Capitalism and Christianity Part 1

faces of capitalism
Attempts to merge Christianity with the Crown are nothing new. Constantine was the first, but not the last. Luther and Calvin tried it with no better a result. Thousands perish, power is concentrated into the hands of a few, the weak are made slaves, and still the kingdom of Christ is not of this world (John 18:36).
And yet there are still some people who are certain all the nations of the earth will be transformed by the gospel, that the entire globe will one day be won for Christ, and that Christians everywhere will experience a period of unparalleled prosperity. This absurd and shortsighted view is called Reconstructionism. It is an extension of Postmillennialism.

Reconstructionism is more than just a short-sighted view though.  It is also a patriotic one, because the Reconstructionist is certain the American empire will be the means by which his fantasies occur. The world will be won to Christ by a gospel carried on the wings of Capitalism, societies transformed by American Neo-Conservative ideology, prosperity accomplished by American military and economic might.

Wait, though.  Surely Christianity had some part to play in America’s prosperity, didn’t it?

No, it did not. And here is why.

First, America was never founded upon, nor has it ever been a Christian nation. A nation “founded upon Christian principles” is not the same as a nation founded upon Christianity. Founded upon Christian principles is simply another way to say, founded upon the ethics of the Ten Commandments. But the Ten Commandments is not Christianity. The Cross of Christ, His sacrifice for His elect, this is Christianity. This is not what America was founded upon. Nowhere in the Constitution is there even a passing mention of the Lord Jesus Christ and His sacrifice at the cross.

Second, if we are going to be consistent while saying something as asinine as America’s blessings came by peoples_republic_of_capitalism_01way of its approval of a particular religion, then we are going to have to say that this is true also of other financially prosperous nations like Singapore and Saudi Arabia. We will have to say that Singapore and Saudi Arabia’s “blessings” have come by way of their approval of a particular religion; that religion being, Buddhism and Islam.

Third, we will have to explain the West’s hypothetical foundation upon Christianity while addressing the fact that the West at the same time managed to produce the greatest number of human atrocities ever committed in a single century, and at a time when the West was supposed to be at the very height of civilized Christian society. Lest we forget, the Nazis were Western, Lenin was Western, Stalin was Western, and though Pol Pot and Mao Tse-tung were Eastern, they were both direct creations of the West.

juarezConsider that an estimated 100 million people were slaughtered in World War 2, a war that, with the exception of Japan, was a war between Western countries. Another 20 million in World War 1, 2 million in the Korean War, another 2 million in Vietnam, and who knows how many in the Cold War. And this does not even include the staggering rate of violent crime and murder that is a direct result of Western political policies, like, for instance, the war on drugs. 12,903 people were murdered in the city of Juarez, Mexico alone in 2013, victims of America’s war on drugs. And that is just one city! Is this the result of a Christian nation? Is this God’s blessing upon the West?

Fourth, we will also have to explain how Capitalism, supposedly a Christian virtue and the greatest means of economic prosperity, yet manages to produce a great number of abuses. Consider the horrors the human meat grinder that was the Chicago meat packing industry of the 10’s and 20’s. And before anyone strawmans me with poorly researched wiki pages, or irrelevant appeals to the fact that Sinclair was a yellow journalist (of course he was, but this doesn’t turn facts into lies!), I suggest they do themselves a favor and actually read Roosevelt’s cover letter to the Neill-Reynolds report.

Capitalism has put young women in sweatshops, back-broken fathers in bread lines, and children behind industrial machines. It has made economic slaves of the Appalachian people, and tore open the belly of the earth beneath their feet for added measure. It cratered vast portions of the American Southwest in search of oil, fostered war with Mexico and Spain, war with Korea, war with Vietnam, war even with itself. It has cheated and slaughtered America’s indigenous peoples, made slaves out of an entire race, ground refugees and immigrants into fodder, and has turned every voter into a puppet of the banking industry. In short, this supposed Christian virtue known as Capitalism has turned the American economic system into an instrument of mass murder and human torture. Is that what Christianity is about?

The prosperity of nations is the result of God’s sovereign will. Sometimes His will is carried out by means of careful economic spending. In most cases, however, God’s will is accomplished by means of military conquest and violent domination to the detriment of other nations. The Reconstructionist has an uphill battle if he wants to prove that the West’s “blessings” have come by way of gospel faith rather than an insatiable appetite for Middle Eastern oil. Commercial fishing, recreational service, commercial business, factory and warehouse, real estate, banking, entertainment, automobile manufacturing, construction, technology, heating and air, plastics, and the modern medical industry are all just some of the industries that were born in oil. They cannot survive without oil. Strip them of their supposed Christian influence and they will continue to thrive. Deprive them of oil though, and they die.

