What does money have to do with God?

March 30, 2016

The Revd Dr James Walters is chaplain of the London School of EconomicsThe problems and possibilities created for people by money and how people of faith can contribute to debates around finance will be discussed in a lecture series at Murdoch University in April.

Murdoch University’s International Theologian for 2016, The Revd Dr James Walters who is chaplain of the London School of Economics (LSE), chose the theme of money for his three presentations because it can stop people from ‘being free to live their lives to the full’.

“Christianity is about setting people free, and one of the biggest obstacles to freedom today is money,” said Dr Walters, who is also a priest in the Church of England.

“Many people’s lives are deeply constrained by the way money currently operates in our world. That may be because they live in desperate poverty, because they are trying to sustain high interest debt payments, or because their lives have become totally absorbed by the pursuit of ever greater wealth. All of these are serious obstacles to the human flourishing for which God created us.”

Dr Walters will present on whether money can help or hinder God’s creative purposes in the world and discuss how and why Christians can use money for good as individuals and as part of larger campaigns.

“The Gospel is about the generosity of God so we have to think of ways in which money can become an expression of generosity,” said Dr Walters.

“That needs to be true in our personal use of money, in giving and philanthropy. But there can also be systemic expressions of generosity such as the writing off of excess debt, as happened in relation to developing countries at the turn of the millennium as a result of the church-led Jubilee 2000 campaign.”

Dr Walters said theologians and Christians can often be intimidated by groups and individuals who claim they do not understand economics. But the 2008 financial crisis showed that nobody understands the world of finance as well as they think.

“It’s time for a wider public conversation to which people of faith have a lot of wisdom to contribute,” he said.

The annual series of three lectures is organised by Professor Rowan Strong from the Murdoch University Theology Program. They will be held in the Kim E Beazley Lecture Theatre, Murdoch University, at 6.30pm on 4, 11 and 18 April.

RSVP your attendance before Friday, April 1 to rsvp@murdoch.edu.au or 9360 6176.

Background

Dr Walters is a Senior Lecturer in Practice at the LSE Marshall Institute for Philanthropy and a Senior Fellow of the LSE Institute for Public Affairs.

Since arriving at the LSE in 2010 he has set up the LSE Faith Centre to promote religious literacy and interfaith dialogue.

He studied at Selwyn College Cambridge and is a regular contributor on the interface of theology, philosophy and politics.

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