This episode features a conversation with Rob Tatum, an economist that has been doing some interesting writing about theology and economic policy. The paper we discuss in some detail here recently came out in the new Journal of Economics, Theology and Religion. The title of the article is “To What Ends for Theology-Oriented Economic Policymaking.” The article is available for free on the journal website, and I encourage you to check out the article, and the whole inaugural issue of the journal, which is excellent.
What is great about this paper is that it dives into an important but difficult area of interdisciplinary work. That is, Tatum uses the historical Social Gospel movement to examine how eschatology can influence the kinds of goals we aim for in economic policy. Eschatology has to do with the “end times” but also with the more general direction that history is heading. While theologians often make connections between eschatology and ethics, most of us who are not theologians or bible-scholars get scared off by debates about pre-millenial vs. post-millenial theologies, and leave eschatology alone.
You might not agree with the overall perspective that Rob brings to the topic, but he wants to take scripture seriously, and he does a nice job thinking about a difficult topic.
Rob current holds the Cary Caperton Owen Chair in Economics and is Professor of Economics at the University of North Carolina Asheville. He has published research on international trade, teaching, economic development, and, as we discuss here, a series of papers on theology and economics.