May 24, 2019

Does the Bible Have the Answers for Our Money Problems?

“The Bible is literally filled with advice on how to get out of debt, how to stay out of debt, how to prosper, how to have financial stability, and how to save and spend.” (Rick Warren)

• • •

These days, Warren is just one of the more prominent pastors leading his congregation to think about faith and financial issues during the economic downturn. An article in the Christian Post discusses how, in the midst of an eleven percent unemployment rate and all the other money troubles folks are having these days, churches across the country are trying to find ways to help people manage their finances, get out of debt, and be good stewards of their resources.

I doubt that anyone would deny that part of following Christ involves being faithful with our money and material possessions. Those who live in Christian communities also can and should show love for one another and their neighbors by helping people in the realm of finances. One need go no further than the descriptions of the early church in Acts to see practical love in action with regard to possessions and money.

In doing this, however,

  • Is it necessary for the church to assert that what is needed is: “lessons on financial stewardship based on biblical principles,” or that the Bible is the best place to go for financial advice”?
  • Is Warren making a critical and important point when he says, The Bible is literally filled with advice on how to get out of debt, how to stay out of debt, how to prosper, how to have financial stability, and how to save and spend”?
  • What is being taught when a church says they are instructing “its members to manage money from a biblical perspective?
  • When Christian leaders step forward and proclaim the old cliché, “Jesus talked about money more than any other topic,” does this statement have any real relevance to the idea of teaching people how to manage money?

In other words, is this really a “Biblical” topic? What contribution does the Bible make in this discussion?

And what does the fact that pastors everywhere are claiming Biblical authority for what they are teaching about money say about our theology and the way followers of Jesus should think and act in such daily-life matters and concerns?

Comments

  1. Without doing any looking, I feel pretty confident that there are verses in Proverbs about avoiding debt and being loose with your money in general. But as far as methods for managing money, of course there’s no “biblical” method. God doesn’t really care about how diversified your portfolio is, you know? Mostly what Jesus said about money was that you couldn’t serve it and God at the same time. And that you should pay your taxes.

    • about *not being loose with money. Sigh…

    • the only verse I can think of with a diversified portfolio:

      Ecc 11:2
      Invest in seven ventures, yes, in eight;
      you do not know what disaster may come upon the land.

    • Romans 13 comes to mind when it talks about paying taxes, then there is Jesus’s comment about rendering to Ceaser what is Ceasers. etc… I am so used to hearing the Bible being sold as a tool of the prosperity gospel. This has taken me back as I never heard the Bible in talking about debt. Off the top of my head I don’t know if there are any verses dealing with getting out of debt, etc..

      • WenatcheeTheHatchet says

        Proverbs 6 talks about the foolishness of agreeing to be a guarantor on your neighbor’s debt. I had at least one case where a Christian asked me to cover some debt for them so they could get something they really wanted and I told them that given Proverbs 6 and my own financial situation at the time I had to trust there was some better, smarter, more “biblical” way for them to get what they wanted than asking me to cover their debt. It turned out to be for something they purchased they traded out for something else a mere few years later. It made me glad I followed advice in Proverbs.

        Then there are the passages about how it’s wrong to lend money at interest, though lots of evangelicals find all kinds of ways to ignore those and say those weren’t categorical bans on interest. True, Jews had no problem lending money at interest to Gentiles when anti-Semitism inspired many medieval Christians to bar Jews from trade guilds. And then, of course, eventually those same sorts of Christians decided Jews were evil, greedy, money-hoarding bankers. Go figure.

    • Some believe that Solomon’s admonition to “cast your bread on many waters” meant to avoid shipping all of your wheat in one ship, using multiple vessels to prevent losing the entire crop if one ship goes goes down. The implication of spreading the risk is clear.

      • Recently, I read (in Biblical Archaeology Review) that these verses make the most sense when you learn that in ancient times people made beer by allowing water with some bread thrown in to ferment for a few days. One then reads “for thou shalt find it after many days” as simply meaning that the bread didn’t go to waste: you’ve got beer! Moreover, one then reads “give a portion to seven and also to eight” as basically being about sharing some of said brew with one’s friends. Seems reasonable to me, anyway.

