Book Review: God Is A Capitalist

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Posted: Feb 18, 2019 11:10 AM
Book Review: God Is A Capitalist

We either progress, stagnate, or regress, and if you want to progress, the question most asked is: What works. As a newly minted entrepreneur, I have come to the conclusion of always asking now: What works? “What works” from an entrepreneurial context means what right habits, steps, or environment creates right results or success. Whether what has worked in the past, learning from history, or what is working today, observing life as it happens, or what I think will work in the future, trying something new to see if “it works. Asking “what works” is at the heart of my being an entrepreneur. “What works” means a rising economic tide elevates prosperity for all.

The steps I took to become an author and to the realization I was a business owner also meant I had become a capitalist, albeit a small capitalist among other capitalists which creates an economy. Now as an author and businessman, I wanted to become more knowledgeable about how to integrate my faith with my new titles of business owner and capitalist because I’m not getting this information from the church.

READ: Starving Christian Businesses Aren’t Getting Fed

I’m eager to learn what is good and right and ditch the bad for the good, even make amends when I’ve done wrong. That’s where Roger McKinney’s book, God is a Capitalist, comes into play. I want to know “what works” from God’s perspective when it comes to being a business owner and customer within my community. McKinney’s book outlines a historical look from the point of view of God’s economy and provides the answer to the question: What works? 

The Judeo-Christian moral foundation works.

McKinney shows our faith and businesses are for all to see, especially to the unbelievers. David Aikman quotes a Chinese academic social science scholar in his book, Jesus in Beijing.

The Christian moral foundation of social and cultural life was what made possible the emergence of capitalism…We don’t have any doubt about this.[1]

When unbelievers say to themselves, “That works!,” of the right processes which produce right results, success, take notice. But then, why are some in the U.S. ignoring or abandoning what created our own success in the first place? Truth be told, we should be careful we don’t ditch the “tried and true” in our progress toward prosperity when searching for the “new and improved.” Because looking through the lens of history, economics, theology, etc., sometimes the new and improved “progress” is in reality a regressive for all. Let’s not swap out the best for worst, but better for best.

McKinney is right when he states, “one of the greatest evils…is the dishonest method of attempting to win a debate by redefining terms in such a way that the side who defines the terms automatically wins.” To shoehorn certain facts into a certain belief becomes at the very least a marketing ploy of selling snake oil and only hurts for a short time if a pivot back to “what works” is done. However, it becomes the propaganda of economic crack for those who are addicted to bad, even corrupt, socialistic solutions, much like we see in Venezuela today.

The premise of McKinney’s book is looking at God giving Moses the 10 Commandments, which is at the heart of dealing with all individuals within a community. McKinney outlines the source of one’s negative motivation as “envy,” defined as “a feeling of discontented or resentful longing aroused by someone else's possessions, qualities, or luck.” It’s when one takes the seed of discontent of “envy” and adds the water of “coveting” from the Bible’s 10th Commandment, “You shall not covet…anything of your neighbor,” that you sprout the motivation to take action to commit the other sins of stealing, lying, or murder. Thus, a breakdown or morals means a breakdown of entrepreneurship and commerce. If everyone steals, what’s the point of inventing if you can’t reap what you’ve created and worked for?

Winston Churchill gives a great view of concerning entrepreneurship and an economy. “Some people regard private enterprise as a predatory tiger to be shot. Others look on it as a cow they can milk. Not enough people see it as a healthy horse, pulling a sturdy wagon.” McKinney’s book is a breath of fresh history and economics focusing on the healthy horse of commerce to advance prosperity. He shows how the Dutch Republic during the late 1500s to late 1700s became very prosperous compared with the rest of the European nation and economies. “The choice of a republican government was a revolutionary idea in an age when the dominant political philosophy across Europe endorsed the divine right of kings.”[2] 

A Pareto analysis focuses your entrepreneurial time and resources on the “vital view versus the trivial many” problems within one’s business. But in economics, the Biblical moral imperative is the inverse. It’s to focus on laws, education, morals, trade, etc. to provide opportunity for the prosperity for the vital many, instead of the opposite extremes of vital few elites through forced confiscation of wealth or the vital many through forced redistribution of wealth to all. 

The tolerance of the Dutch attracted Jews from Poland in the 1590s and they created a thriving community. The printing press [technology from the mid 1400s] made copies of the Hebrew Bible, the Talmud and the writings of many Jewish scholars, such as Maimonides and Josephus, widely available and inexpensive…[and a] burgeoning of Hebrew scholarship across Europe…Readers began to see in the five books of Moses not just political wisdom, but a political constitution.[3] 

The printing press allowed for the decentralization of the access of the Bible from the control by “vital few” of the clergy within the Church to more and more citizens which helped to spawn the Protestant Reformation. With the rise of reformation came a rise is prosperity because of the “reversal of the traditional contempt for commerce that dominated Europe.”[4]

So when an entrepreneur asks, “What works,” we can readily see the Biblical views of the rule of law, property rights (10 Commandments), and the inculcation of morality from the Bible into a nation’s citizenry are the foundational issues for the prosperity for all. The lack of teaching these Biblical principles results in the people asking: Why work?

[1] God is a capitalist by Roger McKinney, pg 1

[2] God is a capitalist by Roger McKinney, pg 146

[3] God is a capitalist by Roger McKinney, pg 147

[4] God is a capitalist by Roger McKinney, pg 149