Free People: A Christian Response to Global Economics

One of the big lies of the modern age is that economics is uninteresting.

One of the big lies of the modern age is that economics is uninteresting. In reality, what is boring is the way economists write (Joseph Stiglitz, the Tom Clancy of economic prose, is the one notable exception). In contrast, no one thinks that, say, murder trials are dull just because legal briefs are dry and technical.

What the global church today needs is a book that both demystifies economists’ jargon and clearly points out why Christians should care. Free People: A Christian Response to Global Economics tries both but is most successful at the latter. Its opening chapters on the global economy have all the virtues and failings of an anecdotal account - they convey the suffering of sweatshop workers and displaced farmers, but they sometimes fail to bind into a coherent whole the key topics of liberalization, corporate power, structural adjustment, debt, and trade agreements.

Chapters four through six make up the best part of the book. They provide a concise and challenging overview of biblical views on money, which is an excellent starting place for readers unfamiliar with biblical economics. The chapters lucidly outline the starkly stratified agrarian societies, with an increasingly landless peasantry struggling under taxes to political and religious rulers, in which Old Testament kings and prophets, and later Jesus, lived. Brown, who has a doctorate in New Testament studies, also gives an introduction to Walter Wink’s reading of the powers, with special attention to Mammon as a power.

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Sojourners Magazine November 2004
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