Economics & Theology: A Conversation with Wayne Grudem

Unbelievable?Recently I had the privilege of taking part in a an episode of the UK podcast ‘Unbelievable?’, hosted by Justin Brierley, in which I discussed theologian Wayne Grudem’s new book on solutions to global poverty with Wayne Grudem himself. (Thanks to Justin for having me on the show). The podcast is now online, here. A special welcome to anyone visiting my blog for the first time, having heard the podcast – be aware that my blogging is both sporadic and diverse, but I hope you find something worthwhile!

The conversation with Professor Grudem gave me an opportunity to explore the intersection of theology and economics – a particular interest of mine – in a way that I haven’t for a while, and so I thought some follow-up blog posts might be in order. In my review of Professor Grudem’s book for the Bible Society I was only able to scratch the surface of these issues; in addition, some of Professor Grudem’s responses to my criticisms on the podcast were, I think, insufficient.

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Simple Love, Refugees, and the Good Samaritan, Or, How to Be A Neighbour

An edited version of a talk delivered at an information day for Simple Love, a group of Christians serving refugees in Australian communities by providing food parcels to welfare organizations specializing in meeting the needs of refugees. A shorter version of this article was first published by the Bible Society at http://www.biblesociety.org.au/news/refugees-good-samaritan-neighbour.

 

I. IDENTITY QUESTIONS

Our country is deeply confused and conflicted about the situation of refugees. The situation gets constant airplay, and with a media devoted to snappy sound bites and a twenty-four hour, fast-paced news cycle, it can be hard to separate fact from fiction and work out what’s really going on.

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When Economics & Theology Don’t Mix: A Review of ‘The Poverty of Nations’

This piece was originally published by the Bible Society of Australia‘s Eternity Newspaper. You can read the original post here.

A review of The Poverty of Nations: a Sustainable Solution by Wayne Grudem and Barry Asmus. Published by Crossway.

All Christians can strongly affirm the premise of this book: God cares deeply for the plight of the poor, and the church must seek out ways to alleviate such suffering. Unfortunately, The Poverty of Nations represents an unpersuasively narrow engagement with economics instead of the robust economic and theological engagement that we need.

The Poverty of Nations: A Sustainable SolutionTheologian Wayne Grudem and economist Barry Asmus seek to present ‘a sustainable solution’ for the poverty of majority-world nations. Their solution, in short, is a particular brand of free-market capitalism, characterized by continuously creating more goods and services in order to enter ‘a path of ever-increasing prosperity’ (p. 25). The authors seek to persuade their readers by comparing alternative economic systems with free-market capitalism and proposing a series of policies nations can adopt to move from poverty to prosperity. In addition, they seek to show how the Christian scriptures affirm the economic policies they propose.

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Books for Christian Uni Students, Or, When I Was A Student I Read Books.

As I come to the end of my time working with the Sydney University Evangelical Union, I thought it might be appropriate to reflect on some of my own experience as a uni student in the EU. One thing I did lots of was reading books. One of my observations on my time coming back to Sydney Uni to work with the EU is that students don’t read much; and when they do, they don’t always read good things. So, here’s an annotated list of some books I read as a student that I reckon other students should read, too.

DISCLAIMER: These recommendations are mine and mine alone, and aren’t ‘endorsed’ by the EU in any way, shape or form. (Let the reader understand…)

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Humility & Power People: Reflections on Stanley Hauerwas and Campus Ministry

Last week I attended the annual New College Lectures at the University of New South Wales. It’s a wonderful series of lectures that have attracted some stellar names in theology over the years.

Stanley Hauerwas

This year the lectures were delivered by Stanley Hauerwas. That’s him at the right with the wonderful tie. He is the recently retired Gilbert T. Rowe Professor of Theological Ethics at Duke University in North Carolina. He is widely regarded as one of the Western world’s most influential living theologians, and his work has been very influential in my own developing theological thinking. There’s a useful (short!) introduction to his thinking here.

Hauerwas’ New College Lectures covered a lot of ground, but in this post I want to focus on his thinking about the modern university and what it means for campus ministries like the one I work with at the University of Sydney – the Evangelical Union (EU).

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“Whose Side Are You On?” A Sermon on Jonah 4

This is the text of my sermon at Cottage Church on August 25, 2013. The text was Jonah chapter 4. While not entirely happy with it, I hope there are some helpful thoughts.

Tennis star John McEnroe was the king of trantrum-throwing. When he thought an umpire’s call was wrong, he really let go. ‘Are you serious?! Everyone in the stadium could see that was in, and you call it out!’

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Life, the Universe & Nothing: Lawrence Krauss & William Lane Craig

Life the Universe and Nothing

As some of you may know, AFES student groups on Sydney’s university campuses are running a series of mission events under the banner of Your God. As part of the events, Christian philosopher and apologist William Lane Craig is in Australia. He’s also engaging with noted theoretical physicist, cosmologist and atheist Lawrence Krauss over a series of debates called ‘Life, the Universe and Nothing’ in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne.

Over at ABC Religion & Ethics, the two debaters have published their respective cases. Have a read (via the links below) and see what you think!

Lawrence Krauss: ‘A Universe Without Purpose’

William Lane Craig: ‘Is the Material World All There Is? Arguments for the Existence of God’

Spirituality & Economics: The Meaning of Growth

The Sydney University Evangelical Union, for whom I work, is currently in the midst of a three-week campus mission. Today (Friday August 2, 2013) we held an event called ‘500 Seconds,’ where speakers had 500 seconds to talk about spirituality as it relates to a particular area of life. Here’s my contribution.

In our world, the economy is king. It governs governments, directs our fortunes, makes and breaks our hopes and dreams. Newspapers devote whole sections to it; words like debt and deficit, budget and surplus, inflation and consumer confidence dominate our front pages.

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What is university ministry?

I’m three semesters out of four through my time apprenticing with the EU Graduates Fund in campus ministry at Sydney University. In this my second year I’ve been reflecting on how the EU works, what I like about it, and what I find troubling about it; in short, I’ve begun developing my own ‘theology of ministry.’ It’s early days, as in the midst of the hustle-and-bustle of a busy, large campus ministry I haven’t had time to stop and gather my thoughts!

Over at Meet Jesus At Uni, Arthur Davis has shared some reflections on what campus-based ministry entails. His concerns and ideas are largely similar to my own, in their current undeveloped, amorphous form. He posits these six distinctives of campus ministry:

  • Theology of work assumes a vital place.
  • Ethics is woven into every theological practice.
  • Evangelism cannot be the primary goal of campus ministry.
  • Bible teaching cannot be the primary content of campus ministry.
  • There is no social engagement without reference to Christ.
  • Student groups will renew their commitment to the wider church.

Some of these propositions are provocative, but need to be read in the context of his wider argument. I encourage you to read his post. Hopefully I’ll find the time to share some similar reflections of my own.

Swearing Oaths in Secular Society

This post was originally published as ‘Should Christians Swear Oaths on the Bible?’ at the Bible Society of Australia’s Eternity News on July 4th 2013.

A mild furore erupted this week over federal MP Ed Husic’s decision to be sworn in to his new Cabinet position with one hand on a copy of the Koran. According to reports by ABC Online and the Sydney Morning Herald, Mr Husic’s decision was labelled by some as ‘un-Australian.’ One person quoted in the SMH article said: ‘Our allegiance should have been to Queen and Country first, Ed. That means saying the oath on the holy Bible not the Koran.’

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