Salvation as a Selective Incentive: An Olsonian Analysis of the Faith vs. Works Cleavage

25 Pages Posted: 8 May 2002  

Jonathan Klick

University of Pennsylvania Law School; Erasmus School of Law; PERC - Property and Environment Research Center

Date Written: February 2002

Abstract

As club goods, religions face the problem of free riding. Smaller religious clubs, such as cults or sects, can often surmount this problem through communal pressures or by requiring their members to provide easily monitored signals. Generally, however, such tactics will be unavailable or too costly for large denominations, and, as such, these denominations must look for other techniques to avoid free riding. This paper argues that the Roman Catholic doctrine of justification by faith and works serves as an Olsonian selective incentive, and presents empirical evidence in support of this claim. It also examines the historical and theological development of the doctrine in an attempt to discern if the faith plus works model of salvation evolved in the Roman Catholic Church for economic, as opposed to theological, reasons.

Keywords: Economics, Religion, Law, Free-riding, Institutions, Public Choice

JEL Classification: H0, K0, L0

Suggested Citation

Klick, Jonathan, Salvation as a Selective Incentive: An Olsonian Analysis of the Faith vs. Works Cleavage (February 2002). George Mason Law & Economics Research Paper No. 02-14. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=308582 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.308582

Jonathan Klick (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania Law School ( email )

3501 Sansom Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States
2157463455 (Phone)

Erasmus School of Law ( email )

3000 DR Rotterdam
Netherlands

PERC - Property and Environment Research Center

2048 Analysis Drive
Suite A
Bozeman, MT 59718
United States

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