A great talk by Andrew Wilson on Economics:
He identifies 3 false bogeymen: Profit, Credit and Inequality.
None of these are bad.
What's bad is: Greed, Laziness and Envy
The solution is: Generosity, Diligence and Thankfulness
These flow from the gospel of grace: all is a gift.
It put me in mind of Vishal Mangalwadi's excellent 'The Book That Made Your World'. Mangalwadi writes compellingly of how western culture has been decisively shaped by Christianity - from politics to philanthropy to science to medicine to economics.
On economics, he makes the point that ancient cultures only display or hoard their wealth. Investing wealth doesn't occur to ancient peoples. This is mainly because our default assumption is to consider the world as a closed system - there are finite resources that get whittled down with every act of consumption. Economics, to the natural mind, can only ever be a zero-sum game. If I want money, I'll go to war to get wealth. But if I win, you must lose. This is the natural mindset of fallen humanity.
Jesus comes to earth with a heavenly abundance. Because He is a gracious gift from the Father, the closed system of this world is opened out to a fullness that we don't deserve. The kingdoms of this world may go to war over a finite set of resources but the kingdom of heaven is the realm of a generous Father who knows how to give good gifts to His children. What's more these gifts, when passed on, multiply. The kingdom of Christ is a shining reality, spreading its goodness. It is a sowing reality, multiplying its life. It is an investing reality, sharing its gifts. (See my recent sermon from CCK on Shining, Sowing, Investing). And in the shining, sowing and investing there is exponential growth.
All of this overturns the tit-for-tat of the flesh. Christianity brings a vision of abundance to the world that released people from fear and beckoned them to risk in the cause of a growing kingdom. It brought a gracious dynamic to a people who were used to keeping themselves to themselves. And it commanded a people who had "freely received" to "freely give."
Add to this moral factors like: a large degree of honesty in Christendom without which financial systems cannot flourish.; the elimination of corruption; the dignity of man (which means we don't want slaves to do menial tasks, we invent machines to do it)...
And then, from the reformation onwards, add in a theology of vocation in every walk of life plus a 'Protestant work ethic' and you've got all the ingredients for a flourishing economy.
But take Christ and His kingdom out of the equation and you're only left with limited resources, limited hopes, tit-for-tat dynamics and fear, pride and envy calling the shots. Money doesn't make the world go round - it's the gospel that makes money go round.
For a taster of Vishal's stuff, here's a half hour race through the book: