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Carborendum

The Law of Consecration and Stewardship

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3 hours ago, Vort said:

Is it unwise to live a united order as an expression of the law of consecration without the express command of God?

To answer my own question:

Our nuclear families are the basic example of living a true united order as an expression of consecration. All income into the family is pooled and then meted out according to need and desire. Families are usually as financially successful as their leaders make them, so Dad and Mom make it or break it. I have spoken with a few couples (mostly in my earlier adult years, while I and they were both still young, 20s or 30s) who chose to keep separate books, combining expenses such as rent but keeping other budgets separate. Privately, I always found this vaguely repulsive, though of course I didn't burden them with my opinion.

I believe this same system could work, and work well, in an extended family of adult brothers and sisters, perhaps even between cousins. But the larger the family generation included, the more people have to be committed to loving and helping each other and not worrying about everything being "fair". Indeed, an insistence of fairness is the death of any real united order. So while I am sure there are some family groups somewhere who successfully practice this extended united-order-style idea, I can only suppose it's exceedingly rare and probably fragile.

I think it is unwise to try to practice this sort of united order between non-relatives, even good friends, without being commanded by God and led by authorities duly set apart under Priesthood assignment for that duty. I do not believe it is immoral to do so, but I think it is almost certain to lead to a bad end.

When I was very young, I would occasionally hear my parents and relatives talk about what they called "the law of consecration", but which as an adult I recognize more precisely as the united order. I heard them say that they hoped that, when the time came, they could be monetary contributors rather than takers. I thought that was a noble thing, and I took it to heart. I was an adult before I realized that those good and virtuous intentions were misplaced. Get a group of ignorant and impoverished people who take their united order seriously, as a true expression of the law of consecration, and who are willing to work hard and care for each other, and it is almost a given that they will succeed and flourish in time, probably in a very short time. Get a group of successful, educated adults who view everything in monetary terms and are always careful to look out for freeloaders and want to police things so that everyone does their fair share, and it is absolutely a given that they will not have the Spirit, and their "united order" will quickly dissolve into bickering, finger-pointing, and disunity.

Edited by Vort

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16 minutes ago, Vort said:

Get a group of successful, educated adults who view everything in monetary terms and are always careful to look out for freeloaders and want to police things so that everyone does their fair share, and it is absolutely a given that they will not have the Spirit, and their "united order" will quickly dissolve into bickering, finger-pointing, and disunity.

I'll admit that I kind of fall into the above category.
I'm an adult, that can't stand (capable) freeloaders and I expect others to carry a portion of the load, again when capable.

Perhaps one of my many shortcomings.
 

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5 hours ago, CV75 said:

Thank you. How is it you have personal contact with a General Authority, and would you describe your contact and relationship with him?

As a youth I knew Hugh B Brown - Hugh B Brown's daughter married the Bishop in my best friend's ward - My best friend did yard work for the Bishop and whenever Elder Brown would visit (which was often to relax by a private pool) I would help my friend with his work so we could spend time talking with Elder Brown.  On my mission I met Legrand Richards and drove him through Oregon for mission meetings.  Stephan L Richards was the father of a close friend - I never met Elder Richards other than through stories from his son. Boyd K Packer and my mother were school friends and my uncle (Father's brother) was his best friend and served with him during WWII and I use to car pool with his son to work.  Two Emeritus 70's - one is Larry Corbridge who was once my Stake President (still living) and also someone I knew in my youth - actually I knew his sister and the other is Robert L. Backman (still living and the oldest GA) that was my mission president - he performed my wife's and my temple marriage - myself and a few other missionaries were planning a birthday party for him earlier this year when we had to cancel because of COVID.

 

The Traveler

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5 hours ago, Vort said:

To answer my own question:

Our nuclear families are the basic example of living a true united order as an expression of consecration. All income into the family is pooled and then meted out according to need and desire. Families are usually as financially successful as their leaders make them, so Dad and Mom make it or break it. I have spoken with a few couples (mostly in my earlier adult years, while I and they were both still young, 20s or 30s) who chose to keep separate books, combining expenses such as rent but keeping other budgets separate. Privately, I always found this vaguely repulsive, though of course I didn't burden them with my opinion.

