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Chapter 16 Christian Economy 0. Stephen Long Editor's Introduction Long points out that for Aristotle, economy referred to the structuring of the household according to the virtue of justice. Thomas Aquinas provided an im­ portant transformation of this view by arguing that justice was subject to charity, the latter a virtue infused by grace. Thus, economics could not be understood or properly regulated apart from theology - apart from participation in the life and love of God himself. Modern economic theory severs the relations between economics and the­ ology. It is this modern move that Long sets out to challenge in his chapter. He argues that Christians' inevitable participation in the external goods of the cur­ rent market system should be qualified by goods intrinsic to the Christian life itself. Here, economy signifies how God orders creation. That order is one of charity, and it should render Christians' practices of production, consumption, and distribution intelligible. In his chapter, Long first summarizes Maclntyre's argument concerning why capitalist society makes the achievement of goods internal to traditions difficult, if not impossible. Long's second step is constructive: to explain how Christians can reorder their participation in capitalist economic practices in such a way that they serve the ul­ timate ends of the Christian tradition. The central resource for Christians is Christ himself, who makes possible our participation in the life of God. Baptism, the Eucharist, and repentance and reconciliation make possible the reception of the infused virtue of charity. Christian economic rules (prohibition of stealing and coveting, the command to lend without expectation of return) arise within the context of the Christian narrative. These three sources - baptism; Eucharist, with its entailed practice of repen­ tance, forgiveness, and reconciliation; and the narrative of God's self-revelation in the life of Jesus - all assume the centrality of Jesus' presence to us, and also the development of certain social institutions: the church and the neighborhood. Thus, Long employs Maclntyre's own analysis of the way in which the capi­ talist system strips economic practices of any relation to any ongoing traditions, 343 344 D. Stephen Long while at the same time it severs the relation between workers' characters and the products of their labor, thus making virtue in the workplace nearly impossible. Long's own constructive account of Christian transformation of economic ac­ tivity involves the use of Maclntyre's concepts of tradition, narrative, and goods internal to practices. Because of Long's recognition of relations between eco­ nomic activity and the subpractices involved in Christian community formation, his analysis grows out of much of what is said in Part II of the present volume. NANCEY MURPHY I ntroduction The term economy has an ancient lineage. Aristotle used it to signify how some­ one should structure a household so that its members share in meeting the needs of daily life. Households then combine into cities for the purpose not only of living but of living well.1 A household economy served the greater interest of political well-being; economics and politics were intrinsically related, and the virtue of justice regulated both.2 The thirteenth-century Christian theologian Thomas Aquinas gave this an­ cient tradition a theological twist. He still considered economic matters under the virtue ofjustice; regulations on buying, selling, loaning, and stealing required some measure for ordering exchanges equitably. To fulfill that measure was to es­ tablish justice, but to rightly know that measure, justice required charity. Charity is a power infused in us by the Holy Spirit that orders all our activities, includ­ ing those activities falling within the virtue of justice, to their true end - the love of God and neighbor. The centrality of charity utterly transformed the an­ cient tradition because charity is an infused virtue; it is not an achievement but a gift of God. Thus economics served political interests, but theology gave both activities their proper order. The rise of modern economics severs any intrinsic theoretical relationship be­ tween economics, politics, and theology. This resulted from the transformation elicited by the 1776 publication of Adam Smith's Wealth ofNations. However, the early generation of economists maintained residual elements of the ancient tradition by designating their works The Principles of Political Economy.3 Eco­ nomics was severed from Christian theology, particularly in the economists' reaction against the tradition of the usury prohibition, but it was not yet sev­ ered from politics. Yet by the end of the nineteenth century, economists also freed economics from any intrinsic relationship to...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780268087067
Related ISBN
9780268043605
MARC Record
OCLC
966823021
Pages
288
Launched on MUSE
2017-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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