I heard about SCEG, joined and stayed a member until it closed in the mid 1990s .. the Sydney Christian Economists Group (SCEG) was a fellowship of evangelical Christians concerned with understanding economic matters in the light of biblical theology and ethics.
At the time I felt slight discomfort at the term Christian but didn't really fully think that much about it.
Last week my discomfort was reignited by Matthew Clarke at the Digital Society conference who suggested we should take Karl Barth seriously on this topic and I will, but for me something else became clear last weekend.
What, then, is meant by such phrases as “Christian” view of the universe, “Christian” morality, “Christian” art? Where are “Christian” personalities, “Christian” families, “Christian” groups, “Christian” newspapers, “Christian” societies, endeavors, and institutions? Who gives us permission to use this adjective so profusely? Especially when we must know that to confer this adjective, in its peculiarly serious import, is withdrawn altogether from any authority we have. This, if you like, unimportant misuse of language: does it not become evil to anybody who reflects at all? Is it not just a presumption that can allude to a most general thing as though existing . . . Ought not a serious consideration of the office of the Holy Spirit to the pardoned sinner to have this small result, at least, namely: to make it more difficult in the future for such an adjective as this to drip from our lips and our pen?—Karl Barth, The Holy Spirit and the Christian Life: The Theological Basis of Ethics, trans. R. Birch Hoyle (Louisville: Westminster/John Knox, 1993), 37-38.
Economics and the Christian
At its worst it was often work stemming from American which tried to justify American style capitalism by retrofitting it into OT texts.
None of this was satisfying, so more than ten years ago I gave up on that project entirely and moved onto think about technology.
Technology and the Christian
Then last weekend a bunch of ideas came together. The worldview of the economist is that what matters is the rules of the game... the incentive structures and the institutions etc. Thus, if we can discern the Biblical principles for economies we can wind them up and let them go.
But if we study technology the problem is much harder. Technology changes. The ethics of motor vehicle use, for example, actually changes across time as we learn more our responsibilities change. A theology of technology can be sketched, possibly, but the inking in must be done rapidly and we must be prepared to move on quickly to adjust to changing circumstances. Th eternal must stay eternal but the day to day stuff can - will change. As I suggest over here, here and here in my other blog perhaps our view of economics is also a little outdated as well and the rules of economics maybe more mailable than is generally discussed.
Technology is created under our mandate for creativity and subject to a broad range of big ethical principles but it would be plain silly to look for the Christian rules of technology creation... perhaps it is time to do the same for economics.