Category: Christianity

Here is but a small set of Christian scriptures (restricting myself mostly to the New Testament) concerning capitalism.

On consumerism, materialism, and capital accumulation.

Capitalism is fueled by what Leslie Sklair calls “the culture-ideology of consumerism,” a set of social beliefs that encourage demand for material things–the hoarding of stuff.  Additionally, corporations and individuals in capitalist economies tend towards emphasizing economic growth exclusively–all other things are advocated in terms of their promotion of economic growth. 

Matthew 6: 19-21.

Treasure in Heaven
Lk. 12.32-34
19  ¶ Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, Jas. 5.2, 3 and where thieves break through and steal:
20  but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
21  for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Perhaps it may be objected that the economy needs to grow in proportion to the people in it. . . and I agree, but its distribution among them ought to be equalized.

More on consumerism, care for material things – Matthew 6: 25-34

Care and Anxiety
Lk. 12.22-31
25  ¶ Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?
26  Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?
27  Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?
28  And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:
29  and yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory 1 Kgs. 10.4-7 · 2 Chr. 9.3-6 was not arrayed like one of these.
30  Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?
31  Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?
32  (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.
33  But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
34  ¶ Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

On Debt – a major feature of capitalist society.

Matthew 6: 9-14

9  After this manner therefore pray ye:

Our Father which art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy name.
10  Thy kingdom come.

Thy will be done
in earth, as it is in heaven.
11  Give us this day our daily bread.
12  And forgive us our debts,

as we forgive our debtors.
13  And lead us not into temptation,

but deliver us from evil:
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, 1 Chr. 29.11 for ever. Amen.
14  For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you . . .

I’ve found a lot in the New Testament alone that opposes capitalism on many levels–and I haven’t needed to go beyond Matthew 6.  I’ll end the way all New Testament exhibitions should end–

Matthew 5:3-12

The Beatitudes
Lk. 6.20-23
3  ¶ Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4  ¶ Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Is. 61.2
5  ¶ Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. Ps. 37.11
6  ¶ Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. Is. 55.1, 2
7  ¶ Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
8  ¶ Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. Ps. 24.4, 5
9  ¶ Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
10  ¶ Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: 1 Pet. 3.14 for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11  ¶ Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. 1 Pet. 4.14
12  Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets 2 Chr. 36.16 · Acts 7.52 which were before you.

Luke 10:25-27 (And look at the whole sermon)

25  ¶ And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?
26  He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou?
27  And he answering said,

Thou shalt love the Lord thy God
with all thy heart, and with all thy soul,
and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; Deut. 6.5
and thy neighbor as thyself. Lev. 19.18

Happy Easter!

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!