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Beware of earthly treasure

10 September 2010

What’s the biggest difference between Christianity and the values of secular (and secularist) society?

This piece, on the Guardian web site, of all places, gives a clue. Beware of earthly treasure | Aaron Taylor |

The basic posture of the Christian is an altruistic one, centred on self-sacrifice. Christ says, ‘Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these … ‘ (Matthew 25:40). St Basil the Great says, ‘Resolve to treat the things in your possession as belonging to others’.

It is surely clear that such an ethic is basically incompatible with any kind of ideological capitalism. A case can be, and sometimes is, made that people must be entirely unconstrained in order for their altruism to have any moral justification. This is a debatable point. What is not debatable is that this argument is typically only a way of dismissing objections to unrestrained capitalism in the economic sense. No one to my knowledge seriously justifies the free market on the grounds that it enables a morally efficacious altruism. We do not object to socialised medicine because we want so badly to build free hospitals out of our own pockets. This is seen most clearly in the philosophy of Ayn Rand, who speaks of ‘the virtue of selfishness’.

That’s only a small snippet, and the rest is worth reading too.

And moy own response is at: Notes from underground: Mere Ideology: The politicisation of C.S. Lewis, so I won’t repeat it all here.

Of course Christians are often infected by secularism and secular values, and are tempted to a kind of syncretism with them. But I’ve written about that recently elsewhere too.

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