You can’t talk about the modern business world and not touch on economies. So this is where we start:
Capitalism is our best economic system.
There. I begin the series with a bang.
Now in light of this, I want to concede that I’m one of those people who also believes that the Bible doesn’t endorse any one type of economy. Arguments can be made that every economic system can be found in the Bible, be it barter, socialism, capitalism, feudalism, or even communism (what else can describe the collectivization of Egypt under Joseph as he prepared for the famine?) People can make the Bible seem to support each style of economic system—and they’d all be right.
I believe there’s a reason for that and it’s rather heretical—at least in light of what many Evangelicals in America believe. I don’t think that God is all that interested in economics, regardless of what Crown Financial Ministries might say. He is always concerned with the righteousness of how we do business (Proverbs alone, for instance, reminds us numerous times that God is vehemently against fraudulent weights and measures), but the actual system that we conduct our business under is less focused. We need to deal humbly before the Lord in every business transaction we conduct and I think this, more than the type of economic system we labor in, pleases God.
Now I support capitalism because when it is conducted humbly before God it promotes excellence, pride in one’s work (a good thing in the life of the humble), and a desire to better oneself. Capitalism does tend to float all boats in time, too. It also is receptive to individual giftings and the leading of God. Capitalism allows for a P.T. Barnum, a Bill Gates, a John Muir, a Georgia O’Keefe, a Billy Graham, and a Dan Edelen to pursue their gifts, their intelligence, their cunning, and their divine leading by God. This is a good thing.
But no economic system functions justly in a fallen world. Scratch any idealism you have about any system you can envision. If it’s made up of corrupt people, no amount of polishing is going to make it gleam. Crooked capitalism leads to unjust social inequities within a culture that utilizes it. Sick socialism results in a culture of malaise that ceases to excel. Corrupt communism leads to mass graves and a devaluing of people. Flawed feudalism breeds belligerence and oppression. Anyone thinking otherwise is a dreamer—a dreamer soon caught in a nightmare.
Seeing that we primarily operate under capitalism in North America and much of the world, I’m going to focus on it throughout this series. It’s critical to understand how capitalism has forged the business world and led us to the place we are today. No one post will deconstruct capitalism (just Google what you want to know), but each one will assume that capitalism undergirds our economy and contributes positively and negatively to those in its system.
Previous post in the series: The Christian & the Business World #1: My Qualifications for the Series
Next post in the series: The Christian & the Business World #3: Subduing the Earth