Interdisciplinary: Economics and the Gospel

Economics has always fascinated me. This is partly due to the fact that I don’t really understand it fully, so there is some mystery, and also because there are some very interesting realities that show up when we look at economics. One of those is the idea of supply and demand. You probably already know about supply and demand, but if you need a refresher, here is a simple explanation:

What I have always found interesting about supply and demand is that it is a reality of economics that depends not on inherent value, but “perceived value”. That means, rather than paying what something is worth (the cost of manufacture) we pay what something is worth to us. In the video above the example of an umbrella is used. An umbrella may seem quite valuable in a rain storm, but if you don’t mind getting wet then you will perceive a lower value than someone with aquaphobia. Very interesting.

But what does this have to do with the Gospel? I think this is where we miss a deep truth of Scripture: we forget where our value comes from. You see, in modern culture we are taught that we are all inherently valuable but inherent value really makes no sense when we think of economics. Nothing is inherently valuable. An umbrella isn’t valuable where there is no rain. There is no created thing that is, by its very nature, equally valuable to everyone. You might argue food, but to someone who wants to die even food lacks value. But you might say that we are inherently valuable because we are created in the image of God, which becomes a more complex question because, while we are created in His image, we are also subject to the effects of the Fall. There is a great deal of debate as to the effects of the Fall on the image of God we bear, but it must cause us to question how we are valuable to God.

It makes sense to us that, as His creations, God might feel some affection towards us as. Some of us might even consider that our value is that we fill God’s need for relationship or serve the purpose of worshiping Him. But we know from Scripture that God does not need anything from us–neither praise nor relationship–to be the perfect God that He is. We do not have a positive impact on God. Our value is not based in what we do for God. Much like basic, old supply and demand, we are worth what God is willing to pay for us–and He is willing to pay with His Son. We are children of God because God paid for us with His one and only Son. That is where we find our value.

Now some of you might wonder, then, what is the value of those who do not believe? This is where the theology gets complex and I run out of space…Maybe another post to cover this? Thoughts on this post?


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