Faith & Social Justice: In the spirit of Richard Overton and the 17th C. Levellers

Economics & Christian Ethics, pt. 2

Some Insights from Church History and Contemporary Theology


Gonzalez, Justo L. Faith and Wealth: A History of Early Christian Ideas on the Origin, Significance, and Use of Money. Harper & Row, 1990.

Gonzalez, one of the most influential church historians currently writing in English, demolishes the idea that justice for the poor is a “modernist heresy” growing out of the Social Gospel or Liberation Theologies. After examining the backgrounds in Jewish, Greek, and Roman thought, and outlining the nation of the economy of the ancient Roman empire, Gonzalez surveys patristic writings on these matters, from the NT era through Augustine and beyond. Gonzalez demonstrates that, although compromises were made when Constantine became emperor (so that after Constantine’s making Christianity legal, theologians were not as critical as before of imperial economics and politics), there was still a much harsher condemnation of wealth in the post-Constantine, early Medieval, Church than in almost all churches in the North Atlantic world today. By the standards of early Christianity, Gonzalez concludes, most contemporary Christians in the developed world are heretical regarding money.

Meeks, M. Douglas. God the Economist: The Doctrine of God and Political Economics. Fortress Press, 1989. Most Liberation Theologies address wealth and poverty throughout their works, but Meeks speaks from and to a North American church context. He examines modern market economies through the prism of a thoroughgoing Trinitarian doctrine of God.


August 3, 2006 - Posted by | church history, discipleship, economic justice, ethics, theology

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