I remember clearly standing in the kitchen of Black Forest Academy in Kandern, Germany discussing that fine missionary school with the wife of one of my colleagues. Offhandedly, without any thought of contradiction, she referred to BFA as an American school. It was quite clear to her that the cause of Christ and the ideals of America were synonymous.

She is not alone. Many in North America think the same, and would go even further and say that capitalism and Christianity are, if not synonymous, at least compatible. But are they? The Bible doesn’t have a lot to say about economic systems, but the examples it does give do not support capitalism. Joseph organized the entire country under state ownership and then redistributed the land; the first disciples sold all they had and held everything in common. Warren Buffet is not lining up at that door!

Going back to Max Weber’s classic analysis in the early part of the 20th century, sociologists have often given credit – or blame! – to Luther’s and Calvin’s interpretations on the dignity of work as the genesis for capitalism. But is the narcissistic individuality of consumer culture compatible with a faith that puts the needs of others before self and the will of God above all? And is the greedy, rapacious plunder of God’s creation for personal or national gain pleasing to the God who preached “take no thought for tomorrow, for tomorrow will take care of itself…but rather seek the kingdom of God”?

If freedom to choose has been so debased that it now means the choice between Pepsi and Coke, or abortion and euthanasia, and all are equal because all choices are valid in consumerism, and I’m simply a consumer with “rights,” where is there a place for morals or ethics? Individual need has become individual greed, and there is no foreseeable future for such a wilfully self-destructive and nihilistic culture.

See: http://xroads.virginia.edu/~HYPER/WEBER/cover.html

http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew%206&version=31

 

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