        But the interpretation you mention is an interesting one as well, certainly.

  2. I could make a long post here, but I will endeavor to be brief.

    Perhaps Jesus spoke of money because people must deal with work, commerce, taxes, masters, laborers, etc., and these topics were used as parables to describe greater things about the Kingdom. Or perhaps Jesus talked a lot about money because people love money too much.

    Proverbs is probably the most advice driven book on practical matters in the Bible, including things pertaining to money. I think all Christians agree that the “principles” set forth in that book are beneficial. But I do not think that being successful is the main goal of the book (the poor are extolled in some occassions). The virtues of wisdom over foolishness are set out, and Jesus, the ultimate Wise One, emulates these examples.

    The Bible exhorts, encourages, even commands us not to be greedy, to work for our sustenance, and to be content with what we have. These admonitions would keep many people out of trouble. But the idea that the Bible is a financial book designed to make the obedient successful and even wealthy is rubbish. The Bible is about Jesus and God’s kind work toward mankind through Him. To change that emphasis is nothing short of blasphemy.

    • I’m glad I read this before I attempted to make my own comment. You articulated what I wanted to say much better than I would have. One thing I enjoy about imonk is the quality of the regular commenters. More often than not an idea that I want to express has already been posted more articulately by another.

  3. I think the ‘organization of the church’ (ie, not the same as the Body of Christ) would have a lot more credibility in encouraging their membership towards stewardship and keeping virtuous priorities firmly in place if they didn’t all start with ‘make sure you give your tithe’ and then define the tithe as ‘money that goes to the church’ as opposed to ‘a hurting neighbor’. It’s hard to trust a speaker who seemingly says ‘make sure you pay me first’ under the guise of honoring God.

    And I’m not saying tithing is not important, but 1) I am not sure it is what most Protestant preachers proclaim it to be and 2) it definitely shouldn’t be so that the organization is comfortable while the members go without.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      …if they didn’t all start with ‘make sure you give your tithe’ and then define the tithe as ‘money that goes to the church’ as opposed to ‘a hurting neighbor’. It’s hard to trust a speaker who seemingly says ‘make sure you pay me first’ under the guise of honoring God.

      At which point, you don’t have a church, you have a con game/swindle. Especially when you link curses (failure, cancer, etc) to failure to pay the “tithe (TM)”. At that point you have a magical extortion racket, plus a clear Second Commandment violation (i.e. claiming God as your Enforcer).

      And the image of the jet-setting televangelist’s bills (and spending sprees) being paid by the tithes of widows struggling on Social Security happens enough IRL.

      • ” Especially when you link curses (failure, cancer, etc) to failure to pay the “tithe (TM)”.

        ..and that is the summary of creflo dollars preaching.

      • Well titihing HUG from my understanding is not Biblical. Why do fundagelicals push this if they are living under the NT law of grace? Many fundys pick and choose and mesh eveyrtihng from the OT and NT together. That kind of approach to an “all you can eat” buffett gives people indigestion.

        • Uhh..

          Actually, if you listen. your Fundamentalists (or so-called Evangelicals), they really don’t live under the “law of grace”…

          And it isn’t so much that they “pick and choose”, but that they essentially see Jesus as a “nice Saviour”, but beyond that Jesus is essentially an idiot and a fool who is NOT to be taken seriously.

        • WenatcheeTheHatchet says

          Eagle, I had advice from an old school Calvinist (as in he even knew what the Orthodox Presbyterian Church was). His advice was that most churches waste money on frivolous projects or not helping the poor like they’re supposed to and that in many cases it’s better to take that tithe money and give to the poor yourself, or to the Salvation Army or Union Gospel Mission. Better that your “tithe” goes to really helping people than merely to pay the salary of a pastor who just expects you to tithe, and certainly better that than to give to some building fund for a building that may have been a poor property investment to begin with.

  4. Headless Unicorn Guy says

    I consider money management to be more a factor of Wisdom than strictly “Biblical”. More a matter of counseling than sermons.

