Your pastor's economics

I love Mark Horne. Great pastor. Great theologian. I like him so much that I not only read his blog but sank $10 into his recent Why Baptize Babies? It’s going to help with all those annoying baptists in my life (not Ian though … nice chap).

However, my admiration of Horne stops when it comes to economics. Listen to this:

I have no doubt that President elect Obama means well.  But he doesn’t understand economics.  No one in power does.  Keynsianism was developed to justify the use of power at the expense of the public good, providing a rationalization for saying it was good for the public.  As long as its lies are believed, politicians will continue to consume us and their own children.  So that’s what we’re stuck with. We’d probably get a substantially identical position from McCain.  The only thing that makes Obama worse is that he may have the power to change the status quo if he could see the need to do so.

Really? No one in power understands economics? What about these guys? Huge names. An economic dream team so to speak. Furman, Summers, Galbraith, Volcker. You put these boys on an economics fantasy team and you’d kick ass. For pete’s sake, even Warren Buffett agrees with Obama’s ideas. And let me tell you, I’ll pick the oracle from Omaha over a chap with an M.Div any day of the week.

In Christian communities pastors are invested with a type of moral authority that no other vocation has. When respected pastors speak in believing communities, people listen. This is a good thing. It’s also a dangerous thing. I don’t mind when pastors talk about the Heidelberg catechism or Colossians 3, but when they start to wax poetic about economics, my skin starts to crawl. This is especially dangerous in Reformed churches that rumble on about Kuyper and Christ being Lord of all facets of life, even economics. That’s great. I agree with that. But I don’t want my M.Div trained pastor telling me how Christ is Lord over economics. How the hell does he know? Does he even know what a CDO is? (And Wikipedia’ing CDO doesn’t count).

Pastors. Be careful. People listen to what you say even when you may not know what you’re talking about.

Sometimes I wonder what a professional economist would think if they heard some of the recommendations pastors gave to people wanting to know more about economics. Henry Hazlitt’s Economics In One Lesson. Frederic Bastiat’s The Law. And heaven forbid, R.C. Sproul Jr.’s Biblical Economics. It must be the equivalent of what theologians think when a Christian economist is asked about good Christian books and he recommends Frank Peretti and Joyce Meyer.

I know the counter example to all this is Gary North. He’s got a Ph.D in economics. But he’s batshit crazy.