Christians In An Age of Wealth is a survey of all the passages in the Bible that address (however tangentially) issues of wealth, poverty, economics, money, stewardship, and giving. Blomberg plods methodically through the Pentateuch, major and minor prophets, wisdom literature and Old Testament history, followed by the gospels and the epistles. In the process he strongly condemns the prosperity gospel and its proponents—those who argue that health and riches are the birthright of every Christian—but also has significant criticism for the modern evangelical church’s treatment of money issues ranging from building projects to social ministries (or lack thereof). One of the most interesting sections to me personally was Blomberg’s discussion of the tithe. He argues that Christians are not morally obligated to give a specific percentage of their income, but rather that our giving should be sacrificial, and that it should increase over time. In other words, a progressive scale of generosity makes more sense practically and Biblically. The millionaire who gives away a mere 10% of his income likely doesn’t feel it at all; in contrast, someone in poverty may be able to give only 5% but still be incredibly sacrificial. In other words, the 10% figure is a straightjacket that unnecessarily burdens some, insufficiently burdens others, and fails to apply the relevant texts correctly in the first place. It’s a provocative section of the book.
In the second half of the book, Blomberg takes the reader through a few case studies and tries to apply his theological study to real world scenarios. There’s no doubt that the author practices what he preaches: over his lifetime he and his wife have lived so as to be able to give extremely high percentages of their income away, both to their local church and to other ministries. Blomberg does well to point out the hypocrisy of many churches who attempt to discern the will of God for their financial plans, but then fail to take the steps that should have been obvious had their biblical principles been in order beforehand. Unfortunately, this leads to churches pulling a 180 in their plans, all the while claiming that the most current version is what God had planned all along. Blomberg does well in illuminating the ways a weak theology of stewardship can wreak havoc on a congregation.
I am not entirely sure who the audience is for this book. Blomberg relies on citations, and I felt the draw to go down the rabbit hole of other sources rather than continue reading his work. Overall, it’s a worthwhile resource to be able to consult on a variety of economic and stewardship issues in the church.
(A digital copy of this book was provided by the publisher through Netgalley for purposes of review.)