American Christians and Capitalism

One of my favorite teachers, Martin E. Marty, is a voice for reasonableness, for thoughtfulness, and for inviting faithfulness from his readers. He offers food for thought as we talk about budgets and budget deficits and caring for each other.

A sampling:

“God has cursed the earth. . . This is the starting point for all economic analysis. The earth no longer gives up her fruits automatically. Man must sweat to eat.” So writes Gary North, “the leading proponent of ‘Christian economics,’”

Reconstructionists argue that the Bible forbids any welfare program, writes Mark Oppenheimer in the New York Times. They argue that America should be an “Old Testament theocracy.” Of course (I suppose one would say ‘of course’), this “Christian Economics” and “Theocratic” thinking is not representative of mainstream libertarians. However, expert on the subject Michael J. McVicar of Ohio State says that one must pay attention “given how widely Mr. North’s teachings have been disseminated on the Christian right.”

Enough? Then read the conclusions counter to Reconstructionist Libertarians, voiced by Andrew Walsh of Culver-Stockton College: “Throughout the Bible, we see numerous passages about being our brothers’ keeper, welcoming the stranger, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and healing the sick.” Continuing the contrast, Walsh again: “The idea that we are autonomous individuals competing for limited resources without concern for the welfare of others is a philosophy that is totally alien to the Bible.”

Where is the polled public as it lives between free marketism—in more moderate forms than North’s—and the “welfare of others” claims of Walsh?

The answer may surprise you. Read more: American Christians and Capitalism by Martin E. Marty.


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