Christian Economics One Lesson

Christian Economics in One Lesson is Dr. North's reworking of Henry Hazlitt’s classic introduction to economic thought, Economics in One Lesson. That book set the standard as an introductory economics book.

Nothing has come close to replacing it ever since it was first published in 1946.

Why is it necessary to replace a classic? There are several reasons. First and foremost, it was written in 1946. A lot has happened since then, including the publication of Ludwig von Mises’ Human Action (1949). Second, it was written under a strict deadline. Hazlitt had been given a six-week leave of absence, and he had to produce the book from start to finish. Third, he targeted a different audience: readers of his business columns. This one targets Christians. (Orthodox Jews are invited to come along for the ride.) Fourth, ethics are placed at the heart of this analysis: the deliberate breaking of the window. Hazlitt did not—not explicitly, anyway.

Christian economics must begin with the issue of ultimate ownership. This sets it apart from modern economic analysis, which begins with the issue of scarcity. Second, this leads to the issue of theft, which in turn raises the issue of ethics.

The ultimate form of causation in human history is ethical: right vs. wrong. Modern economists do not share this view. In fact, it goes beyond this. They openly reject it. They proclaim economic analysis as value-free—this is self-deception. It is a variation of an ancient temptation: “Hath God said?” Yes, He has. “Thou shalt not steal.” There are negative sanctions attached to this commandment. These negative sanctions are both inherent in the economy and imposed by God on the economy. Our attention to this principle, especially in regard to intervention by the State, determines long-term economic growth or decline. It is time for Christians to be better-equipped for paying such attention.