Christianity's Post-Enlightenment Contribution to Economic Thought

Paul Oslington, Australian Catholic University

Paul Oslington. (2008). Christianity's Post-Enlightenment Contribution to Economic Thought. In Ian Harper & Samuel Gregg (Eds.) Christian Theology and Market Economics, Chapter 4. Cheltanham, U.K.: Edward Elgar. ISBN 978 184720 3779. Due to copyright restrictions we are unable to upload the fulltext.


Christian theology shaped economics in the early years of the discipline in Britain. Natural theology provided a framework for the fruitful relations between economics and theology through 18th and early 19th centuries, then as this framework collapsed in the mid-19th century the disciples separated. Economists came to see theology and ethics as irrelevant to their scientific enterprise, and churchmen retreated from mainstream economics to debatable enterprises such as Christian socialism in the late 19th century and social ethics in the 20th century. Since the 1970s there has been a revival of interest in religious economics, especially among evangelicals, and Roman Catholics.There can be no doubt that theology has contributed to the development of economics since the enlightenment. Understanding the relationship in different times and places can guide contemporary engagements between economists and theologians.