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Reaching for Heaven on Earth: The Theological Meaning of Economics Paperback – July 30, 1993

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Theology and economics appear to be unrelated subjects--one based upon faith, the other upon fact. Nelson, however, declares that economics is grounded not in scientific fact, but in a faith in economic progress. Economic theology preaches that the root of all evil is economic scarcity, and that the removal of economic scarcity will create a "heaven on earth." Beginning with a look at Aristotle and Plato, the author moves through economic history to the theories of economists John Maynard Keynes, Paul Anthony Samuelson, and Milton Friedman. In a closing section, he notes that humanity's faith in economic progress has been shaken by events in the 20th century like the development of the atomic bomb. While Nelson's treatment of the subject is well organized and researched, his book's appeal may be limited to those interested in an in-depth study of the history of economic thought. For large religion and economics collections.
- Joanna M. Thompson, Bluefield State Coll., W.Va.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


...this is the most profound book on the boundary of theology and economics in the past couple of decades. It has a depth of perspective, a scope of scholarship and a discernment that is rare in this field. (Christian Century)

...well-organized and researched...an in-depth study of the history of economic thought. (Library Journal)

Economists can learn a lot about their 'science' by reading this book, and, at the same time, enjoy the experience. (James M. Buchanan)

This is the sort of thought-provoking book that every member of ACE should read and consider ....I recommend Nelson highly.... (The Bulletin Of The Association Of Christian Economists)

... it squarely confronts the fact that the intelligible value of economic theology-Progress-is itself now in crisis.... (Reason)

Nelson can be commended for attempting such a wide-ranging survey of Western intellectual thought and for challenging readers to evaluate for themselves the place of modern economic analysis in the scheme of intellectual inquiry. (Robert A. Black) --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

More About the Author

Dr. Nelson is the author of many book chapters and journal articles and of eight books: The New Holy Wars: Economic Religion versus Environmental Religion in Contemporary America (Penn State University Press, 2010); Private Neighborhoods and the Transformation of Local Government (Urban Institute Press, 2005); Economics as Religion: From Samuelson to Chicago and Beyond (Penn State University Press, 2001); ); A Burning Issue: A Case for Abolishing the U.S. Forest Service (Rowman & Littlefield, 2000); Public Lands and Private Rights: The Failure of Scientific Management (Rowman & Littlefield, 1995); Reaching for Heaven on Earth: The Theological Meaning of Economics (Rowman & Littlefield, 1991); The Making of Federal Coal Policy (Duke University Press, 1983); and Zoning and Property Rights (MIT Press, 1977). The New Holy Wars was the 2010 Winner of the Grand Prize of the Eric Hoffer Book Award for the best book of the year by an independent publisher; and also silver medal winner for "Finance, Investment, Economics" of the 2010 Independent Publisher Book Awards (the "IPPYs"). Dr. Nelson has written widely in publications for broader audiences, including Forbes, The Weekly Standard, Reason, The Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Los Angeles Times, Baltimore Sun, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and Denver Post. He worked in the Office of Policy Analysis of the Office of the Secretary of the Interior from 1975 to 1993. He has served as the senior economist of the Congressionally chartered Commission on Fair Market Value Policy for Federal Coal Leasing (Linowes Commission) and as senior research manager of the President's Commission on Privatization. He has been a visiting scholar at the Brookings Institution, visiting senior fellow at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, research associate at the Center for Applied Social Sciences of The University of Zimbabwe; visiting professor at Keio University in Tokyo; visiting professor at the Universidad Torcuato Di Tella in Buenos Aires; and visiting professor at the School of Economics of the University of the Philippines in Manila. He holds a Ph.D. in economics from Princeton University (1971).

Areas of Writing and Research:

Dr. Nelson is a nationally recognized authority in the areas of (1) local zoning and property rights to housing in the United States; (2) the use and management of the public lands owned by the federal government in the American West; and (3) the normative foundations of economics and environmentalism and their often clashing ways of thinking about the world. He is a member of the environmental policy specialization of the School of Public Policy.

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