I believe this same system could work, and work well, in an extended family of adult brothers and sisters, perhaps even between cousins. But the larger the family generation included, the more people have to be committed to loving and helping each other and not worrying about everything being "fair". Indeed, an insistence of fairness is the death of any real united order. So while I am sure there are some family groups somewhere who successfully practice this extended united-order-style idea, I can only suppose it's exceedingly rare and probably fragile.

I think it is unwise to try to practice this sort of united order between non-relatives, even good friends, without being commanded by God and led by authorities duly set apart under Priesthood assignment for that duty. I do not believe it is immoral to do so, but I think it is almost certain to lead to a bad end.

When I was very young, I would occasionally hear my parents and relatives talk about what they called "the law of consecration", but which as an adult I recognize more precisely as the united order. I heard them say that they hoped that, when the time came, they could be monetary contributors rather than takers. I thought that was a noble thing, and I took it to heart. I was an adult before I realized that those good and virtuous intentions were misplaced. Get a group of ignorant and impoverished people who take their united order seriously, as a true expression of the law of consecration, and who are willing to work hard and care for each other, and it is almost a given that they will succeed and flourish in time, probably in a very short time. Get a group of successful, educated adults who view everything in monetary terms and are always careful to look out for freeloaders and want to police things so that everyone does their fair share, and it is absolutely a given that they will not have the Spirit, and their "united order" will quickly dissolve into bickering, finger-pointing, and disunity.

I think that sometimes most Saints think of the law of consecration only in economic or monetary terms.  I was taught that money is the lazy and less committed method of the law of consecration.  The more noble and committed method is service and time.  So if you want to make a list of ward members living the law of consecration take role at the ward and stake service projects.  See who almost always shows up to help move, repair a roof, clean up yards and so on and so on.  In the past - besides tithing there was the building fund, ward budget, the missionary fund, fast offerings, the Book of Mormon Fund and others.  We use to talk about all our contributions for the past year and plan for the next year at tithing settlement but all that is asked now is if we pay a full tithing for the previous year.  

I cannot speak for all but my personal experience is that it is mostly the less rich that participate in monetary and service contributions.  With few exceptions (there are always exceptions) it seems that the more opulent the life style the less interest there is in service and fast offerings.  I really thought the Church made a giant step spiritually (towards the law of consecration) when funding for wards was standardized - so that the "rich" wards had to learn to budget the youth and other activities the same as "poor" wards.

 

The Traveler

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16 hours ago, Vort said:

Is it unwise to live a united order as an expression of the law of consecration without the express command of God?

Unwise and possibly a sacrilege.

My position has always been thus:  The difference between Communism and the Law of Consecration is declaring whose property it is.

  • Capitalism says everything belongs to the individual.
    • administered by the individual
    • accountable to market forces
  • Communism says everything belongs to the collective.
    • administered by men who usually crave power
    • accountable to no one but themselves
  • The Law of Consecration says everything belongs to the Lord.
    • administered by the individuals having stewardship and men who are called of God.
    • accountable to the Lord and the people within the system

Now look at the hypothetical you offer.

  • Everything belongs to the Lord.
    • administered by people just winging it.
    • accountable to people just winging it.

Where is the Lord in that?

Alternative:  Individuals wishing to live the principles of the LoC without a formal structure.

  • Everything "I own" actually belongs to the Lord.
    • I'm a steward over HIS stuff.
    • I'm accountable to Him for how I administer it.

I fear that when "people get together" without the Lord's blessing on the system, they're doomed for failure.  And if they take it upon themselves to believe that the Lord wanted them to do this, it potentially leads to apostasy and cultish behavior.

Quote

15 And it is my purpose to provide for my saints, for all things are mine.

16 But it must needs be done in mine own way; and behold this is the way that I, the Lord, have decreed to provide for my saints, that the poor shall be exalted, in that the rich are made low.

