Andy Peck believes every Christian could benefit from a little economics 


Image: Mathieu Stern at Unsplash.

I attended at a brand-new High School school on the Isle of Wight and so did not have the full range of options at GCSE. I was thus excited to discover that economics was being offered at A-level and even more excited that the new teacher had 100% pass rate! ( a success rate he maintained with the twelve of us who were in his class). I enjoyed the course so much that I went on to study a branch of economics as a degree - the rather rare (and now even rarer) agricultural economics at Wye College, London University (in rural Kent) which sadly closed in 2009.

I was a Christian from a young age and well aware of how the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil and can be a snare and those greedy for money can fail to follow the way that God has planned (1 Tim 6:9,10). But the study of economics (and ancillary topics such as Business Studies) has real merit for Christians and I would argue that every Christian needs to understand the basics.

Why study economics as a Christian?

1. Understanding life

Economics is the study of how people allocate scarce resources for production, distribution, and consumption, both individually and collectively. Microeconomics looks at how individuals and businesses operate, macroeconomics looks at the economy as a whole. Money is a ‘means of exchange of goods and services’ and supply and demand helps determine the price of a product or service within the ‘free economy’ in the west. Money in and of itself is not a bad thing: Deuteronomy 8:18 teaches that God’s people should acknowledge that  ’it is he [God] who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant’. It’s our use of wealth and whether we have money or ‘money has us’ that leads to problems. 

Understanding basic economics is a good life skill. As well as the basics of supply and demand, they will look at how companies are formed, the labour market, the stock market, taxation, inflation and trade. They will better understand how the government is needing to balance a number of considerations when looking to run the country. It fits under the ‘sciences’ (my degree was BSc honours) but the ’science’ is inexact and so we learn that the economy is far too complex for simplistic answers and that the ‘levers’ pulled to change course can have unintended consequences.

2. Managing personal finances 

Any child with pocket money quickly learns the extent of their spending power, and hopefully in time the value of prudent saving in order to obtain what they want. But the student of economics might also explore how they can engage wisely in the economy – in time investing in assets that will serve them, and not drain them and patterns of living that ensure they build up wealth with which to bless those less fortunate and support God’s work in their church and around the world. Grasping these basics also helps them determine how your child may wish to create value for others going forward and of course the scarcer their skill set the higher their income (in general).

3. Understanding church finances

Every local church is dependent to some degree on the giving of the congregation for support of staff, upkeep of premises. Someone is making decisions on scare resources given the calling of the church and its role alongside other churches in the neighbourhood. If the church ‘sends’ workers elsewhere into missional or charitable endeavours, what level of support should they have? Much of this could be ‘common sense’ but having a wider knowledge can have enormous value, especially if they go on to a profession such as accountancy, which can directly serve the church’s needs. 

Economics helps us value each other. Too often the Christian church sees business people as mere givers to the church, rather than as providers within society whose modelling of good ethical practise will support healthy work practices. ’Business as Mission’ and ’Business with a Mission’, are approaches that create wealth generating potential within communities. 

4. International relations

Hopefully your child becomes aware of the ‘global church’. The kind of ‘economies ‘ practised worldwide have a massive impact in how people live in our world, from the Government controlled through to the laissez faire market driven approach. They can better assess which models lead best to human flourishing and how many of the biblical ideas concerning the need for law and order, a respect for private property, and the profit motive have become a key part of the strength of market driven economies. They will be able to assess whether these lead to helping those less fortunate or not. How can taxes be levelled so that funds become available for wider society, but still enable business to generate the income to sustain the economy?

They will also have some grasp of issues that lead to so much pain and suffering. Why is the world full of inequality? Why is the Gross Domestic Product of the top three (United States of. America, China and Japan) so much higher than the nations at the bottom (Somalia, South Sudan and Sierra Leone)?

How can those richer alleviate situations of poverty wisely? Having rich Christians visit a poor neighbourhood to build homes, might just affect the local economy and workers in that economy in unforeseen ways.

How can inequalities be rectified? Would you want everyone to have ‘equal pay’? Christians will disagree on how to handle these issues, but your child will be bring knowledge and understanding to the debate.

5. Future prospects

All sectors of society need a Christian presence and those who have studied economics and especially at a degree or post-graduate level can be a presence for good where God has placed them. When we faced a financial crash in 2008 many argued that the foundational issue was an ethical one as unscrupulous investment banking and insurance practices passed all the risks to investors. Maybe if people with kingdom values had been involved, wiser courses of actions would have prevailed?Maybe your child can be a force for good in banking, insurance and financial institutions? Certainly there are few areas of the working world where some understanding of economics would not be a great asset. 


Helpful short perspectives by Steve McMullen here and Albert Mohler here 

Business for the Glory of God (Crossway) by Wayne Grudem

God’s Good Economy: Doing Economic Justice In Today’s World IVP) by Andrew Hartropp

There’s no such things as ‘business’ ethics (FaithWords) by John Maxwell