    But to a lot of Christians (and a lot of preachers), you have to give it “Biblical Authority” (if not chapter-and-verse zip codes) before they’ll even listen. Like Wisdom is worthless unless you can link it to chapter-and-verse Cosmic-level Authority and preach it in a sermon.

    • brilliantvapor says

      HUG, I think you’ve articulated well an important result of an over-emphasis on sola scriptura. If scripture is absolutely the only thing in life with real authority, than we have to wrench any wisdom from its pages alone, or at least figure out some way to find it in there after we’ve already decided that we like it.

    • Well put. There was a point – probably some time in the 19th century – when sola scriptura went from meaning ‘contains everything necessary for salvation’ to meaning ‘contains the perfect answer to everything ever’.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        At which point, it became the Koran as filtered through the Wahabi and Talibani.

        Or “Ees Party Line, Comrade.”

  5. Seems like the Bible has a whole lot to say about doing things in moderation, and a lack of moderation in financial areas leads to so many of the problems that people face.

  6. Money is a very dangerous thing. As soon as you have a lot of it you are in danger of thinking you are independent and can get anything you need on your own.

    Of course there is a difference between people handling money in a bad way (spending it on vanities and wasting opportunities to support others) and people being in serious trouble caused by external(?) influences.

    The solution/protection to the danger is keeping in mind Who gave you the money and sticking all the ‘regular’ rules such as loving your neighbor.

    As a side note: to me it is quite funny (or even sad) when people who you’d expect to base their actions and outings on the Bible start using the prefix ‘Biblical’. Why is that? Is the rest they do and say not ‘Biblical’? Does the Bible make any distinction between ‘Biblical’ and not-Biblical-but-still-good? Is it even ‘Biblical’ to use the term ‘Biblical’?

    • Anyone…from myself to Chaplin Mike is juts a paycheck away from being homeless. Last weekend I was talking with a guy who went thorugh a divorce, and then he was laid off from his company. His severence is ending December 1. My heart broke for this guy, as he is raising a 14 year old kid as well.

      • I do hope that I made clear that I am not accusing you or Chaplin Mike (or anybody else) of not handling money well… I was referring (perhaps a bit clumsily) to the power money has (or is given).

  7. The answers to “bullets” 1, 2 and 4 are : yes, yes, and yes. As for 3, “What is being taught when a church says they are instructing ‘its members to manage money from a biblical perspective'”? It does NOT mean what Dave Ramsey teaches about any surplus being used “for whatever you want to do with it.” It means God owns it all; we are but stewards; we use any surplus to love our neighbor. I get the feeling we don’t like being told that the Bible does have a lot to say about money and its use.

    • Marvin, is there a difference between your “the Bible does have a lot to say about money and its use,” and the kind of claims Christian teachers are inferring when they talk about “Biblical principles of managing money”?

      • That would depend on which teachers you are talking about. I have Larry Burkett and Ron Blue in mind, both of whom provide scriptural references for the principles of managing money that they teach.

    • That is a misrepresentation of Dave Ramsey – he would never say “do what ever you want with your surplus” – whether you like him or not – like his concepts or not – at least represent him properly. His first point is to give to God at all times. When you have paid off your debt his final admonition is to “give like no one else.” He advocates that those who are out of debt and using their money wisely can benefit themselves – yes – but even more so you can give to those who need it amazing ways (church, poor, those in need around you).

      • I’m not mis-representing Mr. Ramsey. I think his words, from one of his promos that was shown in our church, were: “What will you do with your surplus? Whatever you want to.” It really surprised me to hear him say it.

  8. “When Christian leaders step forward and proclaim the old cliché, “Jesus talked about money more than any other topic,”

    This is a cliché? What Christian leaders? I have to say, I have never heard a sermon, talk, mission or pastoral letter that said anything like this – and the only time money is mentioned, it’s in the context of the camel and the eye of a needle or the driving-out of the moneychangers or the widow’s mite, and not in a way that goes “Jesus wants you to have a full piggybank” way.

    Is this another Protestant thing?

