Theological Economics

Years ago there was a periodical known as Christian Economics. After animated controversy as to whether its views were either Christian or good economics, or neither, it changed its name to Applied Christianity. Nevertheless, despite the ground-breaking by C.E./A.C., it has not yet been systematically proved that there is or can be a direct relation between Christianity and economics—or, more broadly speaking, between theology and economics.

In the days of hard money, the relation between economics and morality was easier to descry. Thus as early as the eighth century B.C. Amos castigated (morally) manipulation (economically) of currency and of weights and measures (Amos 8:5). Amos’s attitude was reflected in the view of the later academicians that economics is a branch of moral science. Unfortunately, the invention of paper money (somewhat prejudicially described in Goethe, Faust II, as the work of the devil) has obscured the direct relation between the two spheres.

The problem is self-evident: confining ourselves to the realm of one currency, the U. S. dollar, we note that with the abandonment first of the internal gold standard under Roosevelt, then of the silver dollar under Johnson, and finally of the external convertibility of the dollar into gold under Nixon, the dollar has ceased to be real, in either an ontological or an economic sense. Since morality deals with actions, and actions involve realities, the tie between morality and dollar economics appears to be broken.

The unreality of the dollar can be shown by a simple analysis: the price of gold has remained virtually constant in terms of real things, such as oil (one troy ounce being worth just about six double-barrels in 1973 just as in 1971), ...

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