Guest / Limited Access /

Lisa Keister has scanned the Bible and found nearly 2,000 verses in the New Testament that touch on the topic of money. It's those very verses that may be keeping many conservative Protestants from building up long-term wealth, she says.

Jesus warned his followers not to "store up for yourselves treasures on Earth," and later cautioned that it will be "hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven." Perhaps the best known is the admonition that "the love of money is the root of all evil."

According to data analyzed by Keister, a Duke University sociologist, the median net worth for conservative Protestants in 2000 was $26,000, compared to the national median of $66,200.

Why the gap? Keister says it may all come down to theology.

"The one big difference is the conservative Protestants' assumption that God is the owner of money and people are managers of it," Keister said. "They are doing with their money what God wants them to do with it, so that does mean that it is not sitting in their bank accounts."

Keister says a typical "conservative Protestant" might be a member of the Assemblies of God, Churches of Christ, Nazarene and Pentecostal churches.

Keister's new article in the American Journal of Sociology, "Conservative Protestants and Wealth: How Religion Perpetuates Asset Poverty," argues that traditional views of money — it's God's, not ours — keep many Protestants from building a financial safety net.

While some struggle to build up their bank accounts, others, like Anne Thompson of Louisville, Ky., choose to give it all away in order to pursue what they see as God's plan for their lives.

Thompson, 43, gave up a six-figure salary in 2002 and quit her job to follow God's call to impact popular culture with a ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Read These NextSee Our Latest
RecommendedThe Softer Face of Calvinism
The Softer Face of Calvinism
Reformed theology is more irenic and diverse than you think, says theologian Oliver Crisp.
TrendingNew Poll Finds Evangelicals’ Favorite Heresies
New Poll Finds Evangelicals’ Favorite Heresies
Survey finds many American evangelicals hold unorthodox views on the Trinity, salvation, and other doctrines.
Editor's PickSaying Goodbye for Good
Saying Goodbye for Good
How to bid farewell as though our bodies mattered.
Comments
Christianity Today
Study: Conservative Theology Means Smaller Bank Accounts
hide thisAccess The Archives

In the Archives

April 2008

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.