By Luis Munoz Bueno, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary
The third theme of the Economic Wisdom Project (productivity and opportunity) claims, “Economic systems should be grounded in human dignity and moral character.” Giving them his image, God grants humans a privilege above all other creatures. This privilege and God’s goodness can lead to sustained economic development, that is, long-term enjoyment of positive financial change.
After the social gospel movement, a current Evangelical community model is now seeking to empower those in poverty. Perhaps the empowering should not come from external sources, but from within the person. A biblical worldview suggests that the poor ought to work in various ways to escape poverty. In addition, the Bible encourages a moral character in order to enjoy and maintain economic improvement.
The Bible is the foundation for any Christian theology of economics. God’s attribute of goodness in relation to economic development is seen in biblical data. In spite of the curse after the fall, experience demonstrates God’s goodness actively permeates the world. His goodness is visible as he allows economies to flourish all over the world.
Nonetheless, sustained economic growth does not occur simply because of God’s goodness to humans. Experiencing sustained development might be constructed as a mathematical equation. Several elements or variables must appear in this equation. Even so, all the necessary (or most favorable) conditions cannot guarantee profit or a sustained lifestyle. As will be shown, people must implement biblical/empirical principles of wisdom and actually do the work to accomplish economic goals. In addition, a moral character and determination are of utmost importance in the equation of economic progress. At the end of this study, focus on immigrants, in particular Christian Hispanics, illustrates that having determination to accomplish economic goals is part of the equation in order to experience economic flourishing. For this theology of economic advancement, the writer will demonstrate how the elements of God’s goodness in human dignity, the application of biblical/empirical principles of wisdom and work, the adoption of a moral character, and faith in cooperation are conducive to a sustained economic development.
This paper was a finalist in the Intersect Project Ph.D. Student Challenge Symposium. The symposium facilitated broader discussion in the church and academy about the intersection of faith, work and economics.