Adam Smith as Theologian: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Adam Smith as Theologian

1st Edition

Edited by Paul Oslington


156 pages

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Adam Smith wrote in a Scotland where Calvinism, Continental natural law theory, Stoic philosophy, and the Newtonian tradition of scientific natural theology were key to the intellectual lives of his contemporaries. But what impact did these ideas have on Smith’s system? What was Smith’s understanding of nature, divine providence, and theodicy? How was the new discourse of political economy positioned in relation to moral philosophy and theology?

In this volume a team of distinguished contributors consider Smith’s work in relation to its Scottish Enlightenment religious background, and offer stimulating theological interpretations of his account of fallible human nature, his providential account of markets, and his invisible hand metaphor. Adam Smith as Theologian it is a pioneering study which will alter our view of Smith and open up new lines of thinking about contemporary economics.


"The book succeeds wonderfully in placing Smith in context, and in showing that the religious language he employed was not unique to him, but was pervasive in the era in which he wrote and lived." -Chad Flanders, St. Louis University, USA

Table of Contents

Introduction: Theological Readings of Smith. Paul Oslington Part I: Smith in Context 1. The Influence of Religious Thinking on the Smithian Revolution. Benjamin Friedman 2. Adam Smith, Theology and Natural Law Ethics. John Haldane 3. Sympathy and Domination: Adam Smith, Happiness, and the Virtues of Augustinianism. Eric Gregory 4. Christian Freedom in Political Economy: The Legacy of John Calvin in the Thought of Adam Smith. Joe Blosser 5. Divine Action, Providence and Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand. Paul Oslington Part II: Analysis and Assessment of Adam Smith’s Theology 6. Adam Smith, Natural Theology, and the Natural Sciences. Peter Harrison 7. How High Does The Impartial Spectator Go? James Otteson 8. Adam Smith’s Theodicy. Brendan Long 9. From Civil to Political Economy: Adam Smith’s Theological Debt. Adrian Pabst 10. Man and Society in Adam Smith’s Natural Morality: The Impartial Spectator, the Man of System, and the Invisible Hand. Ross B. Emmett 11. A Visible Hand: Contemporary Lessons from Adam Smith. Paul S. Williams

About the Editor

Paul Oslington holds a unique chair jointly in the School of Business and School of Theology at Australian Catholic University. He was previously Associate Professor of Economics at University of New South Wales, and held visiting positions at University of Oxford, University of British Columbia and Regent College Vancouver, and Princeton Theological Seminary and University. His PhD in Economics and Master of Economics/Econometrics with honours were completed at the University of Sydney, and Bachelor of Divinity through Melbourne College of Divinity.

About the Series

Routledge Studies in Religion

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Economic History
RELIGION / General
RELIGION / Christianity / History
RELIGION / History
RELIGION / Christian Theology / General