Saturday, April 12, 2008

Christianity and Capitalism

I came across this the other day. I addresses some of the issues that we were struggling with in our DISCIPLE last Sunday evening. We had been studying the book of Romans, and were wresting with how we as Christians stand above/against/sideways to our culture.

Christine Chakoian writes:

Chandler Stokes, who’s now a pastor in California, tells of an epiphany he had when he was a student at New College in Edinburgh a number of years ago, before the fall of the Berlin Wall. While Chandler was there, he had the rare chance to hear the head of the East German Church, a Protestant church trying desperately to survive behind the Iron Curtain. But instead of feeling sorry for himself, this leader remarked on the struggle of his audience. He said,

"Almost every time I come to the West, I am asked by serious and well-meaning church people, ‘How are you able to be a Christian in a communist society, with so many pressures and impositions from the state?’ My usual response is to ask, ‘How are you able to be a Christian in a capitalist society? With every pressure to self-centered consumption and self-gratifying indulgence?" ...

Capitalism, tempered by compassion, can accomplish great good. Capitalism can inspire creativity, encourage independence, and most importantly, raise people out of poverty. But capitalism can’t teach us to care ... and it can’t teach us that greed is ultimately empty ... and it can’t teach us that, in the long run, sharing what we have brings us much more joy than owning things. Capitalism can’t teach us any of these things. But the gospel ... the gospel can.

Powerful words. American Christianity has lots of work to do!

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