Wednesday, August 31, 2011

#220 Dave Ramsey


Dave Ramsey is the financial guru of Christian culture. He is to American evangelicals what Oprah is to the untoward penurious masses who lean to her, begging her folksy utile wisdom, except Dave is Oprah in this scenario and he mainly talks about money. In that sense he’s like evangelical Suze Ormon but 100% less lesbionic and his advice is coated in Bible verses. This makes him irresistible to Christian culture.

Dave Ramsey: credit card assassin

Every evangelical worth their salt has at least one copy of Dave’s books, usually Total Money Makeover, and has partaken in his Financial Peace University one of the times it was hosted by their church. Most protestant churches in the U.S. have Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University posters somewhere on their walls. They are very, very excited about him. He tells you how to attack your debt and ratchet up your emergency fund using proverbial (literally) gazelle-like intensity.


It’s common sense and really pretty rad. You do your debt snowball and dart around like a gazelle and soon you have a nice little pile of financial peace. Well, maybe. There’s always something, isn’t there. Some people say the more money you have, the more problems go along with it. I think that’s how Biggie put it. Dave has probably figured that out by now with everyone after him about his expensive houses and cars, but we’ll get to that in a minute.


The patented gazelle-skin Dave Ramsey Wallet™

One way to identify a Dave Ramsey devotee is by their Dave Ramsey branded wallet (see above). It isn’t cute, but that only bothers people who are capable of getting upset about accessories. Maybe Dave should have a follow-up workshop called The Total Wallet Makeover. I would like to suggest this one:


Dave likes to say that while you're paying down your debt "If you will like no one else, later you can live like no one else." This could be taken to mean that for now you're living strangely by budgeting so that one day you can live strangely with financial peace. By this logic, financial peace is equated with having a lot in savings. It sounds about right, and no one seems to wonder if it will actually bring financial peace.


Dave Ramsey isn’t just for Christian culture anymore. He’s branching out and crossing into the mainstream like Amy Grant and Jars of Clay by buying advertising on celebrity gossip pages and such. You can hardly go to a nice stupid site like PerezHilton without seeing Dave’s visage leering at you like Jack Nicholson through a splintered door, holding a dastardly credit card whose seconds are numbered. That credit card has been up to no good. Time to get yourself some financial peace.


People have been talking about Dave Ramsey even more since he bought a $4.9 million house. The opinions are pretty polar; everyone is either proud of his success or disappointed that he professes Christianity from his 13,000 square foot home with a bath that has an alleged 18 shower heads. I will let you absorb this. When people ask him how this aligns with the faith he professes Dave has responded with "Most of the patriarchs in the Bible were wealthy,” “You're managing money for God” and “The Bible doesn’t tell you to be poor.” [1]  Christian culture seems to swallow this just fine.

Casa de Ramsey

In the comment thread for this article on Dave’s house a woman named Melissa said: “I can't believe he could not come up with something better to do with his money…I have 340 poverty kids that need help where I work - what's the chance. Food banks are over burdened by the needs, I'm trying to find a way to get handicapped access playground equipment…18 shower heads, shame on you.” To this some of Dave’s supporters replied “Melissa, stop being a HATER!” “Dave Ramsey has worked his butt off for everything that he has.” “Get a life, just because you don’t have the common sense to save doesn’t mean you can bash someone who does.” “Can we say jealous?...I’m sorry, but this is America, if you work hard and succeed you may do as you wish with YOUR OWN profits. You people who point a finger and say selfish and wasteful, take a look at how much percentage wise Dave donates and how much you yourselves donate and I feel the three fingers pointing back at yourself will clear up who is in the wrong” and “He earned it. If he wants to live in a 10 Million dollar house, thats is fine. This guy gives more money to charity than a host of Americans.”


Dave responded to some of the criticism in this article, saying it's none of our business but that he tithes ten percent and has a family foundation to which he gives a huge percentage. This kind of answer is plenty for Christian culture. Their thinking goes something like, “Hey, he has been more than generous to tell us he tithes the Old Testament mandate of the first ten percent so everyone get off his godly hind-end.” (While they're thinking this they think hind-end, not ass.) Christian culture doesn’t tend to wonder whether it really isn't their business what another Christian does with their multimillions. They have flexible boundaries when it comes to talking about sexual purity with acquaintances and inquiring after strangers' eternal souls, but fellow Christians' finances are a different story.


