Economics? Isn’t that something that only businessmen and investors should be concerned about? My answer is no.
A while ago I wrote a series that discussed the importance of, the integration of, and the practical tools that philosophy can offer Christians in particular. One of the things I feel Christians today have lost (and need to regain) is a drive and understanding of a) integrating their vocation with their world-view and b) understanding the importance of and using the tools that other disciplines have to offer. I began with philosophy because it deals with the assumptions and underpinnings of all other disciplines. It also offers essential tools that are needed to navigate other disciplines and issues. If you haven’t checked that series out, I’d highly recommend it.
Today I begin another series that I hope will develop some helpful tools and ideas that economics has to offer. I hope to provide a basic understanding of what economics really is, and some practical tools to be able to address some of the issues we will be checking out later. Economics isn’t just about large business concepts – but it’s also more than mere budgeting too. As we’ll see, economics deals with issues other than how to manage money!
This time around I want to try and keep the individual posts to a smaller volume, for readability and also because I just don’t have enough time right now to be writing a lot.
What is Economics?
So what is (or “are”) economics anyways? Isn’t it just a bunch of information about supply and demand, how to invest in particular markets, how to construct a viable business, how to budget your money, etc.? Well, economics is about that stuff, but it’s not only about that stuff. I want to use a definition that makes it obvious that Christian’s ought to have some understanding of economics and some of the tools it has to offer.
The best way to do that, as with any discipline, is to simply list some questions that are economic in nature. However, I’m going to restrict these questions so that they represent an overview of the kinds of topics that we will be discussing during this series:
1. What is money?
2. How is money made?
3. Who deserves to get money?
4. What does it mean to be “poor” or “wealthy”?
5. Does economics have anything to say about abolishing poverty?
6. Which of the different types of economic models best represent biblical values and ideals for society?
7. Are there clear and distinct economic rules that govern how money is gained and lost?
8. What is the difference between corporate responsibility and individual responsibility in a free-market?
9. If a society is to help its under-privileged, how should it do so?
10. How much responsibility should the government have in the aid of the under-privileged?
11. How much responsibility should individuals have in the aid of the under-privileged?
12. Does the Bible have anything explicit to say about economics?
With those questions in mind, my working definition of economics, and the basic thesis of this series, is:
The study of money – how it’s made, gained and lost – and of the macro (i.e. government and market models) and micro (i.e. individuals, small businesses) questions that are spawned from understanding what money represents and how it ought to be managed.
As you can see, economic issues – at face value – ought to be very important to any Christian. While they ought to be important to all people, the Christian has a specific biblical call that deals directly with many of these issues – helping the poor, managing money responsibly, being involved in how the government treats it’s people, and many more as we’ll later see. Also, many of these issues may not be primarily economic issues, but I listed them because they can only be substantively answered by having an understanding of some economic tools.
That’s it for introducing this new series. Next time around, I believe that I will begin to discuss the question: What is money?
It may sound like a simple question, but when you really understand what money is and what it represents, then I think you’ll find that many other second-level questions pop into play that really are fundamental issues for the Christian.
Until next time!