This episode features a conversation with Jordan Ballor, a senior research fellow at the Acton Institute. We take a deep dive into the ways that theologians and economists tend to disagree. Our starting point is an essay that Ballor wrote about the different interpretations of the word “scarcity.” We talk at length about the different starting assumptions that scholars work with, the differences in language, the difficulty of separating facts from value judgments, and more. This conversation is a bit specialized, but it is really important for understanding the foundational differences between economic thinking and theological thinking. Hopefully, this will serve as an accessible introduction to some of the thornier issues.
Jordan Ballor is a historian and a theologian, with a deep knowledge of reformation theologians, but his writing has covered many topics, including a fair bit of writing about economics and collaboration with economists. For the last few years, he has also been a postdoctoral fellow with the Moral Markets project, which we talk about a bit near the end of the show. He is the author of three books, numerous articles and essays, and editor of a series of English translations of Abraham Kuyper’s work.
Here are some links to work that we reference in this episode:
Interdisciplinary Dialogue and Scarcity in Economic Terminology, by Jordan Ballor, Journal of Markets and Morality
Theology and Economics: A Match Made in Heaven? By Jordan Ballor, Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies.
A Value Judgement on Value Judgements Wilhelm Röpke. 1941.
Reckoning with Markets by James Halteman and Edd Noell, Oxford University Press, 2012.
Jesus and the Economics of Scarcity by Grazina Bielousova, The Political Theology Network. (https://politicaltheology.com/jesus-and-the-economics-of-scarcity/)