Friday, October 19, 2007

A Coincidence on Money

After I posted my diatribe against "fair share" stewardship, I roamed around my blogroll to Greg Boyd's. Greg is an evangelical pastor here in the Twin Cities who has become a sort of Wunderkind fuer Christ because he refuses to subvert his solid teaching about Jesus by aligning it with a political agenda -- whether of the right or the left. While he has lost a lot of the members of the congregation he founded, he still preaches to a "megachurch" -- and by preaches, I mean he goes over an hour on occasion. (Clearly, he is not a modern Lutheran.)

His post today deals with greed as a danger inherent to capitalism. On this he speaks irrefutably. What troubles me, and proves a point I made in the last post, is that he begins the post with the claim that it's "difficult" to argue with the claim that capitalism is the best economic system derived in the world -- better than socialism (my pet) and all the others. And my question is this: If for the Christian, greed represents one of the major evidences of a lack of faith (after all, we only store up for ourselves "riches on earth" because we don't believe that God will keep his promises to provide for us), why is an economic system that is premised and built on greed the greatest economic system imaginable? Why will we not go what seems a logical step from the Beatitudes and resist the system that requires that we act on our greed? And if we do so, are we really admitting that capitalism is the best economic system in the world?

I know that socialism is in disrepute (primarily, I'd argue, because communists, Marxist-Leninists, Stalinists, Maoists, and the like have highjacked the name -- though not the fundamental approach), but I cannot look at such places as Norway or Sweden, which are pretty socialist countries (perhaps, democratic socialist is a better term), and feel that the people living there are being oppressed, denied, or anything like that. And, God knows, as countries, they are far better than the models of capitalism when it comes to caring for their people who are in need -- both native to their lands and those from without -- and to giving aid to the rest of the world's needy.

Is maybe part of the problem that capitalism has been identified with Christianity in some sort of perversion of both, and that's why Christian ethical thinkers seem unable to take it on with any verve?

The last think I want to do is to take on a new discipline, but I may have to take up a study of economics to make my point.


Katie Kilcrease said...

If you do take up a study of economics, I strongly recommend Thomas Sowell's Basic Economics. I used it to teach an economics class for homeschoolers and it was excellent.

Dwight P. said...

Katie, with all due respect, if Sowell's were the only book on the subject, I wouldn't read it. I have found much of what he has written to be unfairly slanted against values that I hold dear, and I frankly don't trust him with anything. That is a pretty biased thing to say, I admit. But the matter of economics is way too value-laden to trust to someone who has proven himself at times, not always, to be little more than a hack for the right wing.