Economics is the World’s Theology

For a while I thought that I would want to go get a Masters in Economics of some sort. After seeing the kind of impact that economics has on all of our lives, my interest in political systems and monetary systems improving the lives of many people, I thought it was a great direction to head in in terms of being educated. I read Adbusters quite a bit as well, and they definitely tote Economics the most as a a field of study. A lot of responsibility in their magazines lies on the Economist for either the good or the bad in the world. If I’m going to be honest, if I want to help shape systems of the world to be more just and more like the Kingdom of God, then I thought economics is a perfect field of study.

However, I’m becoming less and less convinced that shaping systems is the role of the Christian. Furthermore, I’m becoming more disenfranchised with the idea of money at all as having any hope to make any positive change in our world. If I think that shaping the way of how we use money is going to somehow fix things, then I am sadly mistaken. I wrote a post a bit ago entitled Money, and Why God doesn’t Care, and that post has lead me to eventually a post like this. An education on money, good or bad, ends up still promoting money as a an idol and a central role in our lives. I am just not interested in that. I do not think that a perfect political system, or a perfect economic setup will fix anything at all. It isn’t possible. I joke about being a communist or a socialist, but really I do not think any of these systems is the answer.

I just finished Hauerwas’ memoirs and I’m even more convinced now than before that the church really is the hope for the world. Not because the church helps change the world, but because the church live so radically different than the world that the world is left realizing it’s own demise. If the world wants to live truthfully and fully, than it will have to join the church. There is no other option. A better economic system is not the answer. A people committed to the death and resurrection of Christ, each other and the Kingdom of God is the way we need to be. I believe that God is brining about a new world, and he wants to use the church to do so. So I think that if I’m going to further my education, it’s probably going to be in theology of some sort and not economics. I no longer hold a sense of awe for techniques on how we distribute money. I am in awe of a group of people who live so radically different with their money (if they have any) that no economic system can make sense of it.

Economics then is no more than the world’s version of theology. It is a study of a god. I do not follow that god, nor am i enamored by it. I am committed to a way of life committed to a God which is vastly different than a way of life committed to money will be. While I think we need good economics and those that study it, I am pretty sure it’s not for me.

8 Comments

  • i fully agree. here is my question, though. if we do not want to treat money as a god (as you are suggesting) how do we give it a proper evaluation of what it is? in other words how do we interact with it in truth? for example, a group of people may assert that a certain carved out stone is a god, but i do not. i cannot therefore claim that it is nothing and ignore that it is a stone, and any attempts to walk through it would cure me of such ignorance. i therefore, must learn to treat it as what it is: a stone. so to restate my question, how then, do we give it a proper evaluation of what it is?

    • darryl, I think part of the proper evaluation is recognizing that it’s a stone but also recognizing that it’s someone else’s God and what that means for having a relationship with them and what your worldview of it being “just a stone” means for your relationship with them. What it is is deeply connected to what everyone interprets what it is (whether it is true or not).

      • nathan, i understand what you are saying and where you’re coming from. but i do not know if i agree that it would change my relationship with the stone(or money). i would say that it definitely changes my relationship with those who see the stone(or money) as their god. but should it change my relationship with the stone(or money)? if people treat a certain stone(or money) as god but i have come to understand that it is a stone(or money) and not god, would it do justice to the the situation if i treated it as not a stone(or money)? i do not see how that helps. if people act towards money like it is a god and not just a currency, i do not see how me acting as though it isn’t a currency would the situation. would it not demonstrate justice to simply insist that it is what it is: a currency? and act towards it appropriately?

      • darryl, yes and no, your relationship should probably change to the rock. Imagine if you went up and took the rock and through it into the ocean, because you thought it would be fun to skip rocks on the beach. so this is where i think it gets tricky, because it is still someone’s god, so the respect and the balance needs to be there. I don’t treat it like it’s my god, but i don’t think i can just treat it like a stone (or in the case of money, can’t just treat it like pieces of paper maybe :)

  • Bull’s-eye!

  • I wrote a book about this very point as it was troubling me as well! click on Milton’s or my blog link to see it in the sidebar. The book is cheap, sold for no profit to anyone, to match the point at stake.

    Many have told me the book and what it says is not practical, which is weird, cuz all I did was quote scripture. The true point is that we have little faith. We hear God’s Words, we see our empty dinner plate and well, the faith that comes by hearing does not win over hunger pains.

    At the same time, laziness or fatalism or tempting God is often at the other extreme of materialism. The narrow way truly is narrow!

    • Jeff, thanks for that, I’ll be sure to check it out.

  • The truth is, that money won’t exist in the next age. This should tell you about the money of this world.

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