Monthly Archives: December 2009

Faith & Economics – Fall 2009

Faith & Economics
NUMBER 54, Fall 2009


Early Christianity: Opiate of the Privileged?
Rodney Stark

Notes from the Revolution: Principles of a New Economics
John P. Tiemstra

Elements of a Christian Critique of Consumer Theory
Andrew M. Yuengert

Abstract: Christian revelation calls into question the assumptions of non-satiation (that more is better) and revealed wellbeing (that the preferences which drive consumer behavior fully reflect their wellbeing), but these assumptions are rarely challenged in normative analysis. This neglect is a result of the unexamined claim the the positive criteria by which assumptions are evaluated are also appropriate for the evaluation of normative assumptions. Normative theory is more sensitive to violations of revealed wellbeing than to violations of non-satiation. In light of the importance of violations of revealed wellbeing in normative theory, economists ought to be less confident in normative approaches which do not rely on it.
JEL: A13, B41, D11.
Keywords: satiation, wellbeing, positive-normative distinction, consumption

The Idea of Economics in a University
Gabriel X. Martinez

Abstract: Relying on John Henry Newman’s Idea of a University, this paper explores the relation between economics and other disciplines. Newman had high regard for disciplinary specialization, which he thought would teach students and scholars how to think and would keep them intellectually honest. At the same time, he insisted that the learning and exploring of a science had to take place within a university, that is, with proper regard to the science’s place among other disciplines. This paper contributes to the debate on the proper way to do economics by applying to it Newman’s ideas, arguing that it is at its best when faithful to its own character, as long as it seeks out the contributions and the corrections of other disciplines. Indeed, because economics focuses on order, principle, and method, and because it provides a “connected view or grasp of things,” it can contribute to the cultivation of the philosophical habit of mind. 
JEL: A11, A20, B40
Keywords: John Henry Newman, university curriculum, integration

Economic Egalitarianism in Pre-monarchical Israel
Clive Beed and Clara Beed

Abstract: The claim that egalitarian tendencies are integral to Judeo-Christian belief has a lengthy pedigree. It continues to be advocated by Christians who employ diverse understandings o the term “egalitarian” (as per Forrester, 2001, and Bauckham, 2003). This paper confines itself to ideas of economic egalitarianism, as defined, and asks to what extent they are reflected in aspects of Mosaic Law, including the initial land distributions to Israel, and the Jubilee. The conclusion is that certain economic egalitarian tendencies are reflected in the Mosaic Law, even though those tendencies are not equivalent to all contemporary understandings of economic egalitarianism. Some Christian critics, like Calvin Beisner (1988, 1997), deny that the initial land distributions and Jubilee reflect economic egalitarian qualities. His arguments are evaluated, and found to be inconclusive; neither do they undermine the existence of economically egalitarian qualities in other aspects of the Mosaic Law.
JEL: A13, Z10, Z12
Keywords: Mosaic Law, egalitarian, land allocation

Book Reviews

Understanding and Reducing Persistent Poverty in Africa 
by Christopher B. Barrett, Michael Carter, and Peter Little, eds.
Reviewed by Judith M. Dean

Common Wealth: Economics for a Crowded Planet
by Jeffrey D. Sachs
Reviewed by Stephen L.S. Smith

“Are Economists Basically Immoral?” and Other Essays on Economics, Ethics, and Religion
by Geoffrey Brennan and A.M.C. Waterman, eds.
Reviewed by Douglass Puffert

Good Intentions: Nine Hot-Button Issues Viewed Through the Eyes of Faith
by Charles M. North and Bob Smietana
Reviewed by John Stapleford

Calculated Futures: Theology, Ethics, and Economics 
by D. Stephen Long and Nancy Ruth Fox, with Tripp York
Reviewed by K. Brad Stamm

Power and Poverty: Divine and Human Rule in a World of Need
by Dewi Hughes
Reviewed by Andy Hartropp