Skip to comments.Can a Christian be a capitalist?
Posted on 05/02/2011 7:03:06 AM PDT by flowerplough
A recent survey claims that a plurality of Americans believe Christian values are at odds with capitalism. That left me wondering whether we first ought to ask whether Americans even know what Christianity and capitalism are. When one learns that ones accountant espies a deep conflict between Newtonian physics and Jungian psychology, one is right to ask what he knows of velocity and synchronicity, and whether he ought not busy himself doing ones taxes rather than spouting off to someone taking a survey.
The two ideas seem simple enough. Christians follow Jesus and capitalists make trades. Except that we all know professing Christians whowere you to lay it out for themwould balk at some elements of the Nicene Creed, and you cant throw a stick down Wall Street (the reader may linger on that pleasurable thought) without hitting some well-heeled beneficiary of taxpayer welfare.
You can offer up your life to Christ without understanding Christian dogma, just as you can be a masterful entrepreneur without being able to articulate the concept of subjective gains from trade. The survey-taker might get a fruitful answer by asking how your prayer life is going, or whether you made money last quarter, but he ought not conclude that a tuna knows the first thing about lunar tides and currents.
(Excerpt) Read more at online.worldmag.com ...
More than two—I can argue all ten are about the protection of personal property.
"Therefore they and their systems are morally stunted. Only the free system, the much assailed capitalism, is morally mature." ~ Arthur Shenfield
Excerpted from: In Defense of Capitalism - by Dr. Ronald H. Nash Posted on Monday, February 28, 2005 12:12:18 PM by Matchett-PI
Capitalism is not economic anarchy. When properly defined, it recognizes several necessary conditions for the kinds of voluntary relationships it supports.
One of these is the existence of inherent human rights, such as the right to make decisions, the right to be free, the right to hold property, and the right to exchange peacefully what one owns for something else.
Capitalism also presupposes a system of morality. Under capitalism, there are definite limits, moral and otherwise, to the ways in which people can exchange.
Capitalism should be viewed as a system of voluntary relationships within a framework of laws that protect peoples rights against force, fraud, theft, and violations of contracts. Thou shalt not steal and Thou shalt not lie are part of the underlying moral constraints of the system. After all, economic exchanges can hardly be voluntary if one participant is coerced, deceived, defrauded, or robbed.
Deviations from the market ideal usually occur because of defects in human nature. Human beings naturally crave security and guaranteed success, values not found readily in a free market. Genuine competition always carries with it the possibility of failure and loss. Consequently, the human desire for security leads people to avoid competition whenever possible, encourages them to operate outside the market, and induces them to subvert the market process through behavior that is often questionable and dishonest.
This quest for guaranteed success often leads people to seek special favors from powerful members of government through such means as regulations and restrictions on free exchange.
One of the more effective ways of mitigating the effects of human sin in society is dispersing and decentralizing power. The combination of a free market economy and limited constitutional government is the most effective means yet devised to impede the concentration of economic and political power in the hands of a small number of people.
The Religious Left should be aware that their opposition to amassing wealth and power is far more likely to bear fruit with a conservative understanding of economics and government than with the big-government approach of political liberalism.
Every persons ultimate protection against coercion requires control over some private spheres of life where he or she can be free.
Private ownership of property is an important buffer against the exorbitant consolidation of power by government.
Liberal critics also contend that capitalism encourages the development of monopolies. The real source of monopolies, however, is not the free market but governmental intervention with the market.
The only monopolies that have ever attained lasting immunity from competition did so by governmental fiat, regulation, or support of some other kind.
Governments create monopolies by granting one organization the exclusive privilege of doing business or by establishing de facto monopolies through regulatory agencies whose alleged purpose is the enforcement of competition but whose real effect is the limitation of competition.
Economic interventionism and socialism are the real sources of monopolies.
This is illustrated, for example, in the success of the American robber barons of the nineteenth century. Without government aid such as subsidies, the robber barons would never have succeeded.
Liberals blame capitalism for every evil in contemporary society, including its greed, materialism, selfishness, the prevalence of fraudulent behavior, the debasement of societys tastes, the pollution of the environment, the alienation and despair within society, and vast disparities of wealth. Even racism and sexism are treated as effects of capitalism.
Many of the objections to a market system result from a simple but fallacious two-step operation.
First, some undesirable feature is noted in a society that is allegedly capitalistic; then it is simply asserted that capitalism is the cause of this problem.
Logic texts call this the Fallacy of False Cause.
Mere coincidence does not prove causal connection. Moreover, this belief ignores the fact that these same features exist in interventionist and socialist societies.
