Economics Class Catechism

This 12th grade catechism is recited at the beginning of each class

What is Thomas Aquinas’ “Student’s Prayer”?

Come, Holy Spirit, Divine Creator, true source of light and fountain of wisdom. Pour forth your brilliance upon my dense intellect, dissipate the darkness which covers me, that of sin and of ignorance. Grant me a penetrating mind to understand, a retentive memory, method and ease in learning, the lucidity to comprehend, and abundant grace in expressing myself. Guide the beginning of my work, direct its progress, and bring it to successful completion. This I ask through Jesus Christ, true God and true man, living and reigning with You and the Father, forever and ever. Amen.

Who am I?

I am a vice-regent of the Creator entrusted to rule, tend, and cultivate the garden as a sub-creator, to bring harmony to discord, and be an agent of peace.

Who is the true student of God’s world?

The true student of God’s world is the one who bows down in worship before the Lord our Maker. (Psalm 95:6)

What is my duty toward God?

The Apostle Paul wrote, “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

Saint Augustine wrote, “As to virtue leading us to a happy life, I hold virtue to be nothing else than perfect love of God. The fourfold division of virtue is temperance is love giving itself entirely to that which is loved; fortitude is love readily bearing all things for the sake of the loved object; justice is love serving only the loved object, and therefore ruling rightly; prudence is love distinguishing with sagacity between what hinders it and what helps it.”

What is economics?

Economics is the study of the choices that individuals and societies make in the production, distribution, and consumption of goods. Economics is about the ordering of society. It assumes there is a natural order in God’s universe, that things, including humans, do indeed have a nature, and society works best when it is informed by and in tune with that order.

From where does the word “economy” come from?

From the Greek word Oikos, which means household, and from the Greek word Nomos, which means law or custom. Economics, therefore, starts with the ordering of household customs.

How does home economics connect to a nation’s economy?

A healthy economy can’t disregard the well-being of the household. Every household is responsible for managing their money responsibly and wisely by not spending more money than they have. If every household follows this principle, and every sphere of government alike, then the other elements of society will be prepared to satisfy man’s higher hunger.

What does Athanasius say about “order”?

Athanasius writes, “But if the world is founded on reason, wisdom, and science, and is filled with orderly beauty, then it must owe its origin and order to none other than the Word of God.”

What is the natural order found in economics?

Adam Smith’s “Invisible Hand Theory,” says there is a natural harmony between the self-interest of the individual seeking his own gain and the general well-being of society. By pursuing his own advantage in his production, he produces the most of what he can that is most wanted by others. In so doing he increases not only his own supply but that available to others.

What is the law of supply and demand?

If the demand for some good or service increases and the supply remains the same, the price will rise. If the demand remains the same and the supply increases, the price will decline.

Why does the law of supply and demand work that way?

Because for human beings, the higher the cost of a particular choice, the less of it will be chosen, and the lower the cost, the more of it will be chosen.

What is Adam Smith’s theory of division of labor?

Maximum efficiency happens when work is separated into individualized tasks and completed by those whose gifts are suitable for the task. This involves specialization, which focuses work on the particular operation one is gifted for.

How do we create a culture of flourishing and happiness?

God gives man the gift of life in a garden and in so doing he has entrusted man with the responsibility of preserving and cultivating that garden.

This is man, that we apply our faculties to the Nature of Things and earn our success by producing that which helps our neighbor.

This is happiness, that we earn our success through the enabling grace of God. We earn our success when we create value for ourselves and others.

A just economic system, therefore, will treat people fairly insofar as they are keeping the rewards of hard work and innovation, insofar that they are being penalized when they choose not to work, insofar that they feel that their skills are matching their passions, and insofar as entrepreneurship and hard work are celebrated.

It is the process of being free to earn success through hard work that makes for the happiest people. Socialism doesn’t incentivize this idea. Therefore, socialism doesn’t make for the happiest people.

Why does an economy based on compulsory redistribution cause unhappiness?

When the government takes things away from people who earn them and give them to people who didn’t, both sides learn helplessness, which is a morally depressing way to treat humanity. Both groups become passive and give up. When redistribution makes people dependent then redistribution is not loving.

What is the relationship between economics and morality?

Since an economy is the fruit of many decisions, its well-being depends on the wisdom and virtue of those people making economic decisions.

Jason Cherry is an elder at Trinity Reformed Church in Huntsville, Alabama, as well as a teacher and lecturer of literature, history, and economics at Providence Classical School in Huntsville. He graduated from Reformed Theological Seminary with an MA in Religion and is the author of the book The Culture of Conversionism and the History of the Altar Call and the forthcoming book The Making of Evangelical Spirituality (Wipf and Stock).