User:RobertC/Consecration and capitalism

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Teaching corporate finance at BYU, a natural question for me to contemplate is the extent to which the culture and principles of corporate capitalism are compatible with a life committed to the law of consecration.

Related scriptural topics include: Zion, the United Order, materialism, idolatry, taking care of the poor, greed, etc.

Key issues[edit]

  • Debt
  • Deut 15:2: Every 7 years Israel was told to forgive all debts. This would be very difficult to implement in a capitalist system (but not impossible--think of an all equity economy).
  • Hugh Nibley discusses this in Approaching Zion p. 186.
  • Many church leaders have warned against debt. Where can one find those quotes
  • Love of money vs. love of God: The fiduciary responsibility of corporate executives is to maximize shareholder value. If one's job is to focus on creating money for shareholders, does this constitute a 2nd master in the sense Christ warned?
  • Stewardship and talents: The parable of the talents seems similar to a CEO's responsibility to maximize return for shareholders. What are the similarities and differences? How is the concept of stewardship related to private property?

Other scriptures and issues[edit]

  • Love of money is the root of all evil (2 Timothy I think)
  • United order passages in D&C

LDS perspectives on capitalism[edit]

  • Richard Johnson (BYU prof of sociology) on "Wealth and Poverty". (Link provided from this comment from RAF's T&S blog.)
  • Lindon J. Robison
  • Hugh Nibley
  • Approaching Zion has many thoughts on how capitalism and corporate jobs take one away from core principles of the gospel.
  • Noel Reynolds--see vitae for sources and other essays
  • "Mormonism, Capitalism, and the Rule of Law"
  • Bryson, Phillip J., "In Defense of Capitalism: Church Leaders on Property, Wealth, and the Economic Order " (1999), BYU Studies v. 38(3), pp. 89-107.
  • It seems likely that this paper was sparked by Nibley's arguments against capitalism in essays such as those in Approaching Zion. (An electronic version of this paper can be ordered for free, I think through the BYU Studies homepage.)
  • Hal Heaton
  • Bob Crawford
  • Interesting articles at end of vitae (mostly working papers, I'll request copies)
  • Mike Pinegar: BYU devotional on talents and the principal-agent problem
  • Ezra Taft Benson
  • Red Carpet(?)
  • The Constitution: A Heavenly Banner: Quotes and TOC can be found at the link
  • David O. McKay: He seemed to have a lot to say against coomunism (and socialism? any pro-capitalism qoutes?)
"...[T]he scriptures warn us about the dangers of being rich, and denounce the rich's tendency to oppress the poor. As we consider how the Democratic party has championed the financially disadvantaged, has been wary of concentrations of wealth, has realized the practical necessity of scrutinizing the management of companies, we can conclude that the Democratic party is closer to the gospel on this issue than is the Republican party."
  • H. Dennis Tolley (BYU Stats Prof.)

The Poor[edit]

Inequality in the Book of Mormon[edit]

These passages are from Dennis Wendt:

A Voice of Warning about Economic Pride, Materialism, Neglecting the Poor, and Economic Inequality

1 Nephi 13:5-9: The great and abominable church desires gold, silver, and fine fabrics

22:23: Latter-day churches that are built up to “get gain” will be “consumed as stubble”

2 Nephi 9:30,42: Wo to the rich, who despise the poor; God despises them unless they consider themselves fools before him

9:50-51: All invited to “feast upon that which perisheth not”; buy “without money and without price”

13:14-24: Israel condemned for grinding on the face of the poor, while its daughters are vain and haughty, walking “with stretched forth necks and wanton eyes”

20:1-2: Wo to those who judge the poor unrighteously and prey on widows and orphans

26:20: Latter-day Gentiles build churches “to get gain and grind upon the face of the poor”

26:29-31: The laborer will perish if he labors for money (“priestcraft”) rather than for Zion

28:12-15: Latter-day Gentiles are puffed up in pride, robbing the poor in order to have fine sanctuaries and fine clothing; “wo, wo, wo be unto them . . . for they shall be thrust down to hell!”

Jacob 2:17-21: “Think of your brethren like unto yourselves”; freely give to the poor so they can be rich like you; seek for the kingdom of God first, and then seek riches only to help the poor and needy

Mosiah 4:16-27: Impart your substance to the poor in order to retain a remission of your sins; do not judge the beggar’s worthiness of receiving your assistance, as we are all unworthy beggars before God

12:29: If you teach the commandments, then why do you set your hearts on riches?

18:27-29: Impart substance to “every need, naked soul,” according to their needs and wants

29:40: Lucre corrupts the soul

Alma 1:20: Saints persecuted because they preach the word of God “without money and without price”

1:29-32: The saints in their prosperity did not send away the needy, did not set their hearts upon riches, and were “liberal to all,” “having no respect of persons as to those who stood in need”

4:6-15: The wicked set hearts upon riches and vain things, wear costly apparel, and despise and turn their backs upon the needy; the righteous abase themselves, imparting to the needy

5:53-55: Will you persist in setting your hearts upon riches, wearing costly apparel, turning your backs upon the needy, and supposing you are better than others?

11:20: Corrupt lawyers stir up people to wickedness in order to “have more employ” and get gain

34:28: If you turn away the needy, then your prayers are vain and you are hypocritical infidels

39:14: Do not seek for riches or vain things; “you cannot carry them with you”

62:49-50: Notwithstanding their prosperity, the church was not lifted up in pride because they remembered their own captivity and the Lord’s deliverance

Helaman 4:11-13: Slaughter would not have occurred among Nephites had they not been prideful because of their riches, nor oppressed the poor by withholding from them

6:38-40: Righteous Nephites eventually seduced to partake of spoils of Gadianton robbers, “insomuch that they did trample under their feet and smite and rend and turn their backs upon the poor”

7:4-5: In “state of awful wickedness,” Gadianton robbers let wicked “go unpunished because of their money”

7:20-21,26: Nephites quickly forget God’s provenance because their hearts are set on riches and vanity

12:1-7: Mortals are prone to forget God “because of their ease, and their exceedingly great prosperity”; their nothingness is great, even less than the dust of the earth

13:20-22: You “always remember your riches, not to thank the Lord your God for them”; your hearts are not drawn out to him but rather swell in great pride

13:25-28: Nephites condemned for rewarding false teachers with gold, silver, and costly apparel

3 Nephi 6:10-16: Satan stirs up people to seek for power and riches, leading to rank distinctions according to riches and “chances for learning”; “great inequality in all the land” corrupts church

13:1-4: “Do alms unto the poor,” but in secret and not for worldly praise

13:24: You cannot serve God and mammon

20:38: Zion “shall be redeemed without money”

29:7: Wo to those who deny miracles in order to get gain

4 Nephi 1:3,16: The happiest of people “have all things common among them,” with no class distinctions

1:24-26: People begin to be lifted up in pride, wearing costly apparel and fine pearls, no longer having things in common; they divide into classes, build up churches to get gain, and deny Christ’s church

Mormon 8:32-33: Latter-day churches are “wicked and perverse” for pardoning sins in exchange for money

8:35-41: All but few latter-day Gentiles “walk in the pride of their hearts,” wearing fine apparel, adorning their churches while allowing the poor to pass by them without noticing them; a sword hangs over them to avenge the cries of the neglected poor


  • Change the World: A Call to Action by Warner Woodworth (January 1, 2007). This blog post summarizes some of Prof. Woodworth's experiences with students. There are some book recommendations in the comments I'd like to check out. (This is an area of research I'd eventually like to take up professionally, and is actually a large reason I began studying economics in the first place....)

Related links[edit]

Makes a strong statement in defense of cooperation.
  • Papers
  • Blog threads
Follow-up to this T&S' post. Asks about government redistribution and individual agency.
Discussion of Joseph in Gen 47 regarding private property.
Discussion of theories of property.
Discussion of information economics and the United Order.
Discussion of consequentialist and aretaic approaches to the poor in scripture.
The name says it all.
Discussion of the legal organization of the Utah era United Orders.
The answer is yes, sorta, kinda, maybe...
Tubers as ground zero for the discussion of Mormonism and capitalism
What's relationship between righteousness and wealth? (Cf. Deut 28:2-8.)
  • Blog: Latter-day Saint Liberation Front