Bible Verses about Money
Christian money teaching often distorts Bible verses about money. What happens when people try to build a Christian money doctrine? They usually start by quoting Bible money verses, especially Jesus money verses, without putting them into a larger biblical context. This is the basic problem with many Bible study guides. They quote Bible verses out of context.
As a theological seminary student in my first preaching course, I learned an adage that has stayed with me ever since. "A text without a context is a pretext." Often, paying attention to the origin of a word gives insight into its meaning. In Latin, the word text refers to what is woven. A pretext is a fringe or covering, often obscuring what is behind it. A context refers to weaving together.
Every Bible verse has multiple contexts. A Bible verse is part of some sort of written document. The document was written in a particular language, at a particular time, in a particular place, in a particular social and economic environment, based on a particular theology. The Bible also developed over time, and so it has layers upon layers of text, language, and historical, social, political, and theological contexts. Every single one of these particular factors is a context. And so a Bible verse is not simply a discrete group of words, but words in a set of overlapping contexts.
Beliefs about Money
A Christian money doctrine that ignores the biblical context of bible verses about money will create a distorted understanding of money and the Bible. What if Jesus really didn’t say you couldn’t get into heaven if you’re rich? Would that make a difference in your life?
You don’t have to be Christian to be affected by Christian money beliefs. You might have learned that money is evil or a rich man cannot get into heaven or that money is a sign of God’s blessing. The truth is, there is no single set of Christian beliefs about any topic. This is especially true about Christian money beliefs. Money is one of the necessities of life. Money is power. Those who have it have social and political power. Those without money struggle endlessly.
The heart of the problem is that much Christian education reduces the topic of money to a few Bible verses, with no effort to put the words of the Bible into any larger social and historical context. Misleading interpretations of the Bible keep people broke and struggling for money.
My book, Gospel of Wealth or Poverty?: How Do Bible Verses about Jesus, Wealth, Poverty, and Heaven Affect Your Income?, puts Bible money verses into biblical context, to show that many Christian Bible money beliefs are unbiblical.
[Original Post August 4, 2007]