Although many Western nations have turned against Christianity, the foundation of their prosperity is built on the basic principles of Christianity, especially through the Reformation. Before the Reformation, even the medieval church had become a giant collective and salvation was attained by becoming a member of the church. This changed with the reformation.
During the late sixteenth century the Dutch-speaking citizens of the Netherlands were the most commerce oriented people of Europe. Why? They embraced Calvinism with its strong emphasis on doing business and working hard. The Netherlands was also a haven for Jews who excelled in business. And the Dutch were sea-going merchants, eventually starting investment companies to finance their worldwide shipping industry. The rest of Europe watched and followed. Along with this robust capitalism came abundance.
Modern historians refer to this period as the age of commercialization. People began to produce products for others rather than just for their own family to consume or use. These products were sold and individuals made a profit and accumulated wealth. People were able to specialize in the production on one product, and hence produce increased quantities. So a person could by a loaf of bread every day from a baker, rather than taking hours to bake it themselves each day.
Before this time, about 80 percent of the entire population was required to work in agriculture to produce enough of food to feed all the people. Even with this great workforce, famines regularly followed unfavorable weather conditions. Better tools and new farming practices gradually transformed agricultural so that by 1900 less than 10 percent of the population was needed to produce all the necessary food. This released a workforce to serve in other areas. Abundance of food led to preserving and storing, thus eliminating the fear of future famines. This brought a new sense of security so people were more willing to invest their accumulated wealth (capital) in new products and businesses.
Capitalism catapulted the Western world ahead of other civilizations. The same principles that allowed the Jews to prosper allowed Europe to rise to the economic top of the world.
Compassionate Capitalism – A Judeo-Christian Valueby Harold Eberle, 2010, Worldcast Publishing.