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Back to May Ed Reporter

Education Reporter
NUMBER 292 THE NEWSPAPER OF EDUCATION RIGHTS MAY 2010

Economics in Christian Perspective: Theory, Policy and Life Choices, Victor V. Claar and Robin J. Klay, InterVarsity Press 2007, 255 pages, $22.

Current national economic and public policy discussions highlight the need for a basic understanding of economics in order to be wise citizens and voters, so we've gone back a few years to recommend a terrific resource. Authors Claar and Klay offer a primer that boasts clear exposition about unemployment, inflation, poverty and more using everyday examples, and without unnecessary technical jargon.

The authors are mainstream economics professors who also happen to be Christians, and they are excellent guides for people who want to support policies based upon both biblical principles and proven economic realities. Be forewarned; they may challenge your assumptions along the way. For instance, do you think promoting economic growth is a moral imperative for Christians? Yes, say Claar and Klay, because long-term growth is the primary driver of job and income expansion that lifts people out of poverty and affords them the dignity of providing for their families.

Drawing upon much research as well as Scripture, the authors show how markets can create wealthier and freer societies, while also inculcating moral virtues such as responsibility, gratitude and generosity. Still, markets have limitations, and Claar and Klay offer a balanced view of what government, market-oriented economies, and religious and cultural institutions most effectively contribute to society.

Questions examined include: What happens to charitable giving when governments take on more of those roles? Does globalization exploit third world nations while taking jobs from Americans? Historically, have government efforts to spend a nation out of a recession proved successful? They have the data.

Other chapters ask: Should Christians be concerned with income disparity as well as poverty? Is economic development at odds with the biblical mandate of creation care?

Books meant to help those with ethical concerns think through public policy alternatives are often written by authors with noble intentions, but little economic understanding. The policy prescriptions they offer often do more harm than good, particularly for the poor they mean to help.

In contrast, Claar and Klay adopt a perspective of "reasoned hope," grounded in the goodness of God as well as sound economic principles. Families who read this book together can expect to enjoy lively dinner conversations, and develop a greater understanding of how individual choices and public policies either support or hinder the human flourishing God intends.


 
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