05 October 2008

Are Free Market Capitalism and Total Depravity Compatible?

So this might go off the theological/political/financial deepend a little bit, but ever since this whole financial meltdown popped up, I have been thinking about it.  

It seems that there may be some who would inclined to believe in both Free Market Capitalism and the theological concept of Total Depravity.  Let me explain them both briefly:
1. Free Market Capitalism:  The idea that there is no need for government intervention in the market - buyers and sellers will set the price of goods and services.
2. Total Depravity:  Humans are inherently sinful, and unless acting through God's grace will demonstrate their consuming sinful intentions.

So if humans are going to do bad things, how can we trust our economy to unbridled human greed?  I know that overregulation is not good for anyone, but it is also clear for me that the rampant consumerism of our culture is in the process of imploding on itself.  We want larger houses, bigger tvs, nicer cars -  the banks, and stores want to sell and borrow more and more- put those two selfish desires together and we will drag each other over the cliff...

I am not seeking to knock down a straw man - because I could be totally wrong.  Maybe no one holds these two beliefs in their conceptual perfection.  I am just wanting to explore how our faith/theology/understanding of God's role in our lives impacts our day to day lives.   For me this Financial Crisis is a clear example (just like watching Jerry Springer) that is some malfunction in our society at a pretty basic level.

Christians have good news for those who idolize materials, and good news for those who seek money and glory over the care of the widow and the orphan - we just have to figure out how to tell the story for them.


Jon White said...

This is a great observation. It's especially punchy to me because even though I'd, at first glance, consider myself exempt from holding this contradiction, the fact of the matter is that I still hold unquestionably to its polar opposite (i.e., that spiritually we're all luminous, but socio-economically a nation of 300M people fundamentally needs regulation)... I wonder now if this 180 view is any less self-contradictory, though I feel it might be (i.e., I'm a safe driver, but I still need insurance, etc.).

Bjorn said...

I completely disagree. Funny thing is, capitalism is pretty much the only thing we have going for us, and it is the one thing that accounts for total depravity. I'll explain more later.