 -- D&C 104: 15-16

Edited by Carborendum

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A question that the old manual asks is:

Quote

Is it an inherent weakness in all idealistic schemes to equalize wealth?

I need to emphasize that in the language of the time, the word "scheme" does not imply an ulterior motive.  It is simply what is the same root as "schematic" today, i.e. "a plan".

My take:  There is a difference between a "goal" and a metric to judge whether a goal has been met.  Brigham Young said:

Quote

I do not wish for one moment to recognize the idea that in order to establish the United Order our property has to be divided equally among the people, to let them do what they please with it.  But the idea is to get the people into the same state of unity in all things temporal that we find ourselves in with regard to things spiritual.  Then let those who possess ability and wisdom direct the labors of those not so endowed, until they, too, develop the talents within them and in time acquire the same degree of ability.

 -- JD XVIII, p 354

The first sentence discounts the notion.  The second sentence is the actual goal.  The third sentence sounds too much like a technocracy.  I dislike it.  But if administered by the Lord, no problem.  It would make sense.

Absent that, the free market does exactly that third option without a centralized power.  It relies only upon the structure of the system to do its job.

I believe one obstacle to being equal in things temporal is that we have finite resources.  The laws of economics are based on the assumption that resources are limited.  If they are not limited, then the laws of economics go out the window.

But the Lord tells us:

Quote

17 For the earth is full, and there is enough and to spare; yea, I prepared all things, and have given unto the children of men to be agents unto themselves.

18 Therefore, if any man shall take of the abundance which I have made, and impart not his portion, according to the law of my gospel, unto the poor and the needy, he shall, with the wicked, lift up his eyes in hell, being in torment.

  -- D&C 104:17-18

If this is so, then we're not in the realm of economics.  We're in the realm of distribution.

But our reality today is that there is a dearth.  Why?  If there is enough and to spare, what is it that we're seeing with homelessness, starvation, poverty, etc. (especially worldwide).

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9 hours ago, Traveler said:

As a youth I knew Hugh B Brown - Hugh B Brown's daughter married the Bishop in my best friend's ward - My best friend did yard work for the Bishop and whenever Elder Brown would visit (which was often to relax by a private pool) I would help my friend with his work so we could spend time talking with Elder Brown.  On my mission I met Legrand Richards and drove him through Oregon for mission meetings.  Stephan L Richards was the father of a close friend - I never met Elder Richards other than through stories from his son. Boyd K Packer and my mother were school friends and my uncle (Father's brother) was his best friend and served with him during WWII and I use to car pool with his son to work.  Two Emeritus 70's - one is Larry Corbridge who was once my Stake President (still living) and also someone I knew in my youth - actually I knew his sister and the other is Robert L. Backman (still living and the oldest GA) that was my mission president - he performed my wife's and my temple marriage - myself and a few other missionaries were planning a birthday party for him earlier this year when we had to cancel because of COVID.

 

The Traveler

Thank you. Please be reminded that I am looking for a reference (originally requested of the OP), and while I appreciate your replies, you might provide one from your personal contacts: Did these General Authorities tell you that they “signed over their property” and “were given an assignment to be stewards over that property” as posted in the OP (3rd - 5th paragraphs)?

@Carborendum in case you missed my original request: Posted yesterday at 09:35 AM  Thank you!

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8 hours ago, CV75 said:

Thank you. Please be reminded that I am looking for a reference (originally requested of the OP), and while I appreciate your replies, you might provide one from your personal contacts: Did these General Authorities tell you that they “signed over their property” and “were given an assignment to be stewards over that property” as posted in the OP (3rd - 5th paragraphs)?

 

 

@Carborendum in case you missed my original request: Posted yesterday at 09:35 AM  Thank you!

No - none that I talked to deeded any of their property to the church except in the case of their death.   In addition some GA continue to make investments  You may recall Mark Hoffman sold some false documents to some church leaders - they all used their own money and not church funds.

