The 3 pillars of Christian economics

"1. Creativity and work. God the Creator tasked human beings with labor even in the Garden of Eden. This work allows us to refine, purify, and fructify His handiwork. While this does not make human beings co-creators – for only God created all things ex nihilo – it gives us a canvas on which to display the creativity God implanted inside all His children." - Acton

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josh p's picture

Good article thank you. One thing that is often neglected in this discussion is the history of the concept of subjective value of goods/services. Thomas Aquinas, following Aristotle, taught the objective value of items. The whole discussion gets muddied by the debate between nomanalism and realism. That being said, Protestantism was a huge leap forward in economic thought.  

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Are you with Aquinas and Aristotle on that?

I see value as rooted in affections, but 'leashed' (pardon the mixed metaphors) to objectivity. It's a long, stretchy leash.

To say it another way, there's like a core objective value, but most of it comes from what people want. Demand.

I remember having a conversation with a deacon years ago about whether demand can be created by advertising or even created at all. I believe it can, because 'demand' is 100% human desire, that may or may not overlap to some degree with objective value.

So maybe it's fair to say that there is market value: subjective, and there is essential (right word?) value: objective. They relate but loosely.

What's obvious is that Marx's labor theory of value doesn't work in the real world of human interactions.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

josh p's picture

I am against the idea of objective value and completely accept subjective value. In other words, something is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it. My point was that Protestantism took us away from the idea of objective value. I believe that purchases of goods or services are just records of human action.
So, when shopping for a car, it's helpful to look at some previous buyer's decisions on a similar car's value but a car is truly only "worth" what someone is willing to pay for it. 

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Pretty much the same.

Another way to put it is that value is spiritual. At least, those who understand that methodolical naturalism/materialism is false can recognize that it's spiritual. It all springs from human longings which often have nothing to with utility.  (I'm paying more for my new laptop because it's more beautiful than the alternatives. Materialists/naturalists would say this is just chemical, but humans really don't believe that about beauty).

To me, this is what makes economics interesting.

Though there's much to appreciate in Hayek, et al., my impression is that they assume a lot of naturalistic/mechanical/evolutionary stuff. I have no problem believing that societies evolve, but it gets so sterile and superficial if you leave the (not-evolving) human spirit out of the equation.

Not against economics social science. But it really needs theology to make it whole and make it real.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

josh p's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:

Pretty much the same.

Another way to put it is that value is spiritual. At least, those who understand that methodolical naturalism/materialism is false can recognize that it's spiritual. It all springs from human longings which often have nothing to with utility.  (I'm paying more for my new laptop because it's more beautiful than the alternatives. Materialists/naturalists would say this is just chemical, but humans really don't believe that about beauty).

To me, this is what makes economics interesting.

Though there's much to appreciate in Hayek, et al., my impression is that they assume a lot of naturalistic/mechanical/evolutionary stuff. I have no problem believing that societies evolve, but it gets so sterile and superficial if you leave the (not-evolving) human spirit out of the equation.

Not against economics social science. But it really needs theology to make it whole and make it real.

Agreed. If you read, "A Short History of Man" by Hans-Herman Hoppe you can see that even Austrian economics is rooted in evolutionary thinking. Mises of course has his book, "Human Action" which I have yet to try and tackle. 
 

I posted it here before but I really recommend John Robbins' series on economics at the Trinity Foundation. He was always quite polarizing but the class itself is excellent. The audio is pretty bad but if you can get through it you can really learn a lot. I loved how he criticized even economic theory he mostly agreed with from a Biblical  perspective. 
 

I also learned a lot by doing the Reformed Libertarian (a now defunct website) introductory month of reading. It was a ton of reading but very good. That was a pretty unique website that I really wish still existed.