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Christianity, Capitalism, and Desire: Can Religion Still Make a Difference?

Rieger, Joerg

As we investigate matters of Christianity and capitalism in the current con- text, the fundamental theological question is: What difference does religion make in a world of traumatic economic inequality? Before we can get to that question, however, I first need to address another question: What difference does capitalism make to religion? This is the question that most people forget to ask, supporters and critics of capitalism alike. My point is that Christianity and capitalism are interconnected in many ways. Economic matters are never just about money. In fact, economic matters shape us more deeply than we think: they shape the way we live our lives, they shape our relationships, what we think and feel, all the way down. Religion and faith are also among the matters affected by economics. Christianity may serve as an example. The most blatant example of course is the so-called Gospel of Prosperity, which promises people unprecedented wealth and happiness if they support the precepts of the prosperity preacher. The Gospel of Prosperity resembles neoliberal capitalism in that it preaches limitless success endorsed by God, beginning with the elites and moving from the top down. While this approach works for the few, there is little evidence that it has worked for the many.

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Union Seminary Quarterly Review

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Union Theological Seminary
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September 16, 2015
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