The Biggest Reason the Church Must Say Something About the Economy

The church must talk about work. But talking about work is not enough—the church must also teach and affirm that we are social beings. So, the church must speak about faith, work, and economics because the economy is a social enterprise.

The economy isn’t merely numbers on spreadsheets. It is not talking heads on TV yelling at each other about public policy. There’s a deeper and more important reality. The economy is people in relationship with each other through their work. When I work I am engaging in relationship with millions of people around the world.
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“The economy is people in relationship with each other through their work.”

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The reason the church has to say something about the economy, is because the economy is a moral system. What kind of economy we have is going to be based on what kind of people we are. If we are honest, diligent, self-controlled, and generous people—we are going to have one kind of economy. If we are selfish, shallow, narcissistic, dissolute, lazy, greedy, and materialistic—we’re going to have a different kind of economy. The same thing works in reverse. What kind of people we are depends on what kind of economy we have.
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“Economic structures and systems embody assumptions about what is good.”

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Economic structures and systems embody assumptions about what is good. So if we live in an economic system and in the midst of economic practices that assume what is good for people is that they should be honest, diligent, generous, and self controlled, that’s going to help us become that kind of person. But if we live in the midst of economic practices that assume that what is good for people is that they should be selfish, shallow, narcissistic, dissolute, lazy, greedy, and materialistic—that’s going to help us become that kind of person.

So we need to be aware of how we as the church can inform and affect economic systems and how these systems affect us as well. And if that’s not of concern to the church, then I don’t know what is.

This is a modified excerpt from Greg Forester. He expounds on these principles in this short video.

Greg Forster, Ph.D. serves as the director of the Oikonomia Network at the Center for Transformational Churches at Trinity International University. He has a Ph.D. with distinction in political philosophy from Yale University. He is the author of six books, including Joy for the World: How Christianity Lost Its Cultural Influence and Can Begin Rebuilding It (2014).