After centuries of near consensus among Western Christians about the virtuous merits of capitalism, the Great Recession of 2008 shook cultural confidence in it, and triggered a more honest and earnest debate about its morality. Reviewed here are sample Christian defenses of capitalism, Marxist critiques of capitalism, and Christian critiques of capitalism, all of which were voiced in the decade following the Great Recession. Focus is maintained mostly on the internal mechanisms or social structure of capitalism, not on the morality of individual capitalists operating within it. Drawing primarily on theological ethicist Daniel Bell Jr.’s analysis, ten characteristics of capitalism are then identified which constitute what he terms homo economicus, the capitalist’s anthropology, and which contrast sharply with Christian moral imperatives. Concluding Christian assessments of capitalism point to the need for, and possibilities of, systemic economic change.
capitalism, Christianity, morality, social structure, desire