At Work & Economics 101 & Public Square & Theology 101

Understanding God Through Economics

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Can Christians gain a better understanding of God and faith through economics? Francisco Rodriguez thinks so. He shared during a recent interview that,

In the study of economics, men can experience a better understanding of God. My hope is they will see their faith built because of this better understanding.

Rodriguez is the Outreach Director for the Tenth Amendment Center, a think tank based in Florida.

He is also a committed Christian who has thought a great deal about how his faith shapes his views on work and economics. During our conversation, he spoke candidly about everything from trust to stewardship to generosity, and why he thinks economics can help Christians better understand God and faith.

Why do you believe a comprehensive theology of faith, work, and economics is important in living the Christian life?

A comprehensive understanding and theology of faith, work, and economics is vital to the Christian life because one way God distributes the blessings of heaven to the citizens of earth is through the human hands of his people.

How do you see faith, work, and economics as intertwined?

Faith, work, and economics are welded together, but that’s my short answer.

The faith we have is first based on God’s promises fulfilled in the work of Christ Jesus, so that we can work in faith for the promises yet to come, though we cannot physically see them yet. I see no possible way to disconnect faith from work.

I also see economics as vital to this connection between faith and work since work must produce something greater than the input we give that work. If we do not believe the effort will yield something greater, we will be unmotivated to work.

Economics, even in faith, gives us clarity on where our efforts need to be placed in order to experience satisfaction in our work.

Can you explain more about the connection you see between faith and economics?

I’ve heard economics defined as “the science that analyzes the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services.” Other sciences study elements of creation to lead us to God – biology, physics, astronomy, etc. So does economics.

In the study of economics, men can experience a better understanding of God. My hope is they will see their faith built because of this better understanding.

How else do you see faith impacting economics?

Two foundational items in what I think of as God’s economy are trust in the voluntary relationships between God and his creation and trust in decentralized processes to experience these things.

An economy without relationships doesn’t exist in the universe, and an economy with forced or coerced relationships cannot be sustained. Transactional relationships often lead to something more meaningful, long-term, and sustaining.

Relationships are foundational to an economy, and Genesis clearly shows us that voluntary relationships are more meaningful to God than forced relationships.

What do you mean by “decentralized processes?”

Whether you are speaking about biological life following the command of God to multiply, or the responsibility of believers to “go and make disciples,” these are both done in a very decentralized way.

Think about how God takes care of sparrows. Scripture says, “…your heavenly Father feedeth them,”  when referring to the fowls of the air. God established systems in the biological world for birds to have multiple sources of food distributed to them in decentralized ways. Work is required on the part of the birds to benefit from the food.  There aren’t starving birds because God took care to establish ways for birds to exercise obedience to the command of God to be fruitful and multiple, which requires them to eat well.

I see faith, work, and economics intensely intertwined through the systems of God in almost incalculable and sustaining ways throughout his physical creation, and within our fellowship with him and our brothers and sisters in Christ.

How do you see God using you in your work to build his kingdom?

There are two ways I believe God is using me and my work to build his kingdom: through stewardship and generosity.

Stewardship is often limited to time, talent, and treasure, but I believe God calls us to each of these areas within vital contexts – relationships and geography.

When something is on my heart to do, I battle with how far to engage in it if it takes me away from the relationships nearest me for which I am responsible. I think a good steward is defined as much by what he says “no” to as by what he says “yes” to.

Saying “yes” to God’s calling to steward something requires a lot of “no’s” to those things that will try to distract from that calling.

With regard to generosity, my wife and I have made it a focus of ours to live in a way that opens doors for us to be generous. God has taught us a lot about how to manage our family economy so that we can be generous to others whenever we feel led.

We have learned the need for wisdom in our generosity, but we know that God gives us more than enough, since he multiplies in ways that we could never imagine.

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