Support First Things by turning your adblocker off or by making a  donation. Thanks!

Money, Greed, And God: Why Capitalism Is The Solution And Not The Problem
by Jay W. Richards
HarperOne, 255 pages, $24.99

Jay W. Richards channels the spirit of Michael Novak and provides a basic introduction to how and why a Christian can be a capitalist. Because man is made in the image of a creative God, he has the potential to create and multiply wealth. The core components of capitalism”free exchange, limited government, private property”allow this potential better than any alternative system. Although he shows that self-interest is not necessarily selfish, Richards also explains that the market can, in fact, channel selfish actions into positive outcomes. Responding to such critics as Ron Sider and Jim Wallis, Richards argues that the creation of wealth helped by economic freedom and the rule of law provides the best means of raising the poor out of poverty, in contrast to government-based redistribution of wealth or regulations of minimum wage.

Richards also offers critiques of communism, developmental aid to impoverished countries, and global warming, along with an extended argument against the notion that capitalism allows the unchecked depletion of natural resources. Because human beings are creative, Richards reminds us, they are not mere consumers but active producers. In response to charges of consumerism, Richards notes that consumerism comes from gluttony, not from free enterprise itself. The book concludes with a chapter on the workings of the free market as a sign of God’s provident care for sinful man. For those looking to wed faith and economics, the book provides a welcome challenge to reigning orthodoxies.

”Nathaniel Peters