Monday, December 28, 2009

The Bible and the Economic Downturn

On December 23, 2009, an AP story by Jay Lindsay ran entitled, “Many mine Bible for money wisdom during downturn.” The article gave as an example a Mr. Bob Vigliotti. It seems that in 2007, the economic downturn killed a major project of Mr. Vigliotti. For the next two years, quote, “Vigliotti, 58, battled depression as he bled $1 million cash.”

But Vigliotti said just when he thought that there were no answers, he found answers in the Bible: “debt reduction, simpler living and, most of all, faith that God would provide what he needed.” Now, Vigliotti won't buy on credit, he is selling his expensive vehicles and is looking for a condo in order to downsize. "

Bob Vigliotti was quoted in the article as saying, “The angst, anxiety and the depression is gone, and that's huge." The Bible's words are alive today and not just history book words."

Many people are looking at the teaching on finances and attempting to see how they transcend individual faith and the differences in the time they were written and the economic times of today.

Matt Bell, Christian author of "Money Strategies for Tough Times was quoted as saying, “ The Bible's core financial principles aren't pliable, as the varied interpretations might suggest. During an economic downturn, people can be pulled every which way by someone holding up a Bible and handing down their version of financial wisdom, he said.

"Any time someone is in a point of pain, they're especially vulnerable," Bell said. "That's where they especially need wise counsel."

Plenty are willing to give it. The AP article stated that financial guru Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University course has enrolled more than 750,000 families. Crown Financial Ministries, based in Gainesville, Ga., says it will give 300 seminars and "coach" 10,000 people this year.

Even though the bible talks extensively of stewardship, money, responsibility care must still be taken. Any teaching, any doctrine, and any verse can be yanked right out of context and given an ego-centric interpretation.

The Word Faith movement, the prosperity movement, and those connected with TBN have all developed their pet doctrines and mantra to bilk the untaught greedy out of their money. The poor and biblically ignorant are the ones that get hurt the most.

The bible is a great book with tremendous principles that transcend both time and the human experience. Each verse regardless of whether it is dealing with forgiveness, parenting, redemption, faith, or money must be carefully examined in its historical, grammatical, and literal context.

James Hudnut-Beumler, who is the Dean of the Divinity School at Vanderbilt University and author of In Pursuit of the Almighty's Dollar, said “the Bible is ultimately a profound account of God's relationship and enduring love for humanity. There's a danger its greatness can be diminished if it comes to be viewed as a sort of financial fix-it book for helping people manage personal finances. Suddenly, you're crediting the Bible for something quite less than what it might have done for you."

Be careful how you read the bible. Be careful how others interpret the bible. It is good that there is a resurgence of interest in what the bible has to say about money, but remember two things:

• Do not use the bible as a means to get rich quick

• The bible was not written to, white, Anglo-Saxon, 20th century westerners but to oriental, 1st century easterners.

This realization can be used to keep sound exegetical principles involved when dealing with such a sensitive topic as money. There is no doubt that in these times we all need to make sound economical decisions. There is no doubt that the bible has much to say about money and finances. Let’s just make sure that we understand what the bible writer was saying in a passage about money or finances and that we know what the bible readers would have understood.

1 comment:

Spherical said...

Excellent post. I Cannot imagine what we would be going through right now if we were saddled with some of the huge debt our friends are.

It is a shame that it often takes a crisis to wake us up to the truths of God. But the bigger shame is that some still lie sleeping.