Counting the Cost: Christian Perspectives on Capitalism

Counting the Cost: Christian Perspectives on Capitalism


The number of people living in abject poverty is decreasing at an unprecedented rate. Capitalism has played a major role in lifting people out of such poverty, yet many raise legitimate concerns about capitalism: Does capitalism hurt the poor? Promote materialism? Harm the environment? Allow the rich to get richer at the expense of others? Is capitalism the best system for organizing societies and economies? 

With contributions from noted economists and theologians, Counting the Cost: Christian Perspectives on Capitalism takes an honest and empathetic look at capitalism and its critiques from a biblical perspective.

Published by Abilene Christian University Press (August 8, 2017); 385 pages.

Edited by:

  • Dr. Anne Bradley, Vice President of Economic Initiatives, Institute for Faith, Work & Economics 
  • Dr. Art Lindsley, Vice President of Theological Initiatives, Institute for Faith, Work & Economics
  • Chapters by: 

    • Art Lindsley, Introduction
    • Michael Novak, "The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism Thirty Years Later" 
    • Jonathan Pennington, "Human Flourishing and the Bible"
    • Art Lindsley, "Is Capitalism Contrary to the Bible?"
    • David Kotter, "A Christian Critique of Capitalism: Is Capitalism Based on Greed?"
    • Joseph Connors, "Is Capitalism Exploitative?"
    • Anne R. Bradley, "The 1 Percent: Is Income Inequality Evidence of Exploitation?"
    • Joy Buchanan and Vernon Smith, "Who Benefits in Capitalism?"
    • Doug Bandow, "Capitalism and Poverty: Economic Development and Growth Benefit the Least the Most"
    • Edd Noell, "Capitalism and Consumerism: Delighting in Both Creation and the Responsibilities of Affluence"
    • Wayne Grudem and Barry Asmus, "Do Global Corporations Exploit Poor Countries?"
    • E. Calvin Beisner, "Is Capitalism Bad for the Environment?"
    • Jonathan Witt, "Capitalism and the Cultural Wasteland"
    • Anne R. Bradley, Conclusion


    "Many Christians ask if Christianity is compatible with ‘capitalism.’ Is it all about greed? Does it create unjust inequalities, and destroy culture? In Counting the Cost, first-rate Christian scholars grapple seriously with these and other questions. And they argue persuasively that, while a free market economy does not promise utopia, it’s the only economic system that can allow not only individuals but entire cultures to flourish.” 
    Jay W. Richards, Assistant Research Professor, The Busch School, The Catholic University of America

    “In Counting the Cost, it is obvious from the first chapter (Michael Novak’s final essay!) that this book is well worth its price! The contributors provide a much-needed series of tour de force arguments that democratic capitalism is the most moral force in the world for economic justice.”
    Joseph Castleberry, President, Northwest University

    “A significant contribution to the debate over the morality of capitalism because of its willingness to tackle critiques of the free enterprise system. Both defenders and critics of capitalism will be intellectually sharpened by this book.”
    Tyler Castle, Values & Capitalism, AEI

    “Counting the Cost offers an important and necessary reminder that a free and virtuous society is best served by free markets, and it also (and I cannot stress this enough) is an imperative tonic to persistent misunderstandings of economic principles. Many believe that adhering to Judeo-Christian faiths demands a concomitant trust in government efforts to redistribute wealth. These essays prove nothing could be further from the truth.”
    Rev. Robert A. Sirico, president and founder, The Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty

    “Jesus was a socialist. Jubilee requires redistribution. Capitalism corrupts our souls. Well, maybe not: Counting the Cost is a useful collection of essays showing how a lot of what we (think we) 'know' about capitalism just isn't so.”
    Art Carden, Associate Professor of Economics, Brock School of Business, Samford University

    “If a man personally liberates another from the clutches of poverty, he’s regarded as a hero. But when an economic system called capitalism does the same for tens of millions, it brings forth an endless Inquisition and its intellectual Torquemadas. But as the excellent essays in Counting the Cost explain, the attack on capitalism is vastly overwrought and freighted with the baggage of false assumptions. Capitalism is what happens when peaceful, creative people are free to prosper by serving others through production and voluntary exchange.”
    Lawrence W. Reed, President, Foundation for Economic Education

    “The editors, who themselves have thought more seriously about faith and economics than just about anyone on the planet, assembled a great team to evaluate the operation of capitalism from ethical, moral, and economic perspectives. The central issues are addressed with clarity, and clear distinctions are made between myth and reality. This is a must-read for anyone interested in the relationships among Christian convictions, sound economics, and alternative economic systems.”
    —-James Gwartney, Professor of Economics, Florida State University

    “In modern discussions of capitalism, it is common to read analyses from Christians who know little of economics, and from economists who know little of Christianity. Counting the Cost is a rare collection of essays that are respectful of the truths accessible through both avenues. The collection offers insights for readers of all backgrounds.”
    Robert P. Murphy, Research Assistant Professor with the Free Market Institute at Texas Tech University

    “Most people do not study economics formally and even fewer study it through a biblical lens to understand God’s plan for human flourishing and to truly understand what being a good steward means. Counting the Cost contains insights by some of the best and brightest Christian economic thinkers and goes a long way to correct this gap in the Christian worldview. Many Christians may not have the time to take a class in economics, but they should make the time to read this book.”
    Brian Baugus, Assistant Professor of Economics, Regent University

    “Counting the Cost is a must-read for Christians who want to evaluate the role of the free market in our modern, globalized world. The book is an honest appraisal of what markets are capable of and their role in many of the most pressing issues of our day. The reader is guaranteed to finish Counting the Cost with a deeper understanding of how capitalism allows us to live out elements of the Imago Dei.”
    Nathanael D. Peach, Associate Professor of Economics, George Fox University

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