It’s reminiscent of that one time (at band camp) when the rich young ruler asked Jesus how to be his true follower and Jesus said “Sell everything you own and give it away to the poor. Then come, follow me." Because he was so rich he got really sad, and seeing his reaction Jesus said, "Do you have any idea how difficult it is for people who have it all to enter God's kingdom? I'd say it's easier to thread a camel through a needle's eye than get a rich person into God's kingdom."

So basically, it sucks to be a rich Christian. Or could getting rid of your stuff also get rid of a lot of your problems, like Biggie said? There’s got to be a reason monks take vows of poverty and can have joy. If you don’t have a bunch of money you have to trust more and that isn’t a fun activity for humans. It’s also just weird. If we don’t go with our straight-line way of thinking and use the paradoxical power Jesus taught that looks for all the world like weakness (what Luther called left-handed power), it seems illogical. Or did Jesus’ weird directives and backwards ways of teaching with parables actually show us some of who he is because they are so counter-intuitive? If you say you follow the teachings of someone who said his followers must give what they own to the poor, you've got a dilemma because no one wants to take that literally. It says the rich young ruler walked away very sad because he was very rich. Of course he did. Can you really have that kind of material wealth and follow someone who said to give it all away?

102 comments:

Luke Isham said...

Sobering stuff, thanks for the extended post.

Mike Pape said...

This is my favorite post you've done. Thanks for being a voice that talks about things like this in a non-inflamatory way.

Anonymous said...

excellent post!

Annabelle said...

Very interesting. What do you think of the story of Zacchaeus? When he declared that he was going to give (only) half of his property to the poor and more-than repay those he'd cheated, Jesus declared that salvation had come to his household that day.

Perhaps God is calling us to give up what "holds" our hearts. Perhaps, like Zacchaeus, some of us don't need to give it all away because it hasn't taken God's place in our lives. Perhaps we can't make a blanket statement that no Christian should be rich. While I would agree that it appears ridiculous for any Christian to have 4,000 square feet of living space, I'm not sure I'm comfortable putting it on my "what a good Christian has/does" list.

What do you think?

stephy said...

I think you missed the point of the post.

Chrissy said...

18 shower heads?! Geez. I simply can't comprehend how someone decides that 18 is the correct and adequate number of excessive shower heads. Who decides these things?

Jen said...

I find it highly ironic that CC is so enanmored with Dave Ramsey's teachings, yet continues to encourage Christian teenagers to attend extremely expensive Christian colleges (even when they can not afford them) because they have to "trust that God will provide."

Rollo Tomassi said...

It never ceases to amaze me the extent to which CC will readily grant a 'christian kosher' status to sufficiently christianized individuals, trends and merchandise that are essentially the same 'worldly' things they'd lambast as the reason for the fall of christian society.

Anonymous said...

At least Suzy Ormond practices what she preaches (and make no mistake- she makes her money off the preaching more than the practicing. All these self-help guys do). Suzy's one cheap lesbian. But add the word 'Jesus' to whatever you're hucking and it's a free pass to all kinds of behaviour- hypocritical, tacky, and beyond.

goperryrevs said...

Proof if it's needed that tithing (as defined by modern Christian culture) is the shittiest financial giving system of them all.

brianoverholt said...

@Anonymous,

Dave Ramsey also practices what he preaches. I don't really know anything about Suzy Ormonds financial life, but Dave Ramsey at least got where he is by doing the things that he now preaches to other people. And sure, he makes a lot of money of his radio show/speaking engagements/television appearances/etc. But he was doing very well before all that, and he wouldn't have had a great deal of credibility if he'd started writing books or giving speeches before he'd really made it himself.

Frankly, I understand people's tendency to scoff at his house, but let's not forget that he never said that it was a Christian's duty to live minimally and give away everything they don't absolutely need.

Whether it's "christian" to have nice things is a discussion we can have. But if Dave Ramsey tells you that it's acceptable for you to treat yourself to luxuries (after you've been faithful to give back to God) then he can't be called a hypocrite for doing that himself.

CC likes some pretty ridiculous things, but there isn't a whole lot to criticize about Dave Ramsey. The man teaches financial responsibility and has done well living by the principles he teaches. Hard find anything ridiculous about that.

Jeff said...

it seems to me that the main idea of this post is to point out how biggie was really a prophet! seriously though, great post! i've had an issue with dave for some time. a few of my friends make such a big deal but it seems like it put priorities in the wrong spot, imnsho.

stephy said...

Brian Overholt didn't understand the post. At all.

KatiePress said...

