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Dave Ramsey, Megan McArdle, and Jesus

'The Atlantic' blogger's new-found appreciation for the evangelical finance guru forgets his inspiration.

In my most recent Her.meneutics post—on the biblical dimensions of frugal living—I took issue with Atlantic "econoblogger" Megan McArdle's New York Times review of Lauren Weber's In CHEAP We Trust: The Story of a Misunderstood American Virtue. I didn't care for the fact that McArdle detached evangelical finance guru Dave Ramsey's advice from its biblical source when advocating his frugal living principles over Weber's more ascetic values. Now McArdle has written a profile of Ramsey in the December issue of The Atlantic. She once again makes it clear that she appreciates Ramsey's principles, but not so much his Jesus.

Sarah Pulliam Bailey noted at GetReligion that McArdle oddly compares Ramsey with a televangelist. A more substantive problem is that Ramsey's "give 10 percent, save 15, get out of debt" advice sounds like it was lifted from the late Larry Burkett, whose Crown Financial Ministries rates a passing mention.

For those of us who came of age on the late 20th-century evangelical block, Burkett was John the Baptist compared to McArdle's televangelist. His now-classic Your Finances in Changing Times was first published in 1975. And who can forget his 1991 tour de force, The Coming Economic Earthquake—a book whose veracity was diminished, in my mind, by Burkett's Y2K hysteria. Of this misstep, World magazine editor Joel Belz wrote last year: "It is appropriate—and maybe even necessary—to acknowledge that a prophet may have missed a relatively minor ...

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