It is commonly believed that if it weren’t for the protestant work ethic – capitalism would not be possible.
That belief is due in large part to a German economist named Max Weber who wrote a book entitled The Protestant Work Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, published in 1905 in which he outlines the following theory:
When the protestant reformers rebelled against the authority of the church in Rome they eliminated certainty of their salvation – they no longer had an authority to confirm their faith and eternal destiny.
That created a need for another form of confirmation. The new sign that one had God’s nod of approval was wealth, and everyone wanted to be part of the elect – so they worked really hard to accumulate wealth to prove that God’s grace was upon them.
In 1926, R.H. Tawney, author of Religion and the Rise of Capitalism, communicated the popular interpretation of Adam Smith’s invisible hand:
“If preachers have not yet overtly identified themselves with the view of the natural man, expressed by an eighteenth-century writer in the words, trade is one thing and religion is another, they imply a not very different conclusion by their silence as to the possibility of collisions between them. The characteristic doctrine was one, in fact, which left little room for religious teaching as to economic morality, because it anticipated the theory, later epitomized by Adam Smith in his famous reference to the invisible hand, which saw in economic self-interest the operation of a providential plan…”
This worldview, according to Weber and Tawney, was a major source of fuel to the capitalist economy. Not the only factor, but a major one. If you are wondering about this connection – check out the video:
Are Protestantism/Religion and Capitalism “on the ropes?” Perhaps.
Was Jesus Protestant?
Was he Catholic?
Was he a Christian?
Was Jesus a religious figure? (Keep in mind his attitudes toward the religious Pharisees.)
Did he come to establish a religion? (Remember – “I came that you might have life, and that more abundantly.”)
How important is Jesus’ command to “…seek first the kingdom of God…?”
Why did Jesus teach us to pray “…your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven…?”
Are there alternatives to Capitalism – beyond Socialism or Communism?
Does the kingdom (government) of God have it’s own economic model?
Adam Smith, often recognized as the father of economics, opened his first book, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, with this statement:
“How selfish soever man may be supposed, there are evidently some principles in his nature, which interest him in the fortune of others, and render their happiness necessary to him, though he derives nothing from it, except the pleasure of seeing it.”
Isn’t this what Jesus is known for?
Isn’t this what he was doing in the earth?
Your business is an economic entity.
Your business drives an economic reality.
Your business creates an economic certainty for the stakeholders.
Could Jesus’ example and teachings be an invitation to “..do only what (we) see his Father doing…?”
Could he be inviting us to participate in the kingdom’s economy – in the earth – as it is in heaven?
And a few more resources:
Capitalism only works if people are governed by an internal moral law. When a society loses sense of what is right and wrong, they need more and more laws to protect them from each other. But more laws don’t help, because the laws are created by the same crooks but who managed to gain more power than the other crooks. So yeah, as people turn away from God’s law, capitalism and free market system fade away with it.