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

The Correlation Between Bitcoin and the Reformation

Written by: on November 9, 2022

“I’ll trade you this for that,” words spoken in many languages across every continent and reaching back before written history. Bartering and currency exchange are the bedrock of civilizations’ financial systems, no matter the context.


The idea of coin currency came about in 770 B.C.E., all thanks to the ancient Chinese. [1] It came in the form of copper and bronze. Then, leather, gold, silver, and paper followed in the coming centuries.


Who decided that this metal was more valuable than the next? What kind of trust system has to be set for us to agree that this piece of paper with a funny design featuring the headshot of a dead historical figure holds value? It is a peculiar concept when you stop and think about it.


And then, there is Bitcoin. What is that? “Bitcoin automates the functions of a modern central bank and makes them predictable and virtually immutable by programming them into code decentralized among thousands of network members, none of whom can alter the code without the consent of the rest,” explained Dr. Saifedean Ammous, in his work The Bitcoin Standard. [2]


This book explains what, for most people until the last couple of years, was a completely foreign word, let alone a concept, by explaining the nature of the digital currency system, its history, its impact on the central banking system, and questions about its transformational nature on the economic system of the future.


To understand how Bitcoin works, most people need to have a general foundation of the typical money system of most societies—whether the U.S. Dollar, the British Pound sterling, or the Sri Lankan Rupee, paper money has its worth valued by the economic concept of supply and demand, ultimately decided by a centralized government. Bitcoin works similarly to supply and demand but has no governmental declaration of value.


As Ammous explained, “The quantity of bitcoins created is preprogrammed and cannot be altered no matter how much effort and energy is expended on proof-of-work. . .As more people choose to hold bitcoin, this drives up the market value of bitcoin and makes mining new coins more profitable, which drives more miners to expend more resources on solving proof-of-work problems.”[3]


What makes Bitcoin so transformational is there is no government control of it. “As the first form of digital cash, bitcoin’s first and most important value proposition is in giving anyone in the world access to sovereign base money. Any person who owns bitcoin achieves a degree of economic freedom which was not possible before its invention,” noted Ammous. [4]


In many regards, Bitcoin is an innovation that has brought tremendous disruption to the central banking system. It’s akin to the ride-sharing system, Apple’s personal home computer, the Polaroid camera, Napster, Facebook, and modem. But as Ammous argued, “Human civilization flourished in times and places where sound money was widely adopted, while unsound money all too frequently coincided with civilizational decline and societal collapse.”[5]


It might be a mistake to think that the finite details of Bitcoin and how it affects our economic system are the most important takeaways for organizational leaders. Instead, the Bitcoin Standard illustrates another example of a Western institution being challenged with radical innovations, especially one that decentralizes power. And for many, that is fundamentally and existentially an uncomfortable and unsettling thought.


The church is no exception. So, we can frame the decentralization of the church’s power within society as destabilizing. But we can also see that when this happened in the past, it brought much good, such as the Reformation and Great Awakening.


While Saifedean Ammous’ book gives us an economic and history lesson on Bitcoin, it certainly opens the door for us to consider some difficult questions as leaders. For example, what is our role as organizational leaders during this groaning period of change? What role are

we playing in the propagation of institutions that God wants to change? What role will we play in the morning of these changes with people dealing with them? What role will we play in what’s next?


[1] Andrew Beattie, “The History of Money,” Investopedia, Last modified September 17, 2022, https://www.investopedia.com/articles/07/roots_of_money.asp, (Accessed November 9, 2022).


[2] Saifedean Ammous, The Bitcoin Standard: The Decentralized Alternative to Central Banking, (Hoboken: Wiley, 2018), xv.


[3] Ibid, 172.


[4] Ibid, 200.


[5] Ibid, 25. 

About the Author


Andy Hale

Associate Executive Coordinator of CBF North Carolina, CBF Podcast Creator and Host, & Professional Coach

3 responses to “The Correlation Between Bitcoin and the Reformation”

  1. mm Troy Rappold says:

    Andy: Great connections with the idea of decentralization and the Reformation and Great Awakenings. I hadn’t thought of that, but it’s true–disruptions are messy but in the end the produce so much good. The economic phrase “creative destructionism” get’s to the heart of the matter. The global church is going through this right now perhaps. So we should watch, learn and react wisely, yes? Such a great time to be alive….

  2. mm Roy Gruber says:

    Andy, your post was an enjoyable read on several levels. I like the connections you made to the Reformation and the Great Awakening as it pertains to decentralization. I might add the first three hundred years of the church also fit that description. After Constantine, centralization turned a movement into more of an institution. A question: if there is another “great awakening” (yes, please!), how does the church keep the movement going rather than institutionalizing it?

  3. mm Nicole Richardson says:

    Andy, reading your blog begs the question, how do leaders in the church welcome a decentralization of power within the ways we structure our denominations?

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