I am straight up Pagan and I'm a huge Dave Ramsey fan. I took his Financial Peace University class with my husband, expecting to have to tune out a lot of religious indoctrination. That wasn't really the case. Yes there were some Bible verses, but 95% of the class was just plain old good advice. I would recommend his system to anyone. And he tells funny stories and actually makes it interesting!

stephy said...

I guess I have to spell it out for everyone: you can do that, but don't call it Christianity.

the Reporter said...

Sorry, Stephy. I was 2 hours late. I wanted to save you. You're in a situation akin to having to explain why a joke is funny. You just can't win.

What she's saying, folks, is that DR uses Xianity (what I like to call fauXianity...my word, not Stephy's...that I know of) to sell his program, which probably has very little do do with actual Xianity, which (according to Scripture) seems to be more about giving everything you have away. But THAT'S not even her point, either.

I take her point to be that fauXian culture salivates over any message that throws in a few bible verses here and there and markets it in "acceptable" ways. Bona fides are proven by silly jargon and vague Scripture reference and pre-defined boundaries that fauXian culture defines and defends.

Yet the hard task of working out the REALLY HARD questions like "holy crap...do I REALLY have to give away ALL my money now that I'm rich?" is never done--or if it is done (by an outside agent), the wagons get circled to defend the pre-supposed fauXian answer.

I, personally, given these complicated and really hard questions, find it abhorrent that DR spends all that $ while profiting off the "gospel". I think most reasonable people would. But that's not her point. That's MY point.

the Reporter said...

Oops. We must be on Pacific Time. I guess I was 20 minutes late. Not 2 hours.

headscratching said...

Ah, but you failed to mention the most annoying thing about Dave Ramsey (which undoubtedly contributes to his success among Christians)--the robotic false-humility with which he answers the question, "How are you?" His answer: "Better than I deserve."

I call bullshit, muthafucka!

Suzie said...

Jesus said alot of pointed things to get us to think about where we store our treasure so to speak. Wealth is a relative term, when we think about our position as North Americains, compared to some one else in the developing world. When speaking to the "rich young fool" as he is known in the story, it seems to me Jesus was addressing the young man's issues. but as with all scripture we must keep the tension in mind on how it relates to us today, what resonates ? We are all rich young fools when it comes to our reliance on self and money, giving it all away does not solve the problem of that. we would all be reliant on the state , church whatever for support,

You have asked repeatedly Ms. Drury " what do you do with Jesus' words about giving it all away" Have you given it all away ? What do you suggest ? Do we take Jesus' words literally here ? your thoughts....

stephy said...

Exactly.

shelly said...

The church I attend is now offering Total Money Makeover as a ministry school course for $50.

I. Don't. Think. So.

One, I could save some of that money, I'm sure, and just buy the book myself and read it on my own time, if I wanted to. Two, it's another case of practical advice with a big ass "Approved by Christianity Incorporated" stamp on it. Three, as you say, what about Jesus' words ("Sell everything you have and give to the poor; then come and follow me.")? I would add the verse saying that "the love of money is the root of all evil", not to mention greed and gluttony are two of the Seven Deadly Sins.

headscratching said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
headscratching said...

I'll admit my previous comment was uncouth. If I hath offended thee, please tell my mouth to go pluck itself.

Seriously, though, here is my beef with this guy and pretty much anyone else who puts together a simple program for Christians to get their lives together and who makes money off that concept: these programs are pitched as magic-bullet, cure-alls and there is nothing resembling that in Scripture.

Cutting up your credit cards and getting out of debt is not going to give you peace, financial or otherwise. Figuring out your purpose in life is not going to provide you with lasting joy. Repeating a four-line prayer every day is not going to bring you prosperity or help you "expand your territory."

When it comes to Christian fad diets, at least The Shack didn't present faith or God as a one-size-fits-all wonder drug. And it was controversial largely for that reason--because it presented concepts that were not benign enough to be easily swallowed by the Christian masses.

Sure, there will always be a percentage of people each of these programs works for. And those people are the ones who are easily programmed. But these programs are NOT Christianity and to market them as such by SELLING THEIR MAGIC POTION SHIT in churches--wasn't there something specifically about that in the Bible?--and profiting off the idea that the Christian (aka 'liteweight') versions of The Secret or Tony Robbins can somehow provide spiritual transformation and renewing of the mind....well, you'd be hard-pressed not to find some heresy in that.

And, let's make no mistake, by specifically targeting churches with his program, Dave Ramsey is implicitly claiming that his program is a part (or should be a part) of the fabric of Christianity itself. And he's making huge profits off that, regardless of how much he gives to charity. He's gaining fame, power and money (and I suppose sex, or at least sex appeal) by targeting Christians.

