HIGH POINT, N.C., April 28, 2009 – Dr. Chris Franks, assistant professor of religion at High Point University, has recently written and published a book entitled, “He Became Poor: The Poverty of Christ and Aquinas’s Economic Teachings.” In his book, he examines certain virtues associated with voluntary poverty and contrasts them with the usual dispositions toward wealth and property fostered by modern market society.
The book seeks to reclaim the relevance of Thomas Aquinas’s economic teachings for modern Christians. Aquinas’s thoughts on property, buying and selling, and lending are usually taken as reflections of an outdated form of economy, historically interesting but irrelevant to today. Franks presents them instead as a source of wisdom that exposes people’s captivity to economic habits that run counter to the gospel.
Franks’ book suggests Christians who are formed by modern market-driven economies have a lot to learn from Aquinas, particularly about how to embody certain lowly virtues, such as a humility that is willing to abandon wealth and a hopeful trust in God that is willing to accept the extraordinary vulnerability and risk that accompany it. For Aquinas, something like this humility and trust should characterize every Christian.
“Aquinas was the theologian I wanted to read because I had always been attracted to his rich account of the virtues of Christian life,” says Franks. “It occurred to me that his vow of poverty would give him a compelling perspective on economic issues.”
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