The truth is that God is not a Capitalist. Heaven is not the reward of those who by diligence and hard work compete in a free market of thoughts and ideas. God is not a Marxist either, but then again, I do not know anyone who has ever accused Him of being one. I know lots of people though, who accuse Him of being a Conservative and a Capitalist. Maybe He doesn’t like that. Maybe, in fact, He rather hates it.

Consider Leviticus 25:10-55.
25 “‘If one of your fellow Israelites becomes poor and sells some of their property, their nearest relative is to come and redeem what they have sold. 26 If, however, there is no one to redeem it for them but later on they prosper and acquire sufficient means to redeem it themselves, 27 they are to determine the value for the years since they sold it and refund the balance to the one to whom they sold it; they can then go back to their own property. 28 But if they do not acquire the means to repay, what was sold will remain in the possession of the buyer until the Year of Jubilee. It will be returned in the Jubilee, and they can then go back to their property.”

Suppose your neighbor loses his job. Suppose further still that he is unable to make his house payment. Let us also suppose he has no family who can make the payment for him. Says God, it is your duty as an Israelite to purchase the property from him (notice, from him, not for him). Later, at the year of Jubilee, you are required to sell the property back to your neighbor. If he cannot afford to purchase it from you, then you are to return the property to him . . . free of charge! Now I ask, is that capitalism? Is that free-market enterprise?

Consider Leviticus 19:9-10
‘When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner. I am the Lord your God.”

Would not capitalism count it economic suicide to give away 25 to 30% of its produce free every year? Of course, it would. Consider that Rush Limbaugh argues that a society cannot survive when a quarter of its people “want something for nothing.” Funny how the Israelites survived for so long then, isn’t it. Not only survived, but thrived!

Point in fact, God is not a Capitalist, nor is He a Conservative. The economy of God’s justice is not written in the American constitution or the Declaration of Independence. In God’s economy of justice, all men are not created equal! “Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.”
This does not mean I believe God is a Marxist either. False dichotomies are just that – false. Just because God is not a Capitalist does not mean there is only one choice left.

“The land shall not be sold in perpetuity, for the land is Mine.” – Leviticus 25:23

The Reconstructionist presumes that since God is not a socialist, therefore He is a capitalist, as though capitalism is the only system that condemns theft. The claim is that the Biblical ideal is for every man to own property – a place where he can have dominion and rule under God. It most certainly is not. The Biblical ideal – the promise, in fact – is that all God’s elect shall be saved from coming judgment, and all the non-elect be destroyed, both to the glory of God. And this He shall accomplish – He, not us, He – on that day Christ returns to judge the living and the dead. The Reconstructionist calls this defeatism. No sir, this is the promise of the gospel. Romans 1:16 says the gospel is the power for salvation. For salvation! It does not say for economic dominion and more land than my neighbor.

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About David Bishop

Gospel of Grace Church http://www.gospeldefense.com/about.html
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5 Responses to Capitalism and Christianity Part 1

  1. libertyblogger101 says:

    I’m not much for reconstructionism or conservatism either, both philosophies miss the point and I mostly agree with your reasoning as to why. God’s promise is that he’ll save his people through the preaching of the gospel, not that society will be transformed. And you are right that this is not “defeatism:” What is cultural or political change compared to even one human soul?

    That said, I don’t see anything in the Leviticus verses that condone using FORCE to make someone buy someone else’s property and give it back for free. Its a command from God, but God does not command human beings to threaten violence against those who don’t comply. That’s what statism is, in all its forms. I support the free-market above and in opposition to the State. That doesn’t mean I think people who cannot provide for themselves should be left to starve. Rather, families and churches should be doing their jobs to provide for these people rather than asking the government to steal from Peter to pay Paul. That’s what the “free market” is.

    Now, its true that Republicans and conservatives are more concerned with the “laziness” of the welfare recipient than they are with the fact that stealing is just morally wrong, period. And it would be wrong whether the recipient “deserved” to be in their situation or not. That’s why I’m not a Republican or conservative, but rather, am an anti-statist/voluntarist.

    • David Bishop says:

      Of course you don’t see in the Leviticus verses anything about force. That is because you don’t read the text! You have already established how Biblically illiterate you are, and so it’s no surprise to find you yet again asserting things about the text that are simply false.

      The instructions God gave Israel in Numbers 25 were not friendly suggestions, THEY WERE COVENANT COMMANDMENTS!

      Leviticus 26:
      14 “But if you will not listen to me and will not do all these commandments, 15 if you spurn my statutes, and if your soul abhors my rules, so that you will not do all my commandments, but break my covenant, 16 then I will do this to you: I will visit you with panic, with wasting disease and fever that consume the eyes and make the heart ache. And you shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it. 17 I will set my face against you, and you shall be struck down before your enemies. Those who hate you shall rule over you, and you shall flee when none pursues you. 18 And if in spite of this you will not listen to me, then I will discipline you again sevenfold for your sins, 19 and I will break the pride of your power, and I will make your heavens like iron and your earth like bronze. 20 And your strength shall be spent in vain, for your land shall not yield its increase, and the trees of the land shall not yield their fruit.

