How should Christians think about capitalism?
Throughout the latter half of the twentieth century the two great superpowers of the world, the USSR and the US, represented the opposing ideologies of communism and capitalism respectively. For many Christians it was unquestioningly assumed that communism was the great enemy of the church. Given its openly atheistic philosophy, it clearly opposed what Christians believed. However, in resisting communism Christians may have been deceived into thinking that capitalism is the church’s ally. Yet, if we want to identify the greatest enemy of the Christian faith, we must look closely at Babylon and observe its obsession with consumerism. There is nothing that stands more effectively as a barrier to people knowing God than the desire for wealth that comes through capitalism.
T. Desmond Alexander, From Eden to the New Jerusalem, p. 183.
Found this humorous, but true:
Churches must not look for people who are never jerks, but for the people who admit that they are jerks and are willing to fight it. Kind of like me. Maybe like you?
Jonathan Leeman, Church Membership, p. 90.
I recently finished Thabiti Anyabwile’s new book, Finding Faithful Elders and Deacons. I particularly appreciated his comments on 1 Timothy 4:10 (we have our hope set on the living God).
We pastors face constant temptation to do pastoral ministry in our own strength and wisdom. We are invited on so many occasions to be men of strength and spiritual courage that we begin to believe that such strength and courage are matters of self-exertion. We may imagine ourselves mustering enough willpower to push our way to any goal.
But this brief phrase from Paul’s letter confronts every pastor with the question, Where have we put our hope?
Sometimes we place hope in our study and preparation. Sometimes we place our hope in books read and the convincing arguments they contain. Other times we place hope in relationships, in the affection we share with others in the body. Or we place hope in our articulate expression, clever counsel, and good sermons. Our hope soars when things go well, when people seem pleased with our performance.
All of these hopes are deadly temptations! All of them fade, weaken, and disappoint.
I recently finished Tullian Tchividjian’s new book, Jesus + Nothing = Everything. His book is full of great stuff. Please pick up a copy and read it. There is far too much to summarize, but let me offer two statements he made about preaching.
Moralistic preaching is stimulated by a fear of the scandalous freedom that gospel grace promotes and promises. The perceived fear is this: if we think too much and talk to much about grace and the radical freedom it brings, we’ll go off the deep end with it. We’ll abuse it. So to balance things out, we need to throw some law in there, to help make sure Christian people walk the straight and narrow. (p. 50)
Preachers these days are expected to major in “Christian moral renovation.” They are expected to provide a practical to-do list, rather than announce, “It is finished.” They are expected to do something other than, more than, placarding before their congregation’s eyes Christ’s finished work, preaching a full absolution soley on the basis of the complete righteousness of Another. The irony is, of course, that when preachers cave in to this pressure, moral renovation does not happen. To focus on how I’m doing, more than on what Christ has done, is Christian narcissism (an oxymoron if I ever heard one)– the poison of self-absorption which undermines the power of the gospel in our lives. (p.117)
I just finished reading a little book called, Cruciform: Living the Cross-Shaped Life. I found this quote from the book to be quite powerful. It is taken from George Whitefield.
You must be brought to see that God may damn you for the best prayer you every put up . . . that all your duties . . . are so far from recommending you to God. . . . you must not only be sick of your original and actual sin, but you must be made sick of your righteousness, of all your duties and performances.
I recently finished Joe Thorn’s helpful little book, Note to Self. Would recommend you read it. A lot of good stuff in his book, but in particular I was reminded of chapter 35 (Stop Complaining) this past week as our family vacation had some minor inconveniences.
You complain because you misunderstand (or just miss altogether) the grace you have received and the purposes of God in your life. You misunderstand the grace you have received by not recognizing it and receiving it with gratitude. Life, breath, and all of God’s provisions for your life are acts of his kindness and are truly wonderful, and yet they all seem to disappear when the small inconveniences of life appear.
Read this stinging statement from D. A. Carson today. Pay careful attention to the last two sentences.
It is true, of course, that no man enters the kingdom because of his obedience; but it is equally true that no man enters the kingdom who is not obedient. It is true that men are saved by God’s grace through faith in Christ; but it is equally true that God’s grace in a man’s life inevitably results in obedience. Any other view of grace cheapens grace, and turns it into something unrecognizable. Cheap grace preaches forgiveness without repentance, church membership without rigorous church discipline, discipleship without obedience, blessing without persecution, joy without righteousness, results without obedience. In the entire history of the church, has there ever been another generation with so many nominal Christians and so few real (i.e., obedient) ones? And where nominal Christianity is compounded by spectacular profession, it is especially likely to manufacture its own false assurance.
D. A. Carson, Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, p. 139-140.