Homo Comsumptor: The Creation of Man in the Image of the Consumer and Its Impact on the Church
“Consumerism” is used in a variety of ways, being still a new term, coined in 1922 by Collier’s magazine for the protection of consumers’ interests. The term soon began to convey consumer sovereignty. In consumerism, as the business axiom pithily puts it, “The customer is king.” But rather than what we choose to consume being determined by our values, our values were determined by consumerism itself. Although the term is new, the reality is not, having been a feature in Western culture throughout this economic epoch, accelerated by the industrial revolution. Having “canalized” its values onto our society, consumerism thus provides the interpretative grids through which we see all of life. Consumerism creates the paradigm of the church as a customer-centered organization, in the mold of other prevalent sources of consumption, like the restaurant and the theater, and the ministers in the church as functional, service-provider. Thus, consumerism’s man, homo comsumptor, approaches the church in a way antithetical to the New Testament’s paradigm of the church as the household or family, the oikos.
This paper seeks to define consumerism, show how it has changed our culture over time and created paradigms that distort the church.