Capitalism & Christianity

Discussion in 'Politics' started by Mensch1351, Aug 21, 2011.

  1. Mensch1351

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    I love how the Republicans seem to lay claim to a deep seeded faith and YET --- they continue to defend the wealthy and in many ways "oppress" & judge the poor.

    I found the following article and would be interested in your responses to it. Keep in mind that while many churches would gladly crawl into the corner of the "radical" capitalists, this article was written for those Christians who hold to a VERY different viewpoint than what is espoused by the CRR (Conservative Religious Right)

    http://www.pubtheo.com/page.asp?pid=1597
     
  2. B_Marius567

    B_Marius567 New Member

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    teens hate Capitalism :mad:
     
  3. dude_007

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    great article. The irony is the smoke screen that the Republican party is for small business. And the sad thing is that so many people believe it. Republican tax cuts do not favor mom and pop. And they have hijacked Christianity so they don't have to pay taxes and can use their bigoted interpretation of the Bible to pass judgement on others. Sickening. In the words of Margaret Cho: "I wish Jesus would come back and say 'That's not what I meant!'"
     
    #3 dude_007, Aug 21, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2011
  4. SilverTrain

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    Brilliant. Thanks for the link. Can't wait for this issue to be raised at the next Presidential debates.

    [How long shall I hold my breath? :wink:]
     
  5. Jason

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    It seems to me that an article like this should be approached with a lot of caution.

    Biblical exegesis studies the Bible to determine what it meant to the people who wrote it and what it means for today. The idea is seeing what can correctly be got out of a text. Exegesis has an antonym - eisegesis. This is reading the Bible to see what evidence you can find for a particular point of view.

    Eisegesis is dangerous. In a text as long and complex as the Bible you can find something that seems to support just about anything you want it to support. It is easy to find passages which an eisegetic approach finds justify rape, genocide, murder and much more.

    Many have tried the eisegetic approach to find in the Bible justification of a political system or an economic theory. And it is possibly to find material which appears to justify (or condemn) fascism, communism and everything in-between. Capitalism didn't exist when the Bible was written, and the eisegeticists can find arguments for and against.

    What an exegetical approach to the Bible does give is a message that can be summed up as honour God and love your neighbour - the summary of the Jewish Bible offered by Jesus. Capitalism is a post-Biblical tool. Just like any tool, say the internet, it can be used to honour God and love your neighbour, or the opposite.
     
  6. Klingsor

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    While I suppose it *can* be used for those purposes, I think that capitalism, by its very nature (particularly if left unchecked, like the U.S. sweatshops of the late nineteenth / early twentieth centuries) is pretty far removed from "loving your neighbor." In practice, the quickest, easiest way to make a buck too often involves exploiting your neighbors, getting as much work/money out of them as possible while giving back as little in return as you can get away with.

    This is not to say that capitalism (particularly when closely regulated) can't or hasn't produced benefits for society. But those benefits, for the most part, are a by-product of an economic motive that has nothing to do with altruism. (In this, if in nothing else, I agree with Ayn Rand!)
     
  7. Jason

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    Markets are at the heart of capitalism, and the price at which a good or service is sold will be one which benefits both buyer and seller.

    Excess population leads to exploitation of individuals. In pre-capitalist mediaeval Europe it led to the feudal system where individuals were effectively slaves - a system which ended when the Black Death reduced the population and made it possible for serfs to sell their labour, becoming free.

    In capitalist societies excess population leads to sweatshops. As population growth is checked - as in the developed world - the sweatshops can be legislated against and got rid of. The problem is not capitalism but population growth. Simply take away the sweatshops and people would have no source of income and starve.

    Greed is condemned by the Christian moral code, not capitalism. Capitalism is just a tool. Greedy people will do evil with it. Generous people will do good with it.
     
  8. Klingsor

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    As the recent financial crisis has shown, there are plenty of ways to profit from capitalism without any benefit (quite the contrary, in fact) to anyone else at all.

    When has population growth been checked in the U.S.? Our population has been growing at an ever-increasing pace, without significant abatement, since at least the 18th century. Legislation against sweatshops had nothing to do with any supposed change in those numbers.

    Whatever the size of the population, capitalism does what it can to exploit it. When efforts are made to legislate against sweatshops, capitalists fight these advances tooth and nail (look at the battles over the formation of unions) until they are forced to give in. Then wages go up and living conditions improve. But eventually, the most enterprising capitalists look to outsource their jobs to other countries where labor can once again be had under sweatshop conditions. Other business owners, acting out of their own best capitalist interests, follow suit.

    For many centuries, it was held that usury--lending money at interest--was against Christian principles, and was therefore outlawed (which is why Christians had to do their borrowing from Jews). Nowadays, lending money at interest is pretty much the basis of the world economy. Judgments about what economic practices Christianity does or does not condemn are notoriously subject to change over time.

    Greedy people will be successful with it. Generous people may also succeed, provided they don't carry their generosity too far--and so long as that generosity is always carried out with the bottom line in mind (tax write-offs, positive PR, etc.).
     
  9. Bbucko

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    A caveat here: I'm not a Christian, though I was raised one. I lost my faith many years ago, and have discussed what informs my spirituality here at LPSG before.