    I saw a passing mention of Calvin and his opinion on usury in opposition to the teaching of the mediaeval Church somewhere, and looking it up, I see (by Wikipedia, however accurate that may be) that:

    “One school of thought attributes Calvinism with setting the stage for the later development of capitalism in northern Europe. In this view, elements of Calvinism represented a revolt against the medieval condemnation of usury and, implicitly, of profit in general. Such a connection was advanced in influential works by R. H. Tawney (1880–1962) and by Max Weber (1864–1920).

    Calvin expressed himself on usury in a 1545 letter to a friend, Claude de Sachin, in which he criticized the use of certain passages of scripture invoked by people opposed to the charging of interest. He reinterpreted some of these passages, and suggested that others of them had been rendered irrelevant by changed conditions. He also dismissed the argument (based upon the writings of Aristotle) that it is wrong to charge interest for money because money itself is barren. He said that the walls and the roof of a house are barren, too, but it is permissible to charge someone for allowing him to use them. In the same way, money can be made fruitful.

    He qualified his view, however, by saying that money should be lent to people in dire need without hope of interest, while a modest interest rate of 5% should be permitted in relation to other borrowers.”

    So is this what set the scene for “Wealth is a sign of God’s favour”?

    • “Is this another Protestant thing?”

      The answer is yes, for some protestants. The ones with their own cable TV shows.

      You don’t have cable over there? I mean, this is what it’s used for, over here.

      • And the bad haircuts!!! 😉

      • We do have cable TV, we don’t (so far) have televangelists, but we do have the Shopping Channels and “dial now for this 50-CD set of Greatest Country Hits for only 9.99!” when all the regular programming has ended.

        Oh, and we get EWTN on our cable provider – does that count? 😉

        • I had to google EWTN. No. That would not count.

          But the 50-CD set for 9.99 could be something like it. You’d have to up the ante quite a lot (into the hundreds or thousands), call it a donation (or “seed money”) and add a touch of guilt. Or hint at a cosmic reward from the big daddy in the sky, but by all means never call him that.

    • I have heard this said, and read it written, word-for-word, by many fundamentalist advice writers of books about finances. This is a particular sort of Protestant.

      In my experience, this quote frequently shows up when an American Protestant is introducing a talk on ‘Biblical Money Management,’ and plans to advance two beliefs during his talk:

      1. The Bible is a kind of comprehensive life manual that tells you how to live a godly life and succeed. Correct interpretation –> application –> success.

      2. The Bible’s messages about money management will run counter to a culture in which debt is the norm and dependence on the government is the norm. Usually, the author has a particular view of economic wellbeing that assumes that individual autonomy (that is not being in debt/enslaved to anyone else) is paramount; that one ought to be judiciously organizing one’s life and occupation so as to be a self-reliant individual; that a decline in social values are directly related to extravagance (for example, women working in order to raise the family income); that a self-reliant individual may not be exceedingly wealthy, but will in generally prosper compared to others of his station and avoid dependence through ingenuity and thrift. And for those who have money to invest… God has sound principles for acting prudently and investing, and these strategies will generally work, so long as liberals don’t tax it all away and communists don’t steal it.

    • It is also a very American thing, including money management classes at Catholic parishes!

      • Well, money management classes are one thing (over here we have an agency, MABS – Money Advice and Budgeting Service: “MABS is a national, free, confidential and independent service for people in debt or in danger of getting into debt”) and I don’t see any objection to churches running or hosting such services, but a flat-out statement that “Jesus talked about money more than any other topic”? That made my blood run cold.

        More than the Kingdom? More than the will of God? More than “Follow Me”? More than “Abraham longed to see My day”? Really? Money more than grace, love, repentance, Law, righteousness, salvation?

    • I’m as baffled as you. The only time I ever recall any vicar giving a sermon relating to money it focussed on camels, eyes of needles and the difficulty of combining the two in certain ways. Although I did once witness a mild-mannered, softly-spoken academic chaplain reduced to spitting ‘f***ing, b***** heresy!’ on hearing an account of a Prosperity Gospel sermon.

  9. Chaplain Mike,

    This is a complex issue, and one which I think has much to do with one’s lot in life and economic situation of the culture one lives in. Yes, there are many “principles” about money in the bible, but fewer absolutes. But there’s no guarantee that following the “bible’s advice” will result in wealth. You might do everything “right” but lose it all by thievery, corrupt politicians, or tragedy, etc. There will be the poor who no matter how faithful they are with their money will still be poor.

