Calvinism and capitalism relationship questions

A Black Calvinist perspective on the economy

calvinism and capitalism relationship questions

Calvinism and Protestantism overall in relation to modern capitalism (Heller. Weber traces modern capitalism back to the Protestant Reformation of 16th According to Weber, the Calvinist search for evidence of God's. the Spirit of Capitalism, Social Sciences, Weber, Max questions at eNotes. Many scholars link the diligent Calvinist work ethic to the behavior necessary to.

Samuelsson raises serious questions, however, that thrift could have contributed even in a minor way to the creation of the large fortunes of capitalists. Perhaps more important than personal fortunes is the finance of business.

The retained earnings of successful enterprises, rather than personal savings, probably have provided a major source of funding for business ventures from the earliest days of capitalism. And successful capitalists, even in Puritan New England, have been willing to enjoy at least some of the fruits of their labors. Perhaps the spirit of capitalism was not the spirit of asceticism.

Christian Thought: 3 Ways Calvinism Influenced American Capitalism

Evidence of Links between Values and Capitalism Despite the critics, some have taken the Protestant ethic to be a contributing cause of capitalism, perhaps a necessary cause.

Jonassen understood the Protestant ethic this way. Jonassen argued that capitalism emerged in nineteenth-century Norway only after an indigenous, Calvinist-like movement challenged the Lutheranism and Catholicism that had dominated the country. Only in the nineteenth century, after a Calvinist-like faith emerged, did capitalism develop. However, they show an interest in the impact of cultural values broadly understood on economic growth.

A modified version of the Weber thesis has also found some support in empirical economic research. Yet Weber, despite his own protests, wrote as though he believed that traditional capitalism would never have turned into modern capitalism except for the Protestant ethic— implying causality of sorts. Historical evidence from the Reformation era sixteenth century does not provide much support for a strong causal interpretation of the Protestant ethic.

However, the emergence of a vigorous capitalism in Puritan England and its American colonies and the case of Norway at least keeps the case open. More recent quantitative evidence supports the hypothesis that cultural values count in economic development. The cultural values examined in recent studies are not religious values, as such. Rather, such presumably secular values as the need to achieve, intolerance for corruption, respect for property rights, are all correlated with economic growth.

However, in its own time Puritanism produced a social and economic ethic known for precisely these sorts of values. The Reformation of the Sixteenth Century.

Determinants of Economic Growth: A Cross-country Empirical Study.

calvinism and capitalism relationship questions

The History of a Controversy. The Weber Thesis and Its Critics. The Problem in the Protestant Ethic. Theory, Hypotheses and Some Empirical Tests. Religion and Economic Action. University of Toronto Press, [orig. Religion and the Rise of Capitalism. Peter Smith, [orig.

The Protestant Ethic Thesis

It was in the teachings of John Calvin and the Calvinists that Weber saw the clearest expression of the calling in a manner that had connections to the development of the capitalistic spirit. Calvinism The teachings of John Calvin French and Swiss,and the churches in the Reformed tradition form the main group of Calvinists.

The complete set of Calvin's doctrines, and how these created the personality type that was so important to Weber, cannot be discussed in detail here.

Calvinism has several major doctrines. It views grace as irresistible, has a rigid doctrine of predestination, and originally had a theocratic view of the state. Weber notes that Calvin's interest was solely in God, and people exist only for the sake of God. Only a few are chosen and the rest are damned. Human merit or guilt plays no role in whether or not one is elect. This doctrine produced "unprecedented inner loneliness of the single individual. The individual Calvinist's connection with God was "carried on in deep spiritual isolation.

Weber notes that this is not the spirit of enlightenment, but is a pessimistically disillusioned type of individualism. No one could save the individual, no priest, not the Church, no sacraments. Weber regards this as the logical conclusion of the elimination of magic, that is, a rational development in religion. For Calvin, people are on earth only to glorify God.

calvinism and capitalism relationship questions

Quote 11 on Calvinism: The elected Christian is in the world only to increase this glory of God by fulfilling His commandments to the best of his ability. This makes labour in the service of impersonal social usefulness appear to promote the glory of God and hence to be willed by him. The Calvinist Christian was concerned with the question of whether he or she was one of the elect. Since this caused suffering on the part of the individual, two forms of pastoral advice were given.

calvinism and capitalism relationship questions

See quote 12 on predestination. First, it was "an absolute duty to consider oneself chosen, and to combat all doubts as temptations of the devil, since lack of self confidence is the result of insufficient faith, hence of imperfect grace. Second, "in order to attain that self-confidence intense worldly activity is recommended as the most suitable means. It and it alone disperses religious doubts and gives the certainty of grace.

This contrasts with Lutheranism, whereby God promises grace to those who trust in God. Faith was thus identified with the type of Christian conduct which glorifies God. Works were not a means of purchasing salvation, but of getting rid of the fear of damnation. But this is not done through occasional good works, or a gradual accumulation of points toward salvation, "but rather in a systematic self-control which at every moment stands before the inexorable alternative, chosen or damned.

