Liberation Theology and Capitalism Clash at Cedarville
At the conclusion of the “American Dream” lectures, Lisa Sharon Harper of Sojourners debated Kings College professor D. C. Innes on politics, economics, and their interaction with Christianity. Harper started out by directing attention to Adam Smith, father of free market economics. She warned that, in the 1700s, Smith functioned in a rigid Calvinistic theology, replete with a strong moral code and an emphasis on divine predestination. “The invisible just hand of God…moved to bring about the common good,” Harper instructed. Now, free market economics have become an entirely different beast. Harper mourned, “Economics has been disembedded…from the faith…Now the market equals God. We treat it as such: omniscient, self-correcting, etcetera.”
Harper called for an end to “market economy” in favor of “God’s economy.” She proclaimed, “The Year of Jubilee was one of the centerpieces of God’s economic system.” The Sojourners spokeswoman deemed this “an economic reset button built into God’s own system.” She noted that slaves were freed, debts were forgiven, and land was returned to the original families. Most importantly, this guaranteed that “businesses can’t grow to the point of empire.”
“What we know from God’s theocracy is that unlimited business growth is not expected,” Harper surmised.
The DC-based organizer then broke into full-fledged liberation-theology themes. “Poverty compromises the images of God on earth,” Harper asserted, “Maybe the best thing for the kingdom of God is that no one be poor.” She warned that the “business of empire” takes the dominion aware from God Himself. Christ, she mentioned, came to earth with the purpose of “subverting” and “overthrowing” empires. During the Q&A session, an alumnus pressed her on her exegesis, questioning how Harper could apply part of the Old Testament Law Code so literally while ignoring other portions. Although she did not reveal her actual scriptural hermeneutic, she assured her audience that she merely attempts to apply principles rather than explicit Levitical regulations.