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Biblical economics


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Inspired by the PHC thread...


A lot of fundie lites and even mainstream Christians have told me that capitalism is Biblical and for the life of me I can't see how it could be. Examining the Bible for economic systems shows primitive communism in the NT (co -existing in a troubled relationship with slavery and a semifeudalistic system) but not one trace of capitalism can I see. It would be amazing if there was one, because capitalism is a recent development.


We have a very knowledgeable group here so can anyone tell me what fundies and fundie lites base their love for capitalism on?

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Other than in the book of Acts, the bible doesn't really command that is followers follow any sort of economic system. Both the New and Old Testament speak about helping the poor.

The bible doesn't speak against being wealthy but it does strongly condemn the wealthy person who either commits fraud to gain riches or doesn't help those who are less fortunate.

Some American Christians confuse being Christian with patriotism and support of an extreme version of capitalism. There is no bible law against socialism.

Joykins is right. Some Americans read their bibles through a cultural bias.

edited for clarity

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American evangelicalism is a hybrid of worshipping God, country, and capitalism. The three are inexorably enmechsed in the worldview of evangelicals. American evangelicalism would be unrecognizable to the early church.

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The culture values capitalism and rugged individualism. This leads to interpretations of the Bible that are capitalist and individualist when the cultures the Bible was written by/for were not.

A person's interpretation of the Bible/religion often tells you more about that person that it tells you about the Bible.

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I don't really know the history of when or why this came about, but U.S. conservative Christians believe in the prosperity gospel. They essentially believe that if you are a good Christian, God will reward you with riches and prosperity, and if you do something wrong you will be punished. This is extremely ironic since Jesus said that bad things aren't punishment for sin (the man who was born blind), and the Bible also says that it's easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of Heaven. But it's easier for rich people to just pretend that God is rewarding them. There is even a group of politicians who believe that the invisible free hand of the market is controlled directly by God himself.

There's a lot of complexity here. In many ways, this is a subset of the myth of the meritocracy that is so prevalent in the United States (and actually less common elsewhere). Many people believe that if you work hard enough, anyone can pull themselves up by their bootstraps and have a wonderful rags-to-riches story. Many believe that poor people are only poor because they are too lazy or stupid to work (it's actually the opposite with poor people working way more hours). But instead of just being rewarded for work ethic, fundies believe that they are also rewarded for their faith.

The reason that they go to such great lengths to justify things that are contradictory is a psychological phenomenon called the fundamental attribution error. It's something that we all experience, to different degrees it. It basically goes like this: when something good happens to me it's because I earned it, and when something bad happens to me it's just chance or bad luck; when something good happens to others it's just good look luck, and when something bad happens to others it's because they deserve it. I don't really know why people are so prone to this particular psychological bias but it is the most common one and it is pervasive.

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The magnificat:

My soul doth magnify the Lord : and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.

For he hath regarded : the lowliness of his handmaiden.

For behold, from henceforth : all generations shall call me blessed.

For he that is mighty hath magnified me : and holy is his Name.

And his mercy is on them that fear him : throughout all generations.

He hath shewed strength with his arm : he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.

He hath put down the mighty from their seat : and hath exalted the humble and meek.

He hath filled the hungry with good things : and the rich he hath sent empty away.

He remembering his mercy hath holpen his servant Israel : as he promised to our forefathers, Abraham and his seed for ever.

Said by the Virgin MARY, not MARX.

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This book would probably explain a lot of it: http://www.amazon.com/Productive-Christ ... 811&sr=8-1

Also, the basic idea is that "socialism" gives government too much power. Reconstructionist types believe that government should be extremely limited - they talk about "spheres" and such, and basically, government should exist to enforce (biblical) law and to carry out war...nothing else. No social welfare, no dept of education, nothing like that. Basically, they believe that any "charity" (such as help for families without jobs) should either come from individuals or from churches. Education is solely the responsibility of the parents, so homeschooling the only way, or a homeschooling co-op if parents are lazy. Roads should be paid for by the people who live along said road.

Basically, they look at the tribal structure of the Old Testament, where each tribe/family did its own thing - took care of its own, took care of justice issues, etc and they go with that. They basically ignore those parts of the New Testament where Jesus says to sell everything you have and give it to the poor.

And, they say that any communal life (such as what the Early Christians supposedly practiced) should be at the discretion of the individuals. They see government taxation and whatnot as a forced-community, and they don't like it because it forces them to "support" things that they don't agree with, like food for the children of pagans and stuff.

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