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Location: Las Vegas, Nevada

I am a self proclaimed coffee addict and Executive Director of a non profit missions agency working primarily in the Mexican cities of Oaxaca, Guadalajara, and Ensenada. I've been married for over 30 years to Chelle, and we have one grown son, Joseph, a graduate of Auburn University in Alabama.

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Thursday, June 04, 2009

Capitalism and Christianity

There are not many things clearer in Christian theology than the idea that God is creator of all. Perhaps right along side this is our understanding that in order for God to be fully Lord, and not just Savior in our lives, we must turn everything we have, wish, desire, or hope for over to Him.

This is beautifully portrayed in a little homily by the now deceased Presbyterian Pastor Bob Munger, “My Heart, Christ’s Home.” Munger takes us on a journey of our heart, envisioning it as a home, walking us through the many rooms until he comes to the hall closet.

It is there that he posits Jesus beckoning us to give Him even that still dark grimy area many of us fiercely protect at all costs.

Jacques Ellul, noted French theologian, in his book “Prayer and Modern Man” attacks the classic empty praying hands image of someone waiting for God’s filling. He asks if it isn’t more biblical for someone to come to God with his hands full, and give everything to God, thus emptying himself.

Clearly, the teachings of Christianity lead us to understand that what belongs to God is His, and what belongs to us, is His also. We are taught, and readily accept that for a strong relationship with Jesus, we must give all that we are, and all that we have over to Him, and live in trust, that he will love, provide for, and take care of us.

I bring all of this up to shed some light on an issue, and because of the encouragement of a blogging friend o' mine, Tao.

There has been a lot of talk lately about the United States becoming a socialist nation under Barack Obama. We have also heard that we are a capitalist nation founded on Christian principles.

But let’s look at the main pillars of capitalism. Capitalism, according to Wikipedia is “an economic system in which wealth, and the means of producing wealth, are privately owned.” In short, what’s mine is mine, and what is yours is yours.

Plain and simple.

Except you cannot square this in general, and private ownership in particular with biblical faith as it was understood and practiced by the early Christian church. Clearly the theological teachings of serious scholars, and the practices of the early Christian community, as evidenced in the Book of Acts, stand against these main tenets of capitalism.

Now I am not necessarily advocating socialism as a reasonable alternative, nor denigrating capitalism as a workable system. I am merely pointing out that it is hard to make the case for capitalism as Christian based, as some are trying to do.

It may indeed be a great system for acquiring wealth and prosperity, but let’s not claim it is somehow rooted in Christianity.

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Comments on "Capitalism and Christianity"


Blogger James' Muse said ... (6:26 PM) : 

Great post, Dave. Totally on the mark.

Shane Claiborne's community is much in line with the original church in Acts.

No doubt they would have been burnt during the "Red Scare."


Blogger Dave Miller said ... (6:31 PM) : 

Claiborne is another good guy. I have his "Jesus for President."


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (5:45 PM) : 

I enjoyed this posting very much.

Capitalism is not a result of our country being founded on Christian principles. But I do believe that the freedoms that we enjoy are founded on Christian principles, "free will". Capitalism is just a system that our founding fathers chose for our country.

Now, it is true that Capitalism means "what's mine is mine, what's yours is yours" But I think that the important thing to remember is that God is going to judge on an individual basis, right? He's going to judge ME for what I have done with what He has given ME, not the government.

Regarding the early Christian Church. The early Christian Church understood and practiced what God wanted them to do, which is to help those in need. So, my understanding is that it is the job of the church to help those in need, it is not the job of the government.

One more thing. We are supposed to be wise with what God gives us, right? So if we know how the government enjoys throwing money away, is it "wise" for us to give it to them?


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