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Thinking Biblically About Economics Isn’t Easy

Written by Gary North on January 24, 2015

With the digital publication of my book, The Covenantal Structure of Christian Economics, I have reached what could be called the penultimate stage of my calling. It took 55 years.

The ultimate stage will be a multi-volume work on Christian economics. It will cover the actual economic operations that I describe in my recent book. I now have the structure; now I have to fill in the details. It took me 54 years to come up with the structure. I was still working on this in the summer of 2014. I still had not come up with all of the categories.

I expect to begin working on the larger project in 2016, when I finish my courses for the Ron Paul Curriculum. I think it will take at least three years.


My approach has never been attempted before. It is completely different from all previous discussions of economics. I would date the creation of economics as a separate discipline in the late 17th century. This is the argument found in William Letwin’s book, The Origins of Scientific Economics, which was published by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press in 1963.

Letwin offered an important argument. He said that scientific economics began in England after the restoration of Charles II to the throne in 1660. The major figures of this movement were associated with large, government-licensed companies involved in international trade. They promoted mercantilism: guided trade favoring exports over imports of goods other than gold. They did so by means of mathematics, logic, and historical data. They were persuaded, in the aftermath of the Civil War between the Puritans and the king’s forces, that an appeal to morality or religion cannot solve intellectual problems. They were also reacting against the Thirty Years’ War, which devastated Germany from 1618 until 1648. Then, in the next year, 1649, the Puritan Parliament beheaded Charles I.

The early economists were persuaded that science would be able to convince rational people of the logic of economics. That view still exists, but it does not exist with the same degree of commitment as it did in the late 17th century. Mathematics is used more today than it was then, but mathematics has not brought anything remotely resembling agreement to the economics profession. The old line remains true: “Where there are five economists, there will be six opinions.” The invocation of mathematics has not brought anything like unanimity to the field, including unanimity regarding the legitimacy of the invocation of mathematics. Most Austrian School economists regard the appeal as not just unrealistic, but misleading.


What I propose, epistemologically speaking, is a restoration of the pre-Restoration era. I am a neo-Puritan. Yet I do not believe in the economic policies that the Puritans in New England attempted to legislate. That was a form of medievalism. I have written a little book on this: Puritan Economic Experiments (1973). I did the research in the late 1960’s for my Ph.D. dissertation. The Puritan economic categories were not Puritan. They were Aristotelian. They were wrong.

I think the Puritans had their hearts in the right place, but not their heads. Epistemologically, they were scholastics: a mixture of Aristotelian philosophy and a moral structure officially tied to the Bible, but rarely exegetically tied to the Bible.

(For the rest of my article, click the link.)

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