Thigpen, J. Michael, “‘In Our Image’: Our Creational Identity and Economic Conflict.” Pages 2–17 in The Bible and Money: Issues of Economy and Socioeconomic Ethics in the Bible. Edited by Hallvard Hegalia and Markus Zehnder. Bible in the Modern World. 76. Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix, 2020.
Working from Genesis 1 and 2, this study establishes three key concepts that are important for addressing economic conflict. First, our identity is prior to vocation and to economic station. Second, our vocation flows out of our identity and is not the source of our identity. Third, economic exchange and variability in resources is inherent within the created order. Building on these foundational principles, the study analyses Old Testament approaches to the ‘wealthy’ and the ‘poor’ and the conflict between these two economic groups. The study assesses and corrects solutions based on ‘wealthy’ and ‘poor’ as socioeconomic identities in conflict. Solutions based on identification with the other and appeal to our crea- tional identity are proposed. The focus on creational identity instructs us in the pursuit of true justice. In this pursuit, no prevailing or presumed narrative can be automatically applied to individuals or groups. Rather, we are guided neither to be partial nor to show deference to any particular group. Justice is rendered on the basis of the factual record. Justice is ren- dered regardless of the power of the accused. Grace is extended to the poor through acts of individual sacrifice and generosity, through communal acts of compassion and through structured societal efforts to alleviate poverty.
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