to make what we do successful. Believing in Supply-Side Economics, we provide a commodity that everyone wants but is in short supply…truth. In turn, truth – which is the ultimate commodity to trade – keeps our operation viable and sought-after.
Let me describe what I mean by the above paragraph so you can best understand what we’re doing at Pulpit & Pen that is revolutionizing Christian journalism.
The Marketplace of Ideas
The Marketplace of Ideas is the reason for freedom of expression and is based on an analogy to free-market capitalism (described below). The marketplace of ideas holds that truth will emerge from the competition of ideas in free, transparent public discourse and concludes that ideas and ideologies will be culled according to their superiority or inferiority and widespread acceptance among the population.
In free-market capitalism, also known as lassiez faire capitalism, consumers determine the price of goods based upon the scarcity of supply and the availability of demand (explained below). In this system, no central planning power has the ability to determine what goods should be brought to the market or determine their price. These things are set between the providers of goods and the purchasers of goods.
Supply-and-demand is a microeconomic term that says prices of goods (or services) are determined by their availability. The higher demand for something, when it’s in lower supply, the more value is ascribed to that thing (ergo, the more expensive it is). The more available something is, when it is in low demand, the less value is ascribed to that thing.
Supply-Side economics is a macroeconomic term that implies economic growth and prosperity is best assisted by lowering taxes and decreasing regulation to make the suppliers more efficient and less encumbered. This is in contrast to demand-side economics, in which consumers are theoretically benefited by a central authority dictating demand, thus forcing suppliers to provide through some impetus other than the free market.
The Commodity of Truth
Every commodity on Earth exists for the purpose of freeing man. A well-funded 401k or retirement investment fund is designed to set man free of an employer. Entrepreneurial ventures start with a dream to be financially independent. The American Dream is about economic mobility. A car, a boat, a private jet serves the purpose of freedom in transportation.
Rather than fight this reality, Capitalism merely recognizes it as a reality. Unfortunately for many, that which we hope brings us freedom just enslaves us.
A higher salary leads to more responsibilities at work and less time doing what you enjoy. Being your own boss means enslavement that’s often worse than if you had an employer. Investments require long-term, regular additions to build and pay off. Luxuries like vehicles and boats have to be maintained, and therefore the money has to continue to come in to maintain them (every teenager who bought a car to get to work and ironically went to work to pay for the car understands this principle).
Money is freeing and indeed it answereth all things (Ecclesiastes 10:19). However, money cannot satisfy (Ecclesiastes 5:10). Moths eat and rust destroys (Matthew 6:19-20). Wealth stored up on earth is not securely held as imperishable.
However, truth is the best commodity because truth sets free (John 8:32). Consider that Solomon, the richest man in the history of the world whether ancient or modern, chose wisdom over wealth (1 Kings 3:1-15). It should go without saying, however, that his prioritization of knowledge led him to much wealth.
People look at what seems to be the unconquerability of Pulpit & Pen in the face of boycotts and blacklists, censors and pariah-hood and wonder what is the key to invulnerable perseverance. Such a quandary reminds me of a 1980s Bolshevic looking at an American grocery store and genuinely scratching their head in bewilderment about how it could possibly work.
It works because the principles are sound. Do not think that God is not a Capitalist. He designed the system, after all. He was the one that put economic laws in place. Economics is of no amoral substance; economics and the natural laws God enshrined in the nature of things are irrefutable.
The key to Pulpit & Pen’s continued influence and success is that we have boldly set up a trader’s tent in the Marketplace of Ideas. In 2019, truth is the rarest of commodities. Even where it can be found, it is often watered down. Pure truth, bold truth, clear truth, blunt truth, is like finding gold. It’s like finding wine un-watered down in a dry county. It’s like finding bread in Venezuela.
Where else will consumers find uncensored truth in an age of political correctness? Shall they go to Christianity Today? When denominational newspapers are owned by the establishment, shall they go to the Baptist Press for information? When people are terrified to speak freely lest they lose their permit at the Marketplace of Ideas (as though such a thing existed), then they pine for a place that will ‘sell’ it to them.
Of course, we ‘sell’ nothing but ad space. Truth is given for free. But make no mistake about it, truth is also traded.
It’s here that Pulpit & Pen finds real success. If you barter in the Marketplace, you must ‘purchase’ that which you ‘sell.’ A seller of coats or hats or shoes or any such thing must first purchase them in order to sell them. In industry, a seller could quite possibly be a manufacturer, of course, but truth cannot be manufactured. This means we only pass along to the “consumer” (the consumer of news and information) that which we first obtained.
Because people know that we are a distributor of truth, when they have truths to “sell” (distribute), they come to Pulpit & Pen to help them. And so instead of going to publications that will censor, they come to Pulpit & Pen to publish.
Thus, there is a self-sustaining economy of truth that is undergirded by the powers of economy established by God.
Of course, there are a great many people who desire there to be an epistemological demand-side economic system in which they – the powerful elite – get to determine what news and information should be supplied to the public. But the more they clamp down free expression, the more valuable our commodity becomes.
Ultimately, this is a system that cannot be beaten. Even if powerful censors (Facebook, for example) were to ban or block us completely, what they will have done is not demolished the marketplace. What they will have accomplished is to create a Black Market. And everyone knows there’s no market like a Black Market. It’s there that cabals and cartels become more powerful than governments. Bring it on. The market will always thrive, whether above or below ground.
A Final Word
For Epistemological Capitalists, it’s not about money, because our capital is truth. The more of it we give out, the more of it we receive, and the cycle continues. However, it goes without saying that those with something to offer the world will never hurt for food.
God is gracious to us because of the effort of epistemology. Truth-telling is valuable beyond a price-point, and neither can it be sold for cash. It does, however, in God’s economy, mean success.
That success is not worldly, for truth-tellers usually end up dead. Our mission as gospel-preachers is to simply get out the Word. For watchmen on the wall, that simply means being heard. And that, my friends, it what an Epistemological Capitalist is all about.