Reviewed by Darold Morgan
Bulls, Bears and Golden Calves: Applying Christian Ethics in Economics
John E. Stapleford, InterVarsity Press, 2002.
Don't let this colorful title confuse you! Here is a well-written, excellently researched book which vividly reminds the ethically-minded Christian that it is past time to consider one of today's major ethical arenas.
Consider that there are three billion people in the world who live on $2 a day or less. Consider the incredible wealth and lifestyle of America's superrich. Consider the horrific examples of greed and lawlessness in some of America's corporate boardrooms. Consider the staggering growth of legalized gambling in our country. Consider the expansion of pornography, particularly its impact on America's younger generations. Consider the impending global crisis in environmental issues.
Then ask the question, "Where do we find the insight to confront these issues?" All serious-minded Christians constantly need refresher courses for rethinking these ever-present problems, which carry overtones of modern relativism.
Stapleford is the Professor of Economic Development at Eastern College (PA). The book is written primarily as a text for a course he teaches. Nevertheless, this is a book appropriate for study by all Christians. The author writes from a refreshing Christian perspective, and he writes in a style easy to read.
This text is grounded solidly in biblical principles. A number of the problems he discusses are not specifically addressed in the Bible, but one of the author's strengths is to develop a Christian rationale for contemporary issues, based on biblical principles. An example of this skill is found in his forceful chapter on "False Hope . . . The Boom in Legalized Gambling."
Each chapter begins with a helpful synopsis. Ethical issues are thoroughly interpreted through biblical understandings, which are logically and theologically sound. Nowhere in the book does the reader sense a legalistic attitude or a fundamentalist bias.
One of the results of reading this text is the awareness of complexity and enormity of these ethical issues. But there is also a dominant conviction that Christian values provide the best resource for achieving a solution to these ethical dilemmas.
Too many universities and seminaries are minimizing the importance of Christian ethics in modern life. A college text on economic ethics written from a Christian perspective is encouraging. To apply biblical values to contemporary economic life is not easy. Nevertheless, the author reminds all that the biblical values are relevant and discernable. And they are foundational for a good life in society.
Thus, modern Christians simply must face economic ethical issues. They will not go away. And with each day, they become more complex and volatile.
Certainly no one book on this subject will suffice. Yet here is a volume that is excellently written, cleverly titled, interestingly outlined, and quite obviously practical. Marked by a genuine compassion for those who suffer from economic disadvantage and injustice, John Stapleford offers a guide for those seeking to formulate a truly Christian world-view.