Concluding a Magnum Opus

So, North ends his lifelong work, christening his Christian school of economics as “covenantalist” rather than “Northian” or “Northist.”

A wise man that, working for the long haul of expanding Christ’s Kingdom and grounding his work in the promises – and demands – of the covenant God made with us. In contrast to, say, some Marxist or Keynes day in the sun… and an eternity of ridicule.

You [the serious scholar of Christian economics – AP] will spend the remainder of your calling challenging the most entrenched, self-confident practitioners of what is known as social science: economists. Their degree of arrogance regarding the reliability of their presuppositions, their logic, and their methodology exceeds that of practitioners in any other social science. They are not noted for their humility. Yet they are not good as economic forecasters. Their confidence is in their conceptual apparatus, not their actual performance.

The Conclusion of Christian Economics: Scholar’s Edition by Gary North

Mathematical incantations for the easy-to-intimidate marks, obscuring the poor connections to reality that Keynesian Economics operates with.

I hope that by now you have an understanding of the epistemological sand on which modern humanism rests: the irreconcilable dualism of Kant’s deterministic phenomenal realm of science vs. his noumenal realm of indeterminism, devoid of predictability and reason. In the field of social science, the contrast between the self-confidence of the economists and the shaky foundation on which they have constructed their seemingly scientific edifice should be apparent to you by now. That is why I wrote Part 1 of this volume. I want to give you confidence in the face of what appears to be a scientifically validated intellectual construct. It is no more secure than the epistemology undergirding the science which supposedly validates it. Humanistic economic theory and modern science are like a pair of drunks who are holding up each other as they stagger home after an evening of self-congratulatory toasting.

My critique goes beyond a critical examination of Kantian presuppositions and their applications in economic science. The economist’s problem is not merely intellectual. He faces the personal problem of the meaninglessness of his work, a problem that all humanists face….

The Conclusion of Christian Economics: Scholar’s Edition by Gary North

When empires fall, they die at the heart first, in the spirit.

The physical, historically recorded fall happens later. Partly due to their increase failure to connect to reality, but perhaps given some solid shoves by the enemies of the empire.

C. Your Calling

What about you? If you are a Christian, there are people around you who will recommend something comparable to what Weber recommended to those young men. They will recommend pietistic withdrawal from the intellectual world. They will recommend personal ethics, a strong family life, and perhaps even ways of making a lot of money. I am offering you something very different. I am offering you a calling. The calling I am offering may not be the one for which you are best equipped. But you had better find some calling.

We do not live in Weber’s imaginary Kantian/Darwinian world. Our work will not be overcome by scientific progress if it is committed to the Bible. It will be extended. Parts of it will be made obsolete. That is the price of progress. It is a small price to pay. The Bible teaches that there is linear history, and there is also historical progress. It will culminate in the final judgment, followed by the marriage supper of the Lamb. Then the accumulated capital of covenant-breakers and covenant-keepers will be transferred by God the Father to the bride of Christ. Christ will have paid this bride price: definitively at the cross, progressively in history, and finally. The positive results of your efforts in history will be part of that bride price. This inheritance will be transferred to you with a positive rate of return interest at the marriage supper of the Lamb.

I offer a warning. It is the warning that F. A. Hayek gave to a group of undergraduate economics majors in 1944. His address, “On Being an Economist,” is reprinted in Volume III of his Collected Works. He said this: “We can never be sure what our suggestions will produce and whether our best meant efforts may not result in something very different from what we wish.” This is the law of unintended consequences at work. I therefore recommend this strategy: be precise in what you write. Spell things out, even to the point of sounding needlessly obvious. Provide examples to clarify grandiose statements. Finally, specify what you are not saying. Close off avenues of misinterpretation.

The Conclusion of Christian Economics: Scholar’s Edition by Gary North

Good advice for all Christians working in the world of ideas. Even fiction writers!

This is most applicable to people who are supposed to be trustworthy, like scholars and doctors, fathers and pastors, businessmen and bartenders, forensic scientists and accountants.

Even lawyers, politicians, and media mavens!

Count the cost. If you then decide to become a Christian economics scholar as a calling, I offer this strategy. Correct my errors, extend my breakthroughs, write several monographs, produce videos, recruit and train followers, and do not become sidetracked. It is easy to become sidetracked, especially by money. Also, if someone asks you what kind of economist you are, never say “Northian.” “Northist” is even worse. Say that you are a covenantalist.

Now, find your calling and get to work.

The Conclusion of Christian Economics: Scholar’s Edition by Gary North

Amen, and amen.

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