One of the overarching themes of Economy of Grace is the idea of God’s grace. Tanner defines grace as God’s favor and all the ways God’s favor is expressed, including the creation of the world, the forgiveness of sin, and the opportunity for spiritual and moral sanctification. These and other of God’s gifts are given freely and abundantly without any obligation on the part of the recipients. Tanner bases her model of the economy on this example: Just as God enters into a noncompetitive relationship with his creatures, so should human beings enter into a noncompetitive relationship with the each other and the world.
Another theme of this book is the idea of social justice. Tanner has a deep concern for the economic injustices that permeate world culture. Many of the changes that Tanner suggests must be implemented at the political level. Unconditional giving is not an emotional matter but rather a social and economic matter. With globalization as the standard, we must be as concerned about the factory workers in Singapore as we are about the factory workers in New York City. We must find ways to share the resources of the world more equitably. Although Tanner does not use the term “stewardship” in this book, it is readily evident that “to whom much is given, much is expected.”
Economy of Grace jolts the reader to question many of the basic principles of a capitalist system. Tanner’s vision of a “theological economy” challenges us to work for changes not just at a private level but at a more fundamental level as well. The ideas of unconditional giving and noncompetitive relations will challenge readers as they are reminded of the Christian story. The concept of turning private goods into public goods offers a glimpse at a new form of stewardship.