Max Weber contends that empirical evidence of greater Protestant participation in the ownership of capital, management, and the upper ranks of labor may be the result (but not the cause) of religious affiliation. It would appear that the rejection of economic traditionalism often led to the tendency to question all traditionalism, even the traditional forms of authority influencing the community including the church (i.e., the Roman Catholic church). Therefore, opening the door to considering an alternative form of community authority, perhaps from among the various Reformation movements. For me, while this is a curious question that this text attempts to address, I find little application towards my research concerning the development of coaching networks in global church associations. That is, while Reformation history starting in the sixteenth century is engaging and fascinating, I find little application to my research and will not be including this text among my sources.
Weber seems to recognize he is not nor is he making a theological argument but rather a cultural and psychological argument for how these Reformation religious traditions evolved and gave direction to the practical conduct of individuals. I found this curious as he seemingly spent much (154 out of 183 pages) of his book parsing out the theological and historical minute details of the various sects and movements. He views predestination (as championed by Calvinism) as the genius dogmatic belief for its practical significance of providing a psychological connection between faith and conduct. I am not seeing the logic of how a predetermined destiny would form the moral imperative and energy for ethical behavior in general and the zealous expenditure of labor in particular for the benefit of self and others of the community.
Weber goes on to contend that the doctrine of proof best exhibited as part of Pietism, led to methodically controlled and supervised (ascetic) conduct. He goes onto provide vocational examples of Pietism (e.g., official, clerk, laborer) as compared to Calvinism (e.g., capitalistic entrepreneurs). Since these doctrines and streams of the Church are not part of my faith journey, I guess I accept his claims and examples although I struggle to see the connections to his arguments.
Weber turns his attention next to Methodism with its emphasis on the emotional act of conversion including the sense of forgiveness as confirmed by the Spirit. However, per Weber, John Wesley continued to emphasize the Puritan belief of works (performed solely for God’s glory) not as a cause but as evidence of divine grace. Eventually, emotionalism led to enthusiasm coupled with rational conduct.
I find Weber’s lumping together of Baptists, Mennonites, and Quakers into the
Baptists sects, again, curious. He contends that predestination has been rejected and has been replaced by the simplicity waiting on the Spirit. Also, daily conduct includes a sincere repudiation of worldly interests to demonstrate one’s new birth. Weber summarizes this as a rationalization of behavior for the “sake of the world beyond.”
Weber allegedly set out to show how Protestant asceticism, while not causing, could help explain the empirical evidence of greater Protestant participation in capitalistic ventures. That is, economic forces alone were not entirely causal of producing capitalism in post-Reformation Europe and (by extension) beyond. I found his history of the Reformation movements somewhat absorbing but not necessarily compelling in articulating his arguments.
 Weber, Max, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, rev. ed. (Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 2003) 35-36.
 Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, 97.
 Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, 126.
 Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, 132.
 Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, 139.
Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, 141-143.
 Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, 144-148.