This month we release the final set of research notes for the Economic Wisdom Project (EWP). These notes provide extensive references for anyone seeking to connect the EWP’s 12 Elements with the Bible, theology, and church history. The newly released notes cover Elements 10-12. Notes for all 12 Elements are now available for you to download here.
Exploring how the EWP connects with core theological disciplines is one of the key tasks theological educators face in the Oikonomia Network. “A Christian Vision for Flourishing Communities,” the EWP vision paper, asserts that its 12 Elements of Economic Wisdom are “grounded in biblical and theological learning” and “in organic continuity with historic Christian thought and practice” (p. 8). To assist writers and scholars who wish to explore those connections, the EWP researchers collected references and quotes from 29 theological books. The research was overseen by Scott Rae (Talbot School, Biola University) and Charlie Self (Assemblies of God Theological Seminary, Evangel University).
Like the Elements themselves, this is not a comprehensive overview or summary of everything the Bible has to say about economics, nor is it a work of systematic or constructive theology. Rather, this document uses the Elements as a starting point, and explores where they intersect with some important works in the traditional, theological disciplines.
To whet your appetite, here are a few samples from the final round of notes. Items without quotation marks are paraphrases, rather than quotations from the source.
Element 10: Programs aimed at economic problems need a fully rounded understanding of how people flourish.
Economics inevitably involves philosophical thinking about the highest good and how people flourish.
John Mueller, “Redeeming Economics,” p. 355
The individual is primarily responsible for development, and programs must account for this reality.
Benedict XVI, “Caritas in Veritate,” p. 30
Christian business people have the opportunity to help people discover a vision of society that conforms to the will of God.
Max Stackhouse, et al., “On Moral Business,” p. 186
Element 11: Economic thinking must account for long-term effects and unintended consequences.
The author quotes Nobel-winning economist Robert William Fogel: “The future of egalitarianism in America turns on the nation’s ability to combine continued economic growth with an entirely new set of egalitarian reforms that address the urgent spiritual needs.”
David Miller, “God at Work,” p. 65
Pope Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum argues that the abolition of private property and the institution of socialism would eventually lead to the degradation of all classes of people, both working and wealthy, by taking away the responsibility of each person for improving his own circumstances; by creating envy; and by removing any motivation for the proper use of talents or industry. Private property is the most fundamental principle for improving the condition of the working class. It allows each person to properly use his possessions.
William Placher, ed., “Callings,” p. 361-363
Capitalism is a work in progress, and should be a long-term vision. It will be closer to fruition in 1,000 years, while we’re only 200 years in. “The new capitalism is not a matter of adventure or piracy but of continuous enterprise.”
Michael Novak, “The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism,” p. 44
Element 12: In general, economies flourish when goodwill is universal and global, but control is local, and personal knowledge guides decisions.
As economies modernize, businesses attempt to empower workers to make creative decisions that will meet a company’s objectives.
Jeff Van Duzer, “Why Business Matters to God – and What Still Needs to Be Fixed,” p. 70
Local control of land by tribes was the initial plan of God for Israel, in contrast to the centralized control of the king. Localized government protecting the family was central to Israel. Equity and freedom within this structure were legitimated through the covenant.
Chris Wright, “Old Testament Ethics for the People of God,” p. 56, 340-342
The author points to some scriptures to show that those who are near to us are a priority, although helping the poor in general is also emphasized (1 John 3:17, Matthew 25:39-40, Romans 15:25-27, 2 Corinthians 8-9).
Wayne Grudem, “Business for the Glory of God,” p. 58