Jim Wallis debates Jay Richards on Christianity and economics


On this put up, I’ve the video of a debate on the subject of what Christians ought to take into consideration economics and financial insurance policies. Along with the video, I summarized the 2 opening speeches and the 2 rebuttals, for many who choose to learn moderately than watch. We’ll begin with a brief biography about every of the debaters.

The video recording:

The debaters

Jay Richards:

Jay Richards, Ph.D., is a Senior Fellow of the Discovery Institute the place he directs the Middle on Wealth, Poverty and Morality, and is a Visiting Scholar on the Institute for Religion, Work & Economics. Most just lately he’s the co-author with James Robison of the best-selling Indivisible: Restoring Religion, Household, and Freedom Earlier than It’s Too Late”.

Along with writing many educational articles, books, and in style essays on all kinds of topics, he just lately edited the brand new award profitable anthology, God & Evolution: Protestants, Catholics and Jews Discover Darwin’s Problem to Religion . His earlier guide was Cash, Greed, and God: Why Capitalism Is the Answer and Not the Drawback (HarperOne, Might 2009), for which he obtained a Templeton Enterprise Award in 2010.

[…]In recent times, he has been a Contributing Editor of The American on the American Enterprise Institute, a Visiting Fellow on the Heritage Basis, and a Analysis Fellow and Director of Acton Media on the Acton Institute. Richards has a B.A. with majors in Political Science and Faith, an M.Div. (Grasp of Divinity) and a Th.M. (Grasp of Theology), and a Ph.D. (with honors) in philosophy and theology from Princeton Theological Seminary.

Jim Wallis:

Jim Wallis (born June 4, 1948) is a Christian author and political activist. He’s finest often called the founder and editor of Sojourners journal and because the founding father of the Washington, D.C.-based Christian group of the identical identify. Wallis is well-known for his advocacy on problems with peace and social justice. […]He works as a religious advisor to President Barack Obama.

[…]In 2010, Wallis admitted to accepting cash for Sojourners from philanthropist George Soros after initially denying having executed so. […]In 2011, Wallis acknowledged that Sojourners had obtained one other $150,000.00 from Soros’ Open Society Basis.

Wallis simply got here out this month in favor of homosexual marriage. He’s additionally a powerful supporter of Barack Obama, who’s radically pro-abortion. Some pro-lifers have argued that Barack Obama has the identical views on abortion as Kermit Gosnell, as a result of Obama voted twice to permit abortions on infants who have been already born alive.

The format of the controversy

  • 20 minute opening speeches
  • 10 minute rebuttals
  • 10 minutes of debate
  • Q&A for the rest


I take advantage of italics under to indicate my very own observations.

Jim Wallis’ opening speech:

My purpose is to spark a nationwide dialog on the “widespread good”.

A narrative about my son who performs baseball.

The central purpose of Christianity is to advertise the “widespread good”.

Quotes “Catholic social educating” which values “human flourishing”.

The “widespread good” is “human flourishing”.

Is the aim of Christianity is to guarantee that everybody has sufficient materials stuff or to evangelise the gospel?

When Christians go on mission journeys, it’s good that they give attention to issues like human trafficking.

Democrat John Lewis is the “conscience of the U.S. Congress”.

John Lewis will get a 0% score from the American Conservative Union in 2012.

John Lewis will get a 8% score from the American Conservative Union in 2011.

John Lewis will get a 2.29% lifetime score from the American Conservative Union.

Nothing goes effectively in Washington proper now besides complete immigration reform.

Does he assume that Christianity means giving 20-30 million unlawful immigrants a path to citizenship, whereas expert engineers can’t even get inexperienced playing cards, regardless that there’s a scarcity of them? Does he assume that the opposite folks in society who earn greater than they obtain from the federal government should be taxed extra so as to present extra companies and advantages to those that earn lower than they take from the federal government?

Jay Richards’ opening speech:

Two matters: 1) what’s the widespread good? 2) what ought to Christians do to advertise the widespread good?

Catholicism defines the “widespread good” as “Certainly, the widespread good embraces the sum of these situations of the social life whereby males, households and associations extra adequately and readily could attain their very own perfection.”

We’ve got pure ends that we’re speculated to be reaching and a few locations, like South Korea, are higher for permitting that to occur.

The widespread good is broader and previous to any form of political specification.

It’s not the political good or what the state is meant to do.

It’s not concerning the communal good, as in Soviet Russia, the place the communal good was above particular person and familial good.

The widespread good is the social situations that promote the issues that we people have in widespread as people and members of household.

The widespread good takes account of who we’re as people and in associations with different people, e.g. – households.

Christians don’t should be doing the identical issues to advertise the widespread good, e.g. – pastors, entrepreneurs, and many others.

The church, because the church, has as its main purpose making disciples of all nations.

However even in that capability, the church ought to be keen on extra than simply conversions and saving souls.

We additionally should care about God’s created actuality together with issues like physics, training, and many others.

How ought to Christians promote the widespread good in politics?

Query: when is coercion warranted?

In Romans 13, Paul says that the state does have energy to coerce to realize sure ends, like justice.

Most Christians assume that there are some issues the place the state can use coercion, for instance, to stop/punish homicide.

It’s OK for the police to make use of coercive pressure to keep up public order and the rule of legislation.

However we have to ask whether or not different issues are legit areas for the state to make use of coercive pressure.

We must always solely give the state energy to coerce when there isn’t any different technique to obtain a purpose.

We have to leverage the science of economics so as to know how one can obtain the widespread good.

