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Oikonomia

Some Thoughts About Global Economics From a Christian Perspective

By John Lackey

Claude Monet sometimes engaged in “serial painting.”  That is, he painted different versions of the same subject, from different angles or different lights.  For example, he did three paintings from a balcony of the Savoy Hotel on the river Thames, from three main viewpoints.  In each painting he had a different end in view.

Similarly, these days those in power regard the global economy from different perspectives, with different ends in mind.  Some regard the global economy from a socialist perspective, some from a capitalist perspective, some from an imperialist perspective, most in the U.S. from a market perspective.

Then what is the Christian perspective on the global economy?  For my understanding, the answer is spelled out in Douglas Meeks’ book, God The Economist. Meeks points out that the Greek word from which we derive “economy” is “oikonomia,” a compound of “oikos”, household, and “nomos”, law or management.  The Christian perspective on the global economy begins with the notion of God as The Economist, and, says Meeks, “God’s purpose is to transform the world into a household in which all of God’s creatures can find abundant life” (p.24).  Meeks acknowledges that “there is, of course, no scientific economic theory in the modern sense in the Bible, even though the Bible is centrally concerned with economy” (p.3).

I contend that in this perspective on the global economy lies the best direction for building a just, peaceful, and humane global economy.

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