Mark of the Beast? Global Capitalism and Idolatry in the 21st Century

I have viewed the United States’ economic system with suspicion for quite some time now; but this has gotten worse recently.

I was particularly struck by the corrupt nature of our economic system this last March, while watching a movie called The Big Short.

This film documents the collapse of the housing market in 2008 – a collapse that involved several big banks, and was so extreme that it threatened to bankrupt the entire U.S. economy.

The big banks had all invested in the housing market, and never dreamed it would collapse. When it did, people prepared for themselves for economic Armageddon – which would have surely been the result if we were truly living in a free market system, as fiscal conservatives argue for.

As we all know, the banks did not collapse. The reason for this is simple, and yet shocking to some – the banks used tax payers’ money to pay off their debt and keep themselves afloat.

Why, we may ask, didn’t this lead to a major uprising? The answer, I’m afraid, is even worse than the question: it seems this sort of theft is so commonplace in our economic system that no one seems to notice, much less care!

The major players in our economic system have pitted people against each other for a long time – rich against poor, liberal against conservative, etc – to keep us from seeing what’s happening behind the scenes.

There has been much debate, for example, over whether the minimum wage should be raised to keep up with inflation. While I think that raising the minimum wage would be a good start, it fails to answer the bigger question – why is there so much inflation in the first place?

The answer is that the Federal Reserve has been printing (and electronically creating) so much currency that the dollar is quickly becoming worthless.

At one time, all of our money was backed by gold or silver. As these metals started to disappear, however, the people in the Federal Reserve started printing paper money that had no backing. This only got worse once the move was made to electronic currency.

The Federal Reserve now has the power to produce as much money as it wants, with no backing. The results are that the big bankers get richer and richer, while the rest of us spend money that’s worth less and less. The Federal Reserve prints what is essentially counterfeit currency, and very few people seem to notice or care!

What’s even worse is that this sort of trickery is not limited to the United States; indeed, it’s simply one of the driving forces of global capitalism – a system that thrives on dishonesty and corruption. The move toward a single world currency has been underway for a long time now, but few seem to have the power or desire to stop it.

When I ponder these things, I’m reminded of a verse in the book of Revelation that speaks of a time when “no one can buy or sell” without the mark of the beast (Rev 13:17).

This seems to be an apt description of what we are currently experiencing; for it’s virtually impossible for anyone in “civilized” nations to survive without partaking in the corrupt economic system that’s described so fittingly as “the beast!”

This is not to say that the “end of the world” is upon us. Indeed, it’s all too easy for anyone in a distressing situation to see it as the fulfillment of apocalyptic prophecy.

Furthermore, I don’t tend to read the book of Revelation as a literal prophecy of end-time events; it’s more likely addressing the situation of persecuted Christians in Rome at the beginning of the second century.

History does, however, have a way of repeating itself; and many of the conditions that led to the downfall of the Roman Empire (over-extended military presence, class warfare, media distractions from the real problems (“bread and circuses”), and a debased currency) are happening right now in America and other parts of the world.

It’s not too much of a stretch, therefore, to see in the words of Revelation a vivid description of life under the current ruling system. And while it’s tempting to single out government “elites” as the cause of the problem, none of us is exempt from criticism!

 If global capitalism is truly “the beast” that it seems to be, we all bear its mark. We all buy, sell and trade under it, and we all participate, to some degree, in the idolatrous worship that it demands. And we are all warned, in no uncertain terms, to “come out of her,” lest we also partake in the destruction that is coming (Rev 18:4)!

But is it even possible to remove ourselves from the global economy? Apart from returning to a pre-civilized way of living (hunters and gatherers), I don’t see how it can be done. And there’s simply not enough land left in most parts of the world to support a pre-civilized way of life.

What then, can we do? Is there anything that can be done to avert the coming collapse (which will come sooner or later, regardless of how long the system delays it by “borrowing” from the masses)?

Right now, I don’t have any answers – just a warning; so I open it up for discussion. My hope is that those who know something about economics, and whose hearts have not yet been hardened by greed, will have something to say.


(Coming Soon – Jesus and Sex: The Good News About Romance and Eroticism (Series))


One thought on “Mark of the Beast? Global Capitalism and Idolatry in the 21st Century

  1. Global capitalism US style to me is more like the whore than the Beast.

    However the more heavily government regulated Chinese system is more like the Beast which seeks to control the excesses of the Whore. It may be that global government will be worse than what we have now. The Beast destroys the whore in one hour .!


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