JIS III 1991
Christian Political Economy
JIS III 1991: 1-10
CHRISTIAN POLITICAL ECONOMY:
FACT OR VALUE?
Institute for Interdisciplinary Research
It is with pleasure, hope, and some trepidation that we present this volume of the Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies on the fascinating themes: “Christian Political Economy: Fact or Fiction?” and “Ecology and Food: Restoring Man and Nature.” To our growing readership, it may be clear by now that both the Journal’s themes and insights are meant to be cumulative. Naturally, we do not presume to provide a God’s-eye view of the universe, for no man can know the mind of God. On the other hand, we have set a challenging task for this Journal of advancing human understanding of both knowledge and faith across geographical, disciplinary, and denominational boundaries.
JIS III 1991: 11-30
IS THERE A CHRISTIAN POLITICAL ECONOMY?
Judd W. Patton
Normative economic analysis has generally been accepted as a bona fide research area within the economics profession, although few have chosen to pursue it. Some scholars have taken up the challenge and developed their own vision of “Christian economics” by applying Judeo-Christian ethics to economic problems. A few economists have engaged in extraordinary science positing a revelational body of economic thought that is something more than a patchwork of ethical and positive theory, and beyond the positive-normative dichotomy. Their episteme reveals a comprehensive, unified body of economic and moral principles that are inextricably interrelated and encompass all human action. This latter worldview–the subject of this essay–proposes a distinct set of conclusions on economic policy and a role for government that is uniquely Christian.
JIS III 1991: 31-50
THE SUBJECTIVE THEORY OF ECONOMIC VALUE
Reformed Theological Seminary-Orlando
More than a century has passed since economists came to realize that economic value is subjective. This discovery in the 1870s produced a revolution almost as important as the one resulting from the 1776 publication of Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations. The failure to recognize or understand the subjectivist revolution is at the root of many twentieth-century economic errors. Many Christians are handicapped in their approach to this important discovery. They believe that since they are required to believe that moral values are objective, that is, independent of human preference and desire, they must resist any effort to make economic value subjective. The purpose of this essay is to show that such thinking is mistaken. Christians and others have nothing to fear from the subjectivist revolution in economics. In fact, understanding and accepting this discovery is an essential step toward economic literacy.
JIS III 1991: 51-72
TOWARD A NORMATIVE ECONOMIC METAPARADIGM
University of Cincinnati
This essay proposes the formulation of a metaparadigm encompassing three major aspects of economic science: positive, normative, and applied. Such a metaparadigm represents a broader conceptual framework within which existing paradigms can be placed as special cases for comparative evaluation. The historical development of religions and their influence on economies and economics are legitimate areas of inquiry for positive economics. Yet the Mecca of the religion-based schools of economics is within a normative metaparadigm. Though Christian economics has not attained thus far the status of positive economics, the means to attain this objective are studied within the applied aspect of the proposed metaparadigm.
JIS III 1991: 73-92
THE AMERICAN BISHOPS’
LETTER ON THE U.S. ECONOMY — REVISITED
Charles R. Dechert
Catholic University of America
The American Catholic Church has attempted to apply and extend the social teachings of the Universal Church in light of American conditions and political culture, most recently in the 1986 Pastoral Letter on Catholic Social Teaching and the U.S. Economy, promulgated after six years of analysis, debate, and amendment. Moving from an emphasis on government responsibilities for economic well-being and social welfare to a family-centered social vision stressing mediating groups and voluntary service, the American Church asserted a perennial social doctrine reaffirmed and extended in Pope John Paul II’s Centesimus Annus. The latter calls on a century of experience that has demonstrated the failures of the bureaucratic state and “real socialism,” the utility of a market economy in allocating resources efficiently, and the shift from a land-based social economy to one founded on knowledge and skill.
