Christian History Institute

Sharing our story of faith across the ages

items tagged with economics

Magazine Issues


19 Feb 2015

Bread of the earth and bread of heaven

by Ralph C. Wood | Issue 113

MANY READERS  know G. K. Chesterton as a slashing satirist, uproarious comic, master of paradoxes, deft apologist, and defender of the faith. A famed journalist in his day, he also wrote over 100 books and became one of the most notable English converts to Roman Catholicism in the twentieth century. His output included popular books like Orthodoxy , The Man Who Was Thursday , and The Ballad of the White Horse . Interestingly, C. S. Lewis attributed his return to Christian faith largely to reading Chesterton’s The Everlasting Man .

Critics often...

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15 Aug 2002

Economics after God’s Own Image

by Chris Armstrong | Issue 75

ONE NIGHT IN 1900, deep within one of those gray British metropolises that he once called “the interior of a labyrinth of lifeless things,” G.K. Chesterton discovered a kindred spirit. At the Mont Blanc Restaurant in London’s Soho district, a man approached him and opened a decades-long conversation with the remark, “You write very well, Chesterton.”

As the evening progressed, Chesterton became increasingly excited. He had discovered in this man—the cantankerous, visionary historian and author Hilaire Belloc—a lifelong friend and...

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14 Feb 2002

Aquinas for President?

by David Lawrence and Elesha Coffman | Issue 73

LIKE ARISTOTLE, Thomas Aquinas considered all areas of thought his province. As a result, he became unquestionably the most systematic political philosopher of the Middle Ages, as well as an original legal theorist and an unconventional economist.

Government, Aquinas taught, is the result of sin and is necessary to mitigate its consequences. Political organization is natural to fallen man and necessary for his development. Even though the church is superior to the state, and the greater purpose of man is eternal life, the temporal world is...

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15 Feb 2013

Recommended resources

by the Editors | Issue 104

Books, essays, dvds

• G. K. Chesterton preached Distributism throughout his works. In particular, see his Collected Works, vols. 5–6, devoted to his political and economic writings, as well as What’s Wrong with the World (available on its own or in volume 4 of the Collected Works).

• Dorothy Day, The Long Loneliness. Dorothy Day’s autobiography explains how she and Peter Maurin founded the Catholic Worker movement.

• Donald Demaray, ed., The Daily Roberts. Readings for every day of the year from B. T. Roberts, one of the founders of the...

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15 Feb 2013

The economy of God

by Greg Forster | Issue 104

IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY, when factories drew workers away from the countryside and the moral boundaries of ancient agricultural traditions, many lived in squalid conditions and drank horrendously. Most employers didn’t take much care of them.

One inventor of the modern factory, though, was a Christian entrepreneur. His pottery works succeeded because he treated workers with dignity, providing them with clean houses, medical care, and better wages—and firmly cracking down on alcohol use, absenteeism, and laziness. His endeavor was more...

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15 Feb 2013

Common wealth?

by Gari-Anne Patzwald | Issue 104

IN 1899 members of the Woman’s Commonwealth of Belton, Texas, took their considerable fortune (approximately $200,000) and retired to the Washington, DC, area to pursue cultural interests. But it had been far different at the start. 

In the 1860s, the commonwealth’s founders had left their comfortable middle-class lives, and often their husbands, to form a self-sufficient, celibate community of members who received direct revelations from God under the leadership of Holiness Methodist visionary Martha McWhirter. Eventually, though, they...

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15 Feb 2013

Meeting together for the good of the world

by Clifford B. Anderson and Kenneth Woodrow Henke | Issue 104

IT WAS THE END of the 1931 Oxford Mission, a week of revival preaching. The bespectacled archbishop of York, William Temple (1881–1944), a champion of social and economic causes, stepped to the front of the University Church of St. Mary the Virgin to lead the hymn, “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross.” 

Years later, people still told how he stopped before the last stanza and asked the congregation to look at the words of the text. “Now,” he said, “if you mean [the words] with all your heart, sing them as loud as you can. If you don’t mean...

