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Money, Greed, and God: Why Capitalism Is the Solution and Not the Problem [Paperback]

Jay Wesley Richards
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

4 May 2010
The good news about capitalism Jay Richards presents a new approach to capitalism, revealing how it's fully consistent with Jesus's teachings and the Christian tradition and our best bet for renewed economic vigor. Money, Greed, and God exposes eight myths about capitalism including the notion that capitalism is based on greed and demonstrates that a good Christian can be a good capitalist.

Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: HarperOne; 1 edition (4 May 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061900575
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061900570
  • Product Dimensions: 20.1 x 13.2 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 128,959 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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In Money, Greed, and God, Jay Richards shows us . . . a capitalism grounded in the truth about human beings as free, morally responsible, co-creators charged with dominion and stewardship of the earth by the loving God to whom we are all ultimately accountable. --Rev. Robert A. Sirico, President of the Acton Institute

Jay Richards has written the definitive case for capitalism, a crisply written and incisive discourse on wealth and poverty, money and morality for the 21st Century --George Gilder, co-founder of the Discovery Institute and author of Wealth and Poverty

Money, Greed, and God is both thoughtful and important. --Washington Times

About the Author

Jay W. Richards, Ph.D., is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute and a contributing editor at The American magazine (american.com) and the Enterprise Blog (blog.american.com) at the American Enterprise Institute. Richards has been featured in the New York Times and The Washington Post, and he has appeared on Larry King Live. He also has lectured on economic myths to members of the U.S. Congress.

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5.0 out of 5 stars Wow 17 Mar 2014
By Sevi
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I don't even know what to write! This book has it all. It addresses specific issues and explains them in a way that no one can
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1 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed! 24 Dec 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I was extremely disappointed with this book to such an extent that I put it down before I finished it. My disappointment was for many reasons. The obvious one being that it is poorly written both in terms of economics (the elementary confusion between capitalism (an ideology) and market economics just being one of many), but also biblically poor - from an expository point of view. Really what we needed was a deeper and more serious interrogation of the debate. But I have read poorer books before and completed them. I think what was different about this one is that Jay Richards has written some very good stuff e.g. the co-authored Privileged Planet : How Our Place in the Cosmos is Designed for Discovery. I guess my expectations were too high. May be its because after reading this very poor book, I could not take another sub-par book. In which the hapless Mbeki ruined my read. We shall never know. But I will look out for Richard's next book.
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Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  65 reviews
101 of 119 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Review of Money, Greed, and God 22 Jun 2009
By David Bahnsen - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I will cut to the chase - this is going to be a very, very positive book review. This is an excellent book, and I will explain why I am so fond of it in just a moment. But since I write a lot of book reviews, and the one negative thing I have to say about this book is something I have never said before, I will just get it out of the way up front so I can move on to the real review: I wish I had written this book. Quite literally, Jay Richards took the need for me to do something I was very serious about doing (some day) right off of my "to-do" list. A book for laymen of faith that provides a Biblical defense of free market capitalism is in tremendous need. John Schneider's The Good of Affluence" is a fantastic contribution ([...] but its focus is exegetical and theological. Dinesh D'Souza's The Virtue of Prosperity is delightful, but it is specifically contextualized to an era that was practically gone by the time the book was published (the dot com techno-affluence world). A slew of treatises exist that provide an underlying defense of capitalism, but the sad reality is that most books defending the morality of a free market ideology were not written by people of faith, or at least not people publicly identifying their faith-based presuppositions. The book concept I have been so excited to see is one that was (a) Written for an audience of laymen, (b) Written for an audience of professing believers, (c) Written with an underlying theological credibility and understanding, and (d) Written with a very specific economic expertise. Perhaps I was fooling myself to think I was the person to tackle such an endeavor, but I am happy (and sad) to report that my vision has now been fulfilled. For Jay Richards' new book is clear, highly readable, wonderfully written, Biblically literate, and economically irrefutable. In all serious, Richards has written a crucial, vital book. I only pray that it receives the audience it desperately warrants.

