28 March 2010

Christian Economic Life - Post 1: Foundation

I'm going to try a thought-experiment here. I want to think about what an economy run on Christian principles might look like. And this is quite literally a "thought experiment". At the moment, I have no idea of what I intend to write in the future, but I want simply to think out loud, building on ideas step by step.

So here are some initial thoughts for a foundation:

1) Christian thinking on economics should begin with Christian and biblical principles, not with economic principles.

2) That being said, it seems to me that a good principle for a Christian thought experiment on our economic life would be: honor God and love your neighbor. (There are actually a number of principles that the bible expresses on economic life that a lot of us might not like; forbidding the giving or receiving of debt is one of these.)

3) As I think and write, I will try to separate "What works" from "What should be". I will recognize that "What should be" doesn't always work well. In separating the two principles, I intend to avoid what seems to me to be a usual problem in Christian economic thinking: "That operational method doesn't work, therefore it is unjust".

4) The unconscious, unarticulated principle of American economic life is free-market capitalism. I do not accept free-market capitalism as being uncritically "good" or "just" in Christian terms. I intend to reject a lot of the values that under-pin free-market capitalism, particularly the view that the possession of money (capital) endows an individual with more status in the eyes of God.

Your thoughts welcome.


Will said...

A good project, Pam. I look forward to hearing more - and definitely learning!

PamBG said...

Well, I hope to learn too!

Steve Hayes said...

Thanks for this -- a very good start.

Steven Jones said...

Hi Pam

Interesting series of posts. I'm planning to embark on PhD studies next year, looking at a critique of economic systems through the lens of the Gospel. I'll be eagerly watching out for the progress of your project.

Regards, Steven

PamBG said...

I'm stuck a bit at the moment trying to write the next post. I'm NOT an economist, though. Just someone who worked in pensions for a long time and who wants to think about economic life from a Christian perspective.