Business & Economy

Capitalism, Social Justice, and Desire


Paul Williams

In September 2007, Paul Williams spoke to a Vancouver-based social justice organization called Streams of Justice. In the lecture, Williams begins by explaining what he understands to be a biblical view of justice. In particular, he emphasizes the Bible’s focus on right relationships and argues that justice is concerned with an ordering of our whole lives such that relational harmony with society is a basic pursuit. Williams moves on to illustrate how this view of justice is carried out within the Old Testament in the allocation of property rights and establishment of markets. He then discusses the extent to which modern-day capitalism measures up to this biblical view of justice. In offering this evaluation, Williams first distinguishes between capitalism and markets, noting that markets are a means of exchange while capitalism is a worldview or ideology that shapes how markets are structured. He moves on to challenge some of the utilitarian assumptions that undergird capitalism, and shows how these assumptions are at odds with Christianity. Williams concludes the lecture with some thoughts on how to move forward today in light of a biblical view of markets.

Source: Marketplace Institute

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