The subject of economics receives attention from a broad spectrum of voices including political journalists and specialized analysts as well as biblical scholars and theologians. The main reason for such an array of interested parties is because the topic touches upon so many issues related to the big contours of everyday life such as work, business, government, health care, and foreign relations. This being the case then, the Spring 2014 volume of CTR is primarily devoted to the subject of Christianity and Economics.
The first four articles are written by evangelicals who are participating in the conversation about what a Christian view of economics should look like. At some levels, their positions have some discernable continuity. But in other ways, some of their proposals are in conflict, thereby highlighting the diversity of thought that Christians exhibit when talking about how economic theory should be fleshed out in the context of biblical convictions.
To begin, our lead article is by Joseph D. Wooddell who serves as Associate Professor of Philosophy and Politics at Criswell College in Dallas, TX. His essay examines the impact that modernity and postmodernity have had on western culture, especially as it pertains to mainline perceptions of truth and ethics. Wooddell argues that an ambivalence toward the idea of objective truth inevitably creates a vacuum in which any commitment to economic accountability or virtue is difficult to maintain.
Our second article is by Jim Wallis who is the founder and editor of Sojourners magazine as well as the founder of a social justice organization of the same name that is located in Washington, DC. Wallis also is a New York Times bestselling author, public theologian, and international speaker. In his article, (which is from his book The (Un)Common Good: How the Gospel Brings Hope to a World Divided, Brazos, 2014, used with permission), he contends that there needs to be a checks-and-balances system established that can potentially safeguard the public from the economic irresponsibility that has occurred in the United States for the last few decades.
The third article is written by Craig V. Mitchell who serves as Associate Professor of Cultural Studies and is the Director of the Richard Land Center for Cultural Engagement at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, TX. Mitchell responds to some of the arguments that assorted evangelicals use to claim that the Bible supports the idea of wealth redistribution. Subsequently, he then critiques some the underlying philosophical assumptions that drive the idea of wealth redistribution.
Our fourth contribution serves as the final article that addresses the topic of economics. It is provided by Daniel M. Bell, Jr. who serves as Professor of Theological Ethics at the Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary in Columbia, SC. In his article, Bell deconstructs modern misconceptions of the concept of “stewardship” and argues that believers must learn that everything they have belongs to God and that all of their resources should be used to foster communal solidarity and New Testament unity.
As we approach our last three articles, readers can also engage a few stand-alone essays addressing subjects apart from economics. Here in the fifth entry, Russell L. Meek addresses the longstanding quest to find a center for Old Testament theology by arguing that the Lord’s restored relationship with fallen humanity is a viable motif. Currently Meek is completing his doctorate at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and is the Research Assistant to the President of Midwestern Seminary, Dr. Jason K. Allen.
In the sixth article, William R. Osborne discusses the pedagogical necessity to foster critical thinking skills in the minds of Bible students while at the same time avoiding the biased ideological baggage of the historical-critical method, which can subvert a healthy commitment to biblical fidelity and theological integrity. Osborne serves as Assistant Professor of Biblical and Theological studies at the College of the Ozarks in Point Lookout, MO.
Finally, our seventh entry is provided by Andrew Hebert. Hebert is a doctoral student at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY and is the pastor of Tyler Memorial Baptist Church in Hobbs, NM. In his article, Hebert contends that many evangelicals who are critical of the upsurge of interest in anti-imperial readings of the New Testament often make the mistake of equating all anti-imperial proposals with radical versions of post-colonial hermeneutics.