We live in a money-crazy age. Activity on Wall Street is more frenzied than ever before, even as some of its kingpins face fraud charges. Books and magazines on money are selling extremely well. Hundreds of experts are ready to tell you—for a fee, of course—how to make money, how to keep it, and how to use it to make even more money.

What should Christians make of all this? We have seen how Christian leaders through the centuries have regarded money. Their lack of unanimity is echoed by voices of today. The various Christian theories about money raise a confusing cacophony, differing on basic biblical interpretation and fundamental views of human society.

Take the Bible passage where Jesus commands the rich young ruler to sell all he has and give to the poor before becoming a disciple. Was this a command for all Christians everywhere or just for him? Or does it apply only to those who let money become their god? But what does it mean for money to become your god? Does that happen to Christians today? If Jesus’ command does apply to today’s believers, is it something for the church to legislate or merely to urge or encourage? And what do we do about the guilt that results from such urging? And, speaking of results, what would happen if all Christians would sell all and give to the poor? What would that do to the structure of society? Would that serve to make society less Christian, because it would remove believers from the ranks of the rich and influential? Or would it be a powerful testimony of the devotion of Christ’s followers?

You get the idea. Add to this confusion the fact that the Bible itself seems to present varying perspectives on wealth. The Old Testament in particular shows it as a sign of God’s blessing. Jesus ...

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