So, I'm back to my original offensive phrase: that's some bullshit, muthafucka.

brianoverholt said...

@Stephy,

My apologies if my first comment was misdirected and based on a misunderstanding of your post. However, if the point of your post was that Dave Ramsey can do what he's doing "but don't call it Christianity" then I would like to make one point about that.

No one claims that Dave Ramsey is preaching Christianity. He does not claim that himself. What he does preach is a set of financial principles that are consistent with the teachings of Jesus and the rest of the Bible. Most Christians agree that his principles are consistent with biblical teaching (and are effective to boot) and are thus justifiably stoked about his classes.

If you disagree that Dave's teachings are consistent with Jesus' teachings, then you are at liberty to say that his principles should not be labeled as christian. However, Jesus did not command his followers to give away all their belongings, he merely insisted that nothing (including money) should hold a greater place of importance in your life than him. That is why he asked the rich young ruler to give up all his wealth. It was a test, not directive that all people must give up everything to follow Jesus.

This would be consistent with Dave Ramsey's principle of holding your wealth "with an open hand rather than a tight fist" meaning that those who are generous with their money, and willing to let go of it for God and for those around them, will be blessed by God for having that attitude with their finances. I do not see this as contradicting Jesus teaching, and I do not see any place in Dave's life where he has not lived by this principle.

So then I guess the question is: Does Jesus really demand that believers volunteer themselves to lives of financial minimalism, and if not, then what is it about Dave Ramsey's teaching that is decidedly unchristian (making the equation of his teachings with "Christianity" unwarranted)?

sidenote -- if the point of contention is that he is making money through preaching the "gospel". He is not preaching the gospel. And even the bible supports the idea of ministers being paid for their ministry, so that point is moot.

If I still have not understood your point, I apologize. I normally agree with the absurdity of many of the CC fads that you point out. But I just can't find any legitimate things that are wrong with Dave Ramsey's schtick. I am not trying to be disagreeable or a troll.

Best,

Brian

Abby Normal said...

I'm not intending to be a jerk by asking, but how is your criticism of Ramsey any different from Rush Limbaugh and his ilk griping about Al Gore owning a big house and riding in a private jet?

(Not saying I'm a big fan of Rush, this just sounds awfully similar to me.)

stephy said...

Hi Abby, I think my questions about Ramsey are different because Al preaches having a small carbon footprint but he doesn't preach a lifestyle while simultaneously professing Christ.

Brian, thanks for wanting to talk about this more. I really appreciate you saying you're not trying to be disagreeable or a troll and it means a lot that you want to engage the questions more. So I'll start with this, you say that Dave Ramsey doesn't claim to preach Christianity but then you say he does preach a set of financial principles that are consistent with the teachings of Jesus. The fact that he claims this and that many Christians agree that what he teaches is in line with Jesus' teachings makes me so, so sad. Ramsey's advice is certainly consistent with many First Testament directives of tithing only one-tenth and the Proverbs about debt and serving two masters and lots of other things but from my perspective (as a graduate of Financial Peace University - holla! Class of 2005!) Jesus' perspective isn't in what Ramsey teaches.

You say that when Jesus told the rich young ruler to give up all his wealth that "it was a test, not directive that all people must give up everything to follow Jesus." What makes you say it was a test and not something Jesus actually wanted him to do? It just made me think, and I'm not trying to be a smartass here, but it made me wonder that when Jesus said "Lazarus, come forth" or "Leprosy guy, get in the water and you will be healed" were those tests too? I'm really not trying to be a wiener in asking that. It's just - how do you know what is a test? I don't see in any of the commentaries that it was a test. But for the sake of argument, let's say it was a test. Then what would make you think such a test wouldn't apply to other wealthy Christians? The ultimate proof of where our allegiance lies is what we do with our money. What is closer to our hearts than our money?

I get that the story of the rich young ruler is not a favorite of Christians with money. I'm the daughter of a wealthy Southern Baptist pastor and I know a thing or two about this. The rich young ruler walked away very sad after Jesus told him this, like any of us would if our allegiance lay more with our money than to the person of Christ. We can all know where our allegiance lies by our reaction to being asked to give our stuff away. Of course we're more attached to our tangible, hard-earned (?) money than to God's promises of provision. It makes me think of how CS Lewis said (I'm paraphrasing) "It would be so much easier to trust like the lilies in the field if one had the countenace of a lily." I love that! It is true. I don't want to trust! I want my creature comforts and don't want to risk what there could be, some nebulous promise my God has made, in exchange for my toys. We're happy to roll around in (and I daresay settle for) what we know, which we think is good, which actually isn't anywhere near what God promises those who love him. So this is where the tension lies and we want that tension to be tidied away so we don't have to revisit it. But I think Jesus was calling us to live in that tension. It's not easy; we want to deal in the black-and-white. It's interesting that most of the responses to this post on the Facebook page have seemed to want to rationalize having some sort of wealth and no one has talked about the part of the post on Jesus' appeal to left-handed power, not logical straight-line power.

