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Economics in Christian Perspective: Theory, Policy and Life Choices Paperback – July 31, 2007

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 255 pages
  • Publisher: IVP Academic (July 31, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0830825975
  • ISBN-13: 978-0830825974
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #447,488 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"This book by Victor Claar and Robin Klay is a valuable new contribution to a small but growing and important body of literature on economic thinking and Christian belief. The authors do not advance a unique 'Christian' economic theory, nor do they simply bless every mainstream economic concept with a biblical imprimatur. Instead, they carefully review current economic theory and policy perspectives in light of biblical Christian belief. At times Victor and Robin agree with mainstream economic ideas and at times they suggest thoughtful criticisms of the mainstream. They also take time to address important heterodox economic views in light of their interpretation of biblical principles that bear on each topic.

Extended case studies draw the reader into economic and biblical ways of thinking about important public policy issues. The cases are drawn from everyday life so that the reader can move easily from what we experience in everyday economic life to those topics about which we know less but must render political and economic opinions. They address critical topics such as embracing or protesting market economies, designing effective programs for poor relief, addressing our growing global need for energy, restricting or encouraging economic development around the world, assessing the government's monetary and fiscal macroeconomic policies, and choosing an optimal level of pollution control.

Victor and Robin write with conviction about their firmly held economic views and with fair-minded care about those questions that remain arguable from several reasonable perspectives. Not every Christian will agree with their views, but most Christians would benefit from confronting their economic reasoning and biblical analysis of crucial issues." (Robert A. Black, Professor of Economics, Houghton College)

"Claar and Klay ask how Christians with shared values can affect outcomes in a market-based democratic economy. They expand traditional economic analysis of self-interested consumers, profit-seeking firms and elected governments to include groups of individuals with common interests such as churches and faith-based organizations. They illustrate that the latter, by pooling resources, can influence the production and delivery of desired services such as feeding the poor, sheltering the homeless and healing the sick, locally, nationally and globally within established economic structures." (Robert H. Rasche, Michigan State University)

"This short book has lofty goals. One purpose is to explain the economic process, emphasizing the benefits of free markets and voluntary choice. The second task is Christian reflection on economic involvement from an evangelical perspective. The result enriches economic and biblical understanding." (John Pisciotta, Associate Professor of Economics, Baylor University)

"Victor Claar and Robin Klay provide thoughtful Christians a very useful introduction to the economic way of thinking that is lively, nuanced and challenging. Their description of economics presents the powerful ability of markets to creatively meet human needs within a Christian perspective that takes seriously the claims of Christ over his creation. It will serve as a valuable entry point to the world of economics for Christians eager to learn how markets, governments and institutions operate in the contemporary global context." (Dr. John E. Anderson, Baird Family Professor of Economics and associate dean, College of Business Administration, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and former senior economist with the President's Council of Economic Advisers)

"Claar and Klay combine Christian principles and economic principles in a useful manner so that readers will think better about these issues and look to better solutions than are currently being proffered. Demonstrating an impressive breadth of vision, they deftly move from the big picture and macroeconomics to the care for the individual and restoring hope for the least of these. Covering a wide range of issues, they deal with microeconomics, macroeconomics, public policy, personal behavior, market failure and government intervention. This is a much-needed book that I will use and think many of my colleagues in the Association of Christian Economists will want to use also." (Eric Elder, Professor of Economics, Northwestern College)

"Books like this one are far too rare. Claar and Klay explore a broad range of compelling issues, write clearly and winsomely, think from a well-reasoned historic Christian perspective, and above all else are seasoned mainstream economists who know what they are talking about. We seldom get a book that considers natural revelation and special revelation simultaneously, and does so with respect for those who come to different conclusions. While making their conclusions clear, Claar and Klay consistently explain their framework of thought in such a way that those who disagree can clearly identify why and where they disagree--a wonderful gift to a long conversation about faith and economic affairs that has too often been polarized and uncharitable." (Kurt Schaefer, Calvin College)

