How do Americans, the richest nation in the world deal with the economic plight througout the rest of the world and in our own population? I’ve been thinking about this a while. One thing my wife and I decided was to pick a ‘lifestyle’ and not live beyond it, even if our income goes up. The hope is to be able to give more away. Anyway, I saw this book and it looked like a great read on the subject. (I’m actually preaching this Sunday and will touch on these types of issues.) Has anyone read: Neither Poverty Nor Riches: A Biblical Theology of Possessions. If so, let me know how it was. I plan to pick up a copy.
Check out this good summary of Neither Poverty Nor Riches.
Teaching and preaching about wealth and possessions is a hazardous activity. It is easy to fall into either of the twin traps of legalism and judgmentalism on the one side, or soft-pedalling the hard words of Scripture on the other. Blomberg carefully walks a wise and faithful middle path. He frequently reminds us that material possessions are a good gift from God, given to us to enjoy. The wealthy believers in the Bible are never condemned for being wealthy; however, their lives of generosity towards the poor are always noted. At the same time, Blomberg does not pull back from reminding us that the stewardship of our material possessions is often the most important test-case of our profession of discipleship (pp.126-127). In Paul’s list of those who will not inherit the kingdom of God, after the sexually immoral are the greedy. Our sensitivity as Christians to sexual sin in our midst is often acute; sadly, we can be largely indifferent to the thoughtless and selfish amassing of a surplus of material goods….
This book presents a powerful and much needed challenge. It is a fine example of a biblical-theological approach to a topic. Many in our churches will be unsettled by the implications of the gospel for our stewardship, and it is for this very reason that Neither Poverty Nor Riches is a must read.
Also, a reviewer at Amazon.com:
The Biblical Theology aspect of the book examines the positives and negatives of wealth in the Scriptures: how it has been used for good by those whom God has blessed with abundance and how it has been a source of contention, covetousness, and even idolatry. Even a casual reading of the historical books and the Prophets will reveal that when the kings (and in turn the people) turned away from the LORD, it led to worshiping false gods, which resulted in great injustices done to the poor, the widows, and the fatherless. A contrast is shown in those who barely had enough to survive, but were called upon to feed the LORD’s prophets and thus were blessed as a result (1 Kings 17:7-16; 2 Kings 4:1-7). The Torah called upon the covenant community to provide food for the poor in practical ways such as leaving gleanings in the field (Leviticus 23:22; Ruth 2:8-9).
Among the Christian community there were those who used their resources to house missionaries (Acts 9:43; 17:7; 3 John 5-8) and host “house” churches (Philemon 1:2). Jesus’ ministry was also supported by those with means (Luke 8:3; see also Luke 10:38). Conversely, the love of money is listed among the godlessness to characterize the last days (2 Timothy 3:2 – not limited to the present time), can prevent one from entering the Kingdom of God (Mark 10:23; Luke 18:24), divides loyalties (Matthew 6:24), and may even determine the fate of one’s eternal destiny (Luke 16:19-25; cf. Matthew 25:14-46).
The sources cited by Blomberg are not limited to evangelical authors (the same is true with his other books) and some of his conclusions may be a bit upsetting to those who are conservative in their politics and their theology. Of course, these same conclusions may be upsetting to those who are liberal in their politics and their theology as well! The balance, then, is Blomberg’s belief in the God of the Hebrew and Greek Testaments (seeing the documents as historically reliable), but not linking Christianity to a certain political or economic system as is the tendency in the West (and the East as well).
Wealth in and of itself is not evil. The ability to produce wealth comes from God (Deuteronomy 8:18) and this gift is to be used to bless others, with the ultimate goal of bringing glory to God.
Pick up a copy of Neither Poverty Nor Riches: A Biblical Theology of Possessions.