“All those who believe themselves certain of their own salvation by means of letters of indulgences [or simply giving to the institutional church, often for buildings], will be eternally damned, together with their teachers.” —Thesis Number 32 of Martin Luther’s 95
1) Third millennium Christian stewards are to be taught that God chose Abraham as Abraham preferred the spiritual love of neighbor before the love of material wealth (Genesis 13:8–15). Therefore, the saying, “Nothing personal, it’s just business,” has no place in the lexicon of the Christian steward. That is, the pursuit of Holiness is not advanced by dual moralities for earning and giving; a period of life for pursuing success and another for pursuing significance; and other compartmentalized stewardship theologies.
2) The same are to be taught the impoverishing spiritual disorders of fear, greed, impatience and guilt are too often baptized by Christian authors and speakers, including ministers, often for the enrichment of institutions and/or the enrichment of the baptizers.
3) Christian stewards are to be taught that in faithfulness to the Holy Scriptures rightly understood, Martin Luther preached that, “one who gives to the poor, or lends to the needy, does a better action” than those who legalistically give for the institutional purposes of the church, as “by works of love, love grows and a man becomes a better man” but by simply making donations for the operations of the institutional church, “he does not become a better man” (Theses Numbered 43 & 44).
4) Stewards are to be taught that when Moses, the Prophets and Christ spoke from the Mounts, they were speaking to the community of God, which was to serve communities beyond itself. Therefore, while the Holy Scriptures provide guidance and comfort to the individual, the individual should not return that most gracious favor by using the Scriptures in a selective fashion for solely his or her financial or political purposes.
5) In that light, stewards are to be taught that teachings of the Bible and Church concerning credit are for the general welfare of the community, broadly defined, and not to be used expediently for sole purpose of one’s own enrichment, such as the reduction of personal credit levels, as the poor of the Third World who are with us always often need loans to be productive. In general, as Christ taught on the Mount, the Bible demands that affordable, defined by the ability of the borrower to pay, credit be made for anyone in true need (Exodus 22:25 & Deuteronomy 15:1), defined with preference given to the needs of the borrower and not the wants of the lender. In addition, Scripture and Tradition clearly demand that loans that become truly burdensome, particularly through no negligence of the borrower, such as medical expenses, are to be as graciously forgiven as we ourselves hope our debts will be forgiven by God (Deuteronomy 15:7 & Luke 6:34).
6) Christian stewards are to be taught the Spirit of Moses in commanding the responsible management of wealth towards one’s neighbor, to the extent of capital punishment if regularly denied (Exodus 21:28); but also that Christ spiritualized that Law by essentially preaching to a world full of sinners totally dependent upon Grace the saying, “an eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.”
7) The same are to be taught a long-term commitment to short-term speculation is not the same as a long-term commitment to the virtue of patience in the prudent and sustainable development of wealth for neighbors as self. Therefore all uses of leverage, should be weighed by the motivation behind such, be it worthy and prudent productivity which enhances society in general, or imprudent greed, which only seeks to enrich the individual at the expense of a neighbor, economy and society.
8) All stewards, believers and non-believers, are to be taught to exercise wise discernment between those who would teach the holistic stewardship of the wealth of the Creator and those who would use biblical quotations to market products and services that largely enrich those quoting Scripture, at the expense of the faith of, and love between, all Christians and people of good will.
9) In the interests of unity of mind in the Church, stewards are to be taught that the use of qualified terms—such as “liberal Christian,” which indicates the influence of Greek classical thought, and “conservative Christian,” which indicates the influence of classical Roman thought—is most likely to cause confusion and division in the Church as to the Godly management of wealth.
9.5) In summary, the Book of Acts confirms the establishment of a Christian community, yet to be perfected, of a socialism motivated by love, not to be confused with Karl Marx’s socialism motivated by the coercion of the State, and integrated with a moral market motivated by an ethical self-interest, rightly understood, not to be confused with Ayn Rand’s capitalism motivated by the greed of the individual. This is so that, as taught by Thesis Number 95: “And let them thus be more confident of entering heaven through many tribulations rather than through a false assurance of peace.” Amen.
* Gary Moore is founder of The Financial Seminary. Mr. Moore is only one-tenth the theologian that Martin Luther was, yet he shares Dr. Luther’s love for the true Church and fears how selfish financial teachings only bring harm to that Church. The 9.5 Theses are modeled on the original 95, which can be found at spurgeon.org. Readers should also Google “Tetzel” for harm caused by the good intentions of ungodly fund-raisers. Also see other articles on The Financial Seminary.
The political, religious, and ethical opinions expressed by Gary Moore are not endorsed by National Planning Corporation (NPC).
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