This means that the Christian must have a life of good works, there is no room for the "very human Catholic cycle of sin, repentance, atonement, release, followed by renewed sin. This resulted in a consistent method for daily life, and the Methodists also fit this pattern.

Effect of Worldly Asceticism Weber notes that in the medieval world, asceticism drove the individual farther and farther from everyday life.

With the Reformation, every Christian had to become a monk in everyday life, and through the whole life.

To this, Calvinism added See quote Therein it gave broader groups of religiously inclined people a positive incentive to asceticism. By founding its ethic in the doctrine of predestination, it substituted for the spiritual aristocracy of monks outside of and above the world the spiritual aristocracy of the predestined saints of God within the world.

Weber goes on to discuss other Protestant movements — Methodism, Pietism and Anabaptism. Several common elements stand out. Christian asceticism led to freeing the world, now it went into the market place of life and undertook to penetrate daily routine. In addition to the points made earlier, some of the Puritan writers also comment on the type of work that ordinary people should carry out.

Weber comments that in the view of the Puritan writers, "irregular work, which the ordinary labourer is often forced to accept, is often unavoidable, but always an unwelcome state of transition. A man without a calling thus lacks the systematic, methodical character which is For the Puritan God demands "rational labour in a calling.

Weber then connects this with the division of labour which emerged and expanded as industrial capitalism developed. The profit-making of the businessman justified his activities, and the fixed calling the work of the worker in a highly developed division of labour. With respect to wealth, the attitude was one of responsibility for that wealth, and responsibility toward possessions, "for holding them undiminished for the glory of God and increasing them by restless effort.

Consumption, especially of luxuries, was to be restricted. Thus the acquisition of wealth was not restricted, but the rational expansion of wealth was tolerated or encouraged, as willed by God.

What was discouraged was the irrational use of wealth. Together these teachings acted to assist the accumulation of capital by encouraging the ascetic compulsion to save.

Summary of The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism Weber's approach connects the emergence of some Protestant religions with the psychological changes necessary to allow for the development of the spirit of capitalism. The Protestant idea of a calling, with worldly asceticism is an independent force, one which was not created by the change in institutions and structures e.

These new ways of thinking and acting undoubtedly played a role in changing the view of people who became capitalists and workers. How important this was as a factor in the development of capitalism, compared to the changes in the institutions and structures cannot really be determined.

However, since Weber's view of the inner motives for the capitalistic spirit are connected closely with the nature of capitalism, as Weber views it, these religious factors must have exercised considerable influence.

The influence of ideas in history, the method of ideal types, causal pluralism and probability, and the connection of the study of history and sociology can all be seen in an examination of The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism from the viewpoint of Weber's methodology. In addition, his view concerning the rational nature of capitalism, and the factors important in developing this, can also be seen.

Some Criticisms of Weber's Approach a. How was the believer to know that they were one of the saved? The key factor here was intense worldly activity since success was regarded as a sign of election.

calvinism and capitalism relationship questions

Surely God would not allow the ungodly to prosper? Factors such as the prominence on hard work, thrift, modesty and the avoidance of inactivity and self-indulgence, the emphasis on savings and self-denial were all aspects of God's grace, a sign that the individual was one of the chosen. Another factor was the rejection of the canonical veto on usury.

These characteristics were also important factors in the development of business. The Protestant ethic matched the spirit of capitalism. Thus, the religious beliefs of Protestantism coupled with the presence of the necessary economic conditions resulted in the development of the capitalist system. But Calvinism is against human or worker exploitation while capitalism, according to Marxist theory, exploits the workers. Calvinism and capitalism agree on some issues but disagree on their implementation.

One is concerned about not doing harm to the people of God and the other is strictly focused on making a profit.

Christian Thought: 3 Ways Calvinism Influenced American Capitalism |

The two are related but differ. Calvin on property The first point that needs to be made is about where property comes from and who its original owner is. For Calvin, God is "the foundation of all good things, as the giver of all possessions" Schulze And God is the owner of everything, and he gave to human beings this property as beneficiaries: Calvin supported the right to have property as he considered that it was from God, "for we must consider that what each individual possess has not fallen to him by chance, but by the distribution of the sovereign Lord of all" Calvin Inst.

Then since property belongs to or comes from God, it is to be shared by believers. For Calvin the problem was therefore not to justify private property, but to show how responsible Christians should use their property for the benefit of society and to the glory of God, who is the only true owner of everything Schulze What people receive, they owe to God Schulze God gives to us human beings and expects us also to give to those who are in need as we were in need: Those who do not commit themselves to this requirement or calling might be accused of being thieves, but "in order that we may not be condemned as thieves by God, we must endeavour as far as possible that everyone should safely keep what he possesses and that our neighbour's advantage should be promoted no less than our own" Hart And for us not to be condemned as thieves by God, Calvinism suggests that there be free medical care for the poor, price control of bread, meat and wine, regulation of the daily labour time, compulsory primary education, erection of public industries and re-education of the jobless, and help should be given to the refugees passing through the city Schulze To the rich, helping the poor might sound like exploitation of the rich too, or giving them extra responsibilities.