    In the wake of the economic collapse I watched a video series on “biblical” financial principles, and it was clear from the copyright date that it was made during the economic boom when the stock market and real estate were skyrocketing. Testimonials of how people made their money were out of date as many of those same ideas resulted in ruin for others just a few years later. Caveat emptor.

  10. Richard Hershberger says

    I used to think of Rick Warren as a well-meaning lightweight. Then he chose to bear false witness against the poor: http://www.drumsnwhistles.com/2011/07/26/rick-warren-what-were-you-thinking/. The idea of listening to anything he has to say on the subject is patently absurd.

  11. I always think about the woman who gave all that she had of it, and Jesus’ reaction.

  12. Jesus didn’t talk about money; he talked about the Father and himself. Money may have been part of the conversation, but it wasn’t the main subject or focus. This is more than splitting hairs or a matter of perspective. It is at the heart of why the vertical ad horizontal aspects of faith no on longer intersect.

    If one seeks the ultimate concern or meaning in life through pleasures, material wealth, economic stature, or monetary security, then one is going to have a never-ending problem with debt and financial problems and anxieties.

    If one seeks (and finds) the ultimate concern and meaning in life in Christ as the way to the Father, then our energies can be devoted to service and love for God and neighbor rather than the accumulation and defense of wealth and the maintenance of debt accumulated in the pursuit of meaning through consumption. Idolatry is the exaltation of any thing (be it wealth, power, nation, ego, etc) to the ultimate concern.

    If one takes any words of Jesus mentioning money out of the context of his diety and mission, they become absurd, dead pragmatism.

    Jesus never said come to Him to learn how to be rich; He did say on many occasions to leave ones wealth and follow Him. The reason is not that wealth is evil; the reason is that there is no lasting hope in wealth. Give up hope in earthly wealth and follow Jesus.

    But there is no guarantee that following Jesus will prevent financial problems. There are plenty of ministers out there servicing burdensome seminary debts with very tiny church salaries.

  13. Dan Crawford says

    A local church has offered the Dave Ramsey “Financial Peace University” program which for a fee of $93 a participant offers advice about credit cards, savings, purchasing big items, paying off mortgages, buying insurance etc. Dave likes to mention his church a lot during his teaching which is always introduced by at least one reference to Ramsey’s being a NYT best-selling author and the host of a “nationally syndicated” radio program. His books and workbooks are sprinkled with quotes from scripture, forms, exhortations, and pithy sayings like “Think like vultures”, and “Only people who like dog food don’t save for retirement”. Dave likes wealth and thinks good Christians ought to like wealth. He hates the welfare state, and ardently embraces the notion that the individual in society has absolute primacy over the community. He makes loads of money as a “consultant” and as the owner of the formidable assets of his Financial Peace University, and oh by the way, all the FPU forms, wallets, books, etc. that Dave offers for sale.

    So much of what he teaches is worthwhile and useful, but as one who has taken the course, I find myself troubled by the lack of any awareness of or sympathy for people who are in desperate circumstances because of poor job skills, conditions (such as chronic illness) beyond their control, the inherent bias and weight of politics against anyone not an entrepreneur or millionaire in our society. Though he does on occasion say bad things about corporate America, he fully supports the social darwinist agenda of the “Christian” Republican Party which weeps crocodile tears over the pathetic amount of taxes paid by the richest and blames all our economic woes on the people living on Social Security and depending on Medicare. As for the unemployed, let them take a shower and work at McDonald’s. Ramsey does well by selling this philosophy clothed in the appropriate verses from the Bible.

    As for the information and approaches to managing money he peddles for a $93.00 course, most of the that can be gotten for considerably less than what he charges. Dave makes it clear that rather than offering his insights and sage advice freely to those who cannot afford to take his course, he is perfectly prepared to accept your donations to offer his program to people like our military. He wants us to live like no one else so we can live like no one else. What is sad about all of this is the message of both Testaments in the Bible that God desires his people to be generous and gracious to the poor, the alien, the prisoner, and all of those folks who don’t shine as examples of the “God wants you rich” philosophy is so easily ignored.

