Economics and Theology After the Separation

24 Pages Posted: 31 Oct 2011

See all articles by Ross B. Emmett

Ross B. Emmett

Arizona State University (ASU) - Center for the Study of Economic Liberty; PERC - Property and Environment Research Center

Date Written: September 20, 2011


Once economics came to be understood as the scientific investigation of the operation of markets, economic theorists pushed ethical and metaphysical concerns outside their realm of study. After the separation, the claims of Christian theology had no more jurisdiction over the discipline of economics than they did over other scientific disciplines. On one side, you had the empirical investigations of systems and processes, with their attendant scientific explanations; on the other, the interpretation of meaning and moral value, with their attendant theological explanations. For the past two hundred years, the scientific and the theological have, for the most part, been understood to be separable realms. That separation has often been understood as part of secularization, yet, economics and theology have often intersected since the separation. In some cases, these intersections have been directly connected to developments in economic analysis; in others, they have strengthened the different modes by which the two fields understand their contributions to human flourishing. We will conclude with a restatement of the apparent modes of contribution, and a reconsideration of the connection between the separation and secularization.

Keywords: Economics, Theology, Economics and Theology, Economics and Religion, Whately, Wicksteed, Knight, Ely, Social Gospel

JEL Classification: A12, A13, B12, B13, B15, B20, B31, B41

Suggested Citation

Emmett, Ross B., Economics and Theology After the Separation (September 20, 2011). Available at SSRN: or

Ross B. Emmett (Contact Author)

Arizona State University (ASU) - Center for the Study of Economic Liberty ( email )

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PERC - Property and Environment Research Center

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