At bottom, economics is about us – what we choose, what we value, what we represent in language and symbols, how we interact with each other in the market, and especially how we produce, exchange, and distribute goods, services, and risk. Understand these things, and you’re well on your way to knowing what you need to know about economics.
– Dr. Jay Richards, in Money, Greed, & God
“At bottom, economics is about us.” This concept makes approaching a complex topic like economics a little less intimidating, doesn’t it? Economics becomes less about confusing charts and graphs and more about how we wish to order our lives and build our society.
As we wrestle with tough questions regarding faith and economics, it’s helpful to have an understanding of basic economic facts.
To that end, today we’re offering some resources we think are helpful to the Christian just beginning to wade into the waters of economic thought. These books by no means represent the entire pantheon of what one could, or should, read regarding the subject. Rather, this list is a primer as you begin your exploration.
Why would we recommend Christians read one or more of these books? Because, as IFWE visiting scholar Dr. Jay Richards argues in Money, Greed, & God,
If we want to know the truth, if we want to order our economic and social lives justly, if we want to help people rather than merely feel like we’re helping people, we have to learn the economic terrain.
Dutch theologian Abraham Kuyper once said that,
There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is sovereign over all, does not declare, ‘Mine!’
Economics isn’t exempt from Christ’s domain. As Jay writes, again, in Money, Greed, & God:
Economic truths are truths. But they don’t stand outside God’s dominion. Being a Christian doesn’t mean you can disregard economic facts.
The following books do more than lay out economic facts. They also describe the impact economics can have on our everyday lives.
Common Sense Economics, by James Gwartney, Richard L. Stroup, and Dwight R. Lee – Three top economists lay out basic principles of economics in clear, straightforward language.
Economics In Christian Perspective, by Victor V. Claar and Robin J. Klay – Drs. Claar and Klay cover economic theory and policy, while also uncovering how Christian principles and values relate to a flourishing, just economy.
Foundations of Economics: A Christian View, by Shawn Ritenour – Using the Christian doctrines of creation, humanity, and the Cultural Mandate, Dr. Ritenour explains basic economic principles and how a Christian ethic can apply these principles when tackling problems like poverty and economic development.
The Road to Serfdom, by F.A. Hayek – A fascinating look into the impact economic policy can have on cultures and human flourishing. This book illustrates how economics bears an impact in the realms of politics and culture.
Basic Economics, by Thomas Sowell – Another primer for everyday people that explains the basics behind any type of economy.
The Law, by Frederic Bastiat – French economist Frederic Bastiat published this pamphlet in 1850, in the aftermath of the Revolution of 1848. It explores ideas behind France’s then-socialist economy and how it restricted human freedom and flourishing.
Free to Choose, by Milton Friedman – In Free to Choose, Milton (who would have been 100 this week!) and Rose Friedman show us how the market economy is crucial to a free society and the only way to flourish and grow. Free individuals engaged in voluntary exchange serve everyone and raise living standards across the board. Values & Capitalism has a pretty thorough review of Free to Choose.
Are All Economists Basically Immoral? – This is a collection of essays by the late theologian and economist Paul Heyne. These essays explore basic economics and the ties between economics and theology.
Economics in One Lesson, by Henry Hazlitt – As the book bills itself, it’s one of the shortest, surest ways to understand basic economics.
An Introduction to Economic Reasoning, by David Gordon – Dr. Gordon answers the question “Why care about economics?” while explaining basic economic theory.
What other books would you add to this list?