 

The Traveler

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1 hour ago, Traveler said:

 You may recall Mark Hoffman sold some false documents to some church leaders - they all used their own money and not church funds.

Church funds were definitely used to purchase the Mark Hoffman items.

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1 hour ago, Scott said:

Church funds were definitely used to purchase the Mark Hoffman items.

I think it was a mix.  Some items they purchased; other items, they simply worked to connect Hofmann with buyers who they hoped would handle the documents sympathetically. That, I believe, is why the bombings happened—Hofmann went bragging about how he had the McLellin journals, the Church got him in touch with Steve Christensen, Christensen got over-anxious and wanted to close the deal before Hofmann had finished making the forgeries, and so Hofmann sent the bomb to get Christensen off his back (and the second to divert investigators as to the source of the bombs).

Edited by Just_A_Guy

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18 hours ago, Vort said:

Is it unwise to live a united order as an expression of the law of consecration without the express command of God?

I'm not sure. On the one hand, I see the value in experimenting with different implementations of covenant principles to discover what actually works and what doesn't. For one thing it dispels a lot of myths and fantasies about what God is actually asking for (refer back to Traveler's or LoudMouthMormon's comments about what happens when you help the poor monetarily but not with skills training; or the back-and-forth in this thread about whether it's really just the labor that's deeded out or if the property is actually stewarded). For another it becomes something of a pilot program for the large-scale thing. Based on Discourses of Brigham Young, I gather that Brigham's vision of the Millennial government was essentially that Christ will return, say "Zion has it right" and then roll it out across other communities.

On the other hand, we have the story of Zeniff in the Book of Mormon. He describes himself as being zealous in reclaiming the Nephite inheritance, but seems to recognize that he displayed a terrible lack of wisdom in some of the agreements he entered; which left them vexed by the Lamanites in his time and in bondage within a few generations. And I must admit that head-image me would look askance at anyone who told me they were purchasing land in Missouri just so they could donate it when the Church eventually asks for it. So I can see how it would be unwise to start practicing the United Order without additional (revealed) guidance.

But on the other hand, Zeniff, Noah, and Limhi's interactions with the Lamanites seem to provide a turning point. Nephi, Jacob, and Enos all sent out missionary efforts to reclaim them but failed tremendously. It's not until after they've have a community of Nephites live among them for generations that Mosiah's sons are able to make any headway. So if the Lord wasn't behind the initial zeal He certainly turned it for His own purposes. So God can certainly consecrate such efforts for good.

But on the other hand, can isn't the same as will. And the question was about the wisdom of it not the utility in God's economy.

But on the other hand.....

screenshot-1321.png?w=600&h=400&crop=1

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13 hours ago, Scott said:

Church funds were definitely used to purchase the Mark Hoffman items.

Thank you - I should rephrase that - no donated funds were used.  I would also point out that donated funds are not used to subsidize GA's for being GA's.  Some may claim that it is all "church" monies - but that is a strawman argument.

 

The Traveler

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Every member that has been to the temple is under a covenant to  consecrate.  Anyone who is waiting on something else before striving to live this covenant is being unwise.

It is absolutely true that we must do it in the Lord's way and using the stewardships the Lord has granted (and will grant naturally).  I  think we already know what the Lord's appointed way is and we already have stewardships that we can act with in.  I think those that look to historical examples of how the United Order was handled are potentially missing the forest for the trees.

The Lord's method is found in scriptures.  "Where two or more are gathered in my name there I will be also" and "Be one and if you are not one you are not mine"

This method is what the Lord calls for and uses.  Gather the stewards together prayerfully, they discuss the what needs to be done and how to do it, then they make a united decision.  The Lord's method works at all levels.  From families to Ward Councils to the Quorum of the 12.  It also allows for implementations that look quite a bit different from each other based on the situation and circumstances.  We see this even now between families, wards, stakes, areas, etc.

