Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Capitalism and Socialism Live Together In Perfect Harmony

Written by: on February 8, 2017

The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism – Max Weber

Weber disagrees with Marx’s theory that “capitalism was the social counterpart of Calvinist Theology.” (2) He believed that “Calvinism influenced the economic prosperity on Holland.” (6) RH Tawney states that maybe “Calvinism and capitalism both had a different effect on the economics and social structure.” He further adds that Calvin “saw no hindrance to the effectiveness of clergy to their wealth, but a desirable enhancement of their prestige.” (157) Calvinist Theology supports the theory that everyone is predestined. Is the Calvinist Theology the Spirit of Capitalism? We are entwined as one. We, Christians, worship in church and worship things in the world. Whose two worlds in this current atmosphere of our times in American are so entwined that we are unable to separate our belief system? The rich were already predestined for their place in society, and the poor were already predestined for their place in society with no means of reaching the Society of richness. So many believe this, yet years of people born in low-income society have reached the Society of richness. There are church leaders in Houston who strongly believe in capitalism and promote it in their sermons. Weber’s views brought me to the scripture Matthew 20:1-16 where a man kept hiring laborers all during the day to tend to the vineyard and at the end of the day, he paid all them the same. In America, those slotted as the minority are fighting for equal pay for the work they do and equal rights as their white male coworkers. Now our God was making reference to those who have come into the fowl of believers, but even in some churches, you have to serve your time in membership before you can become a leader to teach, choir, etc. Our worlds entwined.

Capitalism is not merely rich and poor, but it’s been utilized as a division among humans. In summary, it is said to be “not the same thing as the pursuit of gain and the greatest possible amount of money but implies the pursuit of forever-renewable profit. It views the balances, the amount of money gained in a business period over the amount of money spent. The point of the economic action is based on the amount of profit made.” [1] Weber then addressed how the Protestant’s asceticism affects the spirit of capitalism. He included the parable of the ten talents and highlighted the one who was rejected because he did not do anything with his talent to make it grow,” as an example. Weber quoted John Wesley as saying, “I fear when riches increase, the essence of religion decrease in the same proportion…We should not prevent people from being diligent and frugal; we must exhort all Christians to in all they can and to save all they can; what is, in effect, to grow rich.”

Can capitalism and socialism work together? When one increases their wealth, can they also help someone in need? There are many who have wealth and cheerfully share to help those in need. There are some Christians today who are working so hard to retain their increase, they have no intention or helping the least of these. Again, capitalism and socialism exist together?



[1] SparkNotes Editors. “SparkNote on The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism.” SparkNotes LLC. n.d.. http://www.sparknotes.com/philosophy/protestantethic/ (accessed February 5, 2017).

About the Author

Lynda Gittens

5 responses to “Capitalism and Socialism Live Together In Perfect Harmony”

  1. Lynda, I like your thinking! Out of the box and fresh. There are great elements to both, and one without the other seems to bring out the darkness in each. How would you envision this in a nation? Getting the best characteristics out of each seems to be the best of both worlds. What would you call it? Socialcap? Capisocial? You’re on to something with this!

    • LOL Jennifer, probably call it Socapilism. Social (the people/country needs should be considered first) and then Capital (the financial development to support the needs of the people and the country).
      There is a solution but we must come together from both views to find a balance. Jesus was a socialist I believe first but he did not ignore the need for finance. Feeding the 5,000 he recognized the need of the people (they were tired and hungry). He then sought the commodity needed to provide and supply the need. He took five loaves and three fishes. What a powerful plan.

  2. Mary Walker says:

    Lynda, those are really great questions.
    I think that we see the best elements of both “capitalism” and “socialism” in the Bible. Agur says in Prov. 30:8, “Give me neither poverty nor riches.” It seems to teach that blessing from God is enough to take care of our needs, then we are to share the rest with others.
    I think Weber did a good job of pointing out some of the bad elements of “capitalism” and “socialism”. I hope our nation can repent of the unfair practices against minorities to the extent we have used “prosperity as God’s blessing” as an excuse.
    Not only as an individual but as a nation I pray that we can be more responsible with our wealth.

  3. “Can capitalism and socialism work together? When one increases their wealth, can they also help someone in need?”

    When I read this, I am reminded about the church in Acts chapter 2:44-47 “And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity— all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.”

    Not only was there equal distribution but people did it in a spirit of joy and generosity. In doing so, they were living out the gospel and people were being saved!

  4. Great thinking Lynda. Some of what you are describing here is the essence of democratic socialism. I believe there is a way to blend the two, allowing for government care (single payer insurance?) and personal ownership, earning, and production. The problem is not necessarily the systems, it is the motive. The spirit of capitalism can devolve into a “me first and more for me” attitude, while the spirit of socialism can devolve into a “let the government handle it” or worse “it’s the government’s job to take care of me” attitude. Finding the balance sounds like a kingdom thing, right?

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