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Capitalism: Cosmic Threat to Planet By: Mark D. Tooley
FrontPageMagazine.com | Thursday, September 17, 2009


A convocation representing the ostensible "high profile" leading lights of global Calvinism, with a constituency of 75 million church goers, has decreed that capitalism is today's leading threat to justice and the earth.

"We are faced with a crisis that is far more than an economic or financial crisis. It is a spiritual crisis of a civilizational model that is economically unjust; ecologically unsustainable, structurally violent and socially degrading of human dignity," hurumphed about 60 indignant and alarmed theologians meeting in South Africa.  They were gathered  for "Covenanting for Justice in the Economy and the Earth” at the behest of the South African Council of Churches and the Swiss-based World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC), which has 214 member denominations in 107 countries.

From its headquarters in Geneva, the WARC purports to speak for global Calvinism.  But its Western member churches, hamstrung by decades of leftism, are shrinking, while may of its members in Africa and elsewhere in the Global South are growing.  With typical ecumenical logic, the WARC largely ignores the growing churches and remains a Western dominated mouthpiece for moribund theologies and European fads of statism and class resentment.  Those Third Worlders who are included typically mouth the left-wing political pieties of Western seminaries and religous NGO's.    

"We recognized that the present global economic crisis has exposed  the inadequacy of the system to meet the needs of the people across the globe," complained the theologians and prelates.  "The crisis has unmasked the failure of the global economic system to nurture sustainable Earth communities."  What do these Presbyterians and Congregationalists mean by "sustainable?"  Almost certainly they yearn for global governance and an enlarged international welfare system, in which Western donors continuously redistribute wealth into corrupt, statist Third World economies.  Since such statism and redistributivism. have never before alleviated poverty or created new wealth, these purported Calvinists presumably are relying on faith alone, while ignoring all evidence.   

Traditionally, Christians, especially Calvinsists, emphasize human depravity and the need for individual redemption.  But the international Religious Left, preferring class envy and resentment, always portrays political and economic systems as corrupt, while individuals are largely innocent victims.   So naturally this WARC convo denounced the "empire" that is an "all-encompassing global reality serving, protecting and defending the interests of powerful corporations, nations, elites and privileged people, while imperiously excluding even sacrificing humanity and exploiting creation."  It's not clear how inanimate objects, like the eath, can really be "exploited."  But these WARC theologians often sound more like self-actualized pantheists than Calvinists.

WARC's concerned prelates want to "resist the life defeating and death dealing blows of the economics of empire and to present alternative economies that have their basis in the promise of life in its fullness for all."  Trying to sound a little penitent, they confessed:  "We were also brought into an acute awareness of the seduction of globalization and the role that it plays in co-opting even the most radical movements while at the same time insulating the privileged from the violence it is based on and generates."

Somewhat ironically, members of WARC Calvinist churches are responsible for some of the greatest successes in wealth creation through free markets. Korean Presbyterians have mightily contributed towards their country's elevation from poverty to nearly Western level wealth.  Reformed Christians elsewhere in Asia, Africa and Latin America can and have contributed towards creation of lawful free markets and the expansion of a literate and politically responsible middle class.  But advancing from poverty to wealth through hard work, investment, self-denial and property rights naturally does not appeal to WARC's simmering neo-socialists, who see only exploitation where others of greater imgination and faith see opportunity.  

Supposedly the WARC activists modeled themselves on Jesus, who also spoke "truth to power in word and symbolic action," while listening to the "voices of those who were forced into silence by the violence of the system."  That Jesus was an early prototype of anti-globalist anger is a revelation received almost exclusively by tenured professors in Western academia.  Denouncing the "idol" of "mammon," which they identify only in capitalism but never in the materialism of statist ideologies, the theologians also burnished their green credentials:  "The growing awareness and acceptance of the ecological crisis and its rootedness in anti-people growth economies has further exacerbated the need for organized political action for global transformation."  That the agenda of Western greens, who oppose nearly all economic growth, will only suppress hopes of wealth advancement for the Global South's impoverished billions never seems to inhibit the Religious Left polemicists.

Of course, preoccupied with Western academic notions of sexual and economic liberation, the WARC theologians bemoaned discrimination based on "gender, race, caste, sexual orientation and sexuality," whose victims are most afflicted by "neo-liberal globalism."  They specificaly called upon "feminist theologians," with all of their especially powerful spiritual insights," to come to the rescue.  and to combat the "empire," WARC's great thinkers want a global ecumenical conference that would propose a "new international financial architecture" that seeks "economic and climate justice" and "sets clear limits to greed."

Effette spiritual elites, having lost confidence in their own historic doctrines and church practices, typically resort to political demogoguery.  The subsitute is always ineffectual, so the global capitalist "empire" probably has little to fear from WARC's leftist jeremiads.   

Mark D. Tooley is president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy. He is the author of Taking Back the United Methodist Church.


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