Yesterday, IPCC presented the first part of their new report about climate change in Stockholm, Sweden, and it was yet another reminder of the horrible catastrophy we have put ourselves into. The economic system that created climate change and other environmental problem is structurally wicked and needs to change quickly if we are going to save the lives of all the people that are in risk of dying because of environmental destruction and natural disasters. We have to challenge and change capitalism.
All the bishops of the Lutheran Church of Sweden wrote an article in our biggest newspaper today where they argued that changing our lives in response to climate change is a spiritual matter that the church has to adress. I completely agree. In fact, I think the reason why the capitalist economic system has put us into this mess is because it is detached from Christian holiness.
Of course, not everyone think this is the case. I once read an article by a Christian who claimed that the Bible supports capitalism, and he challenged the “misconception” that capitalism is based on greed and thus is sinful. This is not the case, he said, because self-interest does not equal greed, but is something all people base their lives on. Whenever we eat a sandwich we do it out of self interest, and there is nothing wrong with that, he said.
The problem with this argument is that the Bible actually says that self-interest is wrong:
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” – Phil 2:3-4
The problem with capitalism is that some people stock enormous amounts of sandwiches while others are starving. When one only looks at one’s own interests is makes perfect sense to make more money through oppressing the poor and destroying the environment for present and future generations. When one looks at the interests of others, we see how disgusting capitalism is.
Capitalism glorifies growth and wealth, but the Bible tells us that it’s wrong to be rich, as we have covered in the God vs Wealth series on this blog. The early church practiced community of goods in order to establish economic equality. In our capitalist world the differences between rich and poor are enormous – another example of how sinful capitalism is.
But what then is the alternative? This I will explore in a future blog post.