Global Capitalism versus Christianity? A Response to David Bentley Hart | Acton Institute

In a June 2016 First Things article, “Mammon Ascendant: Why global capitalism is inimical to Christianity,” the Orthodox theologian David Bentley Hart rearticulates a theme he previously addressed in the same publication: that there is a basic incompatibility between what he alternatively calls “late modern capitalism” or “global capitalism” and Christianity.

In his latest iteration, Hart acknowledges that global capitalism has transformed millions of people’s lives for the better, materially speaking. More generally, however, much of Hart’s article is a reiteration of his previous claims: that several factors—ranging from the consumerism that he regards as an integral part of modern capitalism to what he considers to be the contemporary market economy’s dependence on the libertarian view of freedom—make global capitalism irreconcilable with a genuinely Christian culture.

To the extent that Hart repeats his prior arguments, it is unclear that he has seriously reflected upon critiques of his position. I would suggest, however, that several of Hart’s newer arguments are also very contestable. One concerns various claims that he makes about the financial sector, which Hart regards as emblematic of what’s wrong with modern capitalism. A second is his argument that possessing wealth is intrinsically evil and therefore incompatible with Christian faith.

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