For almost 40 years, the Association of Christian Economists (ACE) has been gathering scholars in the economics discipline for conversation and fellowship. Over that time, the association has hosted a generation of conversation about faithful Christian economic life. The big questions we have delved into are important for all of believers: Can Christians embrace capitalism? How should we think about freedom? What can we do to alleviate global poverty? What does Christian scholarship look like?
Much of this scholarship has appeared in our journal, Faith & Economics. The journal is available online, with free archives going back to 1986. Only the most recent year is limited to subscribers.
Like the Oikonomia Network, ACE has sought to overcome this division between theology and economics. Too often, the conversation about how Christians should think about the economy has happened on two tracks. Theologians and Bible scholars, on one track, have written extensively about Christian ethics regarding business, consumerism and (especially) poverty. Economists, on the other track, have written on the same topics using their own frameworks and language. It is, sadly, rare for these conversations to happen together. In the pages of Faith & Economics, you can find years of such dialogue, including reviews of important books, research articles on economic issues written by theologians, and the occasional symposium that brings people together to discuss a common topic.
Recently, ACE also launched a podcast titled Faithful Economy. The goal is to make deep interviews with Christian scholars easily accessible to Christians who are interested in economic issues. In the coming months, it will also serve as a venue for making some conference presentations and lectures available to the public. In the first episode, development economist Bruce Wydick discusses his recent book, Shrewd Samaritan: Faith, Economics, and the Road to Loving our Global Neighbor. He makes a case for holistic anti-poverty programs that take seriously the Christian notion that people need physical, spiritual and social health to thrive. Other episodes tackle issues ranging from the rise of China to markets for prostitution.
Recently, Greg Forster appeared on the show to discuss his two recent books, Economics: A Student’s Guide and The Keynesian Revolution and Our Empty Economy: We’re All Dead(with Victor Claar). The conversation highlighted how important it is to do history, theology, and economics together. As Forster notes in the interview: “We need to rediscover how to describe economic reality in a way that honors the moral and cultural significance of economic action.” Tune in to hear him dig into the connection between economics, the theology of work, and consumerism.
While the other resources of ACE may be especially valuable to those with a background in economics, the podcast should be interesting and useful to pastors and theologians as well as businesspeople, other social scientists and any Christians interested in these issues. Consider the episode that features Scott Cunningham of Baylor University. His research into markets for prostitution revealed that the use of online tools like craigslist, before this use was shut down, made markets safer for sex workers, particularly those who did not need to seek work on the street. Christians will appreciate the hard dilemma this creates when trying to craft policy. Alternatively, consider the conversation with Jordan Ballor from the Acton Institute. He digs into the differences between the way theologians and economists talk, and how differences in language can cover over, or widen, disagreements between Christians about economic life.
Podcasts have emerged as a really accessible format for producing high-quality content apart from the machine of mass media. There has been an explosion of really good podcasts that can enrich the intellectual life of Christians. Faithful Economy is ACE’s contribution to this new direction in media. The show is just getting off the ground, so if you have any comments or suggestions, don’t hesitate to reach out to me!