    • “Only people who like dog food don’t save for retirement”.

      Has Dave seen the new ranges of dog food recently? True story: I accidentally bought a tin of dog food because the way it was packaged and described – “Country Casserole in Gravy” – made me think it was a tin of beef stew instead (no, I didn’t eat it! I palmed it off on a friend of my brother).

      Amend that to “Only people who like dog food and stupid people who don’t realise it’s dog food”, Dave 🙂

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      Dave likes wealth and thinks good Christians ought to like wealth. He hates the welfare state, and ardently embraces the notion that the individual in society has absolute primacy over the community.

      So did Ayn Rand.

      He makes loads of money as a “consultant” and as the owner of the formidable assets of his Financial Peace University, and oh by the way, all the FPU forms, wallets, books, etc. that Dave offers for sale.

      Above and beyond the $93 a pop for his Special Course so you don’t have to like dog food in retirement. Well, now we know how Dave Ramsey of FPU is financing HIS retirement.

      Reminds me of Jerry Jenkins and his Christian Bestseller Writers’ Courses at $1200 a pop.

  14. The Bible’s wisdom literature talks a fair bit about the use of money, as it does about other practical issues. Not bad advice there. But I think we have to interpret it all through the lens of Jesus. And something you notice when you get to Jesus is that he is much more concerned with people’s hearts than about the particulars of money management per se. Jesus was looking for transformed people, not just people who follow a biblical formula. That’s why I get concerned when the “biblical” method for something starts sounding like formulaic self-help books rather than like the teaching of Jesus that gets to the heart of who we are to be. Seems like putting the cart before the horse.

  15. The LOVE of money is the root of all evil. It’s hard for a rich man to get into heaven, because one doesn’t think one needs God. I always liked that country song that says of preachers, “they say to give your money to the Lord, but they give you their address.” But it takes money to do the Lord’s work.

  16. The biblical perspective about money is that it all belongs to God.

    The Old Testament’s commands about finances reflect this. Every seven years, debts are eliminated. Every fifty, property rights are eliminated; it goes back to the original families. Because the land belongs to God, you don’t get to keep all your crops; the edges and gleanings go to the poor, and every third year your tithe goes to the storehouse (not with you to eat in God’s presence) to feed the local priests and the local poor.

    The New Testament as well. I’m reminded of Jesus’s parable of the man who has a bumper crop and uses it to retire; God replies to the guy, “You fool, you’re gonna die tonight.” Or of the rich ruler whom Jesus ordered to sell everything and give to the poor. Or the parable of the just-fired steward who halves his boss’s bills in order to ingratiate himself with his boss’s customers, and the boss commends this. None of these parables make sense if our money is our own; if it’s not all God’s, to use as He will.

    America’s economy does not look like ancient Israel’s. We can charge our brother interest. No kinsman will redeem our property if it’s foreclosed. No debts will be cancelled until death, if even then. But neither will we be sold into slavery, or handed over to the tormentors, if we can’t pay our thousand-talent bills. Applying advice for that economy to ours will sometimes fit, and sometimes not. Not every “biblical financial adviser” bothers to look at the context of their “biblical principles”; they just assume that if God said it somewhere, it always works. Or they’re really just digging up proof-texts to back up the financial advice that they’d already offer, advice based more on their economic worldview than on the scriptures.

    There is plenty of Proverbial advice on how to be shrewd and not spendthrifts, to not take heedless risks and to be productive. In general it’s good. But in specific, God might be calling me to give every cent I have to a ministry; God might be telling you to save every cent so you can provide for your family during seven years of economic famine; God might be telling another person to dispossess himself because he’s put too much trust in material goods; God might be telling yet another person that her season of want is over, and that He wants to bless her with riches. There is no one-size-fits-all situation in the bible. Nor in the Kingdom.

    It all depends on God’s purposes, and our willingness to see them fulfilled through us. If we don’t care about that–if we’re just hoping to be comfortable, and assume the American Dream matches God’s–how hard it will be for us to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. But with God all things are possible.

