Posted by: rogermitchell | December 30, 2009

a bit more on money

I have offered some thoughts on money in two earlier posts which can be found back on November 18th and 24th.  Subsequent comments acknowledged the tentative and open nature of the points I was making but suggested that it would be good to focus practically on what to do with resources that we currently had in our hands, always supposing we have some. So this post and its development over the next few days is about that. It does not intend to provide a thought-out theology of money but is the result of work I have been doing towards that as part of my current research. The final section of my thesis, when written up, will offer some serious theology of money based on material from which I am drawing here.

As an experimental starting point, I would say that an incarnational, love based, kingdom of God economics regards money as debt and savings as theft. This is not a law of course, and there are pretty certainly justifications for both borrowing and saving. But they need to be about kenotic love and giving not about the primacy of personal property and security which belongs to human empire not the kingdom of God.  From this beginning the most common reasons for saving and borrowing such as the purchase of higher education, home or transport need to be considered carefully. Given that the kingdom of God belongs to the poor then a primary kingdom principle seems to be that what we have in hand belongs to them. My life is fundamentally linked to theirs so my life has to be making space for and recreating a world for them to prosper in. This is one of the reasons why tithing to the poor seems to me to be a good pragmatic starting point before we do anything else with what we have. This will of course effect what we have left in our hands. This is why tithing to some expressions of the ecclesia is as Ray Mayhew has put it, “embezzlement, the corporate sin of contemporary Christianity.” Rather than serving the kingdom of God it simply provides for a liturgical and pastoral service for me and my fellow believers see  http://www.relationaltithe.com/pdffiles/EmbezzlementPaper.pdf www.raymayhewonline.com.

I think it important before venturing further on this topic to make clear that I believe that God made us for a love relationship with him both individually and corporately. So he made us for relationship with himself, Father, Son and Holy Spirit in the context of creation which includes the rest of humankind from the family outwards. I see the people of God as agents of restoration of that great overall purpose after the fall.  So in talking of the priority of the poor I am not jumping over the blessing of receiving from God in the first place. The kingdom of God is not neo-legalism or life denial. But the fall and  the development of empire in response to it has led to the context where we in the west and the rich generally often have the opportunity to enjoy the creation and its culture illigitimately and at the expense of the poor.  This is why it is so difficult for us to receive the kingdom of God. As the people of God we have to find a way through this to a free receiving and giving of the good things of God and this is a great challenge.

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Responses

  1. Rog, you know I love you, but I do really love you, and am loving this stuff! Will leave some stuff soon. Thanks so much for doing this. Loving the conversations.

    • Thanks Andy. I am looking forward to your insights. They are sorely needed!

  2. Hi Roger. James C-E from the old Bliss days here! Hope you and Sue are well. Loving this blog – I found the mayhew article fascinating and refreshing. In it he refers to the Hayes book ‘moral vision…’ . I read that last year and was struck how so much time was given to so many areas……but at the end he adds a brief section on the challenge regarding our possessions..which kind of (imo) blew the rest of the book away in terms of relevance and importance for now….i know that some of the most positive phases of my life have intertwined with a period of giving ‘it’ (be that money, time , ideas, personal securities) away…you know that painful, ‘I’d kind of quite like it back’ kind of giving! Crossan has also expressed some of this stuff well I think, with his thoughts on open commensality and free healing.

    Will muse more and post something else soon…. maybe 🙂

    • Thanks James, it’s good to hear from you. By all means muse on and post the outcome. Lots of people are finding musing, connecting helpful on this journey.
      Blessings,
      Rog

  3. Hey Roger,
    I know this thread has long disappeared from your front page, but I value what you have put here very highly and it has taken a while for me work through a response! Rather than put what turned into a long meditation up as a comment, I have put it up on my blog. I don’t want to split the conversation, but neither do I want to assume that you’d want it here. If you do, just let me know.

    Here it is, under the nifty title ‘Mammon is not your mother” http://www.bourne.gb.com/?p=233#more-233


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