Scott Rae

Thoughts on the New Testament and Economics

By Scott Rae Mar. 24, 2014 9:00 a.m. Ethics, New Testament, Old Testament, Philosophy

Though the New Testament is not a textbook on economics, it was immersed in a particular economic environment and much of the New Testament teaching had implications for economic life. In the New Testament, Jesus takes up right where the Old Testament prophets left off. Care for the poor was just as important to Jesus as it was to the prophets. When the followers of John the Baptist (who was in prison at the time) asked Jesus if He was indeed the Messiah who was to come, He answered in terms that could have been taken right out of the prophets. He put it like this, “Go back to John (the Baptist) and tell him what you have seen and heard—the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are being raised to life and the good news is being preached to the poor” (Matt. 11:4-5). The evidence that Jesus was who He claimed to be was not only that He did miracles, but who were the beneficiaries of those miracles were: the poor, marginalized and vulnerable. Similarly, when He spoke of final judgment and what would separate His true followers from the pretenders, He made it clear that how someone treats the poor is a critical indication of a person’s spiritual maturity. This is likely what Jesus meant when He said that, “I tell you the truth, when you did it to the least of these my brothers, you were doing it to me” (referring to feeding the hungry and taking in the needy, Matt. 25:40).

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Thoughts on the Old Testament and Economics

By Scott Rae Jan. 14, 2014 9:00 a.m. Ethics, Old Testament, Philosophy

From the beginning, we learn that God created the world and called it good, making the material world fundamentally good (Gen. 1:31).  He further entrusted human beings with dominion over the earth—giving them both the privilege of enjoying the benefits of the material world, but also the responsibility for caring for the world.  We also learn that, from the beginning, God has implanted His wisdom into the world and given human beings the necessary tools to uncover His wisdom and apply it for their benefit (Proverbs 8:22-31).  God set human beings free to utilize their God-given intelligence, initiative and creativity in discerning and applying what the wisdom He embedded into the world—this is all a part of the responsible exercise of dominion over creation that brings innovation and productivity to benefit humankind.

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Pastors, Seminary Students and Economics, Part Two

By Scott Rae Dec. 23, 2013 9:00 a.m. Theology, Church Life, Ministry and Leadership

Why do pastors need to know all that much about work and economics? Last week we introduced this subject and suggested that there are very few areas of our lives that have nothing to do with work and/or economics. Remember that even the notion of our eternal salvation has something to do with economics, since the Bible actually describes the elements of our eternal salvation in economic terms. In addition, life on this side of eternity matters greatly. If we refuse to separate out the sacred from the secular, and thus affirm that all of life is spiritual, then there are few, if any, areas of our spiritual lives that are not impacted by economics.

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Pastors, Seminary Students and Economics, Part One

By Scott Rae Dec. 16, 2013 10:10 a.m. Theology, Church Life, Ministry and Leadership

Why do pastors need to know all that much about economics? My friend and writing partner, Austin Hill, tells the story of a conference he attended as a graduate student, when the facilitator posed the provocative question, “Can somebody name for me one area of our lives that has nothing to do with economics?” The group was silent for more than a few moments, as the students were pondering this, most for the first time. Then a student spoke up in a southern drawl, and said what I suspect many were thinking.  He said, “As a Christian, I believe that my eternal salvation has nothing to do with economics.” The group was taken aback by his forthrightness, and the facilitator then rephrased the question this way, “Ok, let’s assume you’re right about that, and let’s assume that one’s eternal destiny has nothing to do with economics (a debatable assumption), can somebody name a second area of our lives that has nothing to do with economics? He went on to suggest that “every facet of our earthly lives is impacted on some level by both economic activity and economic conditions.”

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