It may have been morphed and distorted into the prosperity gospel of rightwing mega-churches


Preeminent sociologist Max Weber's "The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism" is his study of capitalism's rise in the West.

He noted that capitalism flourished mostly in areas where certain forms of Protestantism had arisen. He therefore thought that there might be a connection between the two:
1. Weber emphasized that he was not saying Protestantism caused capitalism.
2. He saw the modern European situation as home to the spirit of capitalism; that is, the new capitalists were not greedy for money and did not use it for hedonistic ends.
3. He saw Protestantism as vitally connected to the rise of this kind of capitalism.

He noted Martin Luther's teaching that all are equal before God,meaning that all labor was equally valuable:
1. Previous Catholic teaching had valued religious work as vocation and had devalued common and secular labor.
2. Luther's teaching meant that all work could be valued in a religious framework.

Weber also noted the Calvinist teaching of predestination as a source of anxiety for Protestants who sought ways to reassure themselves of their election. The idea of predestination had originally been meant to solve a religious problem: the significant differences between Christians and non-Christians in terms of their virtue or piety.

Protestantism encouraged an "inner-worldly asceticism" that induced believers to work and earn but to save and invest their earnings instead of spending self-indulgently on pleasures:
1. Weber did not find in his data any indication that people could be induced to work harder by external rewards.
2. Protestantism, by valuing all labor and seeing success as a sign of divine favor, provided the inner drive needed for harder work.




Source credit: Professor Charles B. Jones