    Though it's a historic truth that capitalism is a modern construct, wealth is not. There's that quote...

    ...which to my mind is quite explicit as regards Christ's feelings toward the accumulation of wealth; there's no qualifying between wealth and greed.
     
  10. Drifterwood

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    Luther's writings are largely the basis for the virulent anti semitism that ended in the holocaust.

    Well, when I say ended, obviously it hasn't quite and he remains a key source for those wishing another one.
     
  11. Jason

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    The camel through the eye of a needle is a glorious mistranslation. The Greek is kamilon (rope); the translator read kamelon (camel). The needle is a sewing needle, so quite impossible to thread with a rope.

    The disciples were amazed when they heard this and asked Jesus who could be redeemed? The answer is that with man this is impossible, with God all things are possible.

    If you are reading this forum you are almost certainly within the globe's top 10% in terms of income, and probably the top 1%, even if in the terms of your wealthy nation you are poor. This text does not mean that heaven is closed to you because you are rich ( that would be eisegesis). Rather the text in it's context (exegesis) says that it is impossible for you to get to heaven unaided but possible with God's help.

    The underlying concept is that we're all imperfect. The rich man is imperfect - but so for that matter is the poor man and everyone in-between. The text is drawing attention to the rich man's error in thinking that somehow his wealth might help him - it won't. For that matter neither will the poor man's poverty.
     
    #11 Jason, Aug 22, 2011
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  12. Klingsor

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    But all of the gospel emphasis is on the difficulties of the *rich* man getting into heaven. Where does Jesus make a similar observation specifically concerning the poor?

    Look at the story which precedes the quote about the camel (or rope) and the needle. A rich young comes to Jesus asking what he must do to have eternal life. Jesus says, "Sell all you have and give it to the poor." The man's attachment to his wealth was the last barrier to his salvation.

    Where is there a comparable instance of Jesus telling a poor man, "Go make money, so your attachment to your poverty doesn't keep you from entering the Kingdom of Heaven"?

    You may *believe* that Jesus saw the path to heaven as equally hard for both rich and poor. But that in itself is an example of eisegesis, not exigesis.
     
  13. Jason

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    The parable of the talents, which makes it clear that people who have gifts including the gift of making money should use them. indeed the servant who doesn't make any money is criticised.
     
  14. Klingsor

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    Unlike Jesus's straightforward command to the rich young man, the parable of the talents is just that--a parable (in two distinct versions), subject to multiple interpretations. As you point out, for many it's a general exhortation to use one's abilities in the service of God. But some see it as a more focused critique of the religious leaders of the time, who had withheld the benefits of God's word from the populace. And for some, the landlord is an exploitive profiteer and the servant an honest whistleblower who is punished for telling the truth.

    Since none of the servants are poor, there is no standard interpretation of this parable which sees it as a message about poverty being a hindrance to the kingdom of heaven. So it doesn't counterbalance Jesus's very direct remarks about riches being such a barrier.
     
  15. Mensch1351

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    Luther's Writings were largely the basis for the Protestant Reformation. He was a VOLUMINOUS writer! Being a product of his generation, yes, one can say he was an anti-semite. To say that Luther's writings were the basis for the anti-semitism of the holocaust is........well......ridiculous! Those espousing the hatred of the Jews might have selectively quoted Luther (or mis-quoted him).....but Lutheran Pastors like Dietrich Bonhoeffer stood against Hitler and his cause. There were many German Catholics who belonged to the Nazi party as well!
     
  16. Mensch1351

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    But the "heart" of the message of this text is the two words, "Follow me!" When Jesus tells the young man that the path to salvation is to obey the commandments the man replies, "I've done all this since I was a child!" (So here Jesus just gives him a little test on the FIRST commandment "have NO other gods besides me!") "And he went away grieving because he was a man of great property!" So......."no one can serve 2 masters...etc." This also ties to the text, "the LOVE of money is the root of all evil!" Bottom line -- Christians with money don't whine and argue about their taxes. They follow Jesus by knowing that HE is the giver of all wealth (especially spiritual as well as material wealth)...they know to lay up treasure in heaven where no moth or rust can destroy. And they understand, "To whom much is given -- much is required!" I cannot imagine a follower of Jesus uttering, "I HAVE -- you don't -- tough crap!" A Capitalist follower of Jesus would understand that God watches over the least of those in his Kingdom (and here you can read the stinging indictments of the prophets against the wealthy in Israel that neglected the widows and orphans and those with no advocate!) and any blessing given freely should be a blessing JOYFULLY passed along! Or as Rick Warren has said, "Well, I do believe it's a sin to DIE rich!":biggrin1::rolleyes:
     
  17. Drifterwood

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    Martin Luther and antisemitism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Most historians would beg to differ that my point is ridiculous.

    Perhaps you should read what the cunt wrote.

    Even your name reverberates the untermensch lutheran backed philosophy of the nazis.
     
  18. B_Hung Jon

    B_Hung Jon New Member

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    Capitalism = God
     
  19. D_Percy_Prettywillie

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    Capitalism vanquished the only competitor it had. Eventually, the only competitor to religion will do the same, that competitor being logic.



    JSZ
     
  20. Klingsor

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    LOL that's funny. Cause in Yiddish, "mensch" means "a person of integrity and honor." :smile:
     
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