Yesterday, Rodney and I were discussing the use of non-Christians, and sometimes a-theists, economic systems (notably, Adam Smith, Ayn Rand, and Karl Marx). Adam Smith rejected Christianity, and the moral code as it were as produced by Christianity. Does this matter? Can it be compatible with Christian ethics and morals? James Halteman (warning, pdf) has an article up which admits these things, but concludes, somewhat (and I am paraphrasing it almost out of existence) that capitalism is the best we can offer. He concludes,
“(S)eeing market capitalism as God’s plan for economic life has been a common course of action (for Christians). On the other hand, withdrawing from the ambiguities of the world and retreating into enclaves of spiritual purity is hardly consistent with the life of Jesus…Somewhere on a continuum between these to extremes there is room for debate on how Christians should respond… the task of Christians need not be to save the secular system from collapse by infusing Christian principles into the system…What Christians can do is provide an alternative model showing how life can be more meaningful than the best the world can offer. By doing so they effect change on the margin without selling out to the spirit of the world.” (ht)
As we see our economic system crumbling around us, thanks in part of an apathetic American citizenry which has yet to fully educate itself on what is actually going in Washington, believing for some reason that the only two things needed to know about a politician was his stance on abortion and gay marriage, I think it’s time we asked the question of from whom did we get our current economic system? Further, is it compatible with Christianity?
I do think that deism allows for a more libertarian view, but that is more psychological analysis than empiricism from me.
This is an article about Adam Smith and the Christian Hope. There are, of course, a lot of defenders and detractors for Capitalism and Christianity.
(note, for new readers, Rodney and I are pretty far apart on a view things, politically speaking, but I have found him a valuable friend in discussing these sorts of issues. You can read his recent review on a book about the ‘divine economy’.)
- In retrospect: Adam Smith (alhittin.wordpress.com)
- Adam Smith Would Neither Recognize Nor Approve Of Our Financial, Monetary, Economic Or Legal Systems (zerohedge.com)
- The Forgotten Man – Jon McNaughton (via Seth Adam Smith) (loopyloo305.wordpress.com)
- Book Review: The Condensed Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith and Eamonn Butler (blogcritics.org)