Berendt-F&E42 - 40 FAITH & ECONOMICS Faith &...

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2 T U SING G ENESIS TO T EACH R ELIGIOUS A SPECTS OF E CONOMICS EMIL B. BERENDT* Faith & Economics— Number 42—Fall 2003—Pages 40–46. © Association of Christian Economists Emil B. Berendt is Assistant Professor of Economics, Friends University (KS). his paper explores some of the pedagogical aspects of introducing the Christian perspective into an econom- ics curriculum. It suggests a format for seamlessly bringing together religion and economic thought into the introductory economics classroom. Three narra- tives from the Book of Genesis can provide a rigorous superstructure for evaluating many different topics covered in the traditional economics curricula. Among such topics are the assumptions of the neoclassical model, the distinction between normative and positive economics, production possibilities, poverty, the living wage, popula- tion issues, labor economics, private property rights, and the foundations of the capitalist economic system. This approach is ecumenical as it draws upon statements from a wide variety of denominations. For example, the American Baptist, Evangelical Lutheran, Roman Catholic, Seventh Day Adventist, and United Methodist Churches have issued documents linking the Genesis accounts of creation with contemporary ecological and economic is- sues. 1 In addition, relevant aspects of the postdiluvian covenant 2 and Pauline Christology 3 are discussed. Using the readings from Genesis as a foundation provides a framework that students can easily remember and under- stand. Background to the Methodology This paper outlines a methodology (“the Genesis ap- proach”) used at Friends University to integrate Christian thought with the introductory economics curriculum. Friends University is a nondenominational Christian university in Wichita, Kansas. As its name implies, it was affiliated with the Society of Friends (Quakers) but became independent in the 1930s. It is in the spirit of the University’s Christian mission that the Genesis approach to economic instruction has been developed. The overall goal is to stimulate critical thinking about economics and economic issues within a Christian framework. There were several specific objectives in mind when the curriculum was being developed. The first is that the assigned readings be intelligible to a wide diversity of students. The students at Friends University come from different religious backgrounds and possess various levels of familiarity with the Bible. Approximately 25 percent of the students identify themselves as Catholic, 18 percent Baptist, 10 percent Methodist, 6 percent Lutheran, and 3 percent Episcopalians. About 15 percent report that they do not practice any religion at all and a very small minority practices a non-Christian faith.
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This note was uploaded on 02/29/2012 for the course ECON 202 taught by Professor Johnzietlow during the Spring '12 term at Malone University.

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Berendt-F&E42 - 40 FAITH & ECONOMICS Faith &...

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