Supply Side Theology

Yesterday at coffee hour I was asked my opinion of supply side economics. The questioner seemed to feel my theology in that respect was questionable because I had tossed off an aside about how it would take courage to propose raising taxes. My point was that the Holy Spirit sometimes gives people the courage to act in a way that is unpopular – as, for example, proposing a tax increase to provide better health care and education. I should have gone on to say that the Holy Spirit doesn’t seem to be giving many people that kind of courage lately! But the questioner heard it as an attack on supply side economics.

It made we wonder whether those who think they are hearing politics from the pulpit are sometimes really hearing a challenge to their self-centeredness – and that’s what they need to hear. Labeling it “politics” gives them a way to ignore what they don’t want to hear.

If I were dealing with supply side economics – but I wouldn’t in a sermon – I would say that I’m not so interested in economic theory as in outcomes. As a Christian, my priority has to be a concern for the least among us. If I see people depending on soup kitchens and food pantries to have enough to eat and dying of preventable diseases for lack of adequate health care, I have to believe that whatever system we have is broken and needs fixing. If you can persuade me that supply side economics will deal with the people issues, I’ll be all for it. If not, I’ll be looking for other solutions. But my job, as I see it, is to point to the problem and insist that we have not solved it simply because lots of people – myself included – have more than they really need.

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