      21 “Then if you walk contrary to me and will not listen to me, I will continue striking you, sevenfold for your sins. 22 And I will let loose the wild beasts against you, which shall bereave you of your children and destroy your livestock and make you few in number, so that your roads shall be deserted.

      23 “And if by this discipline you are not turned to me but walk contrary to me, 24 then I also will walk contrary to you, and I myself will strike you sevenfold for your sins. 25 And I will bring a sword upon you, that shall execute vengeance for the covenant. And if you gather within your cities, I will send pestilence among you, and you shall be delivered into the hand of the enemy. 26 When I break your supply[b] of bread, ten women shall bake your bread in a single oven and shall dole out your bread again by weight, and you shall eat and not be satisfied.

      27 “But if in spite of this you will not listen to me, but walk contrary to me, 28 then I will walk contrary to you in fury, and I myself will discipline you sevenfold for your sins. 29 You shall eat the flesh of your sons, and you shall eat the flesh of your daughters. 30 And I will destroy your high places and cut down your incense altars and cast your dead bodies upon the dead bodies of your idols, and my soul will abhor you. 31 And I will lay your cities waste and will make your sanctuaries desolate, and I will not smell your pleasing aromas. 32 And I myself will devastate the land, so that your enemies who settle in it shall be appalled at it. 33 And I will scatter you among the nations, and I will unsheathe the sword after you, and your land shall be a desolation, and your cities shall be a waste.

      34 “Then the land shall enjoy its Sabbaths as long as it lies desolate, while you are in your enemies’ land; then the land shall rest, and enjoy its Sabbaths. 35 As long as it lies desolate it shall have rest, the rest that it did not have on your Sabbaths when you were dwelling in it.

      Does that still not sound like force, David?

      Jeremiah 34:
      13 “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: I myself made a covenant with your fathers when I brought them out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, saying, 14 ‘At the end of seven years each of you must set free the fellow Hebrew who has been sold to you and has served you six years; you must set him free from your service.’ But your fathers did not listen to me or incline their ears to me. 15 You recently repented and did what was right in my eyes by proclaiming liberty, each to his neighbor, and you made a covenant before me in the house that is called by my name, 16 but then you turned around and profaned my name when each of you took back his male and female slaves, whom you had set free according to their desire, and you brought them into subjection to be your slaves. 17 “Therefore, thus says the Lord: You have not obeyed me by proclaiming liberty, every one to his brother and to his neighbor; behold, I proclaim to you liberty to the sword, to pestilence, and to famine, declares the Lord. I will make you a horror to all the kingdoms of the earth. 18 And the men who transgressed my covenant and did not keep the terms of the covenant that they made before me, I will make them like the calf that they cut in two and passed between its parts— 19 the officials of Judah, the officials of Jerusalem, the eunuchs, the priests, and all the people of the land who passed between the parts of the calf. 20 And I will give them into the hand of their enemies and into the hand of those who seek their lives. Their dead bodies shall be food for the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth.

      • libertyblogger101 says:

        OK… I suppose I should clarify my position, and I agree that I didn’t word it very well. God will absolutely judge those who violate his laws… certainly in the next life, but he may well do it in this life to. God is sovereign over all that occurs, he uses the evil of men as judgment, and he also directly intervenes as judgment. I have no issues with this.

        But we cannot conclude by this that some HUMAN authority has the right to use force in a given situation just because God has that right.

        Do you see the difference?

        So, greed is a sin and the unrepentently greedy will suffer consequences from God whether in this life or the next, but it is not the job of civil government to prohibit greed, nor is it the job of the Christian to wield the sword against the greedy.

        If you disagree with that, that’s the point of contention. But I wasn’t meaning to imply that God’s law was just a suggestion that could be disregarded at will. I was simply saying that government force was not involved.

      • David Bishop says:

        Where did I argue that human authority does have the right to use force in a given situation just because God has that right? Do I see the difference? Man, do you see the irrelevancy?

  2. markmcculley says:

    The key is the distinction between God and us humans. We are not God. We have no right to act like God, or as if we were his agents. So we can be commanded to do “more” back to them than they would do, without this saying that God is going to love them more than they love God.

    I don’t think God loves our non-elect enemies. Not at all. God is going to get even, more than that, God is going to destroy them. So the “be ye perfect” ( Matthew) is a command for us to not discriminate, even though God does discriminate.

    God is kind of the “ungrateful and the evil” elect. God is not being kind to the tares, the goats, the non-elect. Rain is not a blessing for them.

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