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date: 18 January 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter identifies capitalism as a system for human relating which came to predominance in several Christian societies during the nineteenth century. Socialism emerged in the same regions—part Romantic desire to restore social relationships weakened by capitalism, part product of secular Enlightenment hopes to reorganize human society by the moral light of reason. The chapter reviews Christian responses to both phenomena. Paternalist theologies were frequently revived in new industrial circumstances. Evangelical Protestants saw the free market as a sphere of God’s providence and human agency to do good. Christian responses to socialism often agonized over anti-Christian tendencies, but many recognized cooperation as more Christian than selfish competition. By 1900, Catholic social teaching mediated between free market capitalism and secular socialism, and Protestant Christian socialisms abounded. To conclude, the chapter explores why the idea of the Kingdom of God was so frequently evoked in nineteenth-century reflections on capitalism and socialism.

Keywords: capitalism, socialism, paternalism, evangelical economics, Christian socialism, Catholic social teaching

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