There is considerable debate in the public square these days about a number of issues that have significant economic components. Globalization, environmental protection, and aiding the poor are just a few. Decisions we make in our personal lives are influenced by our assumptions about economic realities as well. So how might mainstream economics connect with Christian Values and principles?
Victor Claar and Robin Klay, both professors of economics at Hope College in Holland, Michigan, published a book last summer called Economics in Christian Perspective: Theory, Policy and Life Choices. It’s a wonderful read. The book has eleven chapters, each devoted to a particular issue like the role of government, creation care, discerning vocation and caring for the poor versus worrying about the income gap.
The writing style is engaging. If you have a just a rudimentary grasp of some basic economic concepts the book should be intelligible. If not, you may find yourself having to work some in a couple of spots. But what is truly refreshing is the careful and respectful manner in which differing views are presented on some controversial topics even as the authors reveal their takes on issues. The book is neither a social justice harangue nor a libertarian manifesto, just solid Christian reflection on the implications of mainstream economic thought.
The authors conclude the book with “Nine Big Ideas from Economics That Can Help You Be a Good Steward Every Day.”
- For everything you do, there is something you are choosing to leave undone.
- The anticipated social benefit of any policy proposal must be seriously weighed against every likely social opportunity cost.
- Actions speak louder than words.
- Markets move precious resource from less-valuable to more-valuable.
- Job creation is rightly viewed as a cost, not a benefit, of any initiative.
- Free international trade is a proven way to help the world’s poorest people.
- Hope for a better future may require temporary discomfort today.
- Corrupt governments keep the poor down.
- Sunk costs are sunk.
Claar was recently interviewed on a British radio program. You can listen to a mp3 of the interview by visiting his blog. I highly recommend this book for anyone wanting a thoughtful reflection on the interaction between faith and economics.