Are Christianity and Capitalism Compatible?

In regards to scale, the civil war in Syria is a tragedy that’s reminiscent of the earth-moving conflicts of the early 20th Century. So far, a quarter of a million people have been killed, with millions of others displaced.

After the turbulence of two world wars Europe has managed to create a zone were no battles are fought with weapons, but with words. But it might well be that we are on the bring of a turning point were radical groups of Christians and Muslims may like to throw spanner in the works.

National socialists, neo-nazis, but also several people who call themselves ‘Christian‘ want the rest of the population in their country to believe the refugees are a danger for their economic striving society and for their democratic and their ‘religious’ life.

So many Christians have forgotten the teachings of Christ Jesus and better should take up the Messianic writings again, and especially the gospels, to out again what Christianity is all about.

It is also not bad to look at different writings of people who called themselves Christian and see how they think we should cope with others around us, but also with our wealth we can enjoy. Because when you hear many talking today lots of people are more concerned with the financial consequences of those entering their community and with the minor radical lunatics who want to frighten our society and seem to succeed in their task, because so many give in to that unjustified fear.

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To remember

In an age when Christianity is comfortably entwined with consumer capitalism, the early Christians’ passion for social and economic justice can come as a shock.

  • From 1st days of Christianity > duty to care for poor and marginalized = at center of gospel
  • Jesus preached way of life free of possessions
  • 1st church in Jerusalem abolished private property + early apostles > warned of privilege and wealth.
  • 3 centuries later Christendom becoming official religion of Roman Empire > economics remained communitarian
  • Church fathers such as Basil the Great, John Chrysostom, + Augustine of Hippo preached
  • give your wealth free passage everywhere
  • let your wealth run through many conduits to the homes of the poor
  • Money kept standing idle = worthless > moving + changing hands = benefitting community => brings increase…
  • money in your vaults belongs to the destitute
  • injustice to every man whom you could help but do not.
  • God grants you gifts.

 

  • alms, prayers, protection of the injured and the like = genuine work
  • what we possess is not personal property; it belongs to all.
  • God generously gives all things that are much more necessary than money > air, water, fire, sun … All these things to be distributed equally to all.
  • “Mine” and “thine” = chilling words > introduce innumerable wars into the world => should be eliminated from the church
  • All things = in common.
  • When you possess superfluity = you possess what belongs to others
  • God gives the world to the poor as well as to the rich.
  • abstain from the possessions of private property – or from the love of it, if we cannot abstain from possession – and let us make room for the Lord.

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Find also:

Responses to Radical Muslims and Radical Christians

Listening for the Language of Peace

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Read also and watch the video: Refugee crisis, terrorist attacks and created fear

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Further readings:

  1. Europe and the Joke of Reverse Colonialism
  2. Editorial: Against Authority, Against Terror
  3. Capitalism
  4. Capitalism – Access to capital = Slavery
  5. Capitalism: incentivising sensationalism, taking advantage of our biases and damaging our mental health | Plymouth Herald journalist in breach of ethics?
  6. Eleutherios or A Hatred of Capitalism: The ascetic philosophy of Mick
  7. Next Generation Favors Socialism over Capitalism
  8. Coalitions against Impunity: Why the UN fails to maintain peace.
  9. Anti-Christ Anti-Scientist
  10. Should We Be Scared?
  11. Who is the Consummate Capitalist?
  12. Coal lights the way
  13. Stop the whole system wrecking the planet: this means revolution!
  14. Offended by the Lord’s Prayer? You should be!
  15. What Prince Charles gets wrong – and right – about climate change and conflict in Syria
  16. Quote for the day – November 19
  17. Quote for the day – November 22
  18. American Christianity: I Can’t “Unsee”
  19. A Sense of Proportion
  20. Politicians Talk a Lot, do Nothing, and Simply don’t Care
  21. In The Blink of a Kalashnikov
  22. The Psychopathy of Greed
  23. The Post-Capitalist Society is Already Emerging in Denmark
  24. Capitalism and the Dalai Lama
  25. Preliminary Materials on Collective Liberation and the New Material Reality

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Related articles

LiveWithoutLovingMoney

What Did the Early Church Say About Economic Justice?

(Thanks to Plough publishing for sharing this).

St. Augustine, John Chrysostom, and Basil the Great

 

In an age when Christianity is comfortably entwined with consumer capitalism, the early Christians’ passion for social and economic justice can come as a shock. From the first days of Christianity, the duty to care for the poor and marginalized was at the center of the gospel. Jesus preached a way of life free of possessions, the first church in Jerusalem abolished private property, and the early apostles warned of privilege and wealth.

Remarkably, three centuries later – when Christianity was well on its way to becoming the official religion of the Roman Empire – the church’s version of economics remained as communitarian as ever. Church fathers such as Basil the Great, John Chrysostom, and Augustine of Hippo preached in a way that…

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Filed under Activism and Peace Work, Crimes & Atrocities, Economical affairs, Political affairs, Re-Blogs and Great Blogs, Religious affairs, World affairs

10 responses to “Are Christianity and Capitalism Compatible?