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15 Feb 2013

Timeline: What happened when the world transformed?

by the Editors | Issue 104

The world changesthe church responds

1708   Jethro Tull invents mechanical sower for large-scale planting in rows  

1709   Abraham Darby improves iron ore smelting by using coke for fuel

1712   Thomas Newcomen invents the first practical steam engine

1746   John Wesley publishes Primitive Physic

1765   Spinning jenny invented, initiating the automation of weaving  

1760s   Arthur Guinness inspired to begin charity to the poor of Dublin

1772   Extension of Bridgewater Canal in NW England kicks off   “canal mania”  

1784   Andrew Meikle develops a...

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15 Feb 2013

Houses of hospitality

by Edwin Woodruff Tait | Issue 104

BY THE AGE OF 25, journalist Dorothy Day (1897–1980) had survived the San Francisco Earthquake, imprisonment on a trumped-up charge of prostitution connected with socialist activism, an abortion, a failed marriage, and drinking bouts in Greenwich Village with Eugene O’Neill. Yet the decisive factor that converted her to Catholicism in 1922 was none of these—it was an immense surge of joy at the birth of her child. 

Day wrote later that there was nothing to do with such gratitude but to offer it to God. Her common-law husband not only...

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15 Feb 2013

Industrialization—Editor’s Note

by Jennifer Woodruff Tait | Issue 104

MACHINES TAKING THE JOBS of humans. The sudden ability for instantaneous communication across continents. People abandoning the countryside for the big city. New inventions at every turn. A growing gap between rich and poor. The world shrinking daily. 

The early twenty-first century? Yes, but those words could just as easily describe the Industrial Revolution that, over 150 years ago, began changing the social and working lives of Americans. Industry after industry developed new tools to do workers’ jobs, tools that in some cases supplanted...

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15 Feb 2013

Industrialization—Did you know?

by the Editors | Issue 104

rise of the machines 

PREVIOUSLY, INDUSTRIES “put out” jobs to workers, giving them raw materials and coming around to collect the results. Industrialization centralized this whole process. According to one history, the number of handloom weavers in Lancashire dropped from 240,000 in 1820 to only 188,000 by 1835. Their wages decreased from more than  three shillings to just over two for a piece of calico. By 1861 only 7,000 hand weavers remained. The number of powerlooms increased from 2,400 to 400,000 in the same time period.  


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28 Feb 1997

A Profitable Little Business

by Mark Galli | Issue 53

IN THE 1400s, Europe began discovering the great mass of Africa beyond the vast Sahara. At the end of the century, it also discovered the Americas. Little did it know that the two land masses would become so inextricably bound.

For the next two centuries, European superpowers planted a chain of European colonies from New England to the West Indies to Brazil. Such places seemed to have an inexhaustable supply of sugar, tobacco, silver, and gold. Visions of great wealth danced before the superpowers’ eyes—provided they could find the labor to...

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1 Sept 1988

From the Archives: Robert L. Dabney

by Robert L. Dabney | Issue 19

WHEN A CHRISTIAN MAN, who has professed to dedicate himself and his all, body, soul and estate, to the highest glory of God and love of his fellow-creatures, passes by the hundreds of starving poor and degraded sinners around him, the thousands of ignorant at home, and the millions of perishing heathen, whom his money might instrumentally rescue from hell-fire, and sells for a song his safe, strong, comfortable family carriage, and expends hundreds in procuring another, because his rich neighbor is about to outstrip him in this article of...

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31 Aug 1988

Money in Christian History (II): From the Publisher

by the Editors | Issue 19

THIS IS OUR SECOND ISSUE of Christian History devoted to money. In “Money I” (Issue 14), we asked for your responses so that we could incorporate your ideas into this issue. This is the result. Reader input is reflected in the reader response section beginning on page 4; also, our feature articles deal with areas you requested. It’s our intention to give more space in all future issues to your responses, so send in your letters; though we can’t print or answer every one, we will at least read them all and consider your suggestions. We like...

