Discussions of Christian views of political and economic issues often break down because of “either/or” thinking. We too often imagine that there are only two or three ways to think about an issue. We then argue over which of the several options is the “most Christian” one.
It’s a mistake, however, to begin a discussion by accepting the current state of the discussion. If the God we confess is the God who raised Jesus from the dead, then we can be confident that there are always more hopeful and redemptive ways forward that we have yet to discover.
In The Economy of Desire, Daniel Bell approaches economics from just this perspective.
Thus, rather than articulating a single alternative, the purpose is to provoke further reflection on the difference Christ makes to the economic life of those called as disciples of Christ. Said a little differently, it is not a blueprint for the world but a call for Christians to consider our economic lives in light of the faith we pray and practice. It is about the ordering of our desires so that we desire the good that is God and the role that economies play in that ordering (p. 28).
Discipleship is about the Christian community living now in accord with God’s economy in the midst of the worldly economies. This is to say, we labor and produce, acquire and distribute, buy and sell, trade and invest, lend and borrow, but we do so in a manner that is different from others insofar as we do so in a manner informed by a desire schooled in virtues such as charity, justice, and generosity. This means that in many cases, our laboring and producing and acquiring and exchanging and investing and lending will look very different from that of disciples of the free market (pp. 28-29).
And I just love this line:
. . . envisioning the church as an alternative economy where desire is being healed by participation in the divine economy of God’s eternal generosity” (p. 29).
I’m very much enjoying this book and its careful re-ordering and re-configuring of politics and economics in light of the death and resurrection of Jesus.