This means the deciding factor in consecration is not property ownership per-say, but rather the willingness to be one.  Sadly it is usually issues over property ownership that breaks the oneness

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On 9/26/2020 at 8:54 AM, Traveler said:

Thank you - I should rephrase that - no donated funds were used.  

Source?

I thought that some of the items were purchased with Church funds, including the Anthon document.

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On 9/25/2020 at 5:31 AM, Carborendum said:

My take:  There is a difference between a "goal" and a metric to judge whether a goal has been met. 

I really like the BY quote you shared as it reinforced a thought I've had for a while. First of all, living the law of consecration should not be viewed as some commandment that we have to keep in order to establish Zion. Rather the law we need to focus on is loving our neighbors as ourselves. When we do this the spirit of the law of consecration is already present and the letter of the law merely provides a framework in how we can act in an orderly manner upon those desires.

But the law of consecration goes beyond simply being an economic tool for a Zion society. Inherent in the law is the recognition of the need to better ourselves and others so that we have more to consecrate. The more we know and the more skills we develop the more we have to offer. In the eternities being able to provide for ourselves temporally is no longer an issue but the striving for being better and helping others become better is the part of the law of consecration that endures.

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10 hours ago, Scott said:

Source?

I thought that some of the items were purchased with Church funds, including the Anthon document.

The Church has in essence two means of raising funds - one is from donations and the second is through holdings and investments.   The church has said on several occasions that there is no overhead in the distribution of donated funds.  In addition in the annual audits (April Conference) it is reported that all has been accounted according to prescribed methods.  This means that all donated funds are distributed without overhead as prescribed - mission funds to mission expenses, perpetual education fund for education and so on.   The Church holds a number of corporate holdings in broadcasting, land holdings, banking, and other revenue producing enterprises. 

There is a difference between donated funds and all Church funds.

 

The Traveler

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22 minutes ago, Traveler said:

The Church has in essence two means of raising funds - one is from donations and the second is through holdings and investments.   The church has said on several occasions that there is no overhead in the distribution of donated funds.  In addition in the annual audits (April Conference) it is reported that all has been accounted according to prescribed methods.  This means that all donated funds are distributed without overhead as prescribed - mission funds to mission expenses, perpetual education fund for education and so on.   The Church holds a number of corporate holdings in broadcasting, land holdings, banking, and other revenue producing enterprises. 

There is a difference between donated funds and all Church funds.

What does that have to do with anything?  The Anthon manuscrit was purchased for the Church History Library which is kitty corner to the Salt Lake Temple at Temple Square.

The Church History Library is definitely partially funded by tithing funds.   Many of the items themselves were donated, but several of them were purchased at the library.   You can also donate funds directly to the Church History Library, but some of it comes from tithing.   The same is true of the Family History Library, displays at Temple Square, programs, etc. 

Further, Dallin H Oaks said the following on the purchase of Church History items:

From the day of its organization, April 6, 1830, the Church has pursued a divine mandate to record, acquire, and preserve documents and artifacts considered to be of importance to its history and the times and environment in which it developed.

The Church leaders themselves lcaimed that the Church itself purchased some of the items.   This is from the April 1987 Ensign:


As earlier announced, the Church acquired forty-eight documents directly from Mark W. Hofmann—seven documents for a total cash purchase price of $57,100, and forty-one others, less valuable, by donation or trade.

https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/ensign/1987/04/news-of-the-church/document-dealer-confesses?lang=eng

Mark Hoffman was charged with defrauding the Church as well as Church members and leaders.
 

Quote

This means that all donated funds are distributed without overhead as prescribed - mission funds to mission expenses, perpetual education fund for education and so on.

What does overhead have to do with the claim?

Do you have a source for the claim that no church funds or donated funds were used to purchase the items?  The Church leaders themselves said that some of the items were purchased with Church funds.  Saying (inocrrectly) that none of those Church funds came from donations really isn't a valid arguement and isn't a source either.   

Do you have a source?
 