JIS III 1991: 93-106
THEOLOGIANS IN SEARCH OF LIBERATION
Robert A. Sirico
Acton Institute for the Study of Religion & Liberty
Historically, religion has played a critical role in both the advancement and disintegration of civilizations. The focus of this essay is to attain a clear understanding of central issues concerning liberation theology. In order to operationalize their often stated concern for human dignity and search for liberation, liberation theologians have sought tools of social analysis which would help them discover the roots of structural oppression as well as the means to emancipate people. It is my thesis that the most speculative and least defensible aspects of liberation theology are its economic and political assumptions. The question remains, what kind of society best promotes social harmony, peace, freedom, and justice? What are the organizing principles which foster this kind of society?
JIS III 1991: 107-120
A CHRISTIAN POLITICAL ECONOMY:
William R. Marty
Memphis State Universit
There are obstacles to labeling any set of political or economic structures a Christian political economy, and especially the Christian political economy. First, Christ spoke mainly of things of the spirit, not of political or economic structures, nor of changing those structures. Second, things of the spirit may be gained or lost in any political economy. Third, with regard to the modern rivals, the common formulation that capitalism is based on greed and socialism on love fails the tests of both logic and experience. Fourth, neither the institutional structures of capitalism nor of socialism assure Christian outcomes. Christians do have normative standards by which to judge regimes, and wisdom to avoid certain errors. But all structures pose some difficulties, and none assure Christian results. Christ was, after all, wiser than those who would correct His teaching by stressing structures of political economy.
JIS III 1991: 121-126
ECONOMICS AND THE BIBLE:
A RESPONSE TO PATTON
California Institute of Theological & Social Sciences
Judd W. Patton offers two major premises in his system of “Christian” economics: (1) God’s attitude toward economics is set forth in the Bible and is, hence, revelational; and (2) Economics as outlined in the Scripture is a system based on moral practices. In the former premise, we ought to base economics on the revealed will of God. In the latter premise, the system of economics ought to be based on moral principles, as taught by the Bible. Since Christ had very little to say about economics, most of the discussion of economic matters has to do with Old Testament practices.
JIS III 1991: 127-144
FARMING AND ECOLOGY IN THE 21ST CENTURY
University of Idaho
Pollution and erosion are serious problems in agricultural areas. Government-sponsored environmental clean-up efforts which involve farmers are voluntary and are likely to remain so. Since clean-up costs are high, privatization and other alternatives to tax-supported environmental programs may attract increased attention. American farm policy needs to be restructured on the basis of sound environmental principles. Modern systems of farming, which require large inputs of fossil fuels and chemicals, need to be modified in order to promote ecological balance. New technologies, including biotechnology, may be developed to conserve natural resources and minimize pollution. The stewardship ethic suggests farmers’ responsibilities as caretakers of God’s Creation, while Albert Schweitzer advocated reverence for all life-forms. The scientific search for ecological balance will continue, despite its high costs and uncertain results.
JIS III 1991: 145-160
GERMPLASM CONSERVATION AND THE GREEN REVOLUTION
Carl E. Brunner
As a result of the Green Revolution, modern agriculture in the industrialized world has developed into a monocultural system. Through intensive breeding practices, most food crops grown in the developed nations have a narrow genetic base and are increasingly susceptible to disease and environmental changes. The genetic sources of eroded genes are found in the traditional crop varieties of the Third World. However, these traditional, home-grown varieties have been abandoned in favor of the high yielding varieties of the Green Revolution. Analysis of world cereal and food crop production data reveals that the world is food crop interdependent. The essay concludes that in order to assure adequate food supplies, food crop germplasm needs to be conserved.
JIS III 1991: 161-183
WILL PERESTROIKA SURVIVE UNTIL 1993?
European University Institute-Florence
This essay explores the thesis that the essence of the Soviet communist strategy remains immutable regardless of the developmental stage of the communist system, the Party leadership, or the composition of the top Party organs. It argues further that changes in the Soviet communist system have a cyclical character, oscillating between “malignant” phases of harsh terror and more relaxed phases of “lurking” communism in which terror is lessened, but not removed, and popular expectations are raised. Each cycle takes approximately a generation. A new, “malignant” phase is forecast for the near future which would bring about the demise of perestroika in the Soviet Union by 1993, concurrently with Gorbachev’s likely removal from power.