Historically, the influence of Christianity on American capitalism produced a huge and generally prosperous middle class that provided economic and cultural stability for the nation. Influenced by Christian leadership, traditional American capitalism increasingly promoted a lofty goal–that corporate success is not the consumption of wealth but the creation of it. It was not greed that was good, but doing good was good. The foundational ethic of traditional American capitalism–as influenced by Christianity–was not simply to “do what is good for business” but to “make it your business to do good.” Through the ages, Christian-influenced traditional American capitalism kept producing more and more extraordinary business leaders who also excelled as philanthropists by creating jobs, investing in the community, assisting the needy, providing meaningful public service, supporting the church, and in other ways making communities better.
Yes, there were greedy business leaders, but they were marginalized, and certainly they were not celebrated as they are today. Historically in America, God’s people–the church–influenced American capitalism to practice a biblical model of servant leadership.
Today, contemporary capitalism is influencing the church to practice a model of self-absorbed leadership. Yesterday the church produced effective servant leaders for the world of business. Today the world produces self-promoting leaders who are infecting the church.