Sunday, June 10, 2012



Capitalism is at once far too rational, trusting in nothing that it cannot weigh and measure, and far too little as well, accumulating wealth as an end in itself. —Terry Eagleton, Harper's, March 2005

There are many nuances of the economic system called capitalism. Less government and free markets are usually hallmarks of such a system. But generally a path to personal wealth and financial accumulation is what capitalism is designed to produce. Within a capitalist culture most people are taught to be discontented with their present financial condition, and they are also taught that in order to “get ahead” one must be aggressive in his pursuit of prosperity. The greater material accoutrements one has is usually directly proportionate to the amount of time and energy one devotes to applying the capitalist principles.

It is quite astonishing that almost all the teachings of Christ seem to be outside the capitalist mold as well as His earthly lifestyle. But even in the face of such overwhelming evidence the church has adopted capitalism as the divinely approved economic system. And the pursuit of personal wealth, warned against in Scripture, is now an acceptable way of life.

I Tim.6:8 - And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.
9 But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.
10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

The teachings concerning money are prevalent throughout the New Testament. But those teachings are without the compromise of the Industrial Revolution and the many centuries of accepted greed and avarice. In today’s western culture people can waste obscene amounts of money on everything from entertainment to exotic foods to extravagant clothing even while others perish. Even church buildings must have a touch of opulence and modern technology, and most of them are built with money borrowed from Pharaoh. And believers are no better than the hedonistic culture in which they live. Slowly but surely the church has invited hedonism and greed into its belief system and practice. Self denial and sacrifice has long since been rejected as a Christian virtue.

Capitalism is even seen in the way churches format their staff salaries. I once heard a pastor suggest that the church should pay him what he could make in the secular marketplace. And most church’s would completely agree with that measuring stick. Many salary “packages” for preachers are an embarrassment to the faith of Christ. Lined with all kinds of accoutrements and many weeks of vacation, they are imprisoned by a capitalist mentality. And as a rule, as the church grows in numbers and offerings, so does the preacher’s salary. In fact, when a church reaches a large number of people and buildings, the academic requirements to be the senior pastor become much greater. The world must view the man as a “doctor” before he is even considered.

Step back and assess what has happened just in our lifetime. The telephone has gone from the kitchen wall to being a complete entertainment center. Women’s makeup and men’s grooming products are multi-billion dollar industries. Clothing is now a fashion statement, and kids sneakers, yes I said sneakers, can run into hundreds of dollars. Most homes have multiple televisions, and your neighborhood cable service will provide pornography right into your home if you pay for it. Cars are now mobile homes with all kind of expensive accessories. Most ministries and many churches now receive offerings via credit card. And all this and more describe a culture which bathes itself in materialism and entertainment but will not provide health care to all its citizens. And why will it not provide that service? Simple, it does not make money. If healthcare was profitable everyone would have it.

Capitalism is the pursuit of money, plain and simple. All earthly economic systems are fallen and are out of step with the kingdom of God. In fact almost all earthly economic systems have as their goal personal and community prosperity. The pursuit of money is at the heart of almost every endeavor. Prostitution, gambling, drugs, and all vices have a money component. Elections are decided primarily along economic lines. But the tragedy is that capitalism and the pursuit of personal wealth is now embraced and even taught within the church. Many times church governing bodies are made up of men and women who have been secularly successful.

And so the western church is mired in a sea of compromise and the love of money. Gone is our spiritual power. We have been relegated to political activism and the support of cultists. Prayer and fasting are second tier teaching topics but have little or no place in practice. The culture around is continues to descend into humanism and hedonism and is headed for a lost eternity but instead of the church having a tangible sense of extreme urgency this same church enjoys the fruits of this fallen culture.

Deaf to the Spirit’s voice and blind to the Scriptural outlines for discipleship, the church has morphed into a well oiled machine that encourages its lukewarm congregants with services that appeal to the flesh but avoids any intrusion into areas of inconvenience and sacrifice. And filled with practicing capitalists, the Sunday morning gathering comes and goes with little change from the previous week and having accomplished what it is designed for - people leaving happy. The faith of the New Testament is no longer practiced and the people love to have it so.

Capitalism? It’s no better or worse than any other fallen economic system. I guess in a future post I could delineate all the many verses that give us divine direction concerning money and the kingdom of God. But until then, I exhort you simply to read the New Testament completely through in one month’s time and see what God is really saying.


Anonymous said...

Rick:The faith of the New Testament is no longer practiced and the people love to have it so.

Are you saying we are to practice the faith?


Rick Frueh said...

Yes.m Our faith should be in words and practice.

Anonymous said...

The faith is a persuasion of God who moves people under His influence to accomplish His purposes.
There are two faiths, one is of the Lord and the other is human faith.
Just thinking of Abraham and Sarah as they practiced a faith out of their own works and produced a child, but it was not of the Lord's faith.