Economics 101 & Public Square & Theology 101

New IFWE Book Tackles Christian Concerns about Capitalism

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Institute for Faith, Work & Economics is pleased to announce the launch of our latest book, Counting the Cost: Christian Perspectives on Capitalism (Abilene Christian University Press). Co-edited by IFWE’s Art Lindsley and Anne Bradley, Counting the Cost tackles moral concerns many Christians have about capitalism and features essays from 12 notable Christian theologians, economists, and other academic leaders.We’re excited about the timeliness of the book. The number of people living in abject poverty is decreasing at an unprecedented rate, yet few people are aware of it. Capitalism has played a major role in lifting people out of such poverty. If capitalism has been that instrumental, it needs to be better understood and upheld.

We’re also aware of the urgency of this discussion. There is a growing rejection of capitalism and a rising attraction to socialism, especially among young people. Some of these shifts in opinion have stemmed from legitimate concerns about capitalism, such as:

  • Does capitalism hurt the poor?
  • Promote materialism?
  • Harm the environment?
  • Allow the rich to get richer at the expense of others?
  • Is capitalism the best system for organizing societies and economies?

Counting the Cost address these issues and more (see chapter list below).

We’re hopeful this book will reach a wide variety of audiences, but that it will be particularly useful on college and university campuses, where these debates are ongoing.

Jason Fikes, director of Abilene Christian University Press, says of Counting the Cost:

…it represents a qualitative step forward in research on the ethics of capitalism. It is critical for business departments, students, and researchers to reflect critically on these important questions. Ours is a world driven by assumptions and sound bites, and Counting the Cost is a resource that can really open eyes to the underlying issues that are at stake in a discussion of economics.

Wherever you fall on the topic of capitalism, we think you will appreciate how each contributor to Counting the Cost seeks to take an honest look at the criticisms, with empathy for those who are impacted by the dialogue.

Chapter Titles and Contributors:

  • Chapter 1: The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism Thirty Years After (Michael Novak)
  • Chapter 2: Human Flourishing and the Bible (Dr. Jonathan Pennington)
  • Chapter 3: Is Capitalism Contrary to the Bible? (Dr. Art. Lindsley)
  • Chapter 4: A Christian Critique of Capitalism: Is Capitalism Based on Greed? (Dr. David Kotter)
  • Chapter 5: Is Capitalism Exploitative? (Dr. Joseph Connors)
  • Chapter 6: The 1 Percent: Is Income Inequality Evidence of Exploitation? (Dr. Anne Bradley)
  • Chapter 7: Who Benefits in Capitalism? (Dr. Vernon Smith & Joy Buchanan)
  • Chapter 8: Capitalism and Poverty: Economic Development and Growth Benefit the Least the Most  (Doug Bandow)
  • Chapter 9: Capitalism and Consumerism: Delighting in Both Creation and the Responsibilities of Affluence (Dr. Edd Noell)
  • Chapter 10: Do Global Corporations Exploit Poor Countries? (Dr. Wayne Grudem & Barry Asmus)
  • Chapter 11: Is Capitalism Bad for the Environment? (Dr. Calvin Beisner)
  • Chapter 12: Capitalism and the Cultural Wasteland (Dr. Jonathan Witt)

Reaction to Counting the Cost:

Many Christians ask if Christianity is compatible with ‘capitalism.’ Is it all about greed? Does it create unjust inequalities, and destroy culture? In Counting the Cost, first-rate Christian scholars grapple seriously with these and other questions. And they argue persuasively that, while a free market economy does not promise utopia, it’s the only economic system that can allow not only individuals but entire cultures to flourish.

—Jay W. Richards, Assistant Research Professor, The Busch School, The Catholic University of America

In Counting the Cost, it is obvious from the first chapter (Michael Novak’s final essay!) that this book is well worth its price! The contributors provide a much-needed series of tour de force arguments that democratic capitalism is the most moral force in the world for economic justice.

—Joseph Castleberry, President, Northwest University

Counting the Cost offers an important and necessary reminder that a free and virtuous society is best served by free markets, and it also (and I cannot stress this enough) is an imperative tonic to persistent misunderstandings of economic principles. Many believe that adhering to Judeo-Christian faiths demands a concomitant trust in government efforts to redistribute wealth. These essays prove nothing could be further from the truth.

—Rev. Robert A. Sirico, president and founder, The Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty

See a full list of reviews here.

IFWE would like to thank the countless people who have been involved in the production of this book. Editors Anne Bradley and Art Lindsley were pleased to dedicate the book to one of the contributors, the late Michael Novak, who died February 17, 2017. Perhaps a quote from his ground-breaking work, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism, best summarizes the questions explored in Counting the Cost:

Democratic capitalism is neither the Kingdom of God nor without sin. Yet all other known systems of political economy are worse. Such hope as we have for alleviating poverty and for removing oppressive tyranny—perhaps our last, best hope—lies in this much-despised system.


Editor’s Note: Limited time offer for IFWE blog readers! Get 15% off Counting the Cost: Christian Perspectives of Capitalism in the IFWE Bookstore. Use code: CTCBLOG. Offer ends: 8/31/17.


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