I tend to be an overly-optimistic person, but I have been predicting the final nail in the coffin of the relationship between the church and today's "youth generation" for some time. I believe on the scholastic and doctrinal side of the faith, generations of in-fighting and dead religion have pulverized the chances of young people continuing on as "church people" once they reach full adulthood. On the pietistic side, a decade or more of insulting and inane attempts to reach the youth culture have backfired in dramatic fashion, as church "leaders" have found out the hard way just how good young people are at detecting phonies, even when they are wearing really cool Hawaiian shirts. My prediction is that the contemporary church's utter failure to speak to young "twenty-somethings" about the subject of career, money, prosperity, and ambition will be the final nail in the coffin of this relationship. No event will more solidify this than the church's complicity in present times with the forces of socialism and egalitarianism. It is the most abhorrent of theological errors that has allowed the demonization of wealth to take place in pews across this country week after week, preying upon people's natural tendencies to envy, to covet, and to resent. It is inexcusable that the cause of global poverty has been outsourced to the federal behemoth we ironically call "government", and that blindly putting aid in the hands of third world dictators has been labeled "Christ-like". Indeed, N.T. Wright is perhaps my favorite theologian on the planet, but any address he has ever offered on anything remotely connected to subjects economic or socio-political has amounted to nothing more than rank collectivism, and N.T. Wright is one of the sharp ones! The Christian church has failed, and failed in a profound way, to teach the Biblical edict on work, prosperity, incentive, private property, sound money, investment, and freedom. Western Europe has been a goner for some time, but in recent times the uniquely capitalistic United States of America has been attacked by forces of class warfare and Robin Hood-economics that would have been considered unthinkable just a few years ago. The response of the church to the demonization of the business class and the centralization of so many market forces has been either consent and agreement, or at best complete silence. I do not believe it is possible that such a blurring of Biblical teaching on risk and reward will possibly endear the youth of today to the church of tomorrow. How can tomorrow's leaders possibly take serious the idea that ours is a faith of stewardship and morality when we sit idly by and condone an economic system of redistribution? Free market capitalism is alive and well, unless one is looking inside the halls of the secular academy, or sadly, the sanctuaries of today's churches. May we reverse this course before it is entirely too late.

Richards' book is to be commended for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is its delightful structure and flow. His credibility is enhanced by his autobiography - like so many people of faith, his path to a Biblical view of money and economics went through the pietistic town of socialism. But even more so than most secular books on the subject, Richards uses a basic checklist of economic errors to methodically walk through the pertinent topics. If only every believer would take the time to evaluate their own thinking in the light of these common economic fallacies! Richards tackles every popular objection in circulation to the idea that the Bible provides the foundation for free market prosperity and incentive. He decimates the intellectual error of Communism, and lays out the step-by-step case for an integration of modern capitalism with the Christian faith. His treatment of the subject is simple, but filled with profound insights. The book is inundated with Scripture, yet he does not sacrifice economic literacy for the cause of Biblical fidelity. There is a tremendous nod to the great champions of capitalism (Adam Smith and F.A Hayek, in particular), yet he avoids the error of suggesting that their insights are somehow superior to the text of Scripture. Rather, he shows through careful reasoning and persuasion that the invisible hand of the marketplace is a God-created phenomena, and that the current practice of maligning the pursuit of wealth is not at all compatible with the Bible. I believe the book is absolutely read-able for high school age students, and yet the vast majority of adults I know ought to read it as well. It is balanced, comprehensive, and irrefutably logical. I can not recommend it strongly enough, and I truly do pray that it will gain the audience it deserves before the cause of freedom and opportunity is completely monopolized by the forces of secularism.

