Theology of Money

Theology of Money

New Slant: Religion, Politics, Ontology

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Book Pages: 304 Illustrations: 4 figures Published: June 2009

Politics > Political Theory, Religious Studies, Sociology > Social Theory

Theology of Money is a philosophical inquiry into the nature and role of money in the contemporary world. Philip Goodchild reveals the significance of money as a dynamic social force by arguing that under its influence, moral evaluation is subordinated to economic valuation, which is essentially abstract and anarchic. His rigorous inquiry opens into a complex analysis of political economy, encompassing markets and capital, banks and the state, class divisions, accounting practices, and the ecological crisis awaiting capitalism.

Engaging with Christian theology and the thought of Carl Schmitt, Georg Simmel, Karl Marx, Adam Smith, and many others, Goodchild develops a theology of money based on four contentions, which he elaborates in depth. First, money has no intrinsic value; it is a promise of value, a crystallization of future hopes. Second, money is the supreme value in contemporary society. Third, the value of assets measured by money is always future-oriented, dependent on expectations about how much might be obtained for those assets at a later date. Since this value, when realized, will again depend on future expectations, the future is forever deferred. Financial value is essentially a degree of hope, expectation, trust, or credit. Fourth, money is created as debt, which involves a social obligation to work or make profits to repay the loan. As a system of debts, money imposes an immense and irresistible system of social control on individuals, corporations, and governments, each of whom are threatened by economic failure if they refuse their obligations to the money system. This system of debt has progressively tightened its hold on all sectors and regions of global society. With Theology of Money, Goodchild aims to make conscious our collective faith and its dire implications.


“Goodchild is to be commended for writing a political theology that makes a robust, concrete, and theoretically viable proposal for how to implement actual economic reform. Unlike most political theologies, this work is neither utopian nor separatist: it is not limited to a future eschatological kingdom, nor is it limited to the community of faith.” — David W. Congdon, Reviews in Religion and Theology

“It is doubtful that many economists or bankers, those mechanics who tinker with the rates and ratios of the market machine, will read this book, which is to be lamented. Goodchild goes beyond such tinkering to ask what the machine is, why it does what it does, and how what it is doing should be evaluated. In this way his book stands in the tradition of thinkers such as Adam Smith, Karl Marx and John Maynard Keynes as they reflected on the nature of the good, the economic, and the political, extending their work through modernity to post modernity. Goodchild demands much of the reader, and these pages will not readily turn without a reasonable grasp of economics and philosophy, but the result is a profound and highly significant contribution to the understanding of money.” — Kent Van Til, Studies in Christian Ethics

Theology of Money by Philip Goodchild is a densely argued and multilayered treatise that excavates the theological power incarnated in the global monetary system. . . . There is a lot to learn from in this book.” — Review of Politics

“Goodchild has provided a powerful example of forgiveness as the creation of new value. His account of money puts great demands on our ability to think creatively about money and about value. His tremendously invigorating political, economic and theological proposals for transforming credit in society could produce many important and needed transformations. Such transformations are absolutely necessary if we are going to live in a world where life has many possibilities and people live their lives with wealth. . .” — Char Roone Miller, Theory & Event

“Goodchild’s work is a tour de force of conceptual analysis, engaging A. Smith and C. Schmitt among others, en route to arguing that theology must counter the conscription of time, attention, and demands made by money with its own vision of social existence.” — Myles Werntz, Religious Studies Review

“Philip Goodchild is the most constructive and original philosopher of religion in the UK. . . . What Goodchild offers is both a critique of money and a theology of money, and part of what makes this book so fascinating is the significance of calling what he is doing here a theology of money as opposed to simply a critique of money. . . . Theology of Money . . . sketches a radical theological vision of credit that promises the potential for a future theology as well as a future humanity. . . . [Goodchild] provides vital resources of thought and capital for theological and practical human beings to put to work.” — Clayton Crockett, Journal for Cultural and Religious Theory

“Recommended. Graduate students and faculty/researchers.” — F. G. Kirkpatrick, Choice

"Philip Goodchild’s Theology of Money may be one of the more important works in contemporary scholarship on issues of economy, politics, divinization, and the importance of valuation. . . . [It] provides a deep analysis of money in the contemporary landscape and confronts the cracks and fissures in the modern theology and metaphysic of money with a strong tentative, future-oriented economic proposal." — Taylor Weaver, Freedom in Orthodoxy blog

“The power of the analysis, the energy of the text, the passions it excites in the reader, and its call upon us to think beyond the limits in which most philosophical, theological, economic, and cultural thought is enclosed make Theology of Money an indispensable book.” — William E. Connolly, author of Capitalism and Christianity, American Style

“Well written and very well researched, Theology of Money is a remarkable and very important book; there is nothing else like it currently in print. Philip Goodchild’s thesis is, in a way, startlingly simple: the universal sway of money exists instead of a universal sway of an ethics and a religion.” — Catherine Pickstock, co-editor of Radical Orthodoxy: A New Theology


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Philip Goodchild is Professor of Religion and Philosophy at the University of Nottingham. He is the author of Capitalism and Religion: The Price of Piety and the editor of Difference in the Philosophy of Religion and Rethinking Philosophy of Religion: Approaches from Continental Philosophy.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Preface to the U.S. Edition xi

Introduction 1

Part. I. Of Politics

1. Power 29

2. The End of Modernity 43

Part II. A Treatise on Money

3. Ecology of Money 73

4. Politics of Money 123

5. Theology of Money 165

Part III. Of Theology

6. Metaphysics and Credit 201

7. The Price of Credit 225

8. A Modest Proposal: Evaluative Credit 241

Conclusion. Of Redemption 257

Notes 263

Bibliography 281

Index 293
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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-4450-6 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-4438-4
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