Today TGC runs my review of Wayne Grudem and Barry Asmus’ The Poverty of Nations. I don’t post all my TGC reviews here on HT but I think this one opens up some critically important questions on how the church handles these issues.
I think Grudem and Asmus get the economics right:
Humans are made to be stewards and co-creators with God through productive work. This is all over the Bible from literally the beginning to the end: Humanity was created to cultivate this world through work (Gen. 1:28, 2:15); in the next world, all the peoples of the earth will bring the fruits of their work into the New Jerusalem for blessing (Rev. 21:24). Every human being is made to be a steward. That’s why economic systems that don’t give people stewardship over their own work, households, and property are so fiercely condemned by the prophets and apostles alike. They rob us of our human dignity and encourage greed, sloth, consumerism, self-indulgence, sexual immorality, and almost every other kind of sin.
I also think the book shows some of the places where our theology of economics needs to think more deeply about the cultural nature of economic systems:
The authors are clear that moral concerns trump economic factors, but they tend to define the economic factors in materialistic terms…The authors also presuppose an overly individualistic anthropology in which all economic action can be reduced to the choices of individuals. But before you can choose to create a business you must have an idea of what a “business” is, and that idea will be culturally contingent rather than something you’re free to make up for yourself. And if the world is ordered by God, what constitutes a business will be metaphysically contingent as well as culturally contingent…A relentless focus on policy, money, and individual choices makes it difficult to sustain this sense that our culture has integrity and coherence apart from political power; it increases the plausibility of the assertion that it is really the government that holds us all together.
I’ve been a fan of Grudem’s Business for the Glory of God for a while now, so it was great to see him return to the topic. There are still a lot more frontiers waiting to be discovered.