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The Market Economy and Christian Ethics: Refocusing Debate through the Two-Kingdoms Doctrine

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Abstract

The seemingly intractable economic debates in Christian ethics evoke both strong defenses and deep critiques of the market economy. To suggest a way forward, I first analyze the kinds of argument that each side of the debate tends to make. I argue that the promarket arguments tend to be protological and penultimate in focus, while the antimarket arguments tend to be redemptive-eschatological and ultimate in focus. Then I suggest that a version of the two-kingdoms doctrine allows us to appreciate the insights of both lines of argument without jettisoning one for the sake of the other. A free-market economy is a morally fitting organization for the life of God’s common kingdom. Christians, especially in the visible church, are also called to embody, though imperfectly, the life of abundance and extravagant generosity that marks the eschatological kingdom of Christ, though it stands in some tension with market virtues.

David VanDrunen, "The Market Economy and Christian Ethics: Refocusing Debate through the Two-Kingdoms Doctrine," Journal of Markets and Morality 17, no.1 (Spring 2014): 189-191.

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