"This book meets an important need for Christians who want to think carefully about economics. Claar and Klay combine sound economics and the moral demands of a lively Christian faith to create integrated, practical advice for all believers seeking to make a concrete difference in the world. This book is a great resource for any Christian trying to make sense of the many seemingly irreconcilable demands of Christian faith and economic analysis." (Andrew M. Yuengert, Professor of Economics, Pepperdine University)

"This volume presents a balanced view of the respective roles and responsibilities of governments, markets and civil society within a perspective of reasoned hope that is clearly informed by the authors' Christian faith. The integration of Scripture and Christian reflection with economic analysis is careful and well reasoned, and also affirms the positive dimensions of the market process. The book is easily accessible to undergraduate students, and approaches the major stewardship issues of our time not only in terms of individual choice, but also from the standpoint of the family, the church and the broader communities to which we all belong. It makes creative use of a variety of examples, and addresses the primary economic challenges of our time." (Paul R. Koch, Professor of Economics, Olivet Nazarene University)

"Victor Claar and Robin Klay have given us a sensible discussion of contemporary economic policy issues with some Christian commentary. They emphasize the usefulness of mainstream economics to Christians working in the world." (Paul Oslington, University of New South Wales and St. Marks National Theological Centre, Canberra)

"Claar and Klay combine Christian teachings and modern economic analysis in a book that informs both the head and the heart.This book also affords an opportunity to incorporate material on values and social capital into a mainstream course in economic principles." (Kenneth G. Elzinga, Robert C. Taylor Professor of Economics, University of Virginia)

About the Author

Victor V. Claar (Ph.D., West Virginia University) is professor of economics at Henderson, the public liberal arts college of Arkansas, where he specializes in teaching principles of economics courses. He spent the 2006-2007 academic year as a Fulbright scholar, giving graduate lectures and conducting research at the American University of Armenia. His research interests include transnational entrepreneurial attitudes, ethics and economics, and applied microeconomics. He has written articles for Applied Economics, Public Finance Review and theJournal of Markets & Morality. He has served as referee for the journals Journal of Money, Credit and Banking; Journal of Public Economics and Journal of Macroeconomics; among others.

Robin J. Klay (Ph.D., Princeton) is emeritus professor of economics at Hope College, Holland, Michigan. Klay's principal area of research and publication regards the connections between Christian faith and practice and economic theory and policy. She is the author of Counting the Cost: The Economics of Christian Stewardship. She has published articles in The Christian Century, Perspectives, Faith and Economics and Markets and Morality. She is also an adjunct scholar at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy in Midland, Michigan, and is involved in ministry with the local hispanic community.

More About the Author

Victor V. Claar, Ph.D., is a professor of economics and teaches courses in economics to both undergraduate and graduate students. He recently was a Fulbright Scholar at the American University of Armenia--a landlocked country at the intersection of Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Iran--where he conducted research and gave lectures to graduate students.

Professor Claar has a long, impressive record of publications, including his influential book, Economics in Christian Perspective: Theory, Policy and Life Choices, now in its seventh printing and recently translated into Chinese. One reviewer said of the book's authors, "they demonstrate an impressive breadth of vision [and] deftly move from the big picture and macroeconomics to the care for the individual and restoring hope for the least of these."

While you may have heard that economics was once dubbed the "dismal science," Professor Claar's work demonstrates that this field is quite the opposite, especially when it does what Professor Claar does: combine sobering analysis and Christian principles to offer a vision of hope.

Professor Claar is also the author of Fair Trade? Its Prospects as a Poverty Solution, an incisive, thoughtful work that challenges us all to rethink how we buy what we need and want.

He resides in Hot Springs, Arkansas.

Customer Reviews

Markets can be used for good or evil, and will feed moral sin if allowed.
I recommend this book highly to anybody who wants to better understand contemporary economics and how the Christian faith engages this.
Victor Claar and Robin Klay, both professors of economics at Hope College in Holland, Michigan, address these topics in the book.
Michael W. Kruse

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By FrugalDutchman on March 18, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Reviewed by Michael J. Douma for [...]

