In honor of (who I accept to be) our Lord Jesus, the night before Easter, I want to do a brief post about Christianity and capitalism–and I expect to do many more.  This topic really interests me, and there is so much to discuss.  Today I will discuss the Gospel of Thomas and capitalism–yes, I accept the Gospel of Thomas as at least as authoritative as the canonical gospels.

In (46), Jesus says ” . . . And it is impossible for a servant to serve two masters, otherwise, he will honor the one and treat the other contemptuously . . . ” The implication of this, at least one of many, is clear.  One can serve the wishes of one’s boss, country, and the market in general  (as well as all other norm-generating sources of authority) only when their commandments are at least compatible, i.e. not against, with the teachings of God.  Are capitalism’s rules?

(64) says the following:

Jesus said, “A man had received visitors.  And when he had prepared the dinner, he sent his servant to invite the guests.  He went to the first one and said to him, ‘My master invites you.’  He said, ‘I have claims against some merchants.  They are coming to me this evening.  I must go and give them my orders.  I ask to be excused from the dinner.’  He went to another and said to him, ‘My master has invited you.’  He said to him, ‘I have just bought a house and am required for the day.  I shall not have any spare time.’  He went ot another and said to him, ‘My master invites you.’  He said to him, ‘My friend is going to get married, and I am to prepare the banquet.  I shall not be able to come.  I ask to be excused from the dinner.’  He went to another and said to him, ‘My master invites you.’  He said to him, ‘I have just bought a farm and I am on my way to collect the rent.  I shall not be able to come.  I ask to be excused.’  The servant returned and said to his master,  ‘Those whom you invited to the dinner ahve asked to be excused.’  The master said to his servant,  ‘Go outside to the streets and bring back those whom you happen to meet, so that they may dine.’  Businessmen and merchants [will] not enter the places of my father.”

 Lets reiterate the excuses for not coming to the banquet of the Master.

(1) Must collect claims against some merchants, i.e. a lender.

(2) Has purchased a house and has things to do with it, i.e. a consumer generally, someone concerned with the state of acquisitions.

 (3) Preparer of the banquet at a wedding, i.e. more concerned with personal relationships and temporal obligations.

(4) Collecting rent on a farm, i.e. landlord. 

Jesus said that (1) lenders, (2) people with consumerist mentalities (concerned with acquisitions), and (4) landlords are not going to be in the house of the Master. 

Following the dictates of Capital ((1) and (4)), the values (2) of the system, is following a different Master. 

Note also that, of the traditional three economic classes in the capitalist system (going back to Adam Smith), capitalists, landlords, and laborers, the first two are explicitly reprimanded.  Also, the value system that feeds the system (consumerism) is decried. 

“Businessmen and merchants [will] not enter the places of my [F]ather.”

Happy Easter!

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