If only I had written it first ... =)

**********************

It is no small coincidence that the book's author, Jay Richards, is a past fellow of the Acton Institute and contributor/writer to their great cause. In a time where the Christian Left claims to have a monopoly on Christian social thought and economics, the Acton Institute stands alone intelligently proclaiming the cause of markets and morality. Their task is a gigantic one, but they perform it admirably, and with as much intellectual firepower as any organization out there. They have an incredible set of shoulders to stand on, and they are not afraid to be shot at while they do their goods work.
70 of 85 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Richards on Rand 18 May 2009
By Jonathan Witt - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Richards is not a Randian, but he notes several positive things about Rand, not surprising from an author who explains that he was positively influenced by Rand. To clarify his position on Rand, Richards does not argue in this book that Rand defends misers. Quite the contrary. He discusses the fact that she makes pioneering entrepreneurs the heroes of her novels. Richards' complaints are that:(1) She defends selfishness; (2)she attacks the sacrificial ideal (common to the Judeo-Christian and broadly Western tradition); and (3) she argues that Christianity and capitalism are incompatible.

Richards does say that readers might expect her to defend misers because of her praise of selfishness. He never says she did so. Here's what he says in the chapter on greed:

"Despite Rand's official praise of selfishness, however, John Galt doesn't look anything like Ebenezer Scrooge or that fat, cigar-smoking, tuxedo-clad guy in Monopoly. On the contrary, Galt is a pioneer, a brave creator of wealth who pursues his vision despite powerful obstacles, including a malevolent state bent on destroying him. In fact, although Rand despised Christian self-sacrifice, Galt is suspiciously Christ-like. He preaches a message of salvation, founds a community, challenges the status quo and official powers-that-be, who hunt him down, torture him, but ultimately fail to conquer him.

"To be sure, there are dissonant notes. His symbol is not a cross, but the dollar sign. The book ends with Galt and his lover tracing the sign of the dollar across a dry valley. But insofar as Galt's character works, it's because he contradicts the miserly stereotype that Rand's philosophy leads the reader to expect. In fact, none of Rand's best fictional characters fits her philosophy very well."

Richards undoubtedly will have some lively conversations about all this at the various free market events he attends in the coming months. Followers of Rand will not see eye to eye with him on everything in the book. What many of them will welcome is Richards' skill at defending the free market to religious people turned off by the greed-is-good defense. Since the left has been working tirelessly in the past few years to sell Christians on the virtues of "compassionate" big government liberalism, Richards' book arrives none too soon. Richards distills the core arguments for a free and virtuous society superbly. Money, Greed, and God is highly readable and yet more incisive than many academic books on the subject. Disciples of the nanny state beware.

Full disclosure: Richards and I worked together as fellows at Acton Institute and Discovery Institute, two think tanks dedicated to the free market.
41 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Christian Defense of Free Markets 15 May 2009
By Michael R. Nothstine - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
(This review was written by Ray Nothstine and originally published on the Acton Institute Powerblog)

The belief that the essence of capitalism is greed is perhaps the biggest myth Jay W. Richards tackles in his new book, Money, Greed, and God: Why Capitalism is the Solution and not the Problem. One reason for confronting this challenge is that many free market advocates subscribe to the thought that capitalism produces greed, and for them that's not necessarily a negative. But for those with a faith perspective, greed and covetousness are of course serious moral flaws.

It's also the kind of myth that less articulate writers would rather not challenge, especially in this troubling economic climate. Richards does however have a skill for tightly honed logical arguments, and he not only is able to defend free markets but tear lethal holes into many of the economic ramblings of the religious left. He even takes on holy of holies like fair trade and Third World debt relief. Richards argues that the free market is moral, something that may come as a surprise to many people of faith. This book provides a crushing blow to those involved in the ministry of class warfare or those who wish to usher in the Kingdom of God through "nanny state" policies.