The Issue of Greed
Liberal critics of capitalism often attack it for encouraging greed. The truth, however, is that the mechanism of the market actually neutralizes greed as it forces people to find ways of serving the needs of those with whom they wish to exchange.
As long as our rights are protected (a basic precondition of market exchanges), the greed of others cannot harm us.
As long as greedy people are prohibited from introducing force, fraud, and theft into the exchange process and as long as these persons cannot secure special privileges from the state under interventionist or socialist arrangements, their greed must be channeled into the discovery of products or services for which people are willing to trade.
Every person in a market economy has to be other-directed. The market is one area of life where concern for the other person is required.
The market, therefore, does not pander to greed. Rather, it is a mechanism that allows natural human desires to be satisfied in nonviolent ways.
Does Capitalism Exploit People?
Capitalism is also attacked on the ground that it leads to situations in which some people (the exploiters) win at the expense of other people (the losers).
A fancier way to put this is to say that market exchanges are examples of what is called a zero-sum game, namely, an exchange where only one participant can win. If one person (or group) wins, then the other must lose. Baseball and basketball are two examples of zero-sum games. If A wins, then B must lose.
The error here consists in thinking that market exchanges are a zero-sum game. On the contrary, market exchanges illustrate what is called a positive-sum game, that is, one in which both players may win.
We must reject the myth that economic exchanges necessarily benefit only one party at the expense of the other. In voluntary economic exchanges, both parties may leave the exchange in better economic shape than would otherwise have been the case.
To repeat the message of the peaceful means of exchange, If you do something good for me, then I will do something good for you. If both parties did not believe they gained through the trade, if each did not see the exchange as beneficial, they would not continue to take part in it.
Most religious critics of capitalism focus their attacks on what they take to be its moral shortcomings.
In truth, the moral objections to capitalism turn out to be a sorry collection of claims that reflect, more than anything else, serious confusions about the real nature of a market system.
When capitalism is put to the moral test, it beats its competition easily. Among all of our economic options, Arthur Shenfield writes: "Only capitalism operates on the basis of respect for free, independent, responsible persons. All other systems in varying degrees treat men as less than this. Socialist systems above all treat men as pawns to be moved about by the authorities, or as children to be given what the rulers decide is good for them, or as serfs or slaves. The rulers begin by boasting about their compassion, which in any case is fraudulent, but after a time they drop this pretense which they find unnecessary for the maintenance of power. In all things they act on the presumption that they know best. Therefore they and their systems are morally stunted. Only the free system, the much assailed capitalism, is morally mature."
The alternative to free exchange is coercion and violence. Capitalism is a mechanism that allows natural human desires to be satisfied in a nonviolent way. Little can be done to prevent people from wanting to be rich, Shenfield says. Thats the way things often are in a fallen world. But what capitalism does is channel that desire into peaceful means that benefit many besides those who wish to improve their own situation in life.
The alternative to serving other mens wants, Shenfield concludes, is seizing power of them, as it always has been. Hence it is not surprising that wherever the enemies of capitalism have prevailed, the result has been not only the debasement of consumption standards for the masses but also their reduction to serfdom by the new privileged class of Socialist rulers.
Once people realize that few things in life are free, that most things carry a price tag, and that therefore we have to work for most of the things we want, we are in a position to learn a vital truth about life. Capitalism helps teach this truth. But under socialism, Arthur Shefield warns, Everything still has a cost, but everyone is tempted, even urged to behave as if there is no cost or as if the cost will be borne by somebody else. This is one of the most corrosive effects of collectivism upon the moral character of people.
And so, we see, capitalism is not merely the more effective economic system; it is also morally superior. When capitalism, the system of free economic exchange, is described fairly, it comes closer to matching the demands of the biblical ethic than does either socialism or interventionism.
These are the real reasons why Ron Sider and his friends in the Religious Left should have abandoned the statist economic policies they promoted in the past.
These are also the reasons why they should now end their advocacy of economic interventionism, which only encourages the consolidation of wealth and power in the hands of the few.
Christians who are sincere about wanting to help the poor should support the market system described in this chapter."
Excerpted from a chapter of Dr. Nashs book, "Why the Left is Not Right - The Religious Left -Who they Are and What They Believe" by Ronald H. Nash, PhD ---bttt
“Why would a Christian be anything but a Capitalist? “
Thank you. Capitalism calls for the freedom and responsibility of the individual. Any other system eventually and inevitably leads to enslavement.
Secondly: YHvH and His salvation provide His created Thirdly: Ps. 119:45; Isa. 61:1; Ezek. 46:17; 1 Co. 8:9; 2 Co. 3:17; Gal. 2:4; Jas. 1:25; 2:12
First: "Capitalism" is a pejorative word created shalom b'SHEM Yah'shua HaMashiach
by Marxists to describe freedom and liberty.
beings freedom and liberty.
