Acton Institute Powerblog

Christian Case for Capitalism

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Former Acton colleague, Jay Richards just reported that his book Money, Greed, and God has just been released in paperback. It is a thoughtful Christian analysis of the market economy and an excellent summary of the many key fallacies that plague the way we understand–or rather misunderstand–economics.

He writes:

My tentative title for the book had been The Christian Case for Capitalism. I had even referred to it that way for a couple of years while I was working on it. But the publisher came up with Money, Greed, and God: Why Capitalism Is the Solution and Not the Problem. I have friends who still think my original idea is preferable, but I’m not so sure. I’ve haven’t gotten a sense that anyone has been confused about the title. The only negative effect is that a few wags have suggested that “Money, Greed, and God” sounds like the platform for the Republican Party. I gotta admit, that’s pretty funny.

In any case, the more controversial question has been, why did I choose to defend something called “capitalism”? Wouldn’t it have been better to put “free enterprise” or “free market” in the title? I do have some thoughts about that, which I’ll write about later. But I should say that I was quite intentional in defending something called “capitalism.”

You can also order a copy of the book at the Acton Book Shop. We’ll have paperback copies in stock soon.

Michael Matheson Miller


  • It sounds like a good book, I’ll look forward to reading it. Though “The Christian Case for Capitalism” would have been a much better choice of a title, IMHO.

  • Roger McKinney

    I have read it and it is very good. I have just one small quibble with it. He should have included a chapter on the School of Salamanca and its conclusions on the just price, which can only be found in a free market. And he should have included a defense of property from the Bible and the Church. Christians often attack capitalism on moral grounds and the just price theory and property are the best moral defenses for capitalism.

  • I am an unrepentant capitalist but also a Christian. However, I do not tie the two together. Jesus never said anything about economic activity. Some people argue socialism is tied to religion. I can not see either. I think religion is one thing and economics is another.

  • Frank Christiano

    Capitalism is amoral. But it requires people to operate. The people need to be moral in order for capitalism to be just. My preference is for capitilism to be run by Christians.

  • Roger McKinney

    That depends on how important you think the Biblical commands on property are. If you think property is unimportant, then economics is amoral. But if you think God was serious about all of the commands in the Torah about respecting the property of others, then one’s economic system must deal with the morality of property. After all, in the ten commands God included two about property: 1) thou shalt not steal and 2) thou shalt not covet.

    Also, Church scholars debated the just price issue for almost a thousand years and came down on the side of free markets as the only place to find just prices. The more coercion exists in the market place, the less justice one finds in the transactions. And the only group with the power to coerce markets is the state.

    Also, when dealing with property and honesty, the subject of monetary policy should be at the front of the discussion. The state regularly destroys the savings (property) of people who hold money through monetary manipulation. And there is no free market in money, so the price of money cannot possibly be just. A free market in money would allow people to choose to trade in any currency they wished. With that freedom, people would naturally gravitate back to some version of a gold standard where the state couldn’t steal their property.

    Finally, there is the question of poverty. God is very concerned about how we treat the poor. But should we have Biblical charity or state-forced redistribution of wealth? And capitalism has proven to be the only systematic way to help large numbers of poor people over long periods of time by providing them with good paying jobs. Neither charity nor state redistribution of wealth has accomplished much for the poor in the past century, whereas the spread of free market capitalism, even in small amounts, has lifted hundreds of million of Chinese, Indians and others from the worst poverty on the planet.

  • Joseff

    A great compliment to Richards book is Scott Rae’s book (with Austin Hill), The Virtues of Capitalism: A Moral Case for Free Markets: