The Economics of Neighborly Love
The Gospel Coalition Book Award
What does the good news of Jesus mean for economics?
Too often, Christian teaching and ministry have focused only on the gospel's spiritual significance and ignored its physical, real-world ramifications. But loving our neighbor well has direct economic implications, and in our diverse and stratified society we need to grapple with them now more than ever.
In The Economics of Neighborly Love pastor Tom Nelson sets out to address this problem. Marrying biblical study, economic theory, and practical advice, he presents a vision for church ministry that works toward the flourishing of the local community, beginning with its poorest and most marginalized members. Nelson resists oversimplification and pushes us toward more complex and nuanced understandings of wealth and poverty. If we confess the gospel of Jesus, he insists, we must contend anew with its implications for the well-being of our local communities. Together we can grow in both compassion and capacity.
"With characteristic winsomeness and clarity, Nelson covers a wide range of topics from poverty to jobs and justice to entrepreneurship, providing a highly readable overview of biblically informed economic life. This pastor has taken the time to learn about the capacity that makes genuine compassion possible. Implicit in the book is a much-needed correction to the church: we've far too long avoided the work of thinking well about economics, as though somehow that sphere is detached from our spiritual life. Nelson shows us the Bible talks about economics through and through—it's just that too many pastors haven't been paying sufficient attention. Nelson has given us an accessible introductory textbook for understanding what makes for flourishing people and communities."
"For several years I've watched this book being born, growing out of Tom Nelson's remarkable work as a pastor in Kansas City and increasingly as a teacher to the wider world. The Economics of Neighborly Love makes this simple argument: the everyday world is an economic world, and there are implications for who we are and how we live. Drawing on years of pastoral experience with people at work in the world, social analysis from across the political spectrum, relationships with good people doing good work in cities all over America, and, most profoundly, a commitment to biblical and theological reflection, this is a book for everyone who cares about the moral meaning of the marketplace."
"This desperately needed book shows that a concern for fruitfulness—relational and vocational—is a deep pattern running through Scripture, literally from beginning to end. Fruitfulness in all our work and relationships is essential to discipleship to Jesus Christ, which is at the heart of the identity and mission of God's people. Tom Nelson has done both the church and the world an extraordinary service by giving it the fruitful gift of this book."
"I don't think I've ever seen the words 'economics' and 'neighborly love' in the same sentence. With winsome intelligence and a natural storyteller's gift, Tom Nelson reminds us that faith, economics, and work—rightly understood—help create the conditions for neighborly love to exist and flourish."
"I've been eagerly awaiting this book ever since I first heard that Tom Nelson was writing on economics. Now that I've read the book, I'm deeply grateful and excited to share it with others. It's hard to imagine a book that is more urgently needed in our time of history. And it's hard to imagine a more incisive, compassionate, biblical, and relevant discussion of economics and Christian faith. Nelson combines scriptural wisdom, cultural awareness, pastoral sensitivity, and practical expression to guide us into a deeper understanding of how our faith must be lived in the complex realm of economics. He anchors everything in Scripture, whether drawing from the creation account in Genesis, the example of Nehemiah, the wisdom of Proverbs, the prophecy of Amos, or the parables of Jesus. The Economics of Neighborly Love holds together what we have so often and so wrongly put asunder: faithfulness and flourishing, productivity and justice, compassion and creativity, wealth and love. The result is a book that should be read by pastors and church leaders, to be sure, but also by all followers of Jesus who seek to live faithful and fruitful lives in today's world."
"Tom Nelson's new book is a great contribution to a growing and needed literature that helps churches connect to their parishes and neighborhoods and serve not only individuals, but the public good. There is an emerging awareness of the importance of this, but few volumes are as practical as this one in describing the way forward. I recommend it!"
"Money, spirituality, and responsibility are rarely put together side by side in a balanced way. The Economics of Neighborly Love takes you there in a way that will encourage the practical understanding and development of resources, leading to flourishing. I highly commend this book."
"I'm delighted to see this insightful book by Tom Nelson hit the streets! Tom connects work and economics with theological skill, biblical acumen, and a pastoral heart. He rightly sees how economics is intimately connected to our ability to flourish as human beings, our mandate to be productive in the world, and our obligation to love our neighbors. When reading this book, you will feel as if you're sitting down with Tom over a cup of coffee for a conversation about some of life's most important matters, and thankfully you don't have to be an expert in economics to follow the conversation. Tom is a great guide through this material, since it comes out of his lived experience, both personally and as a longtime pastor. This is a book about why economics matters—how personal compassion and economic capacity both are important."
"I have many books on Christianity and economics in my library. Tom Nelson's The Economics of Neighborly Love will be shelved among the best. It represents an optimal combination of solid theology, sound economics, and specific applications. If you've already read Sider, Corbett, and Fikkert, Nelson's book will be a valuable complement. If you've not yet read them, start with Nelson. You will be challenged, instructed, and edified. Not many books on economics can pull off this hat trick."
"There is no secular/spiritual divide. Every Jesus-follower who labors in the marketplace has a ministry just as significant as those who labor in the pulpit. In The Economics of Neighborly Love, Tom Nelson points the way to a genuine biblical worldview that grasps the powerful spiritual interconnectedness between what happens in the marketplace, our churches, communities, nation, world, and our walk with Jesus. I highly recommend it."
"Tom Nelson thoughtfully and carefully weaves together biblical truth, deep theological reflection, and sound economic thinking in The Economics of Neighborly Love. It fills a significant void in economic and biblical writing. Too often economic essays ignore biblical wisdom while theological reflections on human flourishing pay little attention to the potential of economic activity, especially the opportunity for people to serve others through marketplace endeavors. Nelson avoids both problems and has written a superb book that will be valuable to pastors, seminary professors, and people in the work place."
"Pastor Tom Nelson has written an important book for our turbulent times. With communities and congregations beset by conflict and political polarization, this focus on economic flourishing rooted in personal wholeness offers biblical hope and practical wisdom for discipleship and mission. Connecting the divine design of Genesis 1–2 with the destiny of Revelation 21–22, Nelson argues for a hopeful realism rooted in the present activity of the Holy Spirit in and through the local church. Pastors will find this work helpful as they connect Sunday worship with Monday work, deep spiritual intimacy with economic integrity, and ecstatic experiences with ethical transformation."
"There is no one writing today more adept at seeing the practical intersections of economics, theology, and the Christian faith than Tom Nelson. There is also no one better positioned to encourage Christians to live inside the biblical narrative by thinking theologically and engaging economically. From these angles, Nelson shows us that creating economic capacity is inextricably connected to the call of the gospel to look beyond ourselves toward the care of our neighbors as the best means of our own flourishing. Creating economic capacity for the sake of compassion is the heart of Nelson's plea. It's a plea that desperately needs to be heard inside churches and inside the hearts of Christians across the globe. We are in Nelson's debt for making that plea so clearly and powerfully."
"In The Economics of Neighborly Love, Tom Nelson has given the church a powerful gift. He masterfully holds in tension the beauty of God's economic design with the realities of economic brokenness in our world. In my role, I regularly see the 'already' and the 'not yet' of God's design in action. I pray that Tom's clarion call to love what God loves, to embrace his design for generosity and human flourishing while working toward the alleviation of economic injustice, is not only heard but put into practice. Tom, thanks for this remarkable gift. "
"Tom Nelson is one of the best thinkers and one of the most accessible writers in the faith-and-work movement. His storytelling is unmatched in the way he is able to both capture the imagination and convey a solid truth. In The Economics of Neighborly Love, he doesn't just teach a theology of economics, he also invites us to love our neighbors through our everyday work. Pastors and laypersons will find practical and rich treasures within these pages."
"With unqualified joy and respect, I affirm Pastor Tom and his partners are the real deal."
"Too often, Christian teaching and ministry have focused only on the gospel's spiritual significance and ignored its physical, real-world ramifications. In The Economics of Neighborly Love, Nelson sets out to address this problem. Marrying biblical study to economic theory and practical advice, he presents a vision for church ministry that works toward the flourishing of the local community, beginning with its poorest and most marginalized members. He encourages readers to grow in both compassion and capacity."
"The Economics of Neighborly Love will surely encourage more pastors to 'take seriously the profound stewardship of nurturing both Christian compassion and economic capacity."
"Buy this book for your pastor. Most churches should own at least one copy. With any luck it will end up in your church library and possibly form the basis of a small group study."
1. Neighborly Love
2. Made to Flourish
3. Human Fruitfulness and Material Wealth
4. The Fruitfulness of Faithfulness
5. Love the Neighborhood
6. Economic Wisdom
7. Wisdom and the Modern Economy
8. Wise Generosity
9. The Poor Among Us
10. Economic Injustice
11. Rebuilding the Ruins
12. Getting to Work
13. The Hope of the World