Once again, we welcome this season of fresh starts, new resolve, and radical re-commitments.
As part of my own renewed dedication to write with increasing frequency and share what I’ve learned over the last couple years working with the topics of faith and finances, I commit to blogging more regularly. For starters, I plan to devote the next several months to introducing and reviewing a variety of literature that speaks to a number of money and ministry related topics. Please join me in this relevant discussion and exploration of these timely issues for the church and her leaders.
Our sacred texts will not let us off the hook when it comes to matters of finance and economics; both the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament point us to a Creator God who is profoundly concerned with our proper use of and relation to money and possessions. So, as faith leaders and faith-based organizations, we are called to take the biblical material seriously. When we do, we surely discover a wealth of rich teaching about both individual and corporate financial responsibility.
We begin this year’s exploration of these topics with biblical scholarship from Walter Brueggemann’s Money and Possessions for the Interpretation Series. This excellent volume offers a comprehensive overview of financial and economic topics as treated throughout both HB and NT. It is organized by biblical divisions, but thematic and topical study are also possible for the leader who desires to gain a broad understanding of overarching themes and where in the text to search for particular topics.
Brueggemann settles on the following six claims about money and possessions that run through both Hebrew Bible and New Testament.
1) They are gifts from God. The scripture insists on this most elemental claim. The only fitting response is gratitude.
2) They are rewards for obedience. This is a guiding thesis, especially in the Hebrew Bible, but it is not by any means an exact calculus. Remember Job?
3) They belong to God and are only held in trust by humans in community. We are not owners but stewards of our resources.
4) They can be sources of social injustice. Hence, Deuteronomy insists on the good of the community, and the prophets cry out for justice.
5) They are to be shared in a neighborly way. This is a core mandate in both testaments; themes from Isaiah are echoed in Matthew 25:34-40. Also, remember the early church in Acts.
6) They are seductions that may lead to idolatry. We read the commandment against having other gods and making idols in the Decalogue, witness Israel worship the golden calf, and hear Paul declare in 1 Timothy 6:10, “For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.”
For Christians and church leaders desiring to gain a better understanding of the Bible’s treatment of finances and economics and to shape a personal money theology, I highly recommend this excellent resource. Pick up a copy and dig in. I think you’ll find it invaluable for teaching, preaching, and leading.
 Walter Brueggemann, Money and Possessions, (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2016), 1-9.