Economics 101 & Public Square & Theology 101

Isn’t the Accumulation of Wealth Wrong?

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Before we dive deeper into discovering a Biblical view of economics, we want to answer some questions, hesitations, and obstacles Christians often have towards thinking about economics.

One question we hear a lot is “isn’t the accumulation of wealth wrong?”

In a word, no.

However, there are moral dimensions to wealth: the Bible speaks to the importance of how we accumulate wealth, and how we use such a blessing.

Dr. Jay Richards was asked this question by a phone-in caller a few weeks ago on Moody Radio. He answered that the accumulation of wealth was not wrong:

If you look at examples of people in the Bible who are being condemned, it’s always people who are hoarding their wealth. 

Jay also cleared up some misconceptions about how we typically view wealth:

If a person is wealthy, they’ve done something for that reason…They didn’t confiscate wealth that was already out there. They created wealth that wasn’t there before. It’s important to realize they haven’t taken someone else’s wealth. It’s wealth that they earned.

Now Jay acknowledged that there is a moral question of what one should do with their wealth. That would be to steward it wisely for the furtherance of God’s Kingdom and the common good, and to freely share it with those in need. However, Jay reminds us of two important points to keep in mind:

  • Sharing is not the same as having government coercively take someone’s wealth and distribute it.
  • Many wealthy people are not hoarding their wealth. They often use it to create new jobs and assets – in other words, they’re using their wealth to allow more wealth to be created for all of us.
  • Having wealth is not the same thing as being greedy. As Dr. Art Lindsley reminds us, “Greed is an equal opportunity employer.”

You can listen to more of Jay’s response during his full interview with Moody Radio. The particular question about the accumulation of wealth occurs at the 17:21 mark.

Dr. Glenn Sunshine from Central Connecticut State University writes:

Although Scripture has some very harsh things to say about the wealthy, this does not mean that all of them are evil or under divine judgment. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Job were rich and yet were also approved by God. Just as poverty doesn’t guarantee virtue, wealth does not guarantee vice.

Scripture also tells us that God gives us the power to make wealth, and that he delights in the prosperity of his servants (Ps. 35:27)—which includes material prosperity (Deut. 28:11-13). So it is clear that wealth is not necessarily evil…

God’s real concern, he writes, is not necessarily with wealth or poverty, it’s with righteousness and justice.

In the meantime, we’d love to hear your thoughts and questions. What do you think? Is the accumulation of wealth wrong? 

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