Christianity and Capitalism

Early Christianity and modern capitalism are incompatible. Agree/disagree–why?
The first Christians shared everything in common.
Modern capitalism is that you must compete with others for your supply of the goods.
The first Christians had "churches: in the houses of friends.
The capitalistic church is big business, reeking in billions of dollars from tax exemptions.

Depends on which phase of Christianity you are examining. During the old testament days capitalist economics didn’t exist yet. Things were traded, there were minor divisions of labor, but generally communities weren’t yet divided by the opposing classes with the conflicting interests we see now in the modern world. When the carpenter hippy wuss showed up, his pacifistic ideas were assimilated into the doctrine because they were tenets that could be used by the soon-to-be capitalist class for exploiting the working classes. Stuff like ‘don’t sweat your neighbors wages’ or whatever; textbook capitalist propaganda. So yes and no. A little mix of both.

Later on you get the protestant work ethic that Weber so brilliantly described as the economic base for the industrialized western world. The whole thing was rigged from the beginning. You’ve got guys like Calvin telling everyone they are predetermined to dig ditches for eternity. But all in all, you could tweak the Christian doctrine to incorporate the values of capitalism without disturbing the underlying essence of the socialistic, neighborly love stuff in it. Fact is, you can get just about anything out of the Bible because of its ambiguity.

Farmers own the means of production. They sell excess produce to others.

Carpenters are paid for their work and the materials that they use. They purchase wood from those who have the wood.

How is the ancient world different from the modern world? Only scale has changed.

No. Please stop.

Its by a Italian philosopher & historian, who follows Foucault (who follows Nietzsche).

He at least knows what he is talking about. If your gonna reinvent the wheel, at least make it better, not worst.

You never do your research.

But has the scale advanced toward seeing that all can be housed or fed? Early Christians practiced a form of socialism in which all needs were met. Competition insures that only the strong survive. But strong in what way?

What’s capitalism at a fundamental level? Investing one’s property to increase one’s property?

What’s Christianity at a fundamental level? Investing one’s property to increase one’s property? …

That seems to me to be the promise or logic of Christianity. Give, and you will receive… Give up everything that you have, and everything will be given to you in return…

So not at all incompatible, I don’t think.

The difference, I think, is the radical nature of the investment in Christianity… Capitalism differs, in its current manifestation, insofar as it is so short-sighted, and wants to see a return on investment, not only in this lifetime, but on the order of days, months or years. Christianity, as Christ shows, may require patience through suffering and even death.

Also, in capitalism, although a risk of loss is always inherent in the investment, a string is always attached to what is invested, and it can be pulled back. Christianity is more radical insofar as it would sever this string completely.

The scale has advanced to the point where a large number of people can have food, shelter, transportation at a low cost.

It’s easy for a small group to practice socialism. The mutual bonds keep it on track. Socialism on a large scale is much more difficult.

Competition means that you must strive to improve - to do something better than before. Is that wrong?

there are Christian groups today everywhere that meet in churches and homes that have divested themselves from capitalism…

Not wrong if you are competing with what you are and what you desire to be. IMHO, Karl Marx was more moral than were many of his contemporaries. Much more so than Adam Smith. There is too much leeway in capitalism for taking advantage of the poor or needy. I’m all for the modern churches that seek to improve living conditions in 3rd world countries. I’m against those that get fat from the fears of the elderly and dispossessed. The trickle down theory does not work.

That’s why almost nobody believes in laissez-faire capitalism. There have be some check and balances in the system.

But look at the history of socialism and communism … there is huge scope for abuse and exploitation.
Look how the pigs take advantage of the horse Boxer in ‘Animal Farm’.

Is that capitalism or the hypocrisy of the preachers? Would they not take advantage of the members of a commune?

There is change, and change strikes everything. Christianity also changed. It became corrupted or/and corrupt. Another change is possible. But I do not know whether christianity will become something like it was in its early times.

What was Christianity?

While Jesus was alive, there were disciples who did not understand what he was saying and there were disciples who thought that he should be doing something else.

After Jesus died, the movement immediately fragmented into different factions, each with its own ideas on how to proceed.

Which was the true authentic Christianity?

I have no problem with capatalism, as long as we tax the rich, and give to the poor.

Most of the middle class would see lower taxes on them, because we could tax the rich more.

The current American setup is dont tax the rich, tax mostly the middle class, and tax some of the poor.

A society in which only the middle class is taxed (as it is in the U.S.) is almost dead.

That is a good questions, because this thread is not only about christianity but also about economy, at least capitalism; and mostly all good questions are not easy to answer. I strictly referred to the op of this thread when I wrote the post you are referring to. So we could ask Ierrellus how he meant the term “early Christianity” in the op of his thread. But at first I try to answer your question. To me the most authentic Christianity is identical with the Christianity of the Late Antiquity on the one side and of the Early Middle Ages on the other side. But this thread is about both christianity and economy, and Christianity came to its economy in the Early Middle Ages, beginning with - for example - St. Benedict of Nursia (480–547) who wrote an importan rule which became the typical form of the Occidental monkhood (monasticism):

The monasteries became centers of the Occidental culture (science included - of course), economy, and so on. So the earliest typical Occidental form of economy has its roots in the monasteries. Whether this form can also be regarded as the earliest form of capitalism or not is indeed not easy to say, but I would say that this earliest typical Occidental form of economy led to the earliest typical Occidental form of capitalism. And the earliest typical Occidental form of capitalism was already achieved in the 8th century.

