Scott Rae is professor of Christian ethics and dean of the faculty at Talbot School of Theology. A noted Christian scholar and ethicist, Scott is the author of such books as Moral Choices: An Introduction to Ethics; Business for the Common Good; and Beyond Integrity: A Judeo-Christian Approach to Business Ethics. He has a Ph.D. and M.A. in social ethics from the University of Southern California, a Th.M. in Old Testament from Dallas Theological Seminary, and a B.A.S. in economics from Southern Methodist University. He has served in a variety of teaching and leadership roles, including a term as president of the Evangelical Theological Society in 2015.
Why do pastors need to know all that much about work and economics? Last week we introduced this subject and suggested that there are very few areas of our lives that have nothing to do with work and/or economics. Remember that even the notion of our eternal salvation has something to do with economics, since the Bible actually describes the elements of our eternal salvation in economic terms. In addition, life on this side of eternity matters greatly. If we refuse to separate out the sacred from the secular, and thus affirm that all of life is spiritual, then there are few, if any, areas of our spiritual lives that are not impacted by economics.
Why do pastors need to know all that much about economics? My friend and writing partner, Austin Hill, tells the story of a conference he attended as a graduate student, when the facilitator posed the provocative question, “Can somebody name for me one area of our lives that has nothing to do with economics?” The group was silent for more than a few moments, as the students were pondering this, most for the first time. Then a student spoke up in a southern drawl, and said what I suspect many were thinking. He said, “As a Christian, I believe that my eternal salvation has nothing to do with economics.” The group was taken aback by his forthrightness, and the facilitator then rephrased the question this way, “Ok, let’s assume you’re right about that, and let’s assume that one’s eternal destiny has nothing to do with economics (a debatable assumption), can somebody name a second area of our lives that has nothing to do with economics? He went on to suggest that “every facet of our earthly lives is impacted on some level by both economic activity and economic conditions.”