  1. Thanks for the link back to my post.
    A comment on the history of economics (see Nasar’s “The Grand Pursuit”), motivated primarily by the principle that just as we should not hold Christ responsible for all the terrible things done in his name, so we should not hold Adam Smith responsible for all the things done in his name.
    At the beginning of the 19th century, economic thought was dominated by Malthus. The “dismal science” held that there was no escape from widespread poverty, because the growth of systems of production appeared incapable of keeping pace with population growth at the subsistence level. This meant that, no matter how freely owners distributed profits to the workers, population would continue to grow until poverty imposed a constraint on lifespan. This justified much of conservative thought of the era, which held that sustaining the institutions of the state in the face of ravenous poverty was essential, lest the entire body of humanity be reduced to barbarism
    Capitalism found a way out of this dilemma, essentially by supplementing the productive capacity of individual workers with machinery. The upshot was that, while wages per piece produced fell (as decried by Marx), the cost of goods fell even faster. This instituted an era of enormous growth in the global standard of living and average life span.
    Unfortunately, this boon comes largely from our harvest of the bounty of the Earth – in the West, each of us consumes energy equivalent to 200 man-years of labor. This has been indulged without a mind to sustainability, so it looks as though we are likely to return to Malthusian economic outcomes in the near future.
    I would note that the economic practices of the early Christian communities did not focus on the mechanisms of production or the issues of sustainability. These were beyond the ken of all except the most sophisticated members of society. In fact, the Fall of Rome and the ensuing deurbanization and decay of the social order was so traumatic to the Church fathers that the spent the next 1500 years trying to reestablish the Roman Empire, which they saw as the first Christian nation and therefore “God’s kingdom on earth.”
    So I would suggest that capitalism, with its hopeful, rational and scientific view of productive processes, is not incompatible with Christianity. We are still left with two problems to confront: maturity regarding procreative opportunity (each of us needs to ask “can I actually love a child into the future he/she deserves?” and discipline ourselves accordingly), and fairness in the distribution of wealth, which currently is seriously out of whack in America.

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    • Dear Brian Balke,
      Thanks for your nice reply on our site.

      Capitalism does not have to be something bad. People do have to use it properly and the workers in the capitalist system may not become slaves like they seem to become now. It is a matter of finding balance. Normally having all the robotics, all work should be easier now and the possibility to make a much higher quantity of pieces in a shorter time should make them cheaper but should also make work lighter and should give people more free time. But at the moment we notice that the wages of man are not in balance, having some earning 300 times more than those who do the hard work. It should be normal in our society that responsibility is paid more, but not horrendously much more. Also those who are paid a lot for their job like the people of Fortis and Dexia banks should have done their work properly and not having received bonuses after they made the banks near bankruptcy. Lots of people by capitalism got such a greedy attitude which we can not call Christian-like. Many Christians also now complaining for those refugees entering in their country, not wanting to share some space with them, can not be called having a Christian attitude.
      Christians for sure may make money, but they always should remind that all material from this earth belongs to the Maker and that they have this all just in temporary use. We all should share much more. And the danger of the capitalist attitude is that some people become so taken by the growth of capital that they do not see their fellow man any more, but just their own greedy I.

      Liked by 1 person

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  3. I found the link back to my post kind of interesting, I’m curious if you can share your reasoning for linking? In any case, thanks. : )

    About this post specifically, it’s somewhat shocking how buried this understanding of Christianity has become. Arguably the 2000 year trajectory of Christianity has been from a critique of, if not colonialism and capitalism, then their historical predecessors, towards the justification for them. It’s quite sad really.

    I was actually just about to start reading Reza Aslan’s “Zealot” later today, which I expect is going to deal with an aspect of this, but with a greater emphasis on the cultural rebuke of Roman Imperialism in early Christianities.

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    • In case we should justify all the links we are placing we would again lose time by justifying ourselves, whilst we lost already time by searching for articles to link to and giving our readers the opportunity to get to know those writings. Perhaps we should stop by linking to others and just keep all the readers to ourselves. (You are not the first one /again mostly Americans and one person from the Netherlands/ who complained about our linking to one of their articles.)

      But here our reply. This article was about the way our society is going and how politics interfere with our way of life whilst certain groups want to press man forwards into a more capitalist world.

      In your article, which we do agree only is limited to the USA, you speak about the republicans led by Ohioan Republican Senator Rob Portman who have called for investment to encourage innovations within the coal industry. In other articles we do warn about our carbon emissions and want to press for a more social handling. At the present our societies are also using many resources from the South and Middle-East which bring us to the reasons why the West does not interfere in certain countries (Syria), whilst in others they are the first to interfere (like Iraq) because the West needs them (oil).

      Lots of Americans accuse president Obama and the Democrats not doing anything against the refugees and many immigrants the Northern hemisphere is having problems with. But they just tackle the matter most wisely. as you write yourself democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton suggested a broader revitalization project to address any negative outcomes of her environmental policies. It aims to shore up public education in the region and expand access to job training, in case the industry’s workforce ends up being reduced. In previous messages we already several times pointed out that this Education is the major issue in getting people 1. to understand the problems, 2. get enough background, 3. give them enough material to analyse, judge end react in the right way. Lots of people who are reacting negatively at the income of other people in their states do not understand really what impact they really can have for the local population and how they also can be an asset economically.

      When you yourself writes:

      “What this speaks to is a broader disagreement on how capitalism and economics necessarily function, or at least potentially could. From the conservative perspective, private ownership is absolute and can only rarely and carefully be circumscribed. From eminent domain to taxation, the government is begrudgingly permitted to get involved, but with the constant expectation that it should explain its reasons why and quickly get back out.”

      we do not understand that “you do not understand” the reason for us linking back to your article, in our article which is about capitalism, the economic lust of people and the way people and politicians are coming in different ‘sailing waters’.

      We do hope we could give enough clarification for our reasons. But like we wrote to the others already, we are happy to take away the link if you want. Please let us know. We promise we shall try to remember not to link any more to one of your articles in the future.

      Like

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