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Puritan Capitalism

By R. J. Rushdoony
May 19, 2014

Capitalization is the product of work and thrift, the accumulation of wealth and the wise use of accumulated wealth.

This accumulated wealth is invested in effect in progress, because it is made available for the development of natural resources and the marketing of goods and produce.

The thrift which leads to the savings or accumulation of wealth to capitalization is a product of character (Proverbs 6:6-15).

Capitalization is a product in every era of the Puritan disposition, of the willingness to forego present pleasures to accumulate some wealth for future purposes (Proverbs 14:23). Without character, there is no capitalization but rather decapitalization, the steady depletion of wealth.

As a result, capitalism is supremely a product of Christianity, and, in particular, of puritanism which, more than any other faith, has furthered capitalization.

This means that, before decapitalization, either in the form of socialism or inflation can occur, there must be a breakdown of faith and character. Before the United States began its course of socialism and inflation, it had abandoned its historic Christian position. The people had come to see more advantage in wasting capital than in accumulating it, in enjoying superficial pleasures than living in terms of the lasting pleasures of the family, faith, and character.

When socialism and inflation get under way, having begun in the decline of faith and character, they see as their common enemy precisely those people who still have faith and character.

How are we to defend ourselves? And how can we have a return to capitalism? Capitalism can only revive if capitalization revives, and capitalization depends, in its best and clearest form, on that character produced by Biblical Christianity.

This is written by one who believes intensely in orthodox Christianity and in our historic Christian American liberties and heritage. It is my purpose to promote that basic capitalization of society, out of which all else flows, spiritual capital. With the spiritual capital of a God-centered and Biblical faith, we can never become spiritually and materially bankrupt (Proverbs 10:16).

Taken from Roots of Reconstruction, p. 534f


Topics: Biblical Law, Business, Dominion, Economics

R. J. Rushdoony

Rev. R.J. Rushdoony (1916–2001), was a leading theologian, church/state expert, and author of numerous works on the application of Biblical law to society. He started the Chalcedon Foundation in 1965.  His Institutes of Biblical Law (1973) began the contemporary theonomy movement which posits the validity of Biblical law as God’s standard of obedience for all. He therefore saw God’s law as the basis of the modern Christian response to the cultural decline, one he attributed to the church’s false view of God’s law being opposed to His grace. This broad Christian response he described as “Christian Reconstruction.”  He is credited with igniting the modern Christian school and homeschooling movements in the mid to late 20th century. He also traveled extensively lecturing and serving as an expert witness in numerous court cases regarding religious liberty. Many ministry and educational efforts that continue today, took their philosophical and Biblical roots from his lectures and books.

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