What false lessons does our society teach about money, and how can the Bible—and church history—correct them?
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Though pioneering sociologist Max Weber (1864–1920) addressed many other topics in his career, one of his most famous points concerns the “Protestant ethic”: Protestant countries became the economic powerhouses of the modern world because Protestants, especially Puritans, believed it was okay to be rich. The Puritans would have been shocked by this analysis. They never intended to found a commercial empire, and, as an article for CHRISTIAN HISTORY illustrates, they were profoundly suspicious of many of the values that make that empire run. Providence, not profit, oriented their lives. Other elements of the Puritan worldview might dismay Christians today, but on this subject they hewed close to the Bible and have much to teach us.
This study, based on an article about Puritan attitudes toward money, asks: How does the Bible challenge prevailing business wisdom? What is the purpose of making money? When does financial planning become faithlessness?
Table of Contents
SCRIPTURE: Nehemiah 5:1–13; Psalm 49; Ecclesiastes 2:4–11; Luke 6:32–36, 12:16–21, 35–40; 1 Timothy 6:17–19; Revelation 3:17–18
Identify the Current Issue
Discover the Eternal Principles
Teaching point one: Profit should be tempered by charity.
Teaching point two: Financial success is not an end in itself.
Teaching point three: God is in charge—but we’re still responsible.
Apply Your Findings
ARTICLE FROM CHRISTIAN HISTORY
The Puritan Critique of Modern Attitudes Toward Money (Issue 19, 1997, 8 printed pages)
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