Secondly: YHvH and His salvation provide His created
Thirdly: Ps. 119:45; Isa. 61:1; Ezek. 46:17; 1 Co. 8:9; 2 Co. 3:17; Gal. 2:4; Jas. 1:25; 2:12
It is perhaps relevant here to point out that Judea was an occupied nation. Gaining or hanging onto wealth pretty much required some level of collaboration with the occupiers. It was tough to become or remain wealthy without doing some pretty dirty deeds.
The Roman Empire as a whole was not exactly a free market paradise. The economy was based on slave labor. Most wealth, as in all pre-industrial revolution societies, was acquired by "grinding the faces of the poor," not by producing a product or service that met people's needs. Very often it was acquired thru governmental corruption, which while less than under the Republic, was still widespread and taken for granted.
Oddly enough, by today's standards, becoming wealthy by invading another country, pillaging it and selling its people into slavery was consider honorable.
Becoming wealthy through trade or commerce was considered shameful. Those who succeeded generally sold out and invested their "ill-gotten" gains in slaves and land, then pretended they'd never been "in trade."
We run our own consultant group and I go to weekend church. I give a portion of what I earned to my liberal church who whines about Iraq and Bush, but that’s OK. I;m not giving to them but to God.
My understanding is that if you are poor, and you take and take from others who work, why would you be more spiritual than I am when I give more? Those poor people that I see who asks my parish for food, based on the parish clerk I spoke with, are not even Christians. They come in, ask for food..leave.
The parish clerk even told me that when she tells them “would you like to attend our church services to thank the Lord?” ...they usually say NO. Bunch of ingrates. A nice “Praise be to God” would be nice.
Christians have to be moral capitalists.
That is the only system that allows for free will. Socialism/communism/islam, etc. are all immoral since they forbid freedom of thought and conscious and the right to take care of your family without interference.
All other forms of cultural
organization puts a gun to the back of your head and makes you serfs to the system—a system that will reward sloth and evil over the industrious and productive.
Followed by “With God all things are possible”. The gol is to be “rich in the things of God”. That does not exclude earning a good living.
The admonition is against putting all of one’s trust in riches and none in God.
Today I think Jesus would caution those who so eagerly put their trust in government’s capacity to redistribute wealth rather than relying on God!
A caution to all the socialists out there: paying one’s taxes without complaint does not discharge the personal obligation to “give alms” or aid the poor. Neither does ladling soup into a bowl once a year.
Barf alert? So what’s the alternative,,, be a socialist of some stripe?
Author is a retard.
Jesus Christ and JC Penney
So, during supper, fully aware that the Father had put everything into his power and that he had come from God and was returning to God, he rose from supper and took off his outer garments. John 13:2b-3b.
This comes from the reading on Holy Thursday this year. Each year, in the attempt to emphasize the true meaning of the Gospel, that Christ is the suffering servant, we read the story of how humble it is for Jesus to wash our feet. This is true. I have participated in this ceremony and I remember the feeling of humility as someone washed my feet. In fact, it was hard to sense where humility left off and embarrassment started.
This year, this particular passage struck me. It comes just before Jesus got up and put a towel around his waist and then washed the apostles feet. As I pondered the passage, the Holy Spirit took my mind back to one of the motivational messages I heard many years ago. It was about the conversion experience of a man by the name of James Cash Penney. Yes, that is J.C. Penney, the founder of the department store that bears his name.
In my mind, one of the characteristics of true conversion is that a person becomes less self-centered and becomes other-centered, just like Jesus shows us in this reading. I was struck by one of the comments made by J.C. Penney about his conversion. When I was baptized [his was an adult baptism], one of the things struck me most was the thought, Christ has forgiven all of my sins. I truly am a free man. I knew from that moment that I was free to promote and expand my business to the fullest extent, following Gods principles of treating my fellow man with integrity and honesty, providing the best quality I could. I knew God would lead me in my business and, yes, I would make honest mistakeshumans do thatbut that I would never knowingly cheat a customer to make a profit.
That was his business creed from that moment forward.
What a contrast to Judas, who we read about in that same story of the Last Supper. The sin of greed was in the heart of Judas from the git-go. When the woman came into the Pharisees home and begin to anoint the feet of Jesus with precious oils, it was Judas who faked outrage. He exclaimed that those precious oils could have been sold, and the money given to the poor. Have you ever noticed that that that same line is used by some people when the legislature wants to spend money on a project they oppose? Have you ever noticed that the same argument does not come up when politicians spend millions of dollars while running for office?
