Sample readings from Guidelines - Justin Welby on Money and Economics (PDF Download)

Bible study for today's ministry and mission

Justin Welby

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Economics is a social study with attitude. It claims to be science but cannot repeat its experiments, and its great perturbations rely on intangibles, what the great economist John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946) called 'animal spirits'. The economy is a human construction, yet it dominates its originators like Frankenstein's monster. It is occasionally manageable but never mastered. It depends on the vote of every citizen of every country, a vote exercised by every economic act, and yet often even the mass of votes seems to make no difference. The economy is as simple as the most basic rural community engaging in barter can make it, and yet similar basic principles apply to the most complex industrial or post-industrial societies. It has moods and mathematics, trends and surprises, those who think they lead it and those whom it consumes (often the same people). We are all part of it and yet we observe it.

If anyone talks about money and the Bible, most of us instinctively think in personal terms, but the economy is under the sovereignty of Christ, because all human beings are under his sovereignty and all human beings are economic entities. If economies go wrong, the effects can be catastrophic. Think of Zimbabwe, with inflation in the millions per cent at one time. During the autumn of 2008, we were hours from the collapse of the payments systems that we all rely on every day: hole-in-the-wall machines, salaries, pensions, the transfers that allow lorries to get fuel to carry food to shops. In the spring of 2009, a second Great Depression was close - and the first one was only ended by World War II. Those comments might sound melodramatic, but they were made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Governor of the Federal Reserve Bank of the USA, Ben Bernanke, one of the world's main experts on the Great Depression. Even today, the Eurozone debt crisis threatens an already feeble recovery, and many predict a decade of stagnation or worse.

So economics matters, and the question is, how do we think Christianly about money and all that goes with it? Can Frankenstein's monster be tamed, or is he better called Mammon? That, of course, is a question for whole libraries, not just a few glances at the Bible, and needs more scholars than one could imagine, so the two weeks of this study are necessarily partial in the extreme, and selective. We will look at some examples of biblical economics and then try to reflect on the key decisions that we each make economically.

More about Guidelines

Guidelines is a unique Bible reading resource that offers four months of in-depth study written by leading scholars. Contributors are drawn from around the world, as well as the UK, and represent a stimulating and thought-provoking breadth of Christian tradition.

Instead of the usual dated daily readings, Guidelines provides weekly units, broken into at least six sections, plus an introduction giving context for the passage and a final section of points for thought and prayer.

On any day you can read as many or as few sections as you wish, to fit in with work or home routine. As well as a copy of Guidelines, you will need a Bible. Each contributor also suggests books for further study.

Published every four months (in January, May and September) and is edited by David Spriggs.

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Author info

Justin Welby is Bishop of Durham and is due to become the next Archbishop of Canterbury. Previously, as Canon of Coventry Cathedral, he was responsible for Coventry's international ministry of reconciliation. Justin is also the Personal and Ethical Adviser to the UK Association of Corporate Treasurers, and lectures extensively on ethics and finance.Justin Welby


Book details

  • ISBN: 5060316650012Z
  • Published: 01 December 2012
  • Status:
  • Format: PDF download
  • Pages: 19
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