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The Role of the Holy Spirit in Economics

In Christian belief and theology, the Holy Spirit is the Person of the Godhead who indwells believers, growing fruit of holiness in them to make them like, and mature in, Christ, who imparts gifts to people so that they can achieve much in the believing community (the church), who brings glory to Christ, who deeply intercedes for us, who comforts believers, and who teaches us, who occasionally brings to the mind of the believer something that Jesus said or did when it is relevant, especially giving us the right words or ideas when we are "up before the authorities". These can seem all very individual. Whereas many Christian denominations had theorized the Holy Spirit into various narrow compartments, the Pentecostal and Holiness movements were more open-minded and hence discovered a lot about the workings of the Holy Spirit.

But does the Holy Spirit have anything to contribute to economics, and the way we, and all humanity, practise it? Of course, we might expect that those who let the Holy Spirit have sway in their lives are likely to be people of integrity, honesty and generosity in their economic activity, rather than self-serving, deceitful and mean. But is that all? I believe there is more.

You see, I believe that economics is one of the possibilities that God designed into the very fabric of Creation, to bring some real Good, as human beings care for the rest of Creation. Economics is not evil, nor it is just something that humans have evolved. Rather, it is part of God's plan for Creation to develop, led by humans in a way that proves "very good", as God pronounced the whole Creation together to be, before the Fall.

Years ago, I was invited to a consultation on "The Christian Attitude to Nature", to which various worthies contributed. At night I was praying. I prayed something like, "Father God, I know that You created and own nature and therefore we should look after it. Jesus, I know that Your resurrection applies to nature as well as humans. [I had recently understood Romans 8, Colossians 1, Ephesians 1.] But, Holy Spirit, where do You fit in? If nature really is important to You, I would expect all three of You to be involved." Immediately, into my mind came Galatians 5:22-23, "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." In a flash of thought, I realised several things together.

(You can read about this in my Spiritual Journey.)

If that is so for our environmental responsibility, why not economics?

Many people - secular and religious, economists and non-economists - recognise that economics is a major contributor to much damage. "Love of money" is a major reason for environmental degradation, climate change, obesity and other health problems, addictions, mental stress and ilness, wars, injustice, and much crime. One problem is that since Adam Smith, many have presupposed greed and self-interest as OK in economic activity like buying, selling, saving and spending. Another is that economic growth, pursued and promised by politicians, is a major cause of those. Even economic theories and legislation are part of the problem, having been formulated in such a way as to encourage rather than discourage all this. As Jesus warned, "You cannot serve God and Mammon" - where Mammon is the system of thought that makes money the measure of all things, the most fundamental element in individual and national life.

Even secular thinkers recognise that we need a change of "culture" in economics. It is little use changing a bit of legislation here or a few theories there; we need a change of what the Bible calls "heart", and a Christian-inspired rethink of economics calls "mindset and attitude".

We - economists, politicians, business people, media pundits, and many more - have known this for decades. We still find ourselves trapped in the same attitudes today. But we seem powerless to change. Because, as God's special people were (and are): we stubbornly resist heart change. As the Jewish Scriptures record, human beings, even those with the privilege of knowing God, keep turning to evil and away from God. The only solution is not human effort nor even good laws (though they help) but for God to save us and change us inside.

This is where I see the Holy Spirit contributing to economics - both its theories and its practice. If the Holy Spirit changes the heart attitudes of a wide range of people - all kinds of people in society, both politicians and public, both rich and poor, both economists, business people, media pundits, academics, and ordinary people. Jesus told us that from the heart come all kinds of evil deeds, words, thoughts. Paul tells us to be transformed by a change in our noos (way of seeing things, worldviews, mindset). If we let the Holy Spirit change our hearts radically (i.e. the roots upwards) then our behaviour and thinking will change. Then we will practise economics in a better way and change its theories. And the Holy Spirit will empower us with gifts to confirm this with "signs following". As happened in various revivals when society was changed.

Then economics will function more as God intended it to in the first place, bringing blessing and no longer curse in the world. That is the role of the Holy Spirit.


See Also

If you are interested in taking this further, see:

This page, URL= "", is part of the on-going work in developing a 'New View' in theology and practice that is appropriate to the days that are coming upon us. Comments, queries welcome by emailing

Compiled by Andrew Basden as part of his reflections from a Christian perspective. Copyright (c) Andrew Basden to latest date below, but you may use this material for almost any purpose, but subject to certain conditions.

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Created: 16 June 2024 Last updated: