Two pillars paradigm: covenant as a theological and relational concept in response to the contract-based economic market
This thesis is the formulation of a theological response to the modern economic market. It argues for a Two Pillars paradigm for the economic market, whereby covenant and contract serve together as the two “pillars” that uphold economic order. The modern market is derived and developed upon the legal contract that supports and governs economic activities. Non-contractible assertions in the market remain background presuppositions, of which enactment depends largely on the individual economic agent. In the Two Pillars paradigm, I argue that the theological covenant and the legal contract are equally significant assertions that interact and complement each other to uphold a well-balanced economic market. They are both essential in deriving a market that promotes genuine human relationship, freedom and economic justice. In this study, the covenant foundation of society and its economic significance are rediscovered and examined. The universality and relevance of the covenant concept for economic order is explored, and the covenant compared and contrasted with the contract to show their distinctiveness, significance and interaction in the market. The Two Pillars paradigm is then presented and illustrated through the example of long-term employment arrangements to demonstrate its practicability and potential use as a dialogical framework to examine other economic relationships. Finally, market fundamentals including market motif, limits, assumptions, morality and regulations are explored in dialogue with the Two Pillars response to economics. This study should appeal to a wider audience beyond the ecclesiastical community, placing it in the arena of public theology. It draws upon the thoughts of economists to examine the Two Pillars paradigm in a wider context. The result is an interdisciplinary study offering a theological-based paradigm that addresses the situation of the modern market in a fundamental and practical way.