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Jan 28, 2008

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RonMck

Michael
During my summer vacation I read five books on Christian economics, including Klaar and Clay. They all had some good stuff, but in each case, I was really concerned about their views on the role of the government. They just assume (with a nod to Romans 13) that if the government can make things better, then that is justification for government intervention.

A good example is Klaar and Clay’s second principle that “The anticipated social benefit of any policy proposal must be seriously weighed against every likely social opportunity cost.” This is nonsense. First of all there is no way that we can measure social benefit, and measuring social opportunity cost is almost impossible, but even if there was, Christian ethics cannot be based on cost/benefit analysis. Social benefit greater than social cost does not make an intervention morally right. Proving that an intervention will work, is pragmatism. It does not make the intervention right.

I believe that the most important issue that Christian economists face in our time is defining the role of government. If these books are what Christian undergraduates are reading on this issue, I would be really concerned.

From a Christian point of view, the role of government should not be determined by what will work. It must be determined by what is right or what is just. If our Christianianity has any value, then we must be able to find out what is right from within the scriptures.

Michael W. Kruse

Ron, I appreciate your perspective on this but I think it is an area where we probably have some significant differences. I come to the Bible with a Redemptive-Movement Hermeneutic. Ultimate and penultimate ethics are revealed in scripture but they are revealed and applied into specific time and space contexts. As contexts change the application of those ethics change. I think there is a significant pragmatic element precisely because there is no manual, including the Bible, for applying ethics in our context. I part ways with Reconstructionism at this point.

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