Also kinda interesting to me is some of the most miserable and psychologically wrecked people I've known have a ton of money and I've always felt like there was some kind of correlation. Scripture on the whole certainly seems to put the two (wealth and joy) at odds.

So thanks for reading this far and thanks also for wanting to engage, Brian.

brianoverholt said...

Stephy,

Point well made. I'd still tend to disagree that the story of the rich young ruler must necessarily be read as a statement that a follower of Jesus would give away all his wealth, or else he is not truly following jesus. I can be read that way, but I think that puts his teaching at odds with other portions of the bible (and if the whole thing is supposed to be authored by God and Jesus is supposed to be God -- that becomes a problem). There were also many people that jesus never asked to give up there wealth. Such as the centurion, who would have been very well to do, and about whom Jesus remarked that he had never seen such great faith. It does not seem that money prevents one from being a good christian, only the love of money.

I think you said it best when you said that we all know where our allegiance lies when we see how we react to being asked to give up our wealth. And perhaps that's really what Jesus was looking for. Just like when Abraham was asked to sacrifice his son, it was more important that he demonstrate his allegiance than that he actually go through with it. I get the sense that Jesus would have wanted the rich young ruler to actually go through with his sacrifice, but that this would not always be necessary -- that the heart attitude was the important part.

Anyway, but the real reason I'm responding this time (and don't feel like you need to answer this now -- I don't want to hog up all your time) was your last comment about left-handed power and Jesus paradoxical thinking as opposed to more straight-line thinking. I guess I'm not very clear and those concepts. I get that Jesus delighted in paradoxical thinking (ie the first will be last, and so on), but I'm not sure how you see it playing out in this issue. And I'm even less clear on how to understand left-handed power.

Anyway, thanks for taking the time to answer. Sorry to be a Stephy-hog everyone!!!

Kimberly said...

I will admit to taking the Ramsey course at my church. Actually, he had some good points, but you're definitely right on it all... American Christians think that making money, having money, and hoarding money means they're blessed by God. And 10% to their local church to reupholster the pews is contributing to "the Kingdom of God". I think $10 to the homeless guy on the street does more good than new cushions for Christian asses. You nailed it with this post. I love the post. Love the blog. Keep the truth comin'!

the Reporter said...

I have many problems with Ramsey, not the least of which is his advice to pay off the smaller principal loans before the larger principal loans, even if the rate is lower. That advice alone is costing Xians hundreds (thousands?) of dollars.

And while I'm sure that that's sound Biblical advice, it doesn't strike me as strong mathematically. Mayhaps the Lord isn't so good with compounding interest problems.

Brenda's Man said...

I'm a newbie here but I like to think and your posts make me think, so thanks to the friend who passed one of your posts on to me. I intend to follow your blog, i say intend because i am notoriously behind on most of my blogging - writing and following.

Anyway, I just wanted to be clear as I begin to follow your thoughts, you are talking about Christian Culture and not Christianity right? I'm not being smart (I'm hardly ever accused of that!) I just want to be sure because it makes a difference in how I view things. I am a Christian as in daily striving to follow Christ in my decisions and activities, but I am not a huge fan of what Christian Culture has done to much of Jesus' message. I THINK we are on the same page, and I just want to be sure.

I look forward to your thought provoking blogs.

stephy said...

Hi, yeah, Christian culture and Christianity are two very different things. The culture I talk about here is American evangelical culture. I put some more about this on the Quotable Quotes page and the In Summary page.

Brian, Robert Farrar Capon talks about the left-handed vs. right-handed power thing in "Parables of the Kingdom: Jesus' left-handed approach to a wrong-headed world." I love his writing a lot.

Frank said...

Yup, I'm an FPU "grad-ju-ate." And a Christian. Truth be told, we weren't in terribly bad shape to start with, but we've cut up the credit cards and saved pretty consistently over the last few years.

Dave is generally pretty good when it comes to advising his listeners/FPU attendees on getting and staying out of debt. I find it quite odd, however, that he doesn't see -- or warn others about -- that biggest of all American debt problems: the US Dollar.

