It is amazing to see the responses I get on social media when I suggest that Capitalism is a vile, evil, and particularly unchristian economic system. It is even more amazing to me to see that a preponderance of those responses come from Christians – those who should be disciples and followers of Christ Jesus.
Perhaps it would be instructive (and maybe memory refreshing) to anyone who stumbles by this blog to post a few Bible verses on riches, especially those of the Lord.
Proverbs 22: 16 One who oppresses the poor to increase his wealth and one who gives gifts to the rich—both come to poverty.
Oh, you mean like the over 200 years of men who have sent other men down into coal mines for a nickel a day and to die of black lung while they lived in palatial splendor which would have made Henry VIII green with envy? Those men? Or perhaps we are speaking of something more modern, like the CEO of Nike who hires children to sew his $300 a pair shoes together.
Of course, NIKE wouldn’t think of hiring AMERICANS in the United States to do this work because they might actually have to pay a living and sustainable wage. And they are not the only company to do this. But as with all Capitalists, it’s all about the profits. And paying people a livable wage when you can hire children for pennies a day is not smart business, is it?
Ecclesiastes 5: 13 I have seen a grievous evil under the sun: wealth hoarded to the harm of its owners,
When was the last time you ever heard anyone lamenting the harm that the WalMart fortune is doing to the Walton family? Or anyone talking about the eternal destiny of John D. Rockefeller? Hoarding money is idolatry. It goes beyond mere putting aside of a few extra dollars for unforeseen disasters or emergencies, and goes into the realm of trusting that money rather than God for one’s future. It is an evil in which the ears of the rich are stopped against the cries of the poor and needy. The Walton family is worth almost a half a trillion (that’s TRILLION, with a “T”!) dollars.
Stop and ponder that a moment. No, really. We have gotten so blase about money that our government talks about being in debt to the tune of $19 trillion dollars as if it is chump change…and we barely bat an eyelash rather than stand stock still with our mouths agape upon hearing these figures. The Walton family has more money than the entire budget of some small third world countries. What are they going to do with it? It is rotting their souls, and those are not my words or my feelings. This comes from a much higher source than myself:
Matthew 13: 22 He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.
The deceitfulness of riches. This is God speaking to us. He warns us that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God.
When I suggest that the Christian life consists of having a first and foremost priority for the poor and needy, that we should not hoard money to ourselves, the words “Socialist” and “Communist” fly at me like darts from a gun, loaded with hate and poison. Yet look at the historic view of riches from the Early Fathers of the Church.
“You are not making a gift of your possession to the poor person. You are handing over to him what is his.” St. Ambrose of Milan, 340-397.
“The property of the wealthy holds them in chains . . . which shackle their courage and choke their faith and hamper their judgment and throttle their souls. They think of themselves as owners, whereas it is they rather who are owned: enslaved as they are to their own property, they are not the masters of their money but its slaves.” Cyprian, 300 A.D.
“The bread in your cupboard belongs to the hungry man; the coat hanging in your closet belongs to the man who needs it; the shoes rotting in your closet belong to the man who has no shoes; the money which you put into the bank belongs to the poor. You do wrong to everyone you could help but fail to help.” Basil of Caesarea, 330-370 A.D.
” Not to enable the poor to share in our goods is to steal from them and deprive them of life. The goods we possess are not ours but theirs.” John Chrysostom, 347-407 AD
“Instead of the tithes which the law commanded, the Lord said to divide everything we have with the poor. And he said to love not only our neighbors but also our enemies, and to be givers and sharers not only with the good but also to be liberal givers toward those who take away our possessions.” Irenaeus, 130-200 AD
“The rich are in possession of the goods of the poor, even if they have acquired them honestly or inherited them legally.” John Chrysostom, 347-407
“Share everything with your brother. Do not say, “It is private property.” If you share what is everlasting, you should be that much more willing to share things which do not last.” The Didache
“Let the strong take care of the weak; let the weak respect the strong. Let the rich man minister to the poor man; let the poor man give thanks to God that he gave him one through whom his need might be satisfied.” Clement of Rome, 1st Century
“How can I make you realize the misery of the poor? How can I make you understand that your wealth comes from their weeping?” Basil of Caesarea, 330-370 A.D.
“When you are weary of praying and do not receive, consider how often you have heard a poor man calling, and have not listened to him.” John Chrysostom, 347-407
“You are handing over to him what is his.” “Do not say it is private property….”
“YOU COMMIE PIG!!!! HOW DARE YOU!!!!”
“The rich are in possession of the goods of the poor…”
“COMMIE PIG!! WHY DON’T YOU GO TO RUSSIA WHERE YOU BELONG. GO TO YOUR COMMIE PARADISE!!! LOOK AT VENEZUELA AND THEN TELL ME HOW YOUR COMMIE PROGRAM WORKS!!!
Yeah, this is what I get all the time when I suggest that there is a better system than Capitalism, one that is more fair, more Christian, and still incorporates private ownership of property and freedom from the usury of the bankers who run this country.
You can read about it here:
We are not put on this earth to build up fortunes, to seek pleasures, to accrue riches. We are here to find God in repentance, to live our lives in accord with His Word, and to become like Christ. To be like Christ who said that if a man take one of your cloaks, give to him your coat also. Like Christ who warned us that riches starve and kill our souls. Like Christ, who had neither place to lay His divine head nor promise of food for tomorrow, but trusted His heavenly Father for all that He needed in life.
Throughout the ages, we have seen the shining examples of the saints and religious who have shown us that this life can be lived – a life of simplicity in monasteries, working and praying, giving their excess to the poor, and as St. Paul said, being content with food and raiment.
The reason that we have come to worship the “Benjie” here in America is because we are a Protestant nation, that is to say, a nation which has cast off the connection between the Early Church and Christianity and has embraced a false “Christianity” called Calvinism. In his wonderful little book, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism , Max Weber shows how the Calvinists who settled New England sought for a sign that they were truly “of the elect” and therefore favored by God. The answer they came up with was the accrual of wealth. To them, prosperity equaled God’s favor, and they set about with a vengeance in what has come to be called “The Protestant Work Ethic” in America.
Because of this ethic, great fortunes were made, and in turn, people came to idolize those men who were “Captains of Industry” and “Leaders of the World.” Indeed, the world today has a tendency to idolize those with money, to look up to the rich and famous, to wish to emulate them and their way of life. Yet what did Christ give as one of the signs by which we know that we are on His side (HINT: It is not the acquisition of wealth!)
John 15: 18 “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.”
Perhaps riches and the admiration of the world is not all that it is cracked up to be.