In his documentary ‘Civilization: Is the West History’ (pt 6) the historian Niall Ferguson talks about the influence of the Protestant (Christian) work ethic on the economic growth in the western countries.
The relation between religion and economy was studied by Max Weber, who wrote a book about the ‘holy alliance’ of Protestantism and economic development (The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, 1930).
In the center of this ‘holy alliance’ is the observation that while for other religions holiness is separation from the world with closters, munks and hermits, for Protestants holiness is a kind of hard working holiness. Work itself is a personal service to God, an indication of spiritual toil and strive.
Niall Ferguson is an atheist and he shows a theoretical view in this issue. He doesn’t see the Protestant work ethic according to its source, the Bible. The documentary gives an impression, as if the economic development would have been a common project of the Protestants, and thrift and the accumulation of capital would have been values per se.
This point of view is however against the teachings of Jesus and certainly also against the initial goals of the Protestants, because Jesus says:
Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Matthew 6:25-33
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
This tells that the economic growth has come into being as a by-product of the consciousness of the Protestants. Originally they have simply focused on creating connection and well-being among people. Work has not only been a means of earning a living, but rather a service to God. Jesus says:
As you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me. Matthew 25:40
The biggest religion of the modern world, Capitalism, which was developed as by-product by the spiritual toil and strive of the Protestants has betrayed its own descendants and it has miserably failed to maintain the principles that ensure its own sustainable development.
In his documentary Niall Ferguson names the Killer Apps, the principles that have made the economic growth possible: These are competition, science, (private) property, medicine, consumerism and work ethic. Competition has been both political pluralism and free economic competition, freedom of science and research, rule of law and scientific method, which means that everything should have a logical foundation.
But Capitalism has not even succeeded in keeping the central idea of free market economy, which is that everyone is liable for own profits and losses. Private ownership has become a sleight of hand, which privatizes the profits and socializes the losses. Bankers virtually queue before social welfare office begging tax payers to pay their unprofitable casino play. Taxpayers resources are transferred to tax havens into private bank accounts with favorable assistance of world leaders.
The teachings of economics are contradictory to the gospel message, as the ideal starting point of businessman is to make as much money as possible out of thin air, or at least get everything as cheap as possible and make the biggest possible money out of it. But Jesus says:
You received without paying; give without pay. Matthew 10:8
Various kinds of pyramid scams like “right” types of scientific and technical applications, which can be patented, “intellectual property rights” and emission trading system (modern indulgence trading) are developed to accumulate capital for the leading elite. The development of science and technology today is put on the brake by the corrupted systems of economy that have been developed to ensure that most of the world’s population battle in their misery so that the group of chosen people can confidently continue with accumulation of capital. This is described well i.a. in the Thrive – movie so I won’t delve into it any deeper.
The Killer Apps that have made the economy flourish have become malware, which have made people sceptical about everything. Capitalism and science act in many respects like the Catholic Church in the Dark Ages as they by any means try to protect own dogmas. In its current form Capitalism (with science) is a religion developed by darwinistic mind that pretends to be Christian, although its practitioners can be totally unaware how their ancestors have created this heritage.
In the documentary Ferguson quotes G.K.Chesterton:
When people stop believing in God, they don’t believe in nothing — they believe in anything.
Perhaps this is just what we should do – believe in anything – because God is in nothing and in everything. The worst hindrance for people to experience the power of God personally is probably our tendency to forge the Spirit of God to some kind of illusionary bubble of the Ego, which drives us away from our real self. But God is in us: we are nothing and still we are everything. The best evidence for that is that we exist.
Christianity is not a religion, and the state of being a Christian and its characteristics are not based on theory. Christianity is Christ consciousness, which is the natural state of human mind – universal consciousness – which sees itself and everything else as a part of creation. All the characteristics are inborn nature in every human being and under certain kind of will power this nature overrides all other characteristics.
We can say that in Christianity people find their real self. Everything that brings people away from themselves is the influence of ego.
Niall Ferguson: Civilization: Is the West History, pt 6 Work
Thrive: What On Earth Will It Take? (Playlist)