I picked up this book because the authors teach at my alma mater, Hope College, in Holland, MI. Although I have not met them, I was interested to see what they had to say about the relationship between Christianity and economics. The authors include an appropriate proverb, tucked away on page twenty-four. "Without freedom," they write, "there is no responsibility." They could have added that without responsibility there is no freedom. In the tradition of classical liberalism, they on insist government's role in, most importantly, protecting property and enforcing contracts, but also in stabilizing the economy, and promoting positive, and discouraging negative externalities.

The major thesis of the work is that democratic governments, free markets, and cultural institutions (i.e. the church) as separate spheres have their own responsibilities that come together like a tripod to provide the proper balance of support for society. While I assume the authors are aware of the Dutch Calvinist theologian Abraham Kuyper, and are certainly influenced by him, they make no mention of his works. This is an unfortunate omission because they share much of Kuyper's worldview. Kuyper's concept of "sphere sovereignty" first articulated in the late nineteenth century, has been influential in political thought in the Netherlands and among Dutch immigrants in America. Sphere sovereignty teaches that the church has responsibilities equal to those of the government and should not be disadvantaged by government interference. Like Kuyper, the authors believe that God had called his followers to be active in the world, and not to shun it.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Michael W. Kruse on March 6, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
There is considerable debate in the public square these days about a number of issues that have significant economic components. Globalization, environmental protection, and aiding the poor are just a few. Decisions we make in our personal lives are influenced by our assumptions about economic realities as well. So how might mainstream economics connect with Christian Values and principles?

Victor Claar and Robin Klay, both professors of economics at Hope College in Holland, Michigan, address these topics in the book. It's a wonderful read. The book has eleven chapters, each devoted to a particular issue like the role of government, creation care, discerning vocation and caring for the poor versus worrying about the income gap.

The writing style is engaging. If you have a just a rudimentary grasp of some basic economic concepts the book should be intelligible. If not, you may find yourself having to work some in a couple of spots. But what is truly refreshing is the careful and respectful manner in which differing views are presented on some controversial topics even as the authors reveal their takes on issues. The book is neither a social justice harangue nor a libertarian manifesto, just solid Christian reflection on the implications of mainstream economic thought.

The authors conclude the book with "Nine Big Ideas from Economics That Can Help You Be a Good Steward Every Day."

1. For everything you do, there is something you are choosing to leave undone.
2. The anticipated social benefit of any policy proposal must be seriously weighed against every likely social opportunity cost.
3. Actions speak louder than words.
4. Markets move precious resource from less-valuable to more-valuable.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By J. Wheeler on April 26, 2008
Format: Paperback
Amidst my MBA studies at a top school known for leading the way in economic thinking, I found this book to be a very helpful complement to the curriculum. Professors Clay and Claar demonstrate mastery of economic theory by explaining and exploring concepts in ways that will enlighten the mind of an educated economist and lay person alike. While most Christians will have studied economics from an agnostic perspective, this book helps to provide the Christian with a framework to think about how to bring God's values to bear on a wide variety of societal and policy issues. The topics include third world poverty, income disparities, unemployment, global trade and the role of government. The authors strive to provide the nuances of complex issues, but also offer clear, tangible suggestions as to how Christians might approach these issues. I highly recommend this book to anyone, economist or not, who is interested in developing more sophisticated, well-reasoned views on the great economic matters of the day through the lens of Christianity.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Aki N. Gibson on February 22, 2009
Format: Paperback
As a seminary grad and an aspiring armchair economist, I want to commend Victor Claar and Robin Klay for writing Economics in Christian Perspective. Inspired by the work of the Acton Institute, I have been seeking to gain a better grasp on contemporary economic issues, and was pleased to find their book listed under Acton's Studies in Ethics and Economics. For someone who formerly had great difficulty understanding (or even staying awake in) my undergrad economics courses, I can say that their book is a welcome re-introduction to the field, and probably one the most balanced and practical resources I have read to date on mainstream economics. I only wish I could have been exposed to this perspective earlier on in my education!
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