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Toward a Theology of the Corporation (Studies in religion, philosophy, and public policy) Paperback – June, 1987

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Product Details

  • Series: Studies in religion, philosophy, and public policy
  • Paperback: 56 pages
  • Publisher: AEI Press (June 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0844734322
  • ISBN-13: 978-0844734323
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 5.8 x 0.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,232,665 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Stephen M. Bainbridge on December 11, 2000
Format: Paperback
Michael Novak is probably the foremost Christian thinker on the economy. His "Toward a Theology of the Corporation" is an under-appreciated classic that succinctly, yet powerfully, sets out a theologically sound analysis of the modern corporation and its role in society. In this slender and well-written volume, Novak joins issue with theologians like Paul Tillich who contend that "any serious Christian must be a socialist."
THEOLOGY has two principal themes. First, it is addressed to those who work for corporations. Many Christians have been taught to feel, at best, "faint disdain" for corporations and those who manage them. In contrast, Novak knows that many (most) business men and women are ethical people who yearn for moral guidance and advice. Consequently, THEOLOGY tackles a basic moral question: "Can a Christian Work for a Corporation." Novak's answer? "Yes!" (Those wishing more detailed discussion of practical business ethics ought also read Novak's "Business as Calling.")
Yet, Novak recognized that anyone who purported to think about practical business ethics needed to understand the predominant form of business organization-the public corporation. Much of THEOLOGY is thus devoted to an analysis of the corporation: Is the firm's structure as a bureaucratic hierarchy consistent with church teaching on human dignity? What social responsibility, if any, does the corporation have? And so forth.
Thinking about those questions naturally lead Novak to broader issues, such as the consistency of capitalism with church teachings on wealth. In THEOLOGY, therefore, Novak began working out the line of argument that was later developed more fully in his magisterial "The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism.
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Format: Paperback
This short work of two essays is a basic summary of Novak's economic thinking. He affirms a free-market "democratic capitalist" economy, and is opposed to "socialist or statist alternatives." The "tripartite" theory he recommends is that there should be free markets, a democratic society, and a free moral-cultural system (i.e. freedom of politics, economics, and belief). Novak's work is a bit dated here, since papal encyclicals have qualified or made obsolete some of his claims about a theology of economics. Nonetheless it is still a good, short summary of his essential thought. Like this work or disagree with it, it is a fairly short defense of the free-market system, focused mostly on economic and political ideas, and very lightly on theological reflections upon them (the Catholic Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism does that).
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