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Faith & Work Project Helps Christians Honor God in Everyday Life

Communications Staff — April 21, 2023

All Christians make decisions about personal finance, vocation, and economics.

With the release of two new books from the Faith & Works Series, Healthy and Wealthy? A Biblical-Theological Response to the Prosperity Gospel and Rich in Good Deeds: A Biblical Response to Poverty by the Church and by Society, the Faith & Work Project wants to help Christians think through these “ordinary” life decisions from a biblical perspective.

In a recent event in The Bookstore at Southern, Rob Plummer, professor at Southern and general editor of the Faith & Works series, discussed Scripture’s practical teaching on wealth and prosperity with authors and Southern faculty members: James Hamilton, Timothy Paul Jones, and Michael Pohlman.

Hamilton, Old Testament professor at Southern, critiqued the prosperity gospel and said Proverbs and Ecclesiastes offer a more satisfying vision for life.

“Wisdom is better for you than money,” Hamilton said. “What you really need is to experience God and to enjoy his goodness in his way. If you know God, he will provide everything you need, and you can trust and be content with his provision. The health, wealth, and prosperity gospel misses all of that.”

Marxist ideology, on the other hand, strips the world of all things sacred and reduces everything down to power relationships.

“These secular ideas operate on the idea that money is a supreme good,” Hamilton said. “The wisdom in Proverbs and Ecclesiastes calls this vanity. We know from the wisdom literature that the only way to have meaning is to enjoy God’s good gifts.”

Plummer also interviewed Jones, professor of apologetics and philosophy at Southern. Jones sought to recover ancient wisdom for our modern context, arguing that the ethics of the early church provide a model for ecclesial apologetics.

“The church is an argument for the Christian faith,” Jones said. “We don’t just serve to create opportunities to share the gospel, but we should live in a way that our lives are inexplicable without the presence of God. The early church took loving their neighbor seriously and demonstrated the truth of their beliefs by their ethics.”

To fix the ethical lack in many Christians, churches must return to Scripture and address the theological roots behind caring for the poor.

“Our lives should be so soaked with Scripture where every moment Scripture leaks out of us,” Jones said. “Wrong theology will work itself out in wrong practice. Sometimes we try to get the outward expression right without seeing the theological truth behind the ethics.”

Mike Pohlman, professor of Christian preaching, argued that a Pauline view of suffering conflicts with a health and wealth gospel.

“The prosperity gospel is the tragic news that God exists not for his own glory but for your appetites,” Pohlman said. “The prosperity gospel sanctifies vices like greed and coveting and turns the true gospel into an idol, and the idol is us.”

The key to understanding Pauline suffering, according to Pohlman, is seeing it as the design of God. Paul’s words in Romans 8:17 teach that the believer enters into glory through suffering.

“The means to get to glory include the cross,” Pohlman said. “Only Christianity offers hope rather than band-aids for the bleeding arteries of our suffering.”

For more information on the Faith & Work Project, visit the website.

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