How is that Christians believe that we can work Capitalism to our own ends? I realize that many within the Christian community believe that Capitalism is a good thing. The idea breaks down into something like this:
1) The best kind of society is one where freedom, in particular religious freedom, is the norm.
2) Politics and economics follow the same outline in that freedom is what is best.
2) Capitalism promotes freedom through competition, therefore it is the best economic system available.
Of course, the Industrial Revolution taught us a thing or two about the abuses of freedom (as if we had not been taught this lesson throughout history already), and so began regulations. Two World Wars, and three substantial economic crises later (‘20s, ‘80s, 2000s), the regulation continues. In fact we could add to the above outline:
4) Complete freedom, particularly in Capitalism, is dangerous so we must learn to control and direct the path of our economy.
While not a detailed economic blueprint, the above sketch is how many people (not least American Christians) think about the current economic system. This video serves as a prime example:
While it would be most prudent to go into a complete explanation of how our global economy currently functions, we cannot. My own knowledge is too limited for such an endeavor (without merely resorting to parroting someone else). But, I would like to challenge Dr. Deimer’s thought all the same.
There is no way in which Capitalism can ever truly be “bridled.” The recent economic crises around the world, not to mention in Greece and Ireland specifically, should have taught us that (this video was made in 2009 so apparently not all have come to the same conclusions as I have). Competition, whether we like to admit it or not, is in contrast to the character of God. Look at Paul’s writings to the Colossians, the Galatians, or the Romans. When he describes Christian virtue, does he list competitiveness? Does he mention anything closely resembling it?
No, he does not.
Why? Because it is not in Christ’s nature to compete, and His nature is what should govern God’s children (one could argue that God the Father is jealous, but that would be remiss…after all, God does not compete for our affections).
It brings me back to Matthew, and the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus’ teachings on money are not vague.We either love money, or we love God. There is no in-between.
Of course, I’m stating the obvious, and no Christian, Capitalist or otherwise, would argue. In fact, they would say in my understanding of Matthew 6, I’m right.
The issue, then, comes from something else. After studying Scripture (in particular Exodus, Judges, Samuel, Kings, Chronicles, and the Gospels), I cannot fathom how any self-professing Christian can think that the economic system we have in the United States is anything other than a love of mammon. I understand that money is a useful tool, but that is not the limit of Capitalistic greed. Think of the housing collapse. Money, in the form of credit, was not being used as a tool. It was more a child’s plaything. We didn’t use it to end poverty, or better our communities. We used to get what we wanted. We manipulated numbers until the lifestyle we desired was achieved. There are, of course, exceptions to this (particularly people who suffered even though they did all the right things), but they are by far the tiny minority.
I don’t blame the people who took out home loans they could not afford. I don’t blame the banks who lent to people they should not have. Both of those goats have been faulted enough.
I blame our habits, our hearts, our process of thinking. We believe that money can be tamed; that greed can be bridled. Regulation, deregulation, taxation, financial reform, and on, and on, and on. The truth is, no matter how you try to, you cannot accommodate greed. And what is Capitalism but greed put into practice?
We can do the math in way we want to, but the answer will never change. What is needed is not more of what we have, nor less of it for that matter. What we need is transformation.
Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. (Romans 12:1-3, NASB)
It is only by this that things will change. And it is my continual prayer that things will indeed change. That’s what Jesus told us to do.