Another story about JC Penney that inspires me is the time he was walking through his store and overheard an employee telling a customer, I am sorry, maam, we do not carry that item. I do believe, however, I saw something like that over at Macys down the street. Penney was shocked that one of his employees would tell a customer to go to a competitors store. However, after giving it some thought, he called an employee meeting and told his staff, As a service to our customers, in the future, if we do not carry an item and you know where they can buy it, please give them that information. It is good business to be of service to our customers, even when it means recommending a competitor. We will gain a reputation for helping others and not just being centered on ourselves.
He was right. J.C. Penneys gained a reputation for being generous and putting the needs of the customer first. In fact, the new policy became so successful that when the owners of Macys and other competing stores found out about it and saw the beneficial effect it had on JC Penney customers, they too called staff meetings and told their staffs to implement the policy. It was the charitable thing to do.
How could Jesus, who was God, ever think of doing a task as menial as washing anothers feet? The answer is in the above passage. Jesus knew who he was. He knew where he had come from and where he was goingHeavenso his confident self-image allowed him to focus not on himself, but on others. It was not the physical act of washing their feet that was impressive: it was the attitude of focusing on the needs people had. And thats exactly what J.C. Penney learned was good business practice.
When you put self on the cross and die to your own selfish desires and ego, you become more successful because God can raise you from the dead self, as he did with Jesus; and you will rise from that grave of narcissism to freedom of spirit to bring the Good News to others. Seek first the Kingdom of God, and all these other things will be given to you.
Once you have the confidence that you have come from God and will return to God; that God will provide for every need you have here on earth, you will live in freedom.
Christianity is a paradox. It is in giving we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
This is a great time of year!
Stuart Walker, CLU, ChFC, lives in Bloomington, Minnesota. He has been a financial advisor since 1962. He and his wife, Cathy, have given seminars for Crown Financial Ministries.
” My understanding is that if you are poor, and you take and take from others who work, why would you be more spiritual than I am when I give more? Those poor people that I see who asks my parish for food, based on the parish clerk I spoke with, are not even Christians. They come in, ask for food..leave.
The parish clerk even told me that when she tells them would you like to attend our church services to thank the Lord? ...they usually say NO. Bunch of ingrates. A nice Praise be to God would be nice. “
Max, we have the same situation at our church. We always invite those who get our food to come to our church. In the past 2 years, not one has become a member. I have heard the mooches outside the church deciding which churches to “hit” next. We can’t worry about them though. If we help even 10% of those legitimately in need, we have done our job.
There are conservative churches out there. I found one. Maybe you can do the same.
A “plurality of Americans” ... give me a break.
A bit off topic, but I like your tagline.
Natural rights are God given. Capitalism is the economic system compatible with natural rights.
The question is, is Wallis a Christian? Only God knows, but I abhor Wallis' writings and feel they do not reflect my understanding of God's will as described in Scripture.
10An excellent wife, who can find?
For her worth is far above jewels.
11The heart of her husband trusts in her,
And he will have no lack of gain.
12She does him good and not evil
All the days of her life.
13She looks for wool and flax
And works with her hands in delight.
14She is like merchant ships;
She brings her food from afar.
15She rises also while it is still night
And gives food to her household
And portions to her maidens.
16She considers a field and buys it;
From her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17She girds herself with strength
And makes her arms strong.
18She senses that her gain is good;
Her lamp does not go out at night.
19She stretches out her hands to the distaff,
And her hands grasp the spindle.
20She extends her hand to the poor,
And she stretches out her hands to the needy.
21She is not afraid of the snow for her household,
For all her household are clothed with scarlet.
22She makes coverings for herself;
Her clothing is fine linen and purple.
23Her husband is known in the gates,
When he sits among the elders of the land.
24She makes linen garments and sells them,
And supplies belts to the tradesmen.
25Strength and dignity are her clothing,
And she smiles at the future.
26She opens her mouth in wisdom,
And the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
27She looks well to the ways of her household,
And does not eat the bread of idleness.
28Her children rise up and bless her;
Her husband also, and he praises her, saying:
29"Many daughters have done nobly,
But you excel them all."
30Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain,
But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.
31Give her the product of her hands,
And let her works praise her in the gates.
can a Christian NOT be a capitalist?!
seems both go well together.
And commanded them that they should take nothing for their journey, save a staff only; no money, no bread, no money in their purse.
To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either.
Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.
Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?
Show me a denarius. Whose portrait and inscription are on it? Caesars, they replied. He said to them, Then give to Caesar what is Caesars, and to God what is Gods.