The book divides into eight chapters, with each chapter discussing a common held economic myth like the "piety myth" or "nirvana myth." Richards says the piety myth pertains to "focusing on our good intentions rather than on the unintended consequences of our actions." The nirvana myth characterizes the act of "contrasting capitalism with an unrealizable ideal rather than with its live alternatives." Richards himself states, "The question isn't whether capitalism measures up to the kingdom of God. The question is whether there's a better alternative in this life."

The influence of libertarian economist Henry Hazlitt and Wealth and Poverty author George Gilder are evident through out this book. But the overarching strength of Richards work is how he places the free market message into the context of Christian discussions and debate. Unfortunately before this response, many of the economic arguments by the Christian left weren't properly countered in popular mediums. Furthermore, the wanton excess of prosperity gospel advocates only fueled or provided ammunition for the religious left's rebuke of the free market.

Richards also provides an argument of sorts through narrative in his book by contrasting his youthful naļveté with his more mature adult self. He points out examples where he dabbled with Marxist beliefs and what he called "Christian socialism." The reader is able to follow his progression of thought and study where he eventually comes to believe in the superiority of a free market system when it comes to economic sufficiency, but also for lifting and keeping people out of poverty.

The chapter on greed and capitalism contain some of the most thoughtful and helpful arguments particularly when he discusses the value of the entrepreneur in society. He offers some important thoughts on virtuous acts and behavior required of the entrepreneur. These thoughts counter the all too often repeated stereotypes of those who toil in business as greedy misers motivated solely by material accumulation. Richards says of the entrepreneur:

Unlike the self-absorbed, they anticipate the needs of others, even needs that no one else may have imagined. Unlike the impetuous, they make disciplined choices. Unlike the automaton, they freely discover new ways of creating and combining resources to meet the needs of others. This cluster of virtues, not the vice of greed, is the essence of what the Reverend Robert Sirico calls the `entrepreneurial vocation.'

The author also does a formidable job at dealing with a number of scriptural texts and providing the reader with a broader context of meaning. One example is the study he does on usury, which includes a lot of helpful exegetical analysis, but also solid background information from Church tradition and history.

This book is extremely important when one considers the current debates going on in churches and religious communities today. On many Christian campuses and seminaries the case for the free market is losing ground, or absent altogether. The author grasps and understands the arguments made by those who are hostile to the market and the religious backgrounds they come out of, and this helps his ability to respond. I wish this text had been available when I was in seminary. I have heard all of the myths and teachings Richards is so skilled at countering. The ability to think through and respond to the ramblings of the religious left is what makes this work valuable. In fact, the religious left will probably ignore this book rather than respond to many of the well thought out and ordered arguments.

It must be said that another important factor in this book, and one that is a must when coming from a Christian perspective, are the moral considerations and arguments made in defense of the market. Richards understands that for capitalism or free markets to succeed and flourish they must have a moral framework and hold a moral value for the believer. Even if one is however not a person of faith, it's hard to argue against a need for a moral component for business and industry given the current economic crisis.

Richards takes on figures like Ayn Rand, who celebrate selfishness over the defense of the other. The moral argument of course characterizes the basis of the Acton Institute's purpose and mission. It's an argument that given the times and circumstances should provide us with a greater opportunity to reach the larger culture, especially the culture of believers.

The Acton hand print is all over this book of course because Richards penned the book during his tenure at Acton. One would hope this work will flourish and change the thinking of so many who are in desperate need of economic reasoning and education. Even if one is not inclined to believe or rally around the arguments made by Richards it offers a nice balance to much of the economic branding offered up by the popular culture and religious left of late.

