Render Unto God: Christianity and Capitalism in Crisis
The Great Recession, like most economic depressions, has compelled many to reconsider not only the consequences, but also the very nature of contemporary global capitalism. Sadly, very little critical reflection on the fundamental nature of the world’s hegemonic economic system has come from its most devout disciples – evangelicals.
Throughout the pages of the Old and New Testament, God reprimands those driven by a love for gain. By way of the cultural mandate, God has given humanity the responsibility to care not only for their fellow human beings, but also for the earth itself. True and undefiled religion includes taking care of those forgotten, marginalized, and made invisible by all-consuming (and all-mighty) capital. As such, those who accumulate wealth by destroying creation dishonor their Creator. Has the Christian community gone far enough in meeting the needs of the poor, in seeking the end of poverty, or in curbing the rapacious appetites of the greedy few in order to preserve that which is good, true, and beautiful within God’s creation?
Render Unto God calls Christians to reconsider their ideological commitment to unrestrained capitalism – to rethink not only the profit motive, an essential element of capitalism (if not its central telos), the meaning of private property, and the dominion of the global power elite, but also to understand how market fundamentalism fractures families, creates systems of inequality, and destroys the environment.
Have we forgotten our commitment to God, neighbor, and creation? Have we forgotten our primary purpose, the reason for our existence – namely, to glorify God and enjoy him forever?
Ryan C. McIlhenny received his PhD from the University of California, Irvine. He is currently Professor of History and Humanities at Providence Christian College in Pasadena, CA.
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