#138 The Soul of a Nation

the christian economist dave arnott

#138 The Soul of a Nation

In the Christian worldview, nations don’t have a soul, only individuals do.  There is no soul in Socialism, only power. 


President Biden gave a speech recently addressing the “Soul of the Nation.”  President Biden said, in part, “The soul is what makes us, us.”  Well, it doesn’t.  It’s a singular, not a plural term.  

The first definition of soul is “The spiritual part of a human being that is immortal.”  Another definition more specifically says “…in an individual life.”   Based on that definition, the nation does not have a soul.  One theologian goes as far as to say that the word “soul” means “the individual.”    

There are at least 95 citations for soul in the Bible.  One of the verses I use the most in Christian Economics includes the term “soul:” In Matthew 22:37-39:  Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.   This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.”  That second commandment forms the heart of free market economics, because it’s only in free markets that we can love others and ourselves at the same time. 

My PhD dissertation was on US-Russian joint ventures.  I’ve visited the country three times, and know something about the Russians, although I should not be considered an expert on Russian culture.  I am fascinated by the phrase “The Russian Soul.”  I tend to think it has something to do with an inner strength that I see in the Babushkas, a demographic of middle-to-older aged women who tend to control the culture.  I don’t have much evidence on this, but I think Russia withdrew from Afghanistan because Babushkas protested the death of their young sons in a meaningless war.  But I digress.  Oh, I would also say there’s something in the Russian soul that grows out of centuries of struggle: Both physical, emotional, and economic.

Often, when counting people aboard a ship, they will say “2000 souls on board.”  Why do they use that phrase?  Because they often refer to passengers and crew as different categories, but they all have “souls” so that if something terrible happens, they want the rescuers to know how many people to look for. 

Does a Country have a Soul?

So what about the American soul?  Do we have one?  There is no American people group.   There are Russian people, German people, French people, and even Native American people, but there is no American people group.  We are all immigrants, or the descendants of immigrants.  President Biden was correct when in the speech, he said, “America is an idea.”  He’s right.  America is not a people, it is an idea.  It’s an idea that anyone, from any people group can get in on, by stating their agreement with the American idea.  What is it?  Dennis Prager says the idea is contained on the coin in your pocket or purse: Liberty, In God we Trust, and E Pluribus Unum. 

A country can have a culture and societal norms, but it can’t have a soul. 

President Biden tried to degrade E Pluribus Unum in his Soul of the Nation Speech.  He proclaimed that there are people who support the soul, and those who don’t.  Thus, he tried to change E Pluribus Unum to E Pluribus Pluribus.  

The Christian Worldview

How about the Christian view of the Soul?  Well, we believe individuals have souls, but we don’t believe there is a common, nor a community soul.  Perhaps the most mentioned painting in my Christian Economics work is “Light of the World,” by William Holman Hunt.  When you see Jesus knocking at the door, you notice pretty quickly that there’s no handle on Jesus’ side of the door.  The door must be opened from the inside, by fallen people like you and me.  That’s still pretty astounding: That God, the greatest being that anyone ever conceived of, gives humans like you and me the freedom to accept or reject the invitation of salvation.  The importance of Hunt’s painting is the idea that comes from Revelation 3:20, “Behold I stand at the door and knock.”  The point is: The individual must open the door.  Your family can’t open it for you, your pastor can’t open it for you, and certainly, your nation can’t open it for you.  It’s an individual decision by the one person who has a soul.  There is no common soul.

Did you notice that President Biden talked for 25 minutes about the soul of the nation, but used no scriptural references?  So, what’s his assumption about the soul?  Where did it come from?  It seems like he has two fundamental differences with the Christian worldview: He believes there is a national soul, not an individual soul, and he believes the soul came from a human, not a divine source.  Christians believe we individually have a soul, and that its source is from our creator.  We have a soul because we are made in God’s image.


What about the 63 million babies whose abortion was supported by the Democrat party?  Did they have souls?  I was interviewed recently by Allen West.  He and I have a lot in common: We are both Christians who love our country and support a free market economy.  That’s three pretty big agreements.  In a previous presentation, I heard him explain what I unpacked in podcast #35 Black Lives Matter.  Here it is: There have been 63 million abortions since the Roe vs Wade decision in 1973.  Let’s round that to 60 million to make the math easy.  Blacks make up 13% of the US population, but have 36% of the abortions.  Let’s round that to 33% to make the math easy.  33% of 60 million is 20 million black aborted babies since 1973.  There are 42.5 million blacks alive in the US.  Let’s round that to 40 million.  That means there are 40 million living blacks and 20 million dead from abortion.  Thus, the following statement is a fact: The Democrat party policy of abortion has reduced the US black population by one-third.  Sorry if you voted for a Democrat and your feelings are hurt.  Those are just facts.  And that abortion is a Democrat policy is more clear today than it ever was.  Way back in April of 2017, Democratic National Party Chairman Tom Perez said “There is no room in the Democratic Party for pro-life candidates.”  That was repeated multiple times by Democrat presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg in 2020.  I had more to say about abortion in podcast # 126 titled The Economics of Abortion

Open Borders

When Sergiy Saydometov and I wrote Biblical Economic Policy, we found ten Biblical Commandments of Economics.  Number ten is “Honor Those in Power.”  That is: When THEY follow the law.  The law is not being followed at our southern border.  It is estimated that this lawlessness will allow three million people to enter the US illegally this year.  For more details on the Christian Economics view on this, I will refer you to podcast #77 where I decry A Country Without Borders.  1,200 people have died trying to cross the open border.  Did they have souls?  An estimated 90% of the illegal drug fentanyl comes across the open border and has killed 100,000 Americans.  Did they have souls?

 The Economics of a Soul

Economics is defined as the production and distribution of goods and services in a scarce environment.  If the country had a soul, would it be revealed in the way people produce and distribute goods?  Is there an indication of the kinds of soul the country might have by observing the goods and services we make?

Borrowing the term “soul” from the religious realm should be expected from folks who tend to the socialist side of economics.  That’s because Socialism is not based in Christian theology, so the Socialists have to appropriate the term to make themselves seem righteous, or holy, or try to make some attachment with the creator of the Universe.  There is no soul in socialism.  There is only power.  As there was in President Biden’s speech.