Then we said that Christians bring two contributions which have a direct economic impact.They bring judgment, and they act representatively, for the nation. Christians insist on theinalienability of responsibility, and so of judgment, self-judgment, and the possibility of regret, remorse, repentance and restitution by which we can change our course and a badsituation can give way to a better one. And Christians do this on behalf of the nation.Christians do not wait for new policy to come from the centre, but get on with anticipatingand offering a more self-controlled, truthful and sustainable economy. The surroundingworld may welcome this or oppose it or fail to notice it. Nonetheless Christians bear theirown costs and some of the costs that other people cannot bear for themselves. They actand speak representatively, in their priestly office, for the nation, and if things become dire,pleading to God and atoning for the nation.Christians say that there is good theology and there is bad theology and they show which iswhich. Good theology enables us to live life well together. A society can survive a lot of badtheology if there is a certain amount of the good stuff around in the background culturalassumptions that shape our day-to-day business lives. We said that the first aim of businessand of life is to be independent and self-supporting, and so being economically robustenough to offer support to others, in such a way that they may remain or becomeindependent too. Markets and government offer us a palette of choices, for they may havean interest in streamlining your decision-making. But your determination to remain free tomake your own contribution gives you reason to make many decisions for yourself and sopreserve your freedom to enter and exit economic relationships. An open economy comesfrom the high view of our human ability to form new relationships. If we are all persuadedthat we can make instant relationships with people we have never met before, then this islikely to be so. A high view of man may be partly self-fulfilling. Bad theology not only offersus a reductive account of man, but gives justification when others attempt to inflict thatreductive account on us, with less economic opportunity as a result. A poor theology leavesus with poor but hubristic economics and this has a direct outworking on the economy itself.So we could ask the same question to two sets of people. Has the current crop of Bank CEOsleft the UK business environment as healthy as they found it, or in better or in worse shape?Have bankers served the British economy or failed it? And now the same question forChristians. Have Christians in recent decades served the nation by offering the theology thatallows for a healthy economics and healthy economy to emerge, or have they allowed theenvironment to become less supportive of the open economy, and so failed the nation?Could it be that in recent years Christians have failed to present that large view of humanbeings that enables us all to exercise self-judgment and public judgment? The culture inwhich self-judgment and public challenge are exercised is fundamental to any open society.The society in which no one knows how to exercise judgment, as well as mercy, or how totake criticism, admit mistakes and shoulder blame, will not long sustain open markets or anopen economy. Of bankers and Christians, who is most to blame for this crisis and whichof the two can make best use of this blame?
1. What is the relationship between economics and the economy?
Economics is good and useful when we allow it to do its job and that only. It allows us togive definition to that set of short-term, limited-purpose relationships that we call