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Below is the programme from 2015. We will update with information on 2016 soon!

Plenary Sessions

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.

Keynote Speech by Michael Pollitt, University of Cambridge

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'?

Economic Man: One of the bedrock assumptions we bring to our professional practice as economists is our view of people. This section will explore what formal and informal assumptions are made, and what correctives the scriptures might offer.

Workshops

We are running four two-part workshops and you will need to chose which you participate in. The workshops on "Work & Wages" and "Financial Markets" will run parallel to each other so you have to chose which of these to attend. The workshops on "Social Policy & Poverty" and "Financial Systems" will also run parallel to each other so you will have to chose which to attend.

Please chose which of the following two tracks you will join - we expect participants to remain in their chosen track for both sessions as the material in session 2 builds on that in session 1

Track 2 Financial Markets

Session 1 Biblical Principles – Risk, uncertainty, and the future - Who knows what the future holds? In modern economies we relate to and partially create our future through the financial system. While the Bible may say relatively little about finance per se, it says plenty about how we are to respond to an uncertain future, both in our heart attitude and our actions. When does trust in God become an excuse for lack of planning? When does prudent planning become prideful presumption? What is the purpose of all our planning anyway? This session will survey the biblical material and derive social principles for use in later sessions on finance.

Track 1 Work & Wages

Session 1 Biblical Principles - Work is an integral part of what it means to be human created in the image of God. In this session, we look to the Old and New Testaments to see what role work ought to take in our lives. We are particularly interested to see how scripture informs both our work and rest, the relationship between work and wages, and we as followers of God ought to respond to injustice and corruption in relation to work. We hope that participants leave this session knowing scriptural truths regarding and equipped to respond Biblically to modern day issues regarding work. 

 

Session 2 Application Today - Investment Management - How does Investment Management reflect the underlying ideological assumptions of what constitutes the “good” of the investor?  Building on the previous session distilling biblical principles on lending and borrowing, we will  review academic developments in investment theory.  Second, we will compare the history of investment restrictions and preferences across major religions in an interactive manner.  Finally, we will conclude by analysing the ramifications that beliefs have on action and both financial and non-financial returns.

Session 2 Application Today- Corruption & its Economic Consequences - The aim of this workshop is to explore a framework for biblical thinking on corruption and its economic consequences. On an individual level, we will share examples of how corruption impacts our daily lives in the various countries we come from both anecdotally. We’ll also look at the macro-level impacts corruption has in economic development on a societal level. Finally, we’ll compare this against derivative social principles derived from Scripture in terms of how we should both individually, communally and socially respond to corruption in the real world."

Please chose which of the following two tracks you will join - we expect participants to remain in their chosen track for both sessions as the material in session 2 builds on that in session 1

Track 4 Financial Systems

Session 1 Biblical Principles - Lending & Borrowing While being less common than outright purchase transactions, lending and borrowing are types of transactions that increasingly permeate society.  Examples are mortgages, credit cards, loans, car leasing, equipment hire, and securities lending: all of which can be seen as catalysts to economic growth.  Yet the Bible demonstrates contemporary relevance by giving guidance on how to use collateral, when to lend and what to do when things go wrong.  We will distill biblical thinking in terms of relevant texts, derivative social principles, and the impact on reality today as regards lending and borrowing.

Track 3 Social Policy & Poverty 

Session 1 Biblical Principles - Wealth, poverty & giving This session will provide participants with an overview of the vast biblical material on the topics of wealth, poverty and giving. We will draw on Old Testament and New Testament texts on the blessings and dangers of wealth, the causes and consequences of inequality and poverty, and the way Christ should transform our attitude to our money. Participants will be encouraged and equipped to think about difficult issues, such as how broadly the pattern of communal life exemplified by the early church in Acts and the letters should be applied.

 

Session 2 Application Today – Ancient wisdom for today's financial system 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 conclude with practical proposals for individual and collective action, within the Church and in wider society.

Session 2 Application Today - Tackling poverty in the 21st century As Jesus said, 'the poor you will always have with you' (Mark 14:7). But how should we best understand poverty in countries where extreme material deprivation is non-existent? And how is poverty best addressed in the modern world? This session will combine material on the role of national governments through social security systems and the role of local churches and individuals to a provide a comprehensive picture of a biblical approach to tackling poverty in the 21st century.

 

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