Andrew Peterson on Poverty

Do you have to take a vow of poverty to be a Christian? Is money the root of all evil? Andrew Peterson says no, and I agree. You need to read all of this one, but here’s the conclusion:

“The point: being poor is not the only way to radically follow Christ. Some people are called to it. I have long felt a tension between all that I learned from the Kid Brothers and Rich Mullins about identifying with the poor and the weak, versus my holy responsibility to tend to my family’s spiritual and physical needs. Had Rich ever married, I’m certain his wife would have appreciated a nice dress every now and then, or a bouquet of flowers, or a decent kitchen, and she probably would have lovingly insisted that he not give all his money away, especially after she bore his children and needed to buy diapers, and school supplies, and shoes for goodness sake. And the other thing is, Rich Mullins had hit songs that are still making money. He gave a lot of his money away, but he also had a constant stream of it flowing in. Lots of it. And I’m sure the ministries he supported with the surplus were grateful that he channeled it to them for Kingdom work.

“Money isn’t the root of all evil. The Bible doesn’t say that. Here’s the verse: ‘For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.’ (1 Timothy 6:10) We’re called to keep watch so that we don’t fall in love with money. To be sure, wealth is a heavy burden and isn’t for everyone, just as poverty is a burden and isn’t for everyone. The people of the church are varied in strengths and weaknesses. Money itself isn’t evil. In fact, money can be a great tool for Kingdom work. It’s easy to tout ideals about how wrong it is to be wealthy until you’re on the receiving end of someone’s generosity.”

(HT: Robbie Sagers)

12 Responses to Andrew Peterson on Poverty

  1. Charlton Connett September 1, 2010 at 8:34 am #

    Denny,

    Thanks for the link. That was a great read.

  2. Chad Ethridge September 1, 2010 at 11:02 am #

    If a man is not providing for his family, then his children might as well be orphans and his wife a widow. We know what the Bible says about our obligations to the fatherless and the widows. I agree with Mr. Peterson.

  3. Charlton Connett September 1, 2010 at 12:33 pm #

    Chad,

    In edition to that Scripture has some pretty harsh words for any man who refuses to provide for his family. Something about being worse than an unbeliever…

  4. Donald Johnson September 1, 2010 at 2:19 pm #

    ESV 1Ti 5:8 But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

    FWIIW, this verse applies to both genders, both a husband and a wife are to make sure their family is provided for.

  5. Ryan K. September 1, 2010 at 2:23 pm #

    Wow Don, for once on something related to gender you and I are in complete agreement.

    I have heard complmemtarians teach this verse wrongly numerous times and I find it to be unhelpful.

  6. Donald Johnson September 1, 2010 at 2:31 pm #

    To be fair, some translations say “man” is to provide, but the Greek is clear that it is not gender specific.

  7. David Vinzant September 1, 2010 at 3:35 pm #

    Is there really a big problem with evangelicals giving away so much of their money to worthy causes that they can’t provide for their families?

  8. Thomas Newell September 1, 2010 at 6:42 pm #

    Well statistically David, evangelicals give away a much larger percentage of their income than secularists. Liberal secularists being the group that parts with the least amount of their cash, despite being very passionate about the spending of other people’s money through big government…kind of ironic.

  9. David Vinzant September 1, 2010 at 8:16 pm #

    I’ll take that as a “no,” Thomas.

  10. Charlton Connett September 1, 2010 at 8:25 pm #

    Ryan, Don,

    Thank you both for the balance there. I meant “man” in the generic as you are both correct, each of us is to do our part to make sure our families are provided for, men and women.

  11. MRS September 3, 2010 at 11:00 am #

    I should probably be workong on other things, but I’m going to jump in for a second.

    I think Petersen is going above the idea of “providing” for wife and kids – I think he’s hinting at savings for college, date nights, decent kitchen appliances, perhaps even a 401K. He’s not just disagreeing quasi-Marxist Christians. I think he’s pushing back against the trend among conservative Reformed evangelicals that say we should be giving it all away – that retirement accounts and home improvements – new floors, carpets, appliances – are unnecessary.

    It’s a helpful pushback, too.

  12. Chuck R. September 6, 2010 at 11:43 pm #

    The question is not whether the possession of money is wrong, the question is whether you are willing to follow Jesus. In the Gospels, several people approached Jesus with the question and he asked them all to give up the one thing they were holding onto the most. For some it will be there money, for others it will be their relationships, etc. So the real question is whether you’re willing to give up everything to follow Jesus if/when you’re called to do so. The American Christian church has done a great discredit to its congregation by insisting that it takes a great deal of “stuff” to reach the lost, i.e. more buildings, more lights, a bigger stage, a bigger sound system, softball fields…etc. We have deluted the power of the Gospel by programming, fellowshiping, and recreating it out of the church. I just got back from a country where the Gospel is being spread like wildfire with only a few devoted followers who give of their own time and resources. No capital campaigns, no recreation ministries, not even a church building in some cases. Just radical followers of Chirst who want to see their entire country reached with the Gospel…and they mean it.

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