Ian Hodge, author of Baptized Inflation: A Critique of “Christian” Keynesianism, argues that the capitalism that is based on the profit motive is not biblical capitalism. Biblical capitalism, argues Hodge, is the “opportunity for people to develop their God-given gifts and abilities.” Capitalism should not be primarily associated with wealth and money. Hodge observes:
Contemporary capitalism is flawed with its emphasis on “me” and what I can get out of my employees, rather than “what can I do to help my employees fulfill their godly calling?”
Capitalism, then, biblically considered, is the environment produced by which Christians fulfill their calling by using their gifts. Therefore, capitalism is the required milieu to exercise good stewardship.
Honoring others is becoming a lost art, but Paul says in I Thessalonians 5 that honoring those in the congregation is part of our calling. Allow me to honor a dear friend and parishioner, Mark Price. Mark has endured over these last 9 months what no man should endure. Some endure hardships with dishonor, but Mark endured it with utmost honor. He could have taken the route of self-pity, but he took the route of selflessness. He could have said that he needs time away from church to privatize his grief, but instead he came to church to share his grief. In a culture when manhood is despised, Mark is counter-culture. He embraces biblical manhood and strives for excellence in his life and labor.
Mark is a friend. I have walked with him and seen the pain of a man hurt by betrayal, but I have also seen the courage of a man who persevered in his loyalty to his Lord. One cannot commune with Mark Price without seeing his transparent faith. Mark is faithful, and knowing him is an honor. He has set an example of the type of man the church desperately needs.
The uniqueness of Mark Price is also his strong work ethic. Mark has embraced what some call the Puritan work ethic. He is disciplined and utterly zealous for hisreputation in the community. He has been a painter in Pensacola for over 30 years. His business, Painters Plus,
is known for its excellence. A simple glimpse at his work makes the point abundantly clear. As the website states, “The name Painters Plus encompasses a lot more than just paint.” Painters Plus is not just another business, it is a distinctly Christian business. It is more than painting, it is painting to the glory of God. Mark Price believes that his work of renovating and renewing is more than making furniture look attractive–you will not be disappointed with his work–but it is also a small contribution to the world as art. For Mr. Price, the world belongs to God. Mark’s labors and professionalism are gifts from God. He does not paint for the sake of painting; he paints because he wants to beautify his God’s world. And this is what drives Painters Plus.
Joyce Appleby begins her The Relentless Revolution: A History of Capitalism with a discussion of the definition of her subject. Is capitalism an expression of a basic, immutable human nature (Smith: everyone exerts “uniform, constant, and uninterrupted effort . . . to better his condition”)? Is it exploitation, the seizure of the means of production from farmers by the new lords of production, and the confinement of the rest to the status of wage laborers (Marx)?
Neither. Following Weber more than Smith or Marx, Appleby argues that capitalism is not the natural form of human enterprise, nor fundamentally as an economic system, but a “cultural system” that took form in seventeenth-century England. Through an thorough examination of pamphlet literature of that period, she was able to trace the development of new views of human nature, which amounted to a shift from Calvinist man to economic man. Capitalism expanded as England did (she nicely notes that for much of the world capitalism, like English, is a second language). Continue reading Leithart and Capitalism→
Central to the wealth motif found abundantly in Moses’ writings, is the source of all wealth. Deuteronomy 8:18 says: “Remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth.” All wealth comes from God and as such, is dependent upon the goodness of God. As a proper foundational piece to the free-market economy, Deuteronomy establishes much more. The ability to produce wealth entails the ability to work to produce that wealth.
Capitalism functions in America not because America is inherently oriented towards a free-market economy, but because Capitalism is symbolic of the Christian view of economics. But simply because it is Christian does not mean that it will always function. Biblical law is Christian, but it certainly is not part of Congress’ concern when they begin in the morning.
Capitalism at its root promotes a dynamic society; a society devoid of laziness and welfare. Christians have been made to operate in such a society. When we are made alive we are made to build, organize, and operate. If a society promotes rewarding those who do not build, organize, and operate, then that society is doomed to utter failure. Lest the idea becomes too individualistic, capitalism is made for the community not for the individual. When the individual becomes the sole proprietor of his version of capitalism it diminishes to self-tyranny. True Capitalism however, engages society by building, organizing, and operating together. This dynamic exchange works for the betterment of society.