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But we have to add another aspect, if we want to find out the earliest typical Occidental form of economy and especially the earliest typical Occidental form of capitalism. We have to consider the economy of all Germanic peoples, thus also of those Germanic peoples who conquered and settled the Roman Empire, because Germanic peoples were the real founder of Europe and had a typical kind of economy, especially a typical kind of sea trade. The combination of their economy and the Christian monastery (cloister) economy led to the the earliest typical Occidental economy and especially the earliest typical Occidental capitalism.


If we seek what the true authentic Christianity is, then we might find it in the Late Antiquity, but because of the fact that this early Christianity was suppressed and pursued until the early 4th century it did not have its own economy style - it had the pure poorness. So economically and socially the Christianity of its first 300 years was the the Roman empire’s proletariat, so to speak in modern terms. The proletariat and the modern capitalism are not incompatible, Ierrellus. They are compatible - unfortunately.

Arminius, are you intentionally lying by pulling facts out of your ass that no historian would never take seriously for a moment, or are you deeply foolish and was tricked by someone, being told this in a book.

If the latter, tell me the author, if the former, stop it.

Capitalism predates the Roman Empire. Carthage actively engaged in it, the social wars in Rome erupted over it. St. Benedict hardly wrote the first monastic rule, Anthony did- the Orthodox churches follow Basil’s rule.

Germans, as in Goths, were doing very little trade, during Roman times. The archeology in Germany in this period are centered around Roman ruins, and Roman trade outposts in German lands. They traded in Amber, Slaves, Leather, Mercenaries, and wild game. It wasn’t the Germans who figured this out, but Roman penetration into German trade markets (what little existed). Our ancestors had diddly jack to do with the creation of capitalism. Market economies rose way, way, way before our ignorant, drunkard ancestors did anything of note. We were running around wild hair and butt naked back at the beginning of it. Judaism, much less Christianity, wasn’t around yet.

For capitalism, you need property, trade, markets, and private property, and currency. This is Mesopotamian in origin. The Goddess’s Silver… silver spirals built up in temple treasuries. Land acquisition and property rights, rules of inheritance, debt, concepts of bankruptcy. Actual, dedicated markets. Rules posted for tariffs. Fixed prices for imports/exports when treaty rights don’t ensure free trade. Communities thriving off of shipments, such as the phonecians. Early money lending methods. Philosophies examining luxury and Nietzschean class Nihilism, such as the Assyrian Dialogue of Pessimism:

I even posted a cover of a book you couldn’t possibly of missed that is older. Its towards the top of the thread, the first, big… freaken obvious book. It should of kindled some kind of awareness in your head that its origins wasn’t Germanic. Clearly isn’t a Germanic mosaic, we couldn’t draw worth crap back then.

As to your opinion of authentic early Christianity, whatever. You just picked a favorite era. How many 6th century christian texts have you combed over with your monocle? I’m in deep with John Malalas, trying to rectify him with earlier and later historians. What’s your opinion on his historical methods and factual representation of world history and christian orthodoxy?

You haven’t the slightest clue. Romans built factories for mechanically manufacturing goods, had custom officials, road networks, regional passports, traded on the silk road. That declined in eras, but never stopped. Never. Capitalism is something we inherited.

I can’t even begin to understand what motivates someone like you to post the drivel you post. You gotta be trying to intentionally trying to obsfuct anything approaching or resembling history. Its my only explanation at this point.

We, the Germans, are not the master race, we did not gift the universe with all its intellectual fruits, we mostly inherited, were drunkards, and a consistently bad representation of the motivations if Charlemagne’s motivations for further empracing Christianity doesn’t accord with the texts we’ve received, I’ve read a few, only translated into English, not German. Your not in a position to judge any era competently.

If you want, I can introduce you to a few great historic works on the philosophy of history. Herodotus, Ctesias, Sima Quan, Confucius, Ibn Khaldun, Vico, Polybius, Cottonwood…

What your doing now is shameful. There isn’t a historian out there with any respect in the international community who would back any of your analysis of history. I assure you, they would have far harsher words than me. Your reckless and uncaring about your facts. Its not the case of getting something wrong here or there (I’ve done this, and retracted once shown otherwise), your just apparently pulling facts out of your ass and presenting it as reality. Perhaps cyclop giants built the Parthenon and the pyramids? Aliens abducted Caesar’s Soul where Hailey-Bopp flew overhead, and he is flying the Heaven’s Gate Suicide Cultist around in a joyride across the universe when the comet flew back around? All theories just as plausible as yours.

I think we in the West (but also in other areas) have left capitalism and have started to become an oligarchy, as former Pres. Carter is quoted as saying: The danger of Oligarchies is that they are distinguished by wealth, family ties, education, corporate, religious or military control. The present trend is to combine all control together. Chris Hedges, the former war-correspondent, says that he foresees “Sacrifice-Zones” in the USA where poverty reaches a level that is no longer repairable and the people will be left to their own means.

Oligarchies are the cancers of society, they drain all ressources out of a society and amass obscenely great wealth, the masses serve the Oligarchy and depending on their service, they are rewarded. Otherwise they just exist. A prominent victim of Oligarchy Power is Greece.

When NT James indicted the rich, it was not because they were rich, but because their riches came from exploitation of those they had hired. ( James 2:5, 6; 5:4, 5, 6. ) It should say something of our economic situation that one fifth of our children go to bed hungry in one of the richest countries the world has ever known.

Industrial capitalism in the USA has failed to address the problems of poverty, childhood hunger, homeless veterans, paralyzed veterans, etc., etc.

Why do Christians in America allow that to happen?

Because of the way that they interpret Christianity:

  • Jesus was poor, he told others to give away their riches. Lesson : poverty is good.

  • “do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear”. Lesson : God will provide enough for the poor.

  • your problems and burdens were put on you by God. Lesson : the poor deserve to be poor, it’s God’s will.