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31 May 1987

Neo Conservative: The Creation of Wealth

by Brian Griffiths. | Issue 14

WE HAVE TO START AT THE BEGINNING, and in the context of Genesis the fundamental affirmation which any Christian must make is that the world in which we live is God’s world. He created it and he created us. We bear an integral relationship to the material world and it is because of this that the business of creating and using wealth is a natural activity for mankind. Life itself demands that we be continually involved in the process of wealth creation. The basic necessities for living are not provided like manna; the land has to be...

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31 May 1987

Money in Christian History: From the Publisher

by the Editors | Issue 14

CHRISTIAN HISTORY  MAGAZINE has gained a reputation for its “single-theme” coverage of personalities and groups in church history. But with the magazine you hold in your hands, we are trying something new. We are centering, not on a person or group, but on a topic—money.

Wherever we turn, we see the modern church grappling with the issue of money and how it relates to faith in Christ. It is imperative that we take the long view on this: What can we learn from the wisdom—and folly—of the church through the ages?

The more we researched this...

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31 May 1987

The Protestant Ethic of Prosperity

by Virgil Hartgerink | Issue 14

Is it a contradiction in terms for a Christian to be rich? If so, it’s a common contradiction and has been exhaustively studied ever since the Protestant Reformation. Some of the most informative research on the subject was compiled by the German sociologist, Max Weber, who studied the causal relationship of events in history. In 1904 Weber published The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. This book is his attempt to explain the causes of the seemingly diverse phenomena of capitalism and Protestantism.

Protestantism, of...

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31 Aug 1988

Money in Christian History (II): A Gallery of Good Examples Not to Follow

by Dan Runyon and the Editors | Issue 19

Simon Magus

First Century A.D.

SIMON MAGUS SET THE PRECEDENT for the misuse of money that has plagued the Church for two millennia. His practice of sorcery in Samaria was upstaged by the miracles accompanying the preaching and baptisms of Philip the Evangelist. When Peter and John arrived, they placed their hands on the new converts, and Simon witnessed the power of the Holy Spirit.

“Give me this ability! ” Simon pleaded, offering the apostles money.

“To hell with you and your money! ” is a literal rendering of Peter’s reply. The biblical...

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31 May 1987

A Gallery of Church Fathers

by Selections | Issue 14


The Didache , or “The Teaching of the Twelve,” dates back to the second century. It is thus, apart from the New Testament, one of the earliest church documents extant. It was probably composed by a scribe in Alexandria, incorporating some material from other church documents of the time.

Do not be one who holds his hand out to take, but shuts it when it comes to giving. If your labor has brought you earnings, pay a ransom for your sins. Do not hesitate to give and do not give with a bad grace, for you will discover who He is that...

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31 Aug 1988

The Urge for Poverty

by Stephen Lang | Issue 19

MOST CHRISTIANS TODAY rarely question the notion that material wellbeing is a goal worth pursuing. Particularly to those of us in the affluent West it appears peculiar that people would voluntarily choose poverty as a way of life. Here at the end of the twentieth century we find the ancient practice of asceticism a strange phenomenon; to us it often looks as much like self-torture as self-discipline.

Who were these Christians who shunned the world’s comforts in order to pursue holiness? Did they not believe—as we do—that the Christian life...

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31 May 1987

Money and the Bible

by John R. Muether | Issue 14

FOR THE CHRISTIAN, all of life falls under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. This includes money matters. The Christian life has implications for the believer’s attitude toward wealth and poverty. It is not surprising, then, that economic matters are prominent in the teachings of the Bible and the social ethics of the Christian church.

Turning to the Bible, we find a fundamental ambivalence regarding money. In some contexts, especially in the Old Testament, money is portrayed very positively. Abraham is described as “very wealthy in livestock...

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15 Feb 2013

The life and times of John Bascom

by William Kostlevy | Issue 104

FEW LIBERAL DEMOCRATS of President Obama’s first term possessed as much power and political savvy as former congressman David Obey. In the secular political world, he was the principal architect of the federal stimulus package, and he chaired the session of Congress that voted to enact the controversial health-care plan known as “Obamacare.”

Perhaps less well known in that secular political world is that Obey believed his actions were rooted not in secular political philosophy but in the religious traditions of his native Wisconsin. He...

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