The Christian social vision goes beyond economics, at least in the sense of buying and selling to pursue our individual interest. A Christian notion of the economy is, as far as possible, about nurturing a social or “civil” economy, because it recognises that pursuing one’s own interests isn’t necessarily antithetical to having a social or mutual concern.
Of course, state and law must play a crucial part in defining and regulating such an economy, but it is more crucially about a change in practice and ethos. It is vital that we move beyond a social democratic politics that is only about taming and taxing the capitalist monster. Instead, we need genuinely civilised market and financial processes in the first place.
Similarly, the Christian social vision goes beyond politics, in the sense that the latter is about law and the minimal conditions for human flourishing. Politics alone cannot provide reconciliation and forgiveness, or a more concrete vision of what is, in fact, the good life. That must come from somewhere other than political processes. If it doesn’t, it tends to be a vision imposed by a rather arrogant technocratic elite.
The church itself is the site of the true society. It is the project which brings in everything, because there are no easy boundaries between the secular and the sacred. We find its transcendent reference-point when gathered round the Eucharist, receiving the gifts of God and giving back the gifts of God in praise and worship. This models the reciprocity necessary in community.
John Milbank, “Christian Vision of Society puts Economics and Politics in their place” (article)
n., A group of humans broadly distinguished from other groups by mutual interests, participation in characteristic relationships, shared institutions, and a common culture.
[French société, from Old French, from Latin societās, fellowship, from socius, ally, companion]