David Neff talked to the following individuals to get their critical reactions to the book, Money and Power. A summary of those remarks, categorized by subject headings, is presented here.
On Economic Systems: Any ideology that posits, as conservative economics does, that the ultimate good is materialism, is in league with idolatry. Ellul is right: if we fall captive to a system’s analysis of problems, we bypass the moral and ethical questions.
On the other hand, it is not necessarily true that systems betray us into a flight from individual responsibility. There is plenty of room for prophetic activity and action. One of Ellul’s central arguments is, “Don’t be naïve about money and its power. And don’t be naïve about systems either. Arm yourself with the ethics of the kingdom. And then judge those systems and your own actions in the light of that kingdom.”
On the Poor: It is important that we not romanticize the poor. If we do, we contribute to their dehumanization. They are sinners like everybody else. Often the only thing separating them from the wealthy is opportunity or inheritance. The myth about the rich is that they earn it. The truth is that most inherit it. The falsehood with regard to the poor is that they are inherently lazy and like it that way. Ellul is helpful in breaking through both myths and helping us understand what the Bible says about being truly rich.
On Materialism: It is ironic that, at last, we have a consensus in this country that says the Marxists have been right all along—the good life can be understood in material terms. And a significant number of Christians agree with that consensus.
On Culture: I agree with Ellul: our cultural systems contain ...1
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