Capitalism Contaminates Christian Culture Creating Congregational Confusion

Read the whole post, I beg you! I know, I know, starting out a post with begging isn’t a great look, but I had to do it. As soon as you say anything about capitalism that could in any way appear negative, you are branded a communist, socialist, Satanist, the Antichrist and possibly a Democrat. I am a Canadian so you the last one isn’t true, we don’t have that political party in my country. If you succumb to my begging and read the whole post you will find out that maybe, just maybe, my view on capitalism and the church isn’t that far off.

It’s not a new problem.

Historically the Jews fell into the same trap that we have fallen into in the church. I know we like to think of ourselves as enlightened because we follow a newer covenant, but the truth is we are no different. The world’s way of conducting business has become the church’s model for carrying out the gospel. We have created a system and structure for our churches that honours the same people and actions that our economic systems and structures honour. The religious leaders that Jesus so often called out for their self-serving actions lived for power over people. They climbed the corporate ladder by selling other leaders on their ability to create ways to bring in additional money and further adherence to the system they continued to overhaul so as to extend their sphere of influence. Many church leaders of our time, whether it be in a small church or at the top of a large denomination, have fallen prey to the same ladder climbing, influence peddling, money raising motivations that became the norm of their contemporaries.  

Look at what is considered positive attributes in a Christian leader.

The go getter, the one who can draw attention to themselves and therefore to the church is who we look for. Those in positions of power in the church are often those who can sell us on a Christianity that people are comfortable following. Some have a sales pitch that is worldly lacking any grounding in the live differently than the world doctrines of the Bible. Others play on our desire to seen as better than others by attacking those who are not like us. We look for strong leaders with strong opinions to take us on a journey that makes a strong case for who we are and what we like.

These are the same type of people we look for when we want to peddle a product or a service. We want to feel like we have chosen wisely. The problem is, the market is driven by making the consumer happy and is geared toward creating the service or product around them while rewarding those who can build interest in it with promotions and power. God’s chosen people under the Old and New Covenant were supposed to be people who embrace a way of life that is not geared toward their happiness but rather their holiness and those who build interest in it are rewarded with greater responsibilities while the power and the position remains with God.

The contamination spreads.

Our view of how the church should function and the character traits most desirable in a leader often come from the practices of our respective denominations, the teaching we receive from the pulpit coupled with the influence of our daily lives lived in direct contact with the world’s model for leadership. Therefore, it is those who call themselves followers of Christ that allow the capitalist model for Christianity to survive. We have bought into a hierarchy that places value on those who are paid, more value on those who oversee those who are paid and less value on volunteers unless we can’t afford to pay someone then they are indispensable. Income and position, the markers of success in capitalism, have become the markers of success in the church, markers that have experienced very little opposition.

Christians and by extension Christians who lead, must be different.

The way to the top in the church should be through humility and service not dominance and control. Power is given by God not taken by man. The message is not to be tinkered with so that more people like us or wielded as a weapon so we can say more people need to be more like us. We are not a culture that mirrors the world but a culture that wants to see the world be changed, or are we? It all depends on how much capitalism has contaminated Christian culture creating congregational confusion.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant… Philippians 2:3-7a (NIV)

17 comments

  1. Dave, it looks like most of my response is covered, but I see the problem as the world and its methods and thinking are embraced and given preferential value in the church while those following Scripture and obeying the Lord are marginalized. Much of the state church in the US disguised as mainstream denominations are nothing but businesses pumping up the stars while compromising to reach the target consumers. Jesus himself would be unwelcome in most of those places as too serious and convictions that make others uncomfortable.
    Man has tried to take over for God since Adam distrusted him in the garden, long before political systems. Every time we have stepped in to help God do his work or because we thought we knew better bad things happened.
    I wonder what a real church would look like today if Jesus started it. When the crowds got too big he preached on the cost of following him as a disciple and away most of the went.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I don’t see the desire to control others as a capitalist or socialist issue, but a sin issue. There are many good people who build wealth in a capitalist system, and then choose to use it to accomplish great good. Others choose to spend their wealth on themselves. People in a socialist culture “give” to the poor because they have no choice – and everyone is poorer for it, except the few at the top. All will have to give an account to God. As followers of Christ, we have an obligation to the Lord to give it all to Him – what form that gift will take will differ from one person to another.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Both are human constructs – socialism has a dimension that can slip into the church because helping the poor is part of who who are as Christ followers but true socialism is the government taking from one group not obedient Christ followers giving to those in need – socialism is often communism by an easier to swallow name – in the early church you could say they were socialists but I would disagree – they were compassionate and passionate not taking by law or force but giving because of love and conviction

      Liked by 2 people

      1. It was not an atempt to call out the system but rather the overlap – perhaps another day I will look at other worldly systems that leak into the church – not enough words in a single post to address them but it is a good idea to look at the way the world has become part of our faith and we don’t even see it – blessings

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s