21ST - 23RD OCTOBER 2016 // WOLTERSDORF, BERLIN
Biblical Interpretation for Economists - This introductory session will provide an overview of the conference, presenting the thinking and motivation behind it. Starting off with our own vision of why we think the Bible matters for the economy, we will briefly discuss the diversity of views that exists among Christians in this respect. In this context, we will also help participants think reflectively about their own cultural and denominational background and how that might influence their view on the matter. Moreover, we will give an introduction into the methodology and tools of Biblical interpretation on how to apply Biblical wisdom to the modern economy.
The World of Second Best - This 'wrap-up' session will take stock of what has been discussed during the conference and reflect on what can be done with the knowledge and insights gained. Deeply aware of sin and limitations, we will discuss what an ideal economic system can look like under these circumstances. The guiding questions will be: how can we help mitigate human suffering and promote a healthy vision of an economy in the service of human flourishing and the common good? How can we do so without succumbing to utopias and idolatry? How do we go about constructing such an economy in this 'world of second best'?
An Economy of Relationships - The bible reveals that humans are fundamentally relational beings, made in the image of the trinitarian God who is intrinsically relational. Right relationships are central to the biblical ethic of shalom, and the commandment to love the Lord and love your neighbour as yourself. This contrasts with the methodological individualism that underpins most modern economic theory, in which relationships are either absent or merely instrumental. This session will argue for a relational reframing of the economy and financial system, which focuses attention on issues, problems, and potential mitigants that are too often overlooked.
Following the first Biblenomics conference in 2015 we evaluated the conference based on feedback. The main insight arising out of this exercise was the recognition that participants wished to see more specialised workshops with plenty of time to discuss matters in depth.
Therefore, Biblenomics 2016 will feature five tracks which will provide ample time to reflect on the issues from a biblical perspective. We will also increase the amount and intensity of interactivity among participants.
Track 1: Banking and Finance
There was little financial system to speak of in biblical times, so what can the bible say to today's bewildering array of institutions and instruments? This session reframes today's financial system in terms of its functions and purposes, to show that it is central to the way we relate to one another, our collective future, and the natural world. Viewed this way, biblical ethics has a great deal to say about our financial system, both positive and negative. We will conclude by exploring practical proposals for individual and collective action, within the Church and in wider society.
Track 2: Economic Policy
Does the Bible provide any guidance in terms of economic policy? What role is foreseen for the governing authorities in the economy? Does it look more like a market economy, or may it even resemble socialism. The first part of this track looks at biblical wisdom for economic policy in quite some detail. In the second part we will explore a broad variety of policy oriented economic policy questions, ranging from global issues, EU policies to national and local policy choices. The focus will be macroeconomic, with an appropriate input from political economy and behavioural economics insights. Ethical considerations will play a central role in the evaluation of policies.
Track 3: Economic Research
The focus of this stream will be on how the Christian faith shapes our approach to economics as an academic discipline. We will explore the apparent tension between the biblical view of the person and the standard models used for economic analysis in academic departments and research institutes, drawing on insights from behavioural economics. We will also consider the implications of the Christian faith for how researchers should seek to use their findings to influence policy.
Track 4: Business Economics
How should Christians behave in business? What would a biblically-based Christian ethic for business look like, and how is this distinctive from the ethics found in today's business and markets? We will explore these questions through group discussion of real-life business situations, as well as how to respond in the face of corruption. This track comprises four segments:
- Culture, business and the Bible
- Business ethics: God's purpose for business in a fallen world and an ethical decision-making model
- Case studies based on business ethics: Application to relational issues (a framework and practical case studies)
- Corruption and its economic consequences
Track 5: Entrepreneurship
We are proud to have distinguished entrepreneurs among us who will be leading the ideas and practical advice and insights offered in this track. There will be a practical focus most suitable for young professionals and students desiring to become entrepreneurs who follow Jesus' leadership principles in their businesses. (Details of this track TBC).