As a cradle Orthodox who grew up in a statist country, I can appreciate the historical fact that Orthodox and Catholic Christianity has operated in a collectivist/statist milieu for most of its existence. This milieu stressed the collective/state at the expense of the individual for a very basic reason: worldly power for a few, so-called anointed men (and a few women) who were able to conceal their ambition in pious words and a few such acts. Nonetheless, the power of the Gospel was able to reach down into this unholy situation and ameliorate the condition of women and children primarily, but also of any person (Jaroslav Pelikan).
Before we Orthodox look down on our Protestant brethren, we should consider the following:
- Marx himself strongly maintained that capitalism is an indispensable precursor to socialism (Das Capital). Yes, he did buy Adam Smith's argument in the Wealth of Nations that only under capitalism the wealth of a society grows, freed as it is from human caprice and foibles.
- Economists in the Communist countries of Eastern Europe wrote a series of studies in the post-Stalin era that also proved that free market economics is the only available economically rational system. (Leslek Kolokowski is the most famous of this reapprisal--he just passed on last summer, God rest his soul).
- Modern economists, such as Friedman and De Soto, have also shown a close relationship between freedom and capitalism.
- In todays' America, most Protestants tithe (10%), and pay taxes that in their totality approach 50% of their gross income. So they give up to 60% of their income for a laundry list of services for themselves, but mostly for their fellow citizens. On top of that, they also volunteer individually or in groups too serve their communities in a myriad of ways, much more than people in other countries. They have shown the way in establishing schools and hospitals; public safety (fire and police); orphanages and old folks homes, etc... If they did all of this because of their religious faith, they are to be admired, not criticized.
I am pointing all of this for a purpose: the Lord does indeed move in mysterious ways. I happen to believe that He allowed the establishment of Protestantism as a wake up call for both Catholics and Orthodox, to shed our Imperial Church mentality and become the people that He wants us to be. Knee-jerk criticism of our Protestant brethren will blind us to the positive things that they have done.