Anti-Capitalist Christian College Professors Who Know Nothing About Economics

Professors of liberal arts courses other than economics at obscure little Christian colleges — virtually all Christian colleges are obscure and little — are generally opposed to the free market.

They got their Ph.D. degrees way back when, and all they really remember about economics is what they learned in a sociology course. That course satisfied the social science requirement for the B.A. They might have taken a course in economics, but they took one look at the textbook, and they could not figure it out. It looked complicated. So, they took a sociology course instead. It qualified for the three-semester credit hours that they had to have a as social science. Or maybe they took three units in a government class. But that was about it.

Basic fact: they did not take a course in economics.

They now teach literature. Or maybe they teach philosophy. They have strong opinions about the free market. They don’t like it. They read The Washington Post, The New York Times, and The Huffington Post. So do all of their friends, all of whom are seeking tenure but have not yet received it. Their friends don’t like the free market, either.

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They think they understand economics because of that sociology course way back when. But they cannot follow an economic argument. They have no intention of following an economic argument. They have never read a free market economics book. They have no intention of reading a free market economics book. The important thing is this: they love Jesus, and they love the editorials in The New York Times. That combination, they firmly believe, gives them the right to have unimpeachable opinions about the free market economy. They teach these views to the English major students.

I have been dealing with these people for approximately 60 years. They never change. Their opinions never change. Their inability to follow an economic argument never changes. Their complete ignorance of the corpus of economic thought never changes. They have strong opinions, and they are not going to listen to economic arguments. They know all about economic arguments. “It’s just a bunch of self-interested pro-business claptrap.” They read this in The New York Times.

Some of these critics of capitalism are Protestant evangelicals. Maybe they read Ron Sider’s first edition of Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger: A Biblical Study (1977), co-published by Protestant evangelical Inter-Varsity Press and the Roman Catholic Paulist Press. They never heard about his retractions 20 years later in the fourth edition. They never read David Chilton’s comprehensive refutation, beginning in 1981, three editions in a row: Productive Christians in an Age of Guilt Manipulators: A Biblical Response to Ronald J. Sider. I have posted the final edition here. Sider tried in two successive editions to evade Chilton’s arguments, but prudently never mentioning Chilton by name. Then, in his 1997 edition, the year Chilton died, Sider backed off from his radical anti-market position, and he even adopted several of Chilton’s suggestions, but still never mentioning Chilton by name. Sider then disappeared. I have surveyed Sider’s strategic reversal here: “The Economic Re-Education of Ronald J. Sider.”

Other critics are Roman Catholics. They usually invoke some version of distributivism, the poorly named, never explained economic wail of despair offered by G. K. Chesterton. Chesterton defended it as follows in his little read book, The Outline of Sanity (1926).

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