Stuff Isn't the Problem

From Politics & Evangelical Theology :

"The critique of wealth in the Christian view is not really a critique of the “stuff.” It is a critique of how the stuff is used: “To be rich is not a matter of having, but of using riches for the tasks of justice,” writes the ancient Christian writer Lactantius. Thinking that the material world is itself evil or something to be disparaged is the currency of pagan religion (e.g., Platonism, Gnosticism, Hinduism, Buddhism); Christianity is a religion that affirms the material (e.g., the resurrection of the body). This (ironically enough for those who view Christianity as opposed to material prosperity) is one major reason why modern capitalism developed in the first place, and only truly developed in the Western world: Christianity, unlike other major religions, uniquely valued the material world. That deserves repeating: one major reason for the explosion of economic prosperity in the Western world is because Christianity, the bedrock foundation of Western thought, did not make “stuff” the problem. This is very much unlike other religions that regard the material world as something we need to escape or transcend. The elites in classical Greece and Rome certainly took a dim view of commerce and preferred lives of leisure and contemplation. Plutarch regarded any activity ministering to the needs of life as “ignoble and vulgar.”


Brian Mattson