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Who cares whether or not "Church funds"/"tithing funds" were used to purchase Hofmann's fraudulent manuscripts (my understanding is that they definitely were)? Why is it even a relevant consideration? The Church is the Lord's. Church funds (or tithing funds) belong to God. He has directed how they are to be used and who has stewardship to oversee that usage. Whether they were used to pay for operating expenses, temple construction, fraudulent manuscripts, or three million bottles of Pepto Bismol is not relevant to anything that I can see. It is not my (or your) job to follow up on appropriate usage of so-called tithing funds. This is not like taxes, where we ARE the government and taxes ARE our funds. Not so with tithing.

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18 minutes ago, Vort said:

Who cares whether or not "Church funds"/"tithing funds" were used to purchase Hofmann's fraudulent manuscripts (my understanding is that they definitely were)?

Historical accuracy only.  Someone made this comment: 

You may recall Mark Hoffman sold some false documents to some church leaders - they all used their own money and not church funds.

Of course this is all on Mark Hoffman and isn't a reflection of our Church.  The Church did nothing wrong.

Anyway, it does have nothing to do with the topic of this thread though.

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On 9/24/2020 at 2:18 PM, Vort said:

Is it unwise to live a united order as an expression of the law of consecration without the express command of God?

The easy answer would be "No." The Lord has specifically said we are not to be commanded in all things; however, it would be unwise for any member to start trying to "force" (so to speak) other people to live such without the consent of others.

I know of a family that is already living such, to a degree. They own a family business. All who are employed within the family (this includes sons-in-law) receive a portion according to their needs and just wants. If a family member marries, through the company funds a "modest" (relative term) home is purchased for the family. Cars (modest) are purchased for the family. They receive a salary (I believe) that would be sufficient for their monthly needs, and anything outside of that would be taken to the family and decisions then made according to needs and just wants. It is a pretty awesome deal. In this way, there isn't any family member who is making the majority of the monies from the business. They see the money as everyone's money who is actively participating in the family business.

Personally, if I were more attuned to building wealth and business this is something I would have loved to put into place.

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20 hours ago, laronius said:

I really like the BY quote you shared as it reinforced a thought I've had for a while. First of all, living the law of consecration should not be viewed as some commandment that we have to keep in order to establish Zion. Rather the law we need to focus on is loving our neighbors as ourselves. When we do this the spirit of the law of consecration is already present and the letter of the law merely provides a framework in how we can act in an orderly manner upon those desires.

But the law of consecration goes beyond simply being an economic tool for a Zion society. Inherent in the law is the recognition of the need to better ourselves and others so that we have more to consecrate. The more we know and the more skills we develop the more we have to offer. In the eternities being able to provide for ourselves temporally is no longer an issue but the striving for being better and helping others become better is the part of the law of consecration that endures.

This is a good point.  Very often we look more at the economic aspects of the Law of Consecration, but the Law of Consecration is FAR MORE than just an economic thing, it is a way of life.  It is everything, our soul, or feelings, our hearts, are all consecrated to the Lord.  There is far more to it than just the economic side.  There are political, theological, emotional, social, spiritual, and many more aspects on which we consecrate ourselves in that fashion to the Lord's intents and designs for us and his Kingdom.

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On 9/25/2020 at 5:49 AM, Carborendum said:

My position has always been thus:  The difference between Communism and the Law of Consecration is declaring whose property it is.

I heard it described in even more simple terms.  I like the below definitions. 

The spirit of socialism:  We are going to take.

The spirit of capitalism:  I am going to take care of myself.

The spirit of Consecration:  We are going to give.

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On 9/30/2020 at 12:14 AM, Still_Small_Voice said:

I heard it described in even more simple terms.  I like the below definitions. 

The spirit of socialism:  We are going to take.

The spirit of capitalism:  I am going to take care of myself.

The spirit of Consecration:  We are going to give.

On the one hand, you're saying that 1 and 2 are basically the same thing.  And in a way, the great Milton Friedman agrees.

"Capitalism pits man vs man.  With socialism, it's the other way around."

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