FAITH & ECONOMICS
NUMBER 76, Fall 2020
Move Beyond the One-hit Wonder of Economic Growth and Use the Whole Hymnal
Robert C. Tatum
University of North Carolina Asheville
This paper is part of a symposium organized in cooperation with the AEI Initiative on Faith and Public Life, titled: “In the Contemporary United States What Would a Truly Humane Economy Look Like?“
Abstract: On the choir director’s stand, in the church of economists and policymakers, like a singly worn page of “Amazing Grace” in an otherwise untouched hymnal, is the anthem of economic growth. This song once had great life, but the tempo of GDP growth has slowed. Due in part to the slowing tempo, economic growth alone is insufficient for solving the myriad ills present in contemporary society. Fortunately, the anthem of economic growth is just one page in the hymnal yet to be fully explored. Other pages from the hymnal can find their roots in a wider set of higher-order principles for the economy that could be derived from the Bible. These higher-order principles would likely concern work, rest, debt, stewardship, poverty, integrity, and our relationship to others, and would support human flourishing if utilized. Consequently, this article argues for the development and use of biblically derived higher-order principles as guides for both defining economic goals and exploring ways to achieve them.