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 director of research at the Center for Religion, Culture & Democracy, an initiative of the First Liberty Institute. He has previously held research positions at the Acton Institute and Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, and has authored multiple books, including a forthcoming introduction to the public theology of Abraham Kuyper. Working with Lexham Press, he served as a general editor for the 12 volume Abraham Kuyper Collected Works in Public Theology series, and his research can be found in publications including Journal of Markets & Morality, Journal of Religion, Scottish Journal of Theology, Reformation & Renaissance Review, Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Faith & Economics, and Calvin Theological Journal. He is also associate director of the Junius Institute for Digital Reformation Research at Calvin Theological Seminary and the Henry Institute for the Study of Christianity & Politics at Calvin University.