Category: News and Events


Lester DeKoster (1915 – 2009) | Acton Institute

Overproduction, simply put, is supply in excess of demand. It is the production of more goods and services than those in the market would like to purchase. Overproduction, in a well functioning market economy, should be temporary. In a dynamic market driven by entrepreneurs, resources become allocated towards their most highly valued uses. If some clever entrepreneur makes a million shoes, but only sells two pairs, he will be unlikely to overproduce in the future. This is good, because the overproduction signals to the entrepreneur that there are better ways to use the limited resources that he has.

Multiply this process over an entire economy, and one can see the temporary nature of overproduction, and its undesirability given scarce resources.

Stewardship, according to Kent Wilson, is “the faithful and efficient management of property or resources belonging to another in order to achieve the owner’s objectives.”

In this context, human beings are the stewards of Earth’s resources, which ultimately belong to God.  Using resources wisely, in a way that contributes to human flourishing, is a key concept of Christian stewardship. Overproduction, then, is not “faithful and efficient” management, as it allocates scarce resources to less highly valued ends. (more…)

A beautiful day in Grand Rapids, Michigan. | Photo by Steven Depolo, Flickr

Growing up impoverished in the Grand Rapids area himself, Justin Beene brings a unique perspective to his lecture on Community and Economic Development. He has seen first-hand the good intentions behind top-down investing to eliminate poverty and racial injustice, and the consequential damage wreaked upon such communities. Urban cities have largely been developed through three forces: gentrification, pouring resources into them, and community development. Beene asserts that we need to cut off top-down funding and start supporting neighborhoods in solving their own problems. We must do things with its citizens, not for them or to them. Instead of enacting additional programming or conducting further needs assessments, we need to eliminate the “broken vending machine” that is development today, and break the cycle of toxic charity that runs rampant in creating gratitude, anticipation, expectation, entitlement, and dependency among the poor. (more…)

We have plenty to celebrate this 4th of July.

We have plenty to celebrate this 4th of July.

Between the outrageous actions of legislators, controversial supreme court decisions and the upcoming presidential election, every day the news is bombarded with stories and opinions that do not coincide with biblical convictions. This seems to leave many Christians in the United States despairing, disillusioned and detached. While they certainly have legitimate troubles, I’m concerned when I see my fellow Americans retreating from interest in the public sphere because they are so bothered by “the way this country is headed.”

Regardless of the perceived state of politics, there is much to celebrate this Fourth of July. This celebration must not only be nostalgic remembrance of the past, but also hopeful vision for the future. God does not call his followers to detachment. Without the proper amount of patriotism, these distraught individuals may be missing out on the restoration happening in their community, nation and world.

Nothing can alter the fact that the Constitution of the United States finds its origin in the Christian view of the Individual. In fact the whole of the classical liberal tradition can be traced back to transformation of thought that Jesus and his followers began. This essentially Christian spirit of individual liberty and dignity that the founders wove into the fabric of our nation is far from dead.   (more…)


Fourth of July Celebration in Centre Square, Philadelphia (1819)

“Liberty is not the power of doing what we like, but the right to do what we ought.” – Lord Acton

Today, people across the United States will march in parades, set off fireworks, and don red, white, and blue to huge family cookouts, all in celebration of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. In the years since those first Americans pledged their loyalty to the philosophy of natural rights and the equality of all men, the document has remained a national symbol of pride and freedom.  However, in the years since the founding of the country and the later drafting of the Constitution, the true intentions of the Founders and the spirit of their work has become intermittently lost and misunderstood.

Among the most common and consequential misunderstandings is the idea that the Founders were worshipers of rights for their own sake, radical individualists with the goal only to secure those liberties to which humans believe, through reason or instinct, they are entitled. In truth, even among libertarian heroes like John Locke or Founder Thomas Jefferson, the spirit of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were not in pursuit of license.  In fact, many of those who formed and secured the natural rights tradition of the American Founding outright rejected the idea that rights exist for their own sake, without a higher purpose or end.  Our freedoms were thought to exist and were secured for much more than a pleasure-guided exercise of free will. (more…)

Luis Hernandez traveled to Acton University from Mexico City, where he works as a pastoral coordinator for Anáhuac Sur University. He is responsible for managing projects and spiritual activities to help both the university students and the surrounding community. He also holds a degree in Industrial Engineering, and frequently travels throughout Mexico helping communities build churches. He was excited to attend Acton University to learn about “ways that communities can take control of their own development.” (more…)

Pinheiro (3)

Pinheiro lectures at Acton University.

In an Acton University lecture titled “Religious Freedom: The Dawn of the First Amendment,” John Pinheiro sought to give a fuller understanding of the meaning of the First Amendment through its historical context. Contrary to a current widespread belief, religious freedom has not always been valued in the United States and has been almost constantly threatened, even after the ratification of the Constitution.  Pinheiro described the Founders’ fight for religious liberty as both radical and counter-cultural because of the religious conflict and disdain for true religious freedom that existed throughout the history of the United States and continues today.

The historical context of the First Amendment starts with the history of the colonies and the political thought of the time period.  Many of the colonists came to North America seeking freedom from religious persecution and state established churches, most notably the Puritans leaving to escape the Church of England.

At the same time, Enlightenment thinking was developing and gaining acceptance.  The emergence of a belief that religion is opposed to reason and something that humanity will, and should, outgrow meant that it was less consequential which religion people practiced. Toleration of other religions, in that way grew out of a belief that none of them held the final truth, so none was above the other. (more…)

Blog author: TGroenendal
Thursday, June 30, 2016


Abraham Kuyper (1837 – 1920) | Wikimedia Commons

The benefits of free trade are vast, and enjoyed throughout the world.  The alternative — trade restricted by protective tariffs and quotas — concentrates benefits to a protected few who profit due to less competition from foreign competitors.

The morality of free trade is clear. Individuals can choose what they buy from where, linking the world through a network of exchange. Integration through trade and exchange is a major factor lifting people out of poverty. The more and freer the trade, the better for human flourishing. Despite this, there is a growing protectionist movement in the United States political landscape.

In Abraham Kuyper’s book Antirevolutionaire Staatkunde (or Anti-Revolutionary Politics), he discusses his political support of tariff increases in the Netherlands. One of Kuyper’s arguments in defense of tariffs is a moral argument, which stems from concerns over unemployment. He writes:

Excessive enthusiasm for Free Trade and for free movement of population can deprive men of work who would otherwise have it in abundance. Free Trade can have as a consequence that many items are fabricated abroad so that there is no work to be done here. This can be observed in its simplest form in the case of lumber. If unsawed logs are imported, then the wages of sawing can be earned here. If, however, lumber arrives sawed, then the wages for sawing are lost here. (more…)