Acton Institute Powerblog

Sheep and Property Rights

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Regarding biblical economics at St. Maximos’ Hut, Andy Morriss writes on John 10:9-16: “Shepherds care for their flocks because their flocks belong to them; hirelings will not sacrifice for their flocks because the flocks do not belong to them. What better illustration of the value of property rights in encouraging stewardship could there be?”

Jordan J. Ballor Jordan J. Ballor (Dr. theol., University of Zurich; Ph.D., Calvin Theological Seminary) is a senior research fellow and director of publishing at the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion & Liberty. He is also a postdoctoral researcher in theology and economics at the VU University Amsterdam as part of the "What Good Markets Are Good For" project. He is author of Get Your Hands Dirty: Essays on Christian Social Thought (and Action) (Wipf & Stock, 2013), Covenant, Causality, and Law: A Study in the Theology of Wolfgang Musculus (Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2012) and Ecumenical Babel: Confusing Economic Ideology and the Church's Social Witness (Christian's Library Press, 2010), as well as editor of numerous works, including Abraham Kuyper Collected Works in Public Theology. Jordan is also associate director of the Junius Institute for Digital Reformation Research at Calvin Theological Seminary.


  • Roger McKinney

    Excellent thought! My own research into the origins of capitalism point to the Dutch Republic in the late 16th century. The Dutch decided to take the Bible seriously regarding the prohibitions of theft. No other country in history, except possibly Israel, had ever done that. Rome came close. But really protecting private property made the Dutch Republic incredibly rich and powerful. The irony is that the Dutch were implementing the teachings of the Catholic scholars of the school of Salamanca in Spain. The French physiocrats and eventually Adam Smith, learned most of what they wrote from the Dutch. Free markets are nothing more than the implementation of property rights, for without free markets, property rights are just an airy idea. As Mr. Morriss shows, the Bible is full of free market teachings.