I'm reading a book called "the protestant ethic and the spirit of capitalism," written by German economist/sociologist Max Weber in approximately 1905. It's a story about theological shifts changing the world forever...
Weber goes back to Calvin in the 16th century and describes his Protestantism as founded upon two theological pillars: a view of God as primarily transcendent and all powerful, and a view of soteriology emphasizing predestination and divine election. The combination of these two concepts, says Weber, led logically to "massive fatalism, loneliness, and anxiety among the faithful." Reformulations of Calvin's teachings in the next century led believers to eventually "uphold an ethos of 'world mastery' and to orient their entire lives toward work and material success."
"God desired action in strict conformity with His commandments and laws. Yet virtuous conduct, in light of the sinful character of the human species, proved difficult. Indeed, taming all wants and physical desires, and then orienting life in a consistent fashion to His laws, required heroic efforts of discipline."
"If they proved capable of mastering their selfish desires and leading righteous, dignified lives oriented unequivocally to God's commandments, then they could assume that the capacity to do so had been in fact bestowed upon them by their deity, who after all was omniscient and all-powerful."
If they could achieve this lifestyle, the crucial question- "am I among the saved?" - would be answered affirmatively and thus "held in check the tremendous anxiety and fatalism that resulted logically from the doctrine of predestination. Simultaneously, this gave birth to a frame of mind that Weber saw as specifically Puritan: the tempered, dispassionate, and restrained disposition that completely tamed the self and lead to a systematic rationalization of life."
Such was the fodder out of which was born the religion that "baptized" work and "idolized" vocation making all other areas of life secondary or trivial. This Protestant work ethic would be the mindset of the founding fathers of this country and eventually birth the vision of the "American Dream" out of which would come the United States of Capitalism.
Theology is dangerous.