If nothing else the valuable critical thinking and writing the author offers reminds us there is an alternative to the kind of thinking that causes Jim Wallis of Sojourners to say the "great crisis of American democracy today is the division of wealth."
39 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Christianity and Capitalism Do Work Hand in Hand 16 May 2009
By CT - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
The question whether Christianity and capitalism can work hand in hand has been asked ever since the idea of capitalism was expressed. In this book, Jay Richards addressed this very question in an intellectual approach. Often, Christians who do support capitalism and know that it is the best available system to alleviate much of the world's sufferings due to poverty are unable to articulate their position in an intellectual manner, as well as being consistent to Christianity. Such Christians, including myself, are unable to give intellectual rebuttals, while being consistent with the teachings of Jesus Christ, to misconceptions and objections to capitalism. Jay Richards has accomplished that in this book, and for that I consider it to be groundbreaking. I strongly recommend this book, particularly to Christians: whether you support capitalism or are sympathetic to socialism. As it is written in the Scripture, "in all your getting, get understanding."
84 of 111 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Have we overlooked something? 27 Aug 2011
By Enigma - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I read this book through several times with the intent of providing a fair review on such a thought provoking topic. I don't profess to come to my conclusions without the personal influence of deeply held convictions that may not agree with the convictions of others who have read this book. However, in order to add to the discussion with the hope of generating thoughtful reflection in the minds and hearts of Christian readers, I add my two cents.

To supply a little background, I hold a Theology degree, I am a CPA with a graduate degree in accounting, I have been active in the business world for several decades, have been a born-again, spirit-filled Christian since the early `70s, and consider myself a student of economics, entrepreneurship and business management. My review will reflect that background and borrow from my life's experiences that influence my findings.

It is my opinion that Jay Richards has spent a great deal of time considering his position. He clearly articulates his views and has addressed many of the concerns that Christians might have in attempting to synthesize an economic position that fits with their faith. However, in spite of the satisfaction derived by many of his Amazon book reviewers I believe some important influential arguments have not been thoroughly addressed. The case between communism/central control and capitalism/free markets would seem to be a "no-brainer". When compared with each other the benefits of capitalism certainly shine. My concern is that there is a tendency to stop one's thinking at this point. It may be that God has a system that transcends both communism and capitalism. They may not be the only two choices that Christians have. Certainly, they have played a dominant theme in American economic culture, but are not the only two pure choices actually practiced in the world today. Rather than attempt to argue every point "for" and "against" the current practice of capitalism or how Jay Richards has modified its impact by "Christianizing" it, I would like to generate a couple of propositions for consideration.

"Rather than despising the market order, Christians should see it as God's way of providentially governing the actions of billions of free agents in a fallen world." (p. 214). This is a reference to a statement made by economist Adam Smith during the mid 1700's. Smith declared that the activities of the market appeared to be regulated by an "invisible hand." Jay Richards picks this up as evidence of divine providence. Is Adam Smith being elevated to the status of prophet? To explain away the corruption and unscrupulous events that occur in the market place, the author argues that these bad outcomes of capitalism are due to man's sinful nature. No doubt! To me, a system that prospers tobacco companies, pornography and abortion clinics doesn't sound like it's guided by the "invisible hand" of God. Lipstick on a pig, as the saying goes. But we'll look at the potential alternative in a moment. While on this concept of attributing capitalism to a God ordained system one might consider the warning of Proverbs 16:25, "There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death." Wouldn't it be safer to stick to Biblical revelation than a conclusion based upon some hunch or man-made logic? Perhaps there is a significant warning given in Colossians 1:8: "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ."

How about the doctrine of "self-interest"? Curiously, this also was part and parcel of Adam Smith's conclusions. This sounds again like logic over revelation. I have heard the Christian argument, using a proof text approach, to establish this as "truth". Jesus' statement, "In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets." (Mt 7:12, p. 121) has been turned upside down to turn the focus of this text perversely to a teaching of our need for "self love". How did we get to the point of turning this text into a focus on "loving yourself" as opposed to "loving your neighbor"? Is this the kind of theology that can be trusted? In order to make this statement more palatable, the author contrasts it with greed. Point is, however one justifies it, there is little solid grounds for teaching this concept based upon the New Testament. I don't believe there is much to be gained from a point/counter-point discussion on the theological implications of "self-love", however, the Christian should not take up this philosophy lightly. When Christians are tempted to focus on looking out for themselves they are called to "...seek first the kingdom of God...and all these things shall be added to you." (Mt 6:33). And what of, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself...." (Mt16:24). This is not to spiritualize away the active part that the Christian plays in providing for himself, his family, and the church, but rather a cautionary warning against incorporating the philosophies of men with Biblical doctrine. I see a potentially significant danger when one promotes this philosophy as a Christian doctrine. To see how this has played throughout history one doesn't have to spend a lot of time reading the Bible. God has an aversion to the imbalance of power (self-interest on steroids) in our sinful world and the oppression that is inherent with it. Unfortunately, the capitalist system provides an abundance of opportunity for one's self-interest. Job is instructive for the Christian, not primarily for his long-suffering, but rather for his social involvement. Job 29:11-17 has some catchy thoughts that would have special meaning in our world today: "I rescued the poor who cried for help, and the fatherless who had none to assist them.... I made the widow's heart sing.... I was eyes to the blind and feet to the lame.... I was a father to the needy; I took up the case of the stranger. I broke the fangs of the wicked and snatched the victims from their teeth." An economic system that does not address these righteous considerations prominently is, in my opinion, more than suspect.

"As long as we can preserve our economic freedom and the spirit of enterprise, we will not use up all of our resources, nor will we run out of food, water, or energy." (p. 184). This is a strong statement, but I suspect that one could find many equally intelligent and committed Christians who would disagree with the author's conclusion. I'm not declaring who's right or wrong, but I believe a little humility here might go a long way. Jeremiah 17:5 gives a pretty clear directive: "Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart departs from the Lord. For he shall be like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see when good comes, but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness." Some might challenge this as being addressed to non-Christians, but I'm of the persuasion that Christians too can be carried away with a good logical man-made argument. Again, are we relying on revelation or on logic? Christians are not immune to the application of Proverbs 16:25.

Regarding the presentation of some of the charitable efforts to relieve poverty that Jay Richards appears to downplay, perhaps his reliance upon capitalism and free markets has colored his perception of charity. Fair Trade might very well not fit into a system driven by markets (whether they are truly free or not begs another question), but having friends who are intimately involved in a fair trade operation related to their own village in Kenya, they have been able to lift these folk up by helping them to educate their children, develop sources of clean water, and in general provide them with fruit for their labors that overall makes their future better. Does it fit the "free market" theory? Perhaps not, but since when does an economic system trump the Christian's heart to help? This is a kind of enterprise that feeds the stomach today and provides incentives to the workers to be self-sufficient and independent. These folk are not "free loaders" but real faces who do not have the privilege of choosing their vocation or developing fortunes as has been the opportunity provided to many of the privileged in America. I recall an anecdotal illustration related to a flaw in the capitalist model that may at least cause us to stop and think. There are two farmers who are equally diligent and hard working. One becomes comfortable while the other struggles to get by. The difference in the outcomes has little to do with their work ethic. One was privileged with fertile soil while the other was dealt dry and dusty land. What do you think? Does one really believe that the capitalistic model of "self-interest" is equipped to provide any market equity here? Christians are not compelled to play by the rules of free market theory. They should not be charged with a failure to "use their heads" when they, like Job, are committed to sharing God's abundant blessings with all men. In a free market world the tendency is to follow a "race to the bottom" philosophy. Often the results are to pit the "desperate" against the "most desperate" and hire the one who provides the cheapest option (who is most free with this option?). The argument is put forth that the poor are, "better off than they would be." (p. 40) Does this sound like the standard that a gracious God is satisfied with? (One ought to investigate chocolate and the Ivory Coast if you would like additional insight into free trade).

Another item, not necessarily an incorrect assessment, but may flow from an imbalanced emphasis is the issue of private property and ownership. I certainly do not miss the point regarding how this has proved to be beneficial in many ways and has aided in the generation of considerable blessings to the world. However, I don't want to be guilty of overlooking a peculiar imbalance in presentation. Perhaps the author feels that "private property" and its impact on economic outcomes has been underplayed in Christian thought. That, however, does not justify throwing the proverbial baby out with the bath water. Psalm 24:1 recites a doctrine well known by all Christians: "The earth is the Lord's, and all its fullness." It would seem that the church should be giving as much time to this Biblical message as it is in proclaiming a sketchy doctrine of private property rights. Jay writes, "...a good Christian can be, indeed should be, a good capitalist." (p. 8). Capitalism by its nature ignores God's ownership. Again, I believe the Bible gives adequate evidence that the capitalist system as it appears in this world cannot be dressed up to be a Christian economic system. Christians need to come up with a distinct label (versus "capitalism") identifying their version of economic belief. What can we learn from the parable of the talents in Matthew 25? Clearly entrepreneurial skills are rewarded here? (this chapter also has much to say about the kingdom from Christ's perspective - how about "them" sheep and goats?). Keep in mind, these stewards were not entrepreneurs in a capitalistic sense, the return that they got on their investments was never theirs to keep. They traded on the Master's fortunes and He therefore rewarded them. Let's be careful that our cry for "private property" doesn't out-shout the Christian call to be stewards of the property's rightful Owner.

I suppose the greatest disappointment of this book is toward the close where the author offers 10 Points purporting to help relieve the poverty situation. I must confess, after writing so many pages justifying capitalism and free trade I sensed a hurried finalization to make this a "true" Christian work. Personally having been involved in business and entrepreneurial relationships for several decades I find his summary to be substantially lacking. Of course, if the real intent of the book was to promote an ideological position rather than truly help relieve poverty, the summary 10 points are fine. If we could but rely upon some trickle-down effect generated by subscribing to capitalism and free markets perhaps we could solve the abject poverty in the world eventually. For the Christian, I don't imagine that is enough. Laying aside the battle of the liberal left and conservative right it behooves the Christian community to address the real suffering that is happening in our world today. Sure, I believe in self-sufficiency and am personally opposed to a "nanny" state solution. But that doesn't imply that the truly serious and intractable problems of poverty can simply be solved through being a good Christian capitalist.

The world should expect that there will be Christian entrepreneurs who use their God-given ingenuity to provide a better system than capitalism. Maybe this is semantics, but it is my personal belief that any Christian movement committed to resolving the issues of poverty and that declares itself to be "capitalism" only muddies the waters. There is a need for the church to move beyond the examples of the world and model their own economic philosophy after the heart of God and not just the ideological prejudice of man. The danger of relying upon a capitalistic philosophy for the Christian is that there is a natural tendency to absorb both the good and the bad. Perhaps it's time to declare God's kingdom ways and not to be borrowing our road map to prosperity from a corrupt and faulty economic idealism.

We need a new name for our desired economic system and a less hardened attitude toward those who have the unfortunate lack of capital. Many of the poor are not lazy but would benefit from Christian entrepreneurs directing their ingenuity toward finding ways to help them to build a productive life versus leaving the "free market" to somehow rescue them. Micro-loan companies, guided by the Spirit of Christ, that provide start-up capital for disenfranchised members of society is just one idea that could be a better evidence of the "invisible hand" of God. This requires entrepreneurs that are not in the game simply from "self-interest" but are committed to a spiritually guided economy that lifts others through their enterprise. Not just to give others a job, but to work toward giving them a life. Free market systems don't naturally provide such an incentive or motivation, only the Spirit of Christ does. Let's use our ingenuity to deliver the Christian goods promised by our Father that will bring true refreshing to both body and soul. Let's move beyond a capitalistic ideology driven by the spirit of man to a Christian economy driven by the Spirit of God.
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