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Wealth and Poverty: Four Christian Views of Economics

Gary North
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Aug. 17, 2011

In 1983, I was asked by a professor at Indiana State University to write an article for a symposium: Wealth and Poverty: Four Christian Views of Economics. I agreed, but only after pressure from David Chilton. Initially, I figured the publisher would suppress my article. I did not want to waste my time.

I was wrong. The publisher accepted my article. A year later, it suppressed the book.

In 1981, George Gilder's book, Wealth and Poverty, was published by Basic Books. It was a magnificently written book by a non-economist who knew more about the basis of wealth than 90% of those who teach economics in universities. (This may be too low an estimate.) I told him this at a investment conference dinner last month.

The quartet format by 1984 had become popular in Christian intellectual circles. Four contributors present four rival views of a topic. Then each of them responds briefly to the others. (The format remains popular. In 2011, I contributed to another quartet, Perspectives on Tithing.)

Not one of us had a Ph.D. in economics. This kept the book readable -- always a plus! I was joined by a Keynesian businessman, a pro-socialist Anglican minister, and a promoter of communal living, whose views turned out to be essentially the same as the Anglican's. The Anglican later became a prominent bishop.

The book was published in 1984. A year later, the publisher pulled the book off the market. My Institute for Christian Economics bought several thousand copies for 25 cents each, plus shipping. Copies are still available from American Vision.

I received a letter from the editor telling me of the publisher's decision. He said he could not understand it. The book was selling well, he said. He was naive. The fact that it was selling well was why the publisher pulled it.

My article offered hard core free market theory and a lot of biblical citations. It also had a lot of footnotes. My three responses were rhetorically aggressive, as was (and is) my style. I have no doubt that the neo-evangelical Protestant publishing house received complaints from college professors and other dwellers in the Keynesian swamps regarding my approach, which was decidedly not conciliatory. Anyway, that is how I like to imagine it. I believe that ideological conflict generates both heat and light.

The Keynesian businessman complained that my article was too heavy on Deuteronomy. That is the kind of criticism I appreciate.

You can download a copy. Click here.


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