Jesus and Capitalism

I will confess that I am approaching this week's topic, Jesus and Capitalism, with considerable trepidation. There are many for whom 'Capitalism' is a dirty word, and many others as well for whom 'Socialism' is a dirty word.


Yet Capitalism, like Socialism, can take many forms. And whatever version of whatever 'ism' we ultimately espouse as people of faith, there are guiding principles of justice that apply. I can think of two right away. From the prophet Amos a warning:


Thus says the Lord:

For three transgressions of Israel,

and for four, I will not revoke the punishment;

because they sell the righteous for silver,

and the needy for a pair of sandals—

they who trample the head of the poor into the dust of the earth,

and push the afflicted out of the way; [Amos 2:6-7a]


I take this to be a caution against treating people and their labor as mere commodities.


The second principle I take from Emanuel Swedenborg's teaching on charity. Central to Swedenborg's understanding of charity is what today we would call professional ethics. Whatever our profession or role in society, we are called to act with the well-being of the neighbor in mind. Applied to merchants, Swedenborg took this to mean that while earning a fair profit, ethical merchants seek to make sales that are genuinely in the customer's best interest.


Generalizing this, I take it to be a principle that any ethical market transaction needs to be a win/win/win... for all stakeholders.


Applying these principles to our current economic system would take more than one brief sermon, and I have another 80 hours to put together a message. Please join us for the discussion in and the meanwhile...


Pray for me,

Rev. Jonathan


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