Gary North’s Christian Economics: The Ethics of Destruction

philosophy, Originally Published on The Libertarian Christian Institute, theology

In my last article, I introduced Gary North and his book, Christian Economics in One Lesson. This book is a spin-off of Henry Hazlitt’s Economics in One Lesson. North is a Christian Reconstructionist adherent of the Austrian School who believes that most economic theory is lacking by viewing economics as a value-free science. To be ‘value-free’ means leaving the ethics of economic ideas to ethicists. There might be a myriad of reasons for this line of thinking, the most obvious of which is the lack of ethical consensus which makes ethical application in economics cumbersome. Still, North believes we’re missing an opportunity by not discussing it. The heart of economics, he contends, is Christian ethics.

Hazlitt on Economic Fallacies

Hazlitt uses the idea of scarcity to teach his ‘one’ economics lesson. He applies scarcity to twenty-four different scenarios to demonstrate two major economic fallacies. First, most economists ignore things that are unfavorable to their point of view. Second, they overlook secondary consequences. Hazlitt employs Frédéric Bastiat’s broken window analogy to illustrate. But what do these things mean to average people? How can we use them to quickly identify bad economic ideas?

North believes Austrian economists make a strategic mistake in asserting that economics is value-free. The average person cannot easily identify economic fallacies. Instead, public discourse on economics is often reduced to parroting catchy slogans which promote dangerous economic policies. To make economics clear for the average person, North uses the 8th Commandment. Thus North’s Christian economics lesson is simply, “Thou shalt not steal.”

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Kerry Baldwin

independent researcher, author

B.A. Philosophy, Arizona State University. My writing focuses on libertarian philosophy and reformed theology and aimed at the educated layperson. I am a confessionally Reformed Christian orthodox Presbyterian in the tradition of J. Gresham Machen (1881 – 1937)