Money, Debt Recession and the Bible

Two days I ago I was invited to preach at the local Baptist church for this weeks service – which happens in abut 20 minutes. It’s not far to walk. My topic will deal with this economic recession and what Jesus taught about money – which was a heck of a lot. More than any other topic, I believe. The message will be about avoiding debt, greed (Prov 30), and hoarding (Mt. 6:19-34) and instead pursuing trust (Mk 12:38-41), generosity (2 Cor 9:6-12) and contentment (I Tim. 6:3-19)

I made this animated GIF a few years ago. Here it is again.


I was reading a little on the relationship between the Reformation and capitalism, but not enough to speak fluently and with accuracy. It was interesting to see the Reformer’s attitude towards “avarice” and debt and how churches would punish the money lenders for usury that went above acceptable levels – levels that we have seen recently. The church has not had much of a voice in the events leading to this recession [and many churches have bought into it] but maybe the church will speak wisdom into our currently circumstances and offer a way out that is not reliant on more debt, more buying, and more greed.


Andrew Jones launched his first internet space in 1997 and has been teaching on related issues for the past 20 years. He travels all the time but lives between Wellington, San Francisco and a hobbit home in Prague.


  • Paul Roberts says:

    My understanding (which may be flawed) is that the Reformation had an unfortunate effect of permitting usury, whereas in scholastic medieval theology it was either strongly limited or banned altogether – typically only allowing initial costs for a loan, rather than interest. My feeling is that the Bible is on the side of the scholastics rather than the Reformers.

  • Bob says:

    I’m a housing counselor in the US and have spent most of my time the last several years doing foreclosure prevention counseling. The church has been eerily silent on this issue (apart from Dave Ramsey, I suppose), and continues to be silent as the last administration and the current administration have both been arguing that the way out of the recession/depression is to get the credit markets loosened up again. This is one area, I’m afraid, where the church has totally bought into the culture. I see it weekly when couples are checking in their kids at the church nursery. They open their wallets to pull out their check-in card and its hidden among the mass of credit cards. If we don’t want a repeat of our current events, we have to handle money differently.

  • Jeremy says:

    This was Max Weber’s idea in his influential ‘The protestant ethic and the spirit of capitalism’. Under the old Catholic order, work was considered worldly and beneath us. The reformation earthed spirituality and brought purpose to our work, the idea of a calling. The theory is that this gave rise to a new approach to life that honoured hard work, saving, and sensible investment, and frowned upon lavish spending – just the kind of attitude required at the birth of capitalism.
    A generation of capitalism later, the lavish spending is of course actively promoted. A return to more biblical roots might be just the stabilising influence capitalism needs.

  • andrew says:

    thanks jeremy. Weber explored the church’s impact on society which was fantastic but the book on capitalism and the Reformation i have been reading looks at the society’s impact on the church in the same period. both sides are helpful.

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