Jay Richards' main point in the debate
Jay Richards’ major level within the debate

Henry Hazlitt: “The artwork of economics consists in trying not merely on the quick however on the longer results of any act or coverage; it consists in tracing the implications of that coverage not merely for one group however for all teams.”

For instance, what occurs if we elevate the federal minimal wage to $50. What occurs subsequent for all teams? That’s what we have to ask so as to know which insurance policies obtain the widespread good.

Relating to economics plenty of issues have been tried elsewhere and occasions.

We are able to know what works and doesn’t work by learning what was tried earlier than and elsewhere.

Many issues are counter-intuitive – issues that sound good don’t work, issues that sound unhealthy do work.

Precept: “We’re our brother’s keeper”. Christians have an obligation to care for his or her neighbors.

All of us agree on the purpose. However how will we do issues that may obtain that purpose?

We’ve got to tell apart aspirations from rules and prudential judgment.

Precept: We must always present for the fabric wants of the poor.

Prudence: Seeing the world as it’s, and performing accordingly.

Instance insurance policies: which minimal wage is finest? None? $10? $20?

We determine based mostly on seeing how completely different financial insurance policies obtain the purpose of serving to the poor.

Jim Wallis’ first rebuttal:

Jesus commanded us to “look after the poor and assist to finish poverty”.

Really, Jesus thought that acknowledging him and giving him sacrificial worship was extra essential than giving cash to the poor, see Matthew 26:6-13:

Whereas Jesus was in Bethany within the dwelling of Simon the Leper, 

a girl got here to him with an alabaster jar of very costly fragrance, which she poured on his head as he was reclining on the desk.

When the disciples noticed this, they have been indignant. “Why this waste?” they requested. 

“This fragrance may have been bought at a excessive value and the cash given to the poor.”

10 Conscious of this, Jesus mentioned to them, “Why are you bothering this girl? She has executed a lovely factor to me. 

11 The poor you’ll all the time have with you, however you’ll not all the time have me. 

12 When she poured this fragrance on my physique, she did it to organize me for burial. 

13 Actually I let you know, wherever this gospel is preached all through the world, what she has executed may also be instructed, in reminiscence of her.”

It’s not clear to me whether or not Jim Wallis thinks that preaching is extra essential than redistributing wealth to handle materials inequality.

I like what Jesus mentioned in a TV collection, regardless that it’s not within the Bible when an actor enjoying Jesus mentioned to “change the world”.

Jesus by no means mentioned to “change the world” within the Bible. Ought to we be involved that he’s quoting a TV actor enjoying Jesus as a substitute of Jesus.

Here’s a terrific story about Invoice Brilliant.

I like Catholic social educating.

Quote: “All are answerable for all”.

I am going to the World Financial Discussion board at Davos, Switzerland yearly. I spoke as soon as at 7 AM on the 4th ground.

It’s a humorous place for a Christian to be in the event that they care concerning the poor – rubbing shoulders with leftist elites. He will need to have named a dozen high-profile people who he spoke with in the course of the debate, as if he may win the controversy by some form of argument from name-dropping. He talked about the Davos factor a number of occasions!

The best beneficiary of presidency actions to cope with the financial disaster was Wall Road banks.

I’m going to let you know a narrative about what a Washington lawyer says to Jesus.

I’ve had conversations with enterprise leaders the place I inform them to combine ethical truths.

I speak concerning the Good Samaritan parable.

Quote: “Do you’re keen on your undocumented neighbor?”

Quote: “Do you’re keen on your Muslim neighbor?”

Jay Richards’ first rebuttal:

Who’s answerable for your personal youngsters? Who is aware of essentially the most about them?

Dad and mom ought to have extra discretion over their youngsters as a result of they’ve extra data about their youngster and what’s finest for them.

The Good Samaritan doesn’t present that authorities ought to confiscate wealth by means of taxation and redistribute it.

The Good Samaritan emphasizes voluntarily charity to assist people who find themselves not essentially your quick neighbor.

A few of the issues we do ought to be for the great of different folks in different nations.

However then we’re again to leveraging economics to know what insurance policies are good for these different folks in different nations.

The precept of subsidiarity: if an issue could be addressed by a decrease degree of society (household) then we shouldn’t make larger ranges (authorities) deal with it.

The perfect place to maintain youngsters is throughout the household.

Provided that the household fails ought to wider and wider spheres become involved.

Though we wish to consider the widespread good in a worldwide sense, we don’t wish to lose sight of the actual fact

The monetary disaster: we have to combine ethical truths, but additionally financial truths.

We don’t wish to assume insurance policies based mostly on intuitions, we wish to test our intuitions utilizing financial rules.

Why did now we have a monetary disaster in mortgages, however not in commodities futures or expertise, and many others.?

Greed is a contributing consider all areas of enterprise.

One thing extra was occurring within the mortgage markets than simply greed.

There have been particular insurance policies that triggered the mortgage lending disaster.

The foundation reason behind the issue have been “reasonably priced housing insurance policies” that lowered lending restrictions on low earnings folks.

The coverage ended up degrading the underwriting requirements on loans.

Authorities intruded into the market and undermined the traditional methods of

Individuals have been getting huge loans with no earnings, no jobs, no belongings and no down fee.

The federal authorities created a marketplace for danger loans by guaranteeing

There was a authorities imposed quota on mortgage lenders such that 50% of their loans needed to be given to high-risk debtors.

That’s what led to the monetary disaster. Not the free market, however intrusions into the free market.

These insurance policies have been well-meaning and carried out by folks from each events. However they’d unhealthy results.


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