Today, we shall conclude our discourse on Theocracy. Thereafter, we shall discuss Capitalism, a system of government practised in the free world.
Capitalism is an economic system based on the private ownership of production and their operation solely for profit. It is characterized by private ownership of property, capital accumulation, wage labour, a price system, competitive markets and voluntary exchange. Private individuals or businesses own and control capital and goods. In capitalist countries, a free market economy operates, rather than a planned or command economy. There is minimal government involvement.
The motive is profit. Free enterprise dominates. Technological advancement reigns. It includes the ability to pass on wealth to future generations. Capitalists believe theirs is a fair society.
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In the first century of our Common Era, the Jewish nation ceased to be a theocratic organisation. This occurred even before Jerusalem’s destruction in the year 70 C.E. Historically, recorded events point to this solemn indisputable fact.
On the Passover day of the year 33, when the surging crowd was massed before the Roman Governor, Pontius Pilate, and cried out for the criminal Barnabas to be released to them, instead of the man (Jesus Christ) whom Pilate personally wanted to release as innocent, what did that crowd there in Jerusalem cry out for? This: “If you release this man, you are not a friend of Caesar. Every man making himself a king speaks against Caesar . . . .
We have no king, but Caesar.” (John 19:12-15) This outcry stood out, in shocking contrast to what their ancient prophet, Isaiah, had long previously said: “The Lord is our Judge, the Lord is our Statutegiver, the Lord is our King.”— Isa. 33:22. Two months or more later, another scene was enacted in that same Jerusalem. It was in the courtroom of the national tribunal called the “Sánhedrin”, composed of seventy-one members.
The high priest presided at this particular trial, and twelve native Jews were to be tried for proclaiming certain religious teachings that were offensive to this Sánhedrin or Supreme Court. On this, we read: “So, they brought them and stood them in the Sánhedrin hall. And the high priest questioned them and said: ‘We positively ordered you not to keep teaching upon the basis of this name, and yet, look!
“You have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you are determined to bring the blood of this man upon us.’ In answer Peter and the other apostles said: ‘We must obey God as ruler, rather than men.
The God of our forefathers raised up Jesus, whom you slew, hanging him upon a stake. God exalted this one as Chief Agent and Saviour to his right hand, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.
And we are witnesses of these matters, and so is the Holy Spirit, which God has given to those obeying him as ruler.’”—Acts of the Apostles 5:2732. This testimony before this court trial, revealed who were the ones acting theocratically, recognising God as ruler or as Theocrat.
According to that testimony, with whom was the theocratic organisation? Was it with the Sánhedrin, the representatives of the Jewish nation, or with those twelve Apostles of the Jesus whose death that Sánhedrin had recently brought about? Beyond all denial, God’s theocracy was with those twelve apostles of Jesus Christ.
The fact that the divine Theocracy had ceased to be with the nation of Israel, and was now with these twelve Apostles and other Disciples of Jesus Christ, had been substantiated by a powerful proof. This, that God had poured out his Holy Spirit upon these disciples of Christ who were recognising God as ruler, rather than men who opposed God as ruler.
It was with the help of that outpoured spirit, that Peter and the other eleven Apostles gave their courageous testimony to the Jewish Sánhedrin.
That the Jewish nation was no longer acting theocratically, the Jewish law teacher named Gamaliel hinted at, when he said to the Sánhedrin concerning the twelve apostles on the witness stand before them: “Men of Israel, pay attention to yourselves, as to what you intend to do respecting these men. . . . I say to you, Do not meddle with these men, but let them alone; (because, if this scheme or this work is from men, it will be overthrown; but if it is from God, you will not be able to overthrow them;) otherwise, you may perhaps, be found fighters actually against God.”— Acts 5:34-39.
What this Jewish Pharisee Gamaliel called “this scheme or this work” did prove to be “from God”, for the Sánhedrin and all the Jewish people inside and outside the Roman Empire were unable to overthrow it, even though they persecuted the spirit-anointed followers of Jesus Christ.
But, in the year 70 C.E., the Jewish capital of Jerusalem was destroyed, and the national Jewish Sánhedrin was put out of business.
And, three years later, in 73 C.E., the last Jewish stronghold in the province of Judea, namely, Masada, on the west side of the Dead Sea, fell to the Roman legions.
But, before all this, the faithful Jewish Christians had fled from Jerusalem and all other parts of the province of Judea, because Jesus Christ had told them to do so, when he was prophetically describing the coming destruction of Jerusalem. (Matt. 24:15-22; Mark 13:1420; Luke 21:20-24).
Very manifestly, then, I hold the view that, God’s theocracy had been transferred from the nation of natural circumcised Israel to the spirit-filled organisation of the disciples of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Any true church that preaches the kingdom of God, and which does not preach the Republic of Israel or any other human government, is practicing theocracy.
