Five Reasons Christians Should Embrace Economic Freedom

A very helpful article by Anne Bradley at The Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics.

Here’s a great part, which shows the connection between our mandate as Christians to care for the poor and the importance of economic freedom as a means of enabling the poor to lift themselves from poverty:

Reason #2: We are Called to Serve the Poor

We are told in Scripture that the righteous care about justice for the poor.14 Christians believe that poverty is an affront to human dignity. Justice means enabling the poor to elevate their dignity by helping them escape the trappings of poverty. There is no other way of organizing society that has lifted more people out of poverty than global markets which are supported by economic freedom. According to a recent Brookings Report, nearly half a billion people escaped living at or below the poverty line between 2005 and 2010. Never before in history have so many found liberation from poverty in such a short time. The report goes on to say that the change is driven by the highest levels of sustained economic growth ever recorded in the developing world.15

The principles of economic freedom provide a blueprint for human flourishing. Markets consist not of a physical place, but of a mechanism of human coordination and cooperation. They bring unique individuals together to trade their time and talents in the service of others. For example, greater flourishing fostered by economic freedom ensures that poor women can open businesses without being overburdened by regulations and entry barriers that would keep them in poverty.

  • Nathan

    This is a classic case of pragmatic argumentation concerning capitalism. This author has essentially said that because it works it must be good. I think the question we should be asking concerning capitalism is not “Does it work?” but “What work does it do?” Surely capitalism promotes wealth in many people, but it also promotes self-centered individualism, unhealthy competition and trains human beings that they are nothing more than consumers. I’m not saying I have a better alternative, but blanket endorsements of the entire system fail to equip Christians to spot the harmful effects on human flourishing.

  • Matt Perman


    I know Anne’s work (the author of the post I’m linking to), and she does not believe or argue that we should embrace capitalism simply because it works. She is not a utilitarian. Certainly it is an important consideration that it works! But it is the right and best system, first of all, because of the _moral case_ that can be made for capitalism. It is the economic system that most upholds the dignity of the individual; it affirms human freedom more than any other system; and so forth. Those are moral virtues of capitalism, and they are the first reason that it is right, good, and the best economic system we have. Then, the next argument in favor of capitalism is that it works. But that’s not the only argument, and it’s not the chief argument. I think you have misunderstood Anne.

    • Nathan


      I think I understand exactly what she is arguing and just disagree that capitalism upholds the dignity of the individual. It actually does the opposite. It reduces the individual to a consumer who exists for the sake of the market. May I recommend a book? Economy of Desire by Daniel M. Bell Jr. is a pretty good treatment of this topic from the opposite side of Anne. Particularly the chapter outlining the theology inherent within capitalism.

      • Matt Perman

        That’s a helpful clarification, and I appreciate your tone and approach here–the way you put things here is type of thing that lays the groundwork for good discussion, because it centers things around an idea that can be argued for or against.

        Thanks for the book recommendation–just ordered it.