On February 15, of this year, I began this series on Theology and Economics. I worte in that first post:
Over the coming days I am going to layout a rudimentary theology of economics and the causes of prosperity. I will tap into the biblical narrative to see what scripture has to say to us. I am particularly going to emphasize the eschatological implications for economics. I am going to reflect on what capitalism is, on where it came from and on its promise for the future. I will reflect on what this means in terms of how we view our everyday lives and the implications this has for how we envision being the Church. Furthermore, I will tell you the ending now. I do not believe that the decline of morality in the marketplace or morality in general, is primarily a function of Enlightenment thinking. Nor do I believe it is a function of the Western political and economic systems. The primary locus for the decline in morality is in the Church, and as it relates to economics, in the Church’s marginalization of marketplace ministry.
Eighty-three posts and seven months later I am bringing this series to an end. I feel pretty good about the series and I feel like I accomplished my mission to articulate a “rudimentary” theology of economics and the causes of prosperity. I have very much appreciated the input and questions people have asked along the way. Several people have contacted me about using some of this material or invited me to talk to their group. Some have suggested that I form this material into a book. It has been my intention all along to at least develop some presentations out of this and I am now seriously investigating how I might form this into a book (I think there is more than one in here.)
My bottom line is that I think we live in a day of big challenges and even bigger opportunities. Yet the Church is mired in a host of unhealthy dichotomies and conflicts. Because of our Gnostic like dualities with sacred vs. secular, and clergy vs. laity, the Church is unable to articulate a compelling vision to the world of God’s intentions. Faithful church attending Evangelical Christians have little sense of how the biblical narrative impacts their lives beyond giving a formula for personal salvation and personal morality. Mainline traditions have virtually reduced the narrative to proof texts of the social justice cause of the moment. We need to recover the reality that we are made in the image of God; we are eikons of God called to Creation Stewardship, Kingdom Service and Employment of Gifts as we work to give at least a shadowy glimpse of the shalom that is to come. As eikons, we are the oikonomos, the household manger, given charge to use all the resources at our disposal to develop the world according to the heart and mind of God.
I pointed out that we get the word “economics” from the word oikonomos. Economics is at the core of our mission as eikons in the world. Therefore, it seems to me that it may be time for a new integrated field of study: Eikonomics – The study of being God’s image bearers as we manage the resources entrusted to us. If I get a book out of this, “Eikonomics” will likely be the title.
Thanks to all of you have participated in this conversation. I appreciate it.
Here is an index of the posts.
THE BIBLICAL NARRATIVE (Visio Dei and Missio Dei)
ECONOMICS IN CONTEXT
ECONOMIC RIGHTS AND ECONOMIC OBLIGATIONS
THE CAUSES OF PROSPERITY
CONCLUSION AND INDEX