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the history of capitalism and the glory of man

May 14th, 2018 | 2 min read

By Matthew Loftus

Note: I am sorry for the inconsistent posting schedule. Our family moved two weeks ago to our new field of service and the internet here is so inconsistent that I have been unable to connect every time that I sat down to work. As much as I have enjoyed daily blogging for the past few months, there’s no way that I can keep my pledge to share an article every weekday here. I will, however, keep sharing what I find whenever I can, albeit without the pictures and other metadata that makes things show up nicely on social media. My friends and I will also continue to share interesting articles every week through out Read In Case Of Emergency newsletter.  Thanks for your understanding! 

I really enjoyed Kyle Williams’ recent article for Comment on the story of capitalism and the writers trying to place that story in the context of Christian ethics and anthropology:

Perhaps more than this historiography, it was the moral economists’ understanding of human personality that brought together their critique of capitalism, and it is here that their peculiarly Christian views are more obvious. “The Christian tradition does not deny man’s animal nature; on the contrary, it emphasizes that nature,” Tawney wrote. “But it holds that the most important fact about human beings is not the nature which they share with other animals, but their humanity, which, in virtue of the Incarnation, they share with God.” As Rogan explores, Tawney came under the influence of certain Anglo-Catholics who singled out the incarnation of Jesus Christ as the bedrock for the infinite value of each individual human person. This theological insight—”The Son of God became man so that we might become God,” as Athanasius of Alexandria once put it—had economic consequences. It meant that “sacredness of human personality” ought to be privileged over “property” and presaged a “revolt of ordinary men against Capitalism.”

I grew up in a fairly typical politically conservative Christian home and imbibed plenty of material that treated capitalism as practically a subset of natural law. As I grew older, read more, and spent a little more time out in the world I became less enthused with capitalism and saw my score on certain “Christian worldview” online tests go down correspondingly. What Kyle (and many others) are trying to do is important because I think capitalism’s history and morality are taken for granted when they ought to be studied and interrogated.

Matthew Loftus

Matthew Loftus teaches and practices Family Medicine in Baltimore and East Africa. His work has been featured in Christianity Today, Comment, & First Things and he is a regular contributor for Christ and Pop Culture. You can learn more about his work and writing at