Indeed, impetus for wider use of the model, Theocracy, came from Hegel’s “Philosophy of History”, where he used the term to describe the early phase of ancient oriental civilisation, in which there was no distinction between religion and the State.
Another Christian example of Theocracy can be found in the early years of the Latter Day Saints, or Mormons, in the United States of America. During this period, the prophetic leaders (Joseph Smith and Brigham Young) exercised religious and temporal authority over their communities, in both their earlier settlements and Salt Lake City.
People also cite Tibetan Buddism, as an example of Theocracy. Others were the Taiping Rebellion government in China (1858); the seizure of Khartoum in the Sudan by a claimant to the role of the Mahdi (1885); the people’s Jim Jones Temple in Guyana (1977), which ended in mass suicide. Religion, says Karl Marx, is the opium of the people.
Capitalism is virtually the opposite of socialism, where individuals are to have access to what they need, but are rewarded based on their contribution to society. In socialist systems, large scale industries and public services are communally owned and managed to ensure that the benefits flow to the society as a whole. In capitalism, government plays a secondary role.
All firms, factories, industries and other means of production are properties of private individuals and firms. A capitalist economy works through the price system. When demand is high, prices rise up accordingly. When demand is low, prices also fall.
ORIGIN OF CAPITALISM
The pursuit of happiness by means of material prosperity is not a new idea. It was the way of life of many ancient Greeks and Romans. But it fell into disrepute throughout the entire middle Ages. Why?
Mainly for religious reasons. Medieval society was dominated by religion in every field of human activity. For the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches, poverty was a virtue. It was a “test” that had to be accepted by the poor.
The rich were rich and the poor were poor by what was labeled a God-ordained arrangement. Voluntary poverty was considered “holy” and “usury” (lending for gain) was condemned by Canon law.
Yet, while anathematizing Jewish moneylenders, Catholic cathedral chapters lent money at high interest rates. The papacy itself became “the greatest financial institution of the Middle Ages.” This was the setup during much of the period of the feudal-ecclesiastical order.
THE BIRTH OF CAPITALISM With the breakup of the feudal system, town and intercity trade grew and blossomed. So did trade between nations. And ideas circulated more freely, particularly after the invention of the printing press. The influence of the Catholic Church began to wane.
Medieval Catholicism had been the great- est obstacle to the development of a new economic order. Yet, pockets of capitalistic trading, manufacturing and banking, had been growing toward the end of the middle Ages right within Catholic Christendom.
This was true in such Catholic cities as Venice in Italy, Augsburg in Germany and Antwerp in Belgium.
CATHOLICISM, CAPITALISM AND PROTESTANTS’ INFLUENCE
Then, the Protestant Reformation broke out in the 16th century. While it would be an exaggeration to say that the Reformation fathered capitalism, it did release certain unaccustomed ideas that gave a decided boost to it. For one thing, Calvinism relieved legitimate business profit of the stigma of “usury.”
Moreover, certain Protestant beliefs provided people with the incentive to work hard so as to succeed in life and thus prove they were among the “elect.”
Success in business was considered to be a sign of God’s blessing. The resulting wealth became available “capital” for investment in one’s own business venture or some other one.
Thus, the Protestant ethic of hard work and thrift contributed to the expansion of capitalism. Not surprisingly, the capitalist economy developed faster in Protestant countries than in Catholic states. But the Catholic Church quickly made up for lost time.
She allowed capitalism to develop in lands where she was powerful, and became an extremely rich capitalist organisation in her own right. Capitalism undoubtedly provided an improvement over the feudal system, if only for the greater freedom it brought to the working classes. But it also brought many forms of injustice.
The gap between the rich and the poor tended to widen. At its worst, it brought about exploitation and class warfare.
At its best, it produced an affluent consumer society in some lands, with material fullness. But it has also produced spiritual emptiness, and has failed to bring true and lasting happiness to its practitioners.
CLASSIFICATION OF CAPITALISIM
The Marxists had periodised capitalism into different stages- agricultural capitalism, merchant capitalism, industrial capitalism, finance capitalism and global capitalism.
It is generally believed that capitalism may go on forever because it creates new needs, new possibilities for the market and new innovation. However, automation and advances in new information technology are believed to be capable of ending capitalism because it makes production costs to tend towards zero.
(To be continued).
THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK
“I find capitalism repugnant. It is filthy, it is gross, it is alienating… because it causes war, hypocrisy and competition.” (Fidel Castro).
Fellow Nigerians, synergise with me every week, to put our heads together on how to retool Nigeria. Right here on “The Nigerian Project”, by Chief Mike A. A. Ozekhome, SAN, OFR, FCIArb, LL.M, Ph.D, LL.D.
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