Sunday, October 12, 2008

Christianity: Self-Defeating?

Here's a great quote from John Wesley that I had to dig up for something else recently.

Christianity has a tendency, in process of time, to undermine and destroy itself. For wherever true Christianity spreads, it must cause diligence and frugality, which, in the natural course of things, must beget riches! and riches naturally beget pride, love of the world, and every temper that is destructive of Christianity. Now, if there be no way to prevent this, Christianity is inconsistent with itself, and, of consequence, cannot stand, cannot continue long among any people; since, wherever it generally prevails, it saps its own foundation.

--John Wesley, 1789

It's an interesting problem. Wesley reached out to men and women who were squandering their lives, and he taught them diligence and frugality. Being content with what you have is a pretty amazing financial principle, really. If followed over the course of time, however, it leads to wealth. And wealth, Wesley feared, would lead to people putting their trust in things other than God.

Wesley's solution was to encourage his people to make as much money as possible, and to save as much as possible, and then to give it all away. He goes on to say that he himself followed this example:

I call on God to record upon my soul, that I advise no more than I practice. I do gain, and save, and give all I can. And so I shall do while the breath of God is in my nostrils.

I'm not there. But I'd like to be.

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