Sabbath Economics

What is Sabbath Economics?

We are all economic creatures: we all consume, produce, exchange, and interact with the resources of creation within human community. Economic practice is fundamental to our survival and our flourishing. Sabbath Economics operates out of a sense that there is enough for everyone.  Forgiveness of debt is part of living out Sabbath Economics, and is more than just a good idea. It is biblical, just and healing, as we work to narrow the growing divide between the few wealthy and the masses who are poor.

Why Sabbath Economics?

“We read the Gospel as if we had no money,” laments Jesuit theologian John Haughey, “and we spend our money as if we know nothing of the Gospel.” Indeed, the topic of economics is exceedingly difficult to talk about in most First World churches, more taboo than politics or even sex. Yet no aspect of our individual and corporate lives is more determinative of our welfare. And few subjects are more frequently addressed in our scriptures.

The standard of economic and social justice is woven into the warp and weft of the Bible. Pull this strand and the whole fabric unravels. At the heart of this witness is the call to observe “Sabbath Economics.” At its root, Sabbath observance is about gift and limits: the grace of receiving that which the creator gives, and the responsibility not to take too much, nor to mistake the gift for a possession.  The economic implications of this tradition as it is articulated in the Bible can be summarized in three axioms:

  1. 1)the world as created by God is abundant, with enough for everyone -- provided that human communities restrain their appetites and live within limits;

  2. 2)disparities in wealth and power are not “natural” but the result  of human sin, and must be mitigated within the community of faith through the regular practice of redistribution:

  1. 3)the prophetic message calls people to practice redistribution and characterizes that call as “good news” to the poor.

Every day, each of us faces economic choices. Longer term choices include, of course, where to live, what our consumer lifestyle is, and what type of work to do.  And every day we make small choices--what to buy, whether to walk or drive, what to eat, where to bank--that all add up to either participating in the world's economy or the Sabbath Economy. 


Because there are so many choices, we do many things on auto-pilot.  But once we start to see that we can make more active choices to create the Sabbath Economy, it can be overwhelming.  Who wants to re-decide every consumption choice, every use of resources?


No one, of course.  That's why we don't do it all at once--rather one decision, one step at a time--and why we don't do it alone.


The Sabbath Economics Collaborative gives us a way to support each other in our work and our choices.

Many people practice Sabbath Economics every day and can show the way to options others haven't even thought of yet.  Some have worked to simplify their lifestyles in order to have money to share with others and to live more closely to their faith, friends and families.  Many thoughtfully conserve environmental resources.  Some have grappled with debt and won, freeing resources to share and allowing them to choose work that contributes to the world.  People are choosing homes in particular neighborhoods in order to live in solidarity with God's people.  A very intentional practice of Sabbath is unfolding in many households. 


We invite you to learn more about Sabbath Economics and to meet some of the people whose lives and work focus on bringing the Sabbath Economy to life.  Are you involved in such work yourself?  Please let us know and join this informal network.  We can do so much more, and have a lot more fun, when we do it together.



This webpage contains valuable resources on the topic of Sabbath Economics and on members of the Sabbath Economics Collaborative, an informal network of people who cultivate the values of Sabbath Economics in their lives and work.