There is an often misunderstood, but relatively well known passage in the Bible about Jesus’s anger that speaks to this issue:
45 Then He went into the temple and began to drive out those who bought and sold in it, 46 saying to them, “It is written, ‘My house is a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a ‘den of thieves.'”
Jesus “drives out” the thieves that have made His Father’s house into a place of robbery. I will often hear someone expound on this passage and conclude that Jesus/God therefore hates any kind of commerce or capitalism. This is not only erroneous, but missing the whole context and point. Let’s look at how the political/religious system was robbing the poor and middle class by devaluing their currency. That’s what Jesus is mad about.
In those days, people would travel great distances to come to Jerusalem to sacrifice to God. God had instructed them to bring their best sheep, animal, etc to sacrifice to God. So this out-of-towner would come to Jerusalem to make a sacrifice to God. Before he was allowed into the temple, his beast had to undergo an “inspection.”
The scribes/priests had set up a insidious way to devalue the out-of-towner currency. Much like Boss hog used to give “30-day-in-jail” speeding tickets to musicians passing through Hazard county -unless they gave a “free concert”- on the Dukes of Hazzard. The corrupt scribes were exploiting the out of towners. How? In those days, your currency included both your money (silver, gold, and Roman coinage) as well as your property (your sheep, cows, etc).When you brought your sheep to town, the priest would declare it “unworthy” for sacrifice and then sell you one of their “qualifed” animals at twice the price. As you left the city, the priest would then take your “unqualified” animal and sell it to the next guy for twice the price. This is what Jesus is angry about. The religious and political leadership found a way to exploit the people. They were robbing them by devaluing their property and then upcharging them through rising prices.
Capitalism is not just a good idea, it’s God’s idea.
The Bible supports free market capitalism for a variety of reasons.
1) Free market capitalism requires the voluntary exchange of goods and services. Therefore, Freedom is the fuel for the system. Someone must freely choose to buy your product forcing you to put their needs ahead of your own by setting a price and quality that THEY will want to buy.
2 Cor 3:17 and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
From the theology of the Garden of Eden to the Exodus from Egypt, freedom is the recurring theme of the Bible. Wherever true followers of Christ have taken seriously the message of the Scripture, they have pushed for more freedom for everyone.
2) The free market system is built on Biblical ideals: property rights, reward and incentive that are scattered throughout the Biblical narratives.
1 Timothy 5:8 But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house,he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.
The early church reformers and followers of Christ wanted to design a system where everyone provided for his own. This bedrock ideal was part of the framework for the their understanding of the free market system.
3) The free market always produces more prosperity throughout history. Socialism, communism, and increasing degrees of government interventionism always lead to poverty and loss of liberty.
Take this example from The Mature Man by David Dewitt
“One of the false values of the Soviet Communists was peace at all costs. There were signs in Romania that equated peace with their communist dictator Niklai Ceausescu. Signs such as “Ceausescu Is Peace.” He kept that peace alright. His secret police terrorized the country. Everybody was under surveillance. People were starved until they had to steal to survive. They stole corn from large government owned farms. They planted and raised the corn, but they couldn’t have any of it. The government sold the corn, probably to Russia, and Ceausescu would pocket the money. They had to steal the corn or else they would starve to death. The government knows they are stealing it, but won’t do anything about it unless they want to compromise someone. For example, they might want to know if a person is speaking against Ceausescu, so they would take his neighbor to jail. They tell the person they know he has been stealing, and won’t be released unless they inform on his neighbor. The stores in Romania were empty. There were lines to buy bread, meat, and gas. Bread was rationed. Meat was rationed to one chicken per family member per month. Meanwhile, Ceausescu was padding his already fat Swiss bank account with the money made selling Romania’s products to foreign markets. BUT HEY, AT LEAST THEY HAD PEACE.
Finally in December of 1989 the Romanians had all the “peace” they could stand. The army refused orders to fire on their fellow citizens. That was followed by a few weeks of war between the regular army and Ceausescu’s secret police and foreign mercenaries. On Christmas Day in 1989, Nikolai Ceausescu was shot by a firing squad. Before his death he told his executioners they should restore power to him so that he could end all the violence they had caused and once again establish “PEACE.”
Throughout history, every time socialism is tried. Everytime. The result is a loss of liberty. A loss of prosperity for the masses as the government confiscates property, rights, and incentive. A loss of generosity is the net result of government interventionism.
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