  17. I hate it when people say this:

    “Jesus talked about money more than any other topic.”

    No he didn’t. He talked about the Kingdom of Heaven more than any other topic. And when he talked about money, it was usually to illustrate some other idea in the form of a parable (the servants and their talents, the man who doesn’t forgive his subordinate’s debt, etc.)

    I agree that we should apply Biblical principles to money, but I’m tired of that hackneyed, incorrect assumption. It’s right up their with everyone’s favorite Bible verse: “God helps those who help themselves!”

    • amen. Jesus spoke of very contrary, topsy-turvy Kingdom principles. period. no financial advice. no financial guarantees. no passing Himself off as the heavenly ATM machine come to earth to save us from financial ruin…

      {sigh}

      biblical principles as ‘coined’ by those making a buck peddling such advice, is not the same as Kingdom principles. anything removed from the Kingdom context & used either for or against some perceived threat is an abomination IMHO. prosperity, spiritual warfare, prophetic-rhetoric, new apostolic titles, just some of the ways so-called biblical principles wrenched out of context & used by their proponents to puff themselves up, promote their brand of snake oil & get their 15 seconds of noteriety/fame & book+seminar endorsements…

      the money changers peddling things in the name of God is as old as, well, Jesus’ day…

      Lord, have mercy… 🙁

    • “I don’t want the Father I want a vending machine…” – Derek Webb

  18. Pastor’s claiming Biblical authority have done more damage than I care to think about. Including driving my dear husband away from the church. Right up to the recent news of a pastor with “Biblical authority” teaching the parents in his congregation how to discipline their children. Resulting in the death of some of those very children. What happens to people’s brains when they get under that kind of teaching??? So when I hear the words “Biblical authority” I think, examine the source.

    I personally believe that churches mean well by trying to teach their people financial responsibility but I wonder if it really isn’t the last gasp of the false gospel of American Christianity’s Worship of Prosperity? How will we do in the hard times that are upon us and may get worse??

    Will we be Biblical enough to say with Habakkuk:

    “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior”.

    • Amen to Habakkuk.

    • +1

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      What happens to people’s brains when they get under that kind of teaching???

      Because that kind of teaching ups the ante to literally Cosmic Importance. Including Cosmic Retribution if they dare to disobey.

      How will we do in the hard times that are upon us and may get worse??

      Quote End-Time Prophecy, of course. The only “Plan B” a lot of Christians have when things DO go sour is their End Time Prophecy charts and Rapture Boarding Pass. Nothing like watching your investments crash taking your life savings with them, calling up your financial planner, and having him start quoting Hal Lindsay & Left Behind — “You know we are living in The End Times…” (actually happened to me a couple years ago)

      • WenatcheeTheHatchet says

        When people tell me “We’re living in the end times” or ask “Could Islam be the one-world religion” I tell them, “I’m an amillenial partial preterist.” It happens to be true but it’s also fun to watch them squirm and admit they have no idea what that means.

  19. How’s Matt 6:24 for Biblical Financial Principles– If you love money, you despise God.

  20. Charles Fines says

    The Old Testament practices that KW Leslie touches on above, the sabbaths for the land and the Jubilee to set the clock back to zero, strike me as probably the most practical and effective economy over the long run, but this apparently wasn’t even practiced by the children of Israel. If they suffered capture and exile as a result, what do we have in store to set things right?

    In any discussion of “biblical principles”, I always try to look at Jesus to put things into perspective. God could have programmed the Messiah to show up rich and famous like some of the previous heroes, Abraham, Job, Joseph, David, Solomon, Daniel. Instead he chose to show up as an obscure working man, living as an adult with his parents, scuffling to pay the rent, put food on the table, pay taxes, ending up homeless and unemployed and living day to day on the largess of others.

    Can you imagine Jesus camping out in a tent in front of a big box store so as to be first in line to buy a humungous television set at hundreds of dollars off the usual price? This consumer economy is the final brain child of the World System, the same System that was in place when Jesus walked the earth and when the first city was built. It’s going to take a world wide catastrophe to topple it. Hang on.