There is no greater source of muddled thinking than the relationship between religion and economic systems. Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, most churches, established and free, Catholic and Protestant, condemned socialism root and branch. In the 20th century, most of them, in varying degrees, have condemned capitalism.
Indeed, many Christian theologians have gone beyond condemnation. Thus, as Father Richard John Neuhaus reminds us in his new book, Doing Well and Doing Good,1 the Protestant theologian Paul Tillich asserted flatly: “Any serious Christian must be a socialist.” And Tillich went further still:
Religious socialism calls the capitalist system demonic, on the one hand, because of the union of creative and destructive powers present in it; on the other, because of the inevitability of the class struggle independent of subjective morality and piety. The effect of the capitalist system upon society and upon every individual in it takes the typical form of “possession,” that is, of being “possessed”; its character is demonic.
About the Author
Paul Johnson is the author of Modern Times, A History of Christianity, and A History of the Jews, among many other books.