Free Enterprise and the Work Ethic
Along with some of the greatest art and literature, the Reformation brought about the greatest industrial advances, productivity and prosperity ever experienced in history.
Productivity and Prosperity
The Protestant work ethic, which helped to bring about great productivity and prosperity in Western Europe and North America, arose mostly through the Protestant Reformers – particularly John Calvin. “The most dynamic businessmen were to be found in Protestant Holland and the most vigorous industrial growth in Protestant England, both states heavily tinctured with Calvinism.” (Historian Richard Dunn).
The Protestant Work Ethic
Max Webber, in his famous book: “The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism” (1905), attributed the Capitalist Revolution to Calvinism, its worldly asceticism and Protestant work ethic.
Calvin upheld the right of private ownership of property, taught the Biblical concept of stewardship and promoted free enterprise and diligent hard work. Calvin unleashed all the powers that capitalism has produced. As a result, the free enterprise system has generated the highest standards of living, the longest life expectancy and the greatest advances in industry and medicine ever experienced in history.
Foundations for Freedom
For these and so many other reasons, the Reformation in Europe during the 16th century has to be seen as one of the most important epochs in the history of the world. The Reformation gave us the Bible – now freely available in our own languages. The Reformation also pioneered the now-almost universally acknowledged principles of religious freedom, liberty of conscience, the rule of law, separation of powers and constitutionally limited Republics. All of these foundational principles were unthinkable before the Reformation.
The Reformers emphasis on God’s sovereignty, that Scripture alone is the final authority, that Christ alone is the Head of the Church, that justification is by God’s grace, on the basis of the finished work of Christ, received by grace alone. Their teachings on the depravity of man, the Covenant and Church government has influenced Law and liberty throughout the Western world and beyond. All of us are beneficiaries of this tremendous movement for Faith and Freedom. It is time that we re-examined the history and the principles of the Reformation.
The Price of Liberty is Eternal Vigilance
“If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God, except precisely that point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, then I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Him. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved; and to be steady on all the battle front besides is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point.” Martin Luther
Originally posted at reformationsa.org.