Posted by: davidwhall | August 25, 2008

Calvin and Wealth: Part 5

Profit is often the sign of obedience and God’s blessing. Proverbs

While profit and monetary gain are not condemned, Calvin also issued this stern and balanced warning on the difficulty of a wealthy man entering heaven: “[I]t is an evil almost common to all to trust in their riches. Yet this doctrine is highly useful to all: to the rich, that being warned of their danger they may be on their guard, and to the poor, that being satisfied with their lot they may not so eagerly desire what would bring more damage than gain. It is true, indeed, that riches do not, in their own nature, hinder us from following God, but in consequence of the depravity of the human mind it is scarcely possible for those who have a great abundance to avoid being intoxicated by them.”

The Scriptures consistently discuss economic matters without revealing an expectation that all will yield the same results. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians summons competitors to run the race in such a way as to get the prize (1 Cor. 9:24). Even in that illustration, all do not win a prize but neither is competition unfair. Every instance of plowing, sowing, farming, or investing is not depicted as succeeding. There are failures in the Bible. Competition and the rough-and-tumble of the markets appear to be economic realities if not sanctioned altogether.

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