However, it brings them into contact with God; God will repay them, as "God himself is the receiver of what is given to the poor, and he enters into debt to those who give" Wallace One might then ask: Why did God make some rich and others poor?

The simple answer is that the rich are constantly being tested by their attitude towards and use of wealth, as the poor themselves are tested in their poverty.

Calvin saw it as normal to have rich and poor as this is part of God's creation plan. Calvin on usury and the duty of work The word "usury" is from the Latin usura, which is "the practice of lending at unreasonably high rates of interest" Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary Note that this is unreasonably high rates, not reasonable rates. Calvin gave permission for usury and used Scripture to justify himself: He was "unwilling to condemn it, so long as it is practiced with equity and charity".

He supported usury as long as it served as assistance to the needy: Calvin was aware that most poor people borrowed money and were charged high interest rates. They had no security when borrowing money and it thus served as a disadvantage for the poor to do so. The above proves that Calvin saw it as "necessary to judge usuries not according to some certain and particular statement of God: Calvin agreed that lending money to the poor was a risk, but a risk which was inescapable as believers are required to take care of the poor.

It is our responsibility "to help the poor, where money will be at risk. For Christ's words far more emphasise our remembering the poor than our remembering the rich" Calvin Calvin was caught in the middle, because he agreed with lending but could not specify the exact amount of interest as he could not offer a definite rate as even a legal rate cause an undue on a poor.

It is clear now that Calvin was not against usury itself, but rather its terrible ways. As Calvin believed that every man must work to earn, he "could not accept that money-lending should ever be a man's full time job" Hart But he often said that every person should work for themselves.

Calvin was a man who believed in vukuzenzele wake-up and do for yourselffor he cited "with approval Paul's dictum, 'If a man will not work, he shall not eat' Thessalonians 3: A similar argument was enshrined in the Freedom Charter that "all the land [must be] re-divided amongst those who work it to banish famine and land hunger" http: Calvin saw working as a call by God which did not entail withdrawing from the world, but demanded critical engagement with every sphere of worldly life McGrath In other words, working is a necessity for every human in order to fulfil this calling.

Working positively or producing goods in one's work is "seen as the outward and visible sign of the presence and activity of grace within the believer" McGrath Why are we called? Calvin said that "the purpose of a calling was that each one should serve his fellowmen, and in turn be served by them" Hart Calvin encouraged us to offer our services to God and to dedicate our works unto God, otherwise they are useless: Nevertheless, when they do it offering themselves to God For Calvin people were supposed to enjoy their work, for it is a calling from God: Calvin is often accused as being the "Father of Modern Usury" and as such many people have blamed him directly for the exploitation associated with capitalism.

This argument has been disproved as directly opposite to the spirit of Calvin's teachings. Because these elements continue, it is quite likely that Calvin still has something to contribute to the discussion of how to move towards a society in which solidarity is increased and each member of the global society is enfranchised. Through an examination of modern economic alternatives, it is possible to find traces of Calvin's teachings and extrapolate where his interests might lie today.

Calvin pursued the goal of making society a place of family and shared aims, striving to enfranchise all its members, regardless of their nationality or credo. He is therefore still relevant today for those who seek to find and use alternative approaches in order to better address the needs of South Africa.

It is an open secret that South Africa is a capitalist country. It is a country of "survival of the fittest". The richer are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. Calvinism as a form of theology adopted by the Dutch Reformed Church was used to exploit black people and to deny them access to property. And it is not by mistake that in almost every comer there are money lenders and banks charging high interest rates for bonds, car loans, etc.

Poor people, especially blacks, have no real access to property; the only ones those that do are the beneficiaries of the apartheid regime like the whites and a few black elites.

calvinism and capitalism relationship questions

But the question is: How would Calvin have reacted to all this human injustice? He may have said that the haves, or those who are rich, must help the have not, or those who are poor, to improve their living conditions and lifestyles. Calvinism warns against human exploitation and encourages the respect of human dignity.

For those who do not work hard or who lend money as their full-time business by charging high interest rates, they are reminded by Calvin to work hard, and not to earn a living as they do by exploiting the poor. The rich and high-income earners of our country own more than one car, more than one TV set and eat a balanced diet, whereas the poor do not have any of these things.

Why Ravi Zacharias rejects Calvinism: Romans 9

Calvin's theology reveals to us that we must share the property we have with those who do not have, as all that the rich have is from God, who is the original owner and they are merely stewards.

The rich and the high-income earners are called by God to protect the poor from exploitation, to lend the poor money in times of need, knowing the risk that they might not return it, for they also owe God what they have.