In medieval Europe merchants would often write Deus enim et proficuum (“For God and Profit”) in the upper corners of their accounting ledgers or A nome di Dio e guadangnio (“In the Name of God and Profit”) on partnership contracts. These words reflected their authors’ conviction that banking and finance were economically useful endeavors, says Samuel Gregg in this week’s Acton Commentary.
Luis Molina and the many other Christians who explored these areas throughout history were not searching for greater marketplace efficiencies. Their concern was moral. They analyzed the decisions that people made in finance to see which actions were morally upright and which fell short of the demands of Christian truth.
As important side effects, such studies helped to identify key features of money, clarified how interest worked as a means of calibrating risk, and increased knowledge of the true nature of capital, exploring how it could be used to generate wealth. Nonetheless, Christians were — and must continue to be — primarily concerned with the morality of different choices in finance.
The full text of the essay can be found here. This is an excerpt from Gregg’s latest book, For God and Profit: How Banking and Finance Can Serve the Common Good.
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