Acton Institute Powerblog

Adam Smith and the morality of commercial society

Over at Arc Digital today I take a look at Adam Smith’s moral teachings, particularly in light of commercial society and Christian theology. This essay serves as a brief introduction to one of the Moral Markets projects I am working on, as well as a teaser for further exploration of the relationship between Christianity and classical political economy.

As A.M.C. Waterman describes the developments following the publication of Smith’s Wealth of Nations (WN), “Whether Smith actually intended WN to be read theologically, the next two generations of Christian political economists from Malthus to Whately regarded Smith’s work as fully compatible with Christian belief.”

Also recommended for further reading: Paul Heyne, “Clerical Laissez-Faire: A Case Study in Theological Ethics.”

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.