Is It Unchristian To Think That Jesus Talked About Economics?

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Posted: Aug 05, 2018 10:48 PM
Is It Unchristian To Think That Jesus Talked About Economics?

The Christian conversation about the life of Jesus has tended to default to the theological intent of His actions. In other words, Christ was came to save us from our sins. Those are matters of the telos, the purpose of His life, in the eyes of the Father. 

But other forces (Tax Collectors, Rabbis, Herodians, Romans) had different purposes (money, power, survival). The historical facts about their motivations do not contradict the theological truths about God's intentions. For example, the Gospels clearly say that the Sadducees at least partly wanted Jesus killed because He had become a threat to their livelihoods. But this in no way conflicts with the way that Jesus intended to turn their evil actions to a good purpose. 

Some truths are on different levels from other truths. I point this out because sometimes when I talk to people about the economic dimensions of the Gospels, someone might get upset, because they think the economic level of explanation is being used to replace the theological level. It's obvious that these are not in conflict. But for some reason people occasionally view political, historical, material, and economic analysis as though it is an attempt to replace historic Christian doctrine. 

But I would argue the opposite: that the historic doctrine of the incarnation (God taking on human nature) helps us to see all elements of His human nature operating in the Gospel accounts. If He put on human nature, and not just a human body, then he put on every aspect of human life except sin. The view that he only took on a human body but not a full human mind is known as the heresy Apollinarism. The two ancient creeds which focus the most on the doctrine of the incarnation (the Athanasian Creed and the Chalcedonian Creed) both teach that the Son took on both human body and mind. Here's a quote from the Chalcedonian Creed, which is the ancient statement of doctrine which focused the most on the Incarnation:

"We, then, following the holy Fathers, all with one consent, teach men to confess one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the same perfect in Godhead and also perfect in manhood; truly God and truly man, of a reasonable (rational) soul and body; consubstantial (coessential) with the Father according to the Godhead, and consubstantial with us according to the Manhood; in all things like unto us, without sin..."

From The Creed of Chalcedon

Jesus had a reasonable, that is thinking, soul. Other than sin, He is 'in all things like unto us'. When He took on a body and a mind, he also took on a family, a village, a nation, its history. That includes the social and economic relationships that humans have. This view is not heresy; it is orthodoxy.

I wrote at greater length about it in this article (from which some sections above were adapted).

We have established the importance of historical detail, including economic and financial detail and now that we have established that taking these things into account is not in any way discouraged by sound theological doctrine, but rather encouraged by it.  Next, we'll take a deeper dive into the details and see what fruit they yield.