His investment strategy is -- basically -- mutual funds. I.e., professionally managed pools of stocks. And he is absolute DEATH on precious metals. That, in my opinion, makes him either a fool, or a shill for "business-as-usual-in-America." I.e., since stocks -- denominated in US Dollars, no less -- have historically done well over the long haul, they will CONTINUE to do historically well over the long haul.

The problem, Dave, is that America is facing fiscal and -- especially -- CURRENCY crises like we have never seen before.

I am not a financial adviser, but I think Americans should seriously consider socking away as much of their savings as possible in precious metals. No, not for barter when the SHTF and anarchy reins. But as a reliable store of genuine value and buying power. If you think it's Greek to you, do a little online research. It's not really that hard.

I trust Dave Ramsey for advice on getting out of debt and budgeting.

But I trust Peter Schiff when it comes to sound savings and investment strategies. (Google him.)

Frank said...

Oops, almost forgot to share what I wanted to share:

Here's a critique of Ramsey from a fellow believer, Gary North:

How Dave Ramsey Made $55 Million by Being Good on Personal Debt, Naive on Business Debt, Lousy on Investing, and a Loudmouth Bully

http://www.garynorth.com/public/8447.cfm

Definitely worth looking at. (See esp. the YouTube video of Ramsey excoriating Peter Schiff -- a man he admits he knows nothing about -- based on the fact that Peter's father is imprisoned anti-IRS gadfly Irwin Schiff.)

Think of Gary North as FPU post-graduate work.

And one more very pertinent piece:

Dave Ramsey, Peter Schiff, and decline of U.S. Economy

http://debtprison.net/wordpress/66/dave-ramsey-peter-schiff-and-decline-of-us-economy/

The author does a very fair job of comparing and contrasting Ramsey with Schiff.

Robert said...

Dave Ramsey is a parrot for the establishment. He mixes in the Christian rhetoric to appease his audience. His ability to do this successfully is why he's rich. Does he have an innovative, original idea? No. Does he have the first clue about economics, banking or finance? No. Does he realize the bible actually defines gold as money? Obviously not. Great post!

Tony D. said...

This guy's just a very successful (by the standards of the world) example of how you can slap the label "Christian" on just about anything and get an instant market for whatever the hell it is you're hawking.
I once had a Google ad show up for "Christian Acne Treatment." And I'm sure there are youth groups throughout White American Exurbia who just lapped it up.

Parapapumpum said...

I'm not sure this is fair, I mean, we don't know what this man is going to do with his money in the long run. A house doesn't usually depreciate in value over time. What's to say that Dave wouldn't sell his house when he died and give the money away to charity? Whilst he is alive though, I think it's fair for him to enjoy what he has earned surely? I can't see a problem with that. As long as he understands that it is all nothing and that he could lose it all just like that if God asked him to.

God wants us to be happy, if his wealth has given him joy I can't see a problem with that.

I think Stephy took the camel needle thread situation out of context, it's hard for the rich man because he has made his wealth the most important thing in his life, yet we cannot judge Dave's heart, we don't know if that is the case.

And whilst I'm not a huge fan of Dave, I think Stephy has been quick to judge this man. It says something about that in the bible somewhere doesn't it?

Bill said...

What if God is asking all of us to lose it? And we're just not listening closely enough?

And, out of curiosity, what in your opinion IS the context of the "camel needle thread situation"? The phrasing in the Gospels don't seem to qualify that statement.

John said...

Parapapumpum, I don't understand the reasoning. When is something moral or ethical because it gives someone "joy". As for the Camel needle situation, only the olympians of mental gymnastics can find a way to make it make anything other than the plain and obvious. The text has Jesus saying it is hard, provides a parable to how hard it is, and speaks in general not specifics. The problem is that it is a very short parable and people are used to long ones about seeds, or whatever. As for judging, the bible says Christians are supposed to be on each others asses in judgement ready to excommunicate at a moments notice (1 Cor 5:9-13).

As far as having wealth in general it pretty much clashes with everything the texts say about Christian ideology. "and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. (2 Cor 5:15 ESV). I am sorry, but it isn't possible to amass great wealth and spend it on opulence while living that "turn the other cheek" "walk the extra mile" lifestyle of living a life where you consider you and your desires dead and you live for Christ now instead of your self. It just isn't possible.

Anonymous said...

I can be read that way, but I think that puts his teaching at odds with other portions of the bible (and if the whole thing is supposed to be authored by God and Jesus is supposed to be God -- that becomes a problem)

so much THIS^

Parapapumpum said...

I never said it was just because it gave him joy that it was moral and ethical, I said I couldn't see anything wrong with it, I wish you quoted me as well as you quoted the bible.

I think Stephy has made the camel needle eye story sound as if god is saying we should give all our money away and then, and only then, can we go to heaven. Rubbish. God wants us to enjoy life, why would he create us if he just wanted us to have a shitty old time? Sure, the best things in life are free, but not everything is free. As I say, I think if we can understand that money amounts to nothing in god's eyes, if we can understand that it doesn't belong to us but to god, I can't see any problem with being wealthy.

This hit me quite close to home as I'm a wealthy young man, simply by chance, I inherited half a million pounds from my recently deceased grandfather (don't know if it's relevant or not, hence I put it in brackets, but he was a non-christian). Now, he worked hard to earn that money, but he always had the attitude that at the end of the day it was just money and it wasn't the answer to everything. He gave considerable amounts to charity, more than he gave me, yet he had a nice house in London with a swimming pool. I don't understand how his lifestyle was wrong? He probably didn't get to heaven, but that isn't because he couldn't fit through the eye of the needle, and if he had given his life to god, I have no doubt that he would be in heaven. Money never controlled his life. How are we to know that this isn't the case for Dave? We can't see into a man's heart.

Now it wasn't always like this for me, I once had very little money, at one point, I only had £7-10 a week spare to spend on food, it was a hard life. But God blessed me through my grandfather and now I can live comfortably and not have to worry that I'm going to go into debt. I know all too well that something could take that away from me, but for now, I live with the knowledge that financially I'm safe. One day, when I'm old and I pass away, I imagine I'll do the same thing my grandfather did for me, pass money on to my grandchildren and give the rest to charity, how is that wrong?

Kirk said...

Back and forth, back and forth...

Same shit, different day.

Take what you will from the AMORAL wisdom in this life, I say. There is only so far it will get you, and if you have an understanding of the how temporal this life is, I think you'll be alright.

Dave Ramsey has great info about Dept, Finances, how to invest, again... While on this earth. The key to the argument is in the name of the program. "FINANCIAL Peace". He didn't say spiritual peace. He said, "Hey, discipline yourself a bit, save some cash, so when your car breaks down you aren't getting in dept--> Stressing out--> Irritable--> Everyone thinks your a douche bag... hehe. I kid I kid. But the point I got was to relieve some stress by running my finances, not letting my habits get the best of me... Quick fix? Nope, he said over and over slow and steady, Tortoise and the Hare, time is a factor... Emergency fund? Yeah, I was glad I had it cuz my truck battery just died. Instead of crapping bricks (cuz me and the wife only have 50 bucks for the next week and a half), I tapped the emergency fund to replace it. Entirely evil? Nope. For me, I was thanking God. Not Dave Ramsey. Was I grateful someones being vocal about the need, Christian or not, to be financially wise? Yes. Some of us are not as wise with money as others. The way we were raised has allot to do with how we spend. The majority of America IS living beyond their means, CC included.

If the local churches are weak in the knees because of this new revolutionary program that will change your life? WEEEELL... That's the Church leadership allowing someone to make a bigger deal than the One who has paid Eternal Debt.

Does anyone really want to bitch and complain about me and the dudes at my church, who learned some things from Dave's class, realizing that we can get our crap together with a little guidance, so we can continue to support organizations, social justice, Brothers and Sisters of the faith who face death and martyrdom every day? No, I don't think anyone would knock that. Just the means of getting there... hehe. In the end it was wisdom that I learned, that's it.

Another thought... It's not poor people who get Bibles into the hands of the Rural Chinese... It's money donated by those who can afford it that pay off the Chinese authorities that allow Bibles to make there way into those hands. They come to the village selected for drop off hours, sometimes days ahead of time, waiting, anticipating the hope to receive a Bible written in their native tongue... They weep, they cry. That rich dude who donated thousands of dollars has supported a good thing.

The CC needs intelligent Believers who have their priorities straight, to the point of making this life count for the souls Christ has died for. If Dave Ramsey's info gets them to be wise about money, awesome. Hopefully they hear Christ driving them to have compassion on their neighbors.

stephy said...

Kirk,

you could not have missed the point any harder.

Kirk said...

Stephy,

I think my desire was not to argue that Dave is a charlatan or not, but my point was to say, he's a finance guy. I treated him as a finance guy. CC should treat him as a finance guy. Nothing more.

Can I personally agree with what he spends his money on? No, I can't say I would want that mansion, 18 showerheads, and 340 kids un-cared for.

the Reporter said...

stephy:

can you please write a new post? I'm getting quite weary of having his picture @ the top of my igoogle page.

maybe one w/ a little sweeter eye candy?

kthnxbye

stephy said...

I hear you and I'd love to help you out, but I can't force these things. Maybe link to the SCCL Facebook page instead? I post new stuff there several times a day most days. Sorry....

Ecumenical Believer said...

So, I think the "point" here is that this Dave Ramsey method is yet another way for Christians (and specifically American Christians) to be Americans and Capitalists first, and then Christians second or third...i.e. get your finances straight, plan ahead for the future (by the way Dave Ramsey says this is all "biblical" so it's OK), and then you can worry about the inbreaking of the Kingdom of God.

FAIL

It is an avoidance of the political reality of the Gospel, how the Good News should affect everything we do and every decision we make. And actually, some of those decisions might mean we have to spend a bit *more* money, and have less money to spend or save: spending *more* by choosing an electricity supplier committed to providing renewable energy only, spending *more* to buy free range and organic meats, effectively spending *more* by getting a mortgage/saving your money with a bank that doesn't invest in the arms trade etc.

Anyway, that's just like my opinion, man...

emillikan said...

Just a quick note for The Reporter - as someone who is living very nearly paycheck to paycheck, and who has had several kinds of debt at a time (one card for dental bills, another for the new laptop but that was mostly paid off, etc.), I can say that for me, paying off the smaller debts makes it psychologically easier to put extra funds toward the bigger debts. When there are so many small debts, it feels like you're not making any progress, which contributes to depression, anxiety, etc. etc., all of which can make it harder to save. In other words, if you feel like you're floundering financially, it can be easier to give in to despair and just go ahead and buy that thing you can't afford, because what does it matter, anyway? But with the smaller bills gone, it's easier to see a substantial chunk of debt going away month to month, which makes it easier to make good decisions. It's convoluted, I know, but I'd guess others have similar experiences.

And about the conversation at hand: I wonder if a better passage to consider would be James 2:15-16 - "Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, 'Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,' but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?" Or any of the verses that talk about taking care of orphans and widows.

We live in a world where we can see poverty and illness and destruction every day on the news, or by checking Facebook, or by driving around the places we live. Anyone with their eyes open is going to see suffering. So I don't see any excuse for someone who claims to be a Christian but can spend excessive amounts of money on himself while ignoring his neighbor's needs. It's precisely *because* he knows it's God's money, not his, that he should be spending all that wealth on things that are close to God's heart - like, say, orphans and widows.

I think people who really do hold their money with a "loose hand" find that others' needs often trump their own desires for luxury or ease.

the Reporter said...

emillikan:

if you want to do that, fine...but please understand that you're paying more money that way. which strikes me as odd financial advice.

'twould seem to be better advice to pay the high interest loans and to be disciplined about new spending.

which makes me wonder, precisely, what he's selling. It's clearly not financial advice. sounds like psychological/self-help stuff at this point.

emillikan said...

Reporter - I've never read any of Dave Ramsey's stuff and don't intend to. I keep track of my own finances on a spreadsheet and try to keep spending to a minimum, and I don't feel the need for much else at the moment.

I'm sure it would make sense to pay the larger/higher interest debts first if the smaller ones were still, say, a couple thousand dollars. In my case, it was a matter of paying off one $75 bill and one $100 bill, I think, which were just irritating to have sitting around.

Aaran said...

Stephy, I think you are on the money with this one.

Have you seen this? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GtCdbZr9GGE&feature=youtube_gdata_player

Taking back your faith from the American dream.

Bob Kerstetter said...

One of the deep things about following Christ is freedom from legalism, whether imposed by Christians or non-believers. Jesus telling one rich guy to shed his wealth applies mostly to those who worship money above all else—but not totally. The spirit may tell you to dump your dollars for a thousand different reasons. Who knows? So, does Ramsey bow down to his bucks? Maybe. Maybe not. I don't know. Neither do you. Report facts, not gossip.

stephy said...

Did I say something that wasn't factual? I'm sorry. Let me know where so I can correct it.

Kevin said...

Stephy, I just assume you made up all of this crazy shit. I mean, who would base a budgeting self-help series on the bible? Jesus fucking HATED rich people.

morganguyton said...

Ayn Rand is a much better messiah than Jesus for people who want to live the Dave Ramsey dream.

http://www.redletterchristians.org/the-danger-of-dave-ramseys-gospel-of-self-reliance/

http://morