God is a Capitalist

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Is God a Capitalist?

The title is similar to that of my book, God is a Capitalist, but this is a different book that I only recently discovered and it makes some really good points. 

Pastors in the US have abandoned their flocks to the mercy of atheist wolves according to Gregory B. Grinstead in his book Is God a Capitalist? God’s Perspective on Governments and Economic Systems. Grinstead writes with authority, to evangelicals at least, having pastored the Palmdale Christian Fellowship for over 25 years.

Grinstead is referring to the desertion of pastors on the subject of economics and government. I don’t have the author’s background as a pastor, but my own experience and reading suggest that pastors throughout history have tended to baptize the status quo. If tyrannical emperors were in power that was God’s will. Now that democratic socialism is in fashion, that’s God’s will. Christianity failed to develop a sound, Biblical theology of government and economics until the 16th century when Catholic scholars at the University of Salamanca devoted their work to the task. Their principles bore miraculous fruit for three centuries, but it has all been forgotten in the deluge of atheistic socialism that began a century ago.

Other than Jim Wallis, founder of Sojourners and a fierce socialist, most evangelicals try to avoid the topic of economics except at Christmas when they complain about the commercialization of the season. Catholics are having to endure endless regurgitations of Marxism from the current Pope while the Acton Institute (Acton.org) stands like a lone candle in the wind trying to light the way for serious believers.

Many prominent evangelical pastors preach that God is not a capitalist or a socialist. He does not prefer one economic system over another. What should Christians do then? Should we adopt a“third way” somewhere between? That would be democratic socialism, the dominant system in the West, including the US. Grinstead has witnessed similar cowardice on the part of pastors in his decades of ministry:
In church and at school, business was seen as at best a lower calling and worst a selfish calling. Television and the movies had taught me the evils of business....
The church’s teachings did not help me have a wise or informed view of economics either. I had heard the following ideas in church. America is too commercialized. People spend too much money at Christmas. People spend too much money at Halloween. Americans buy too much. People think about material things too much....
It is a small jump from anti-commercialism to anti-capitalism; and then an even easier jump from anti-capitalism to anti-business. The final shift in thinking aligns the church’s beliefs with the atheists....
When talking about money, the church teaches tithing, giving of alms to the poor, and generous giving from self-sacrifice. The same churches should teach on the goodness of the system that has allowed so much wealth to be accumulated, by so many, The Free Enterprise System.
Grinstead has an interesting take on one of the passages in the Gospels that Christian socialists (an oxymoron btw) fixate on – the account of the rich young ruler. Jesus told him to sell all he had and follow him, but the young man refused and left. Later, the disciples asked Jesus to explain what had happened. Jesus said, 
Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house... or farms, for My sake and for the gospel’s sake, but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and... farms, along with persecutions;” (Mark 10:28-31)
Most pastors emphasize the persecutions part, but Grinstead wants them to notice the "hundred times" and the "farms and houses." Jesus promises material wealth to those who follow him.

And Grinstead does a great job of explaining the Public Choice School of political economy without identifying its founder, James Buchanan, or the name of the school. Many preachers today come close to idolatry of the federal government and the author asks, 
Who are these government men who are so much more moral and wise? What is it about the government bureaucrat or politician that we trust more than the rich man? Is he wiser? Is he more knowledgeable?”
Exactly! How have Christians come to believe that men and women don’t need conversion and the power of the Holy Spirit to become all-knowing, wise and caring? All they need is to be elected to Congress, the Presidency or appointed to the Supreme Court? 

Grinstead writes that socialism is founded on two unbiblical principles: 
1. Men are basically good and circumstances make them sin.
2. There are no absolute truths. The end justifies the means.
Real Christians reject both and apply that to politicians and bureaucrats as well.

And he sees in Mystery Babylon in the Book of the Apocalypse (Revelations) the dangers of public-private partnerships that characterize the entire West today and which Buchanan warned about:
What is called capitalism, in most of the world is a hybrid form of socialist governments and amoral businesses that create an unholy alliance. In the last chapter, I equated these hybrids to Revelations’ Whore of Babylon. The businesses become intoxicated with the prospect of great wealth and little competition. They form unholy unions and their goal is to get rich by taking away free choice and competition from the markets....
Governments by themselves, rarely develop a Learning Curve from their mistakes. Government, business and non-profits all define success in different ways. Thus failure is defined differently. This three goal approach always forms a fog of confusion. If you disagree with this Babylonian – confused approach, you are accused of not having a heart for whomever the government program is focused upon; a heart for the homeless; a heart for the poor; a heart for the uninsured.
I have offered only a few gems from the book. Grinstead packs it with evidence of the superiority of free markets at reducing poverty and tyranny, all presented without jargon but with a strong grasp of Biblical government and economics. Deacons and elders should buy this for their pastors and force them to read it out of sympathy for them because pastors will have to give an account of their stewardship. Most are failing.
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