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A Critical Reply to “The One Thing Christians Should Stop Saying”

Scott Dannemiller’s article “The One Thing Christians Should Stop Saying” which appeared in the Huffington Post posits that Christians should not say that our material wealth is a blessing from God.

Mark 10:29-30 directly refutes Dannemiller’s argument.

And answering Jesus said, Amen I say to you, There is no one who left house, or brothers, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or fields, because of me and the good news, that should not receive a hundred fold now in this time — houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and fields, with persecutions, and in the coming eon life eternal. —Mark 10:30 ABP

Jesus explicitly states to the disciples that they would receive physical blessings in this life time. Of course, we know from the whole of Scripture and immediately within that verse that sometimes we won’t receive physical blessings because of persecution, judgment, or various other reasons.

Apparently Dannemiller is ignorant of the book of Job. He also incorrectly claims that because other Christians around the world are not as materially blessed as we are that therefore our material wealth is not a blessing. If our material wealth is not a blessing from God than who is it from? From our own might apart from God? If physical blessings are not from God that would mean they are from our own power which only gives more reasons for boasting. He fails to see his self-defeating statement that he has chosen to use of “I’m grateful.” Who is he to be grateful to but to God, and what are the things he is grateful for other than blessings?

His logic is flawed in that he thinks that since Jesus talked about the importance of spiritual blessings that therefore physical blessings aren’t from God anymore. That would be like saying since Jesus spoke of murdering someone in your heart because of hatred that He doesn’t care about physical murder anymore. That’s the sort of ridiculousness to which his logic leads.

(The rest of this critique was written by a friend):

Dannemiller, though trying to make a good point, is incorrect due to the fact that his theology is that of an individual mystic and not a covenantal approach to God, His Word, and the subject of wealth or material possessions. He does not know how to understand material possessions and wealth and what they are to be used for nor how they are to be used. Material wealth, obtained and used correctly, is a tremendous blessing from God.

Consider Deuteronomy 8:18: “But thou shalt remember the Lord thy God: for it is He that giveth thee power to get wealth, THAT HE MAY ESTABLISH HIS COVENANTS which He sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day.” Consider one of the Scriptures our writer quotes which furthers this same covenantal understanding: “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” God does give wealth and the power (authority) to obtain wealth — but it is His purpose which is important in terms of motivation: to establish His covenants.

We can also see that God gives wealth to some people for the purposes of destroying them: “. . . for the prosperity of fools shall destroy them.” Proverbs 1:32. There are certain situations where God uses the wicked as “storage bins of wealth” for the righteous: ” . . . the wealth of the sinner is laid up for the just.” Proverbs 13:22. This will ultimately be true of the entire earth.

The general principle of Scripture is that community faithfulness (and sometimes individual faithfulness in the midst of community rebellion) does beget material blessings (and is intended to do so) as is evident from reading Deuteronomy 28:1-14. Our historical capital of community (national) faithfulness, which we have seriously depleted, is what has given to this individual the wealth potential that does still exists. One of the things he missed in his understanding is that when faithful people were impoverished they were typically living under a rebellious community or a persecuting community. When a community leaves being and pursuing faithfulness, God promises to curse them (Deuteronomy 28:15-64) and that curse includes property destruction.

Consider also, faithfulness on an individual scale is generally grounds wherein God will give even greater responsibilities including the handling of wealth: “He that is faithful in little, will be faithful in much.” Consider the prayer of Jabez in I Chronicles 4:10: “And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, O that thou would bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast [this means property], and that thy hand might be with me, and that thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me! And God granted him that which he requested.” Jabez’s prayer was not the approach of the “prosperity gospel” but the approach of a man of the covenant seeking to fulfill the dominion mandate. Motivation is important and Jabez did see property as a blessing from God to be used to God’s directed ends.

There is another point to consider: “In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” I Thessalonians 5:18. We should be thankful for very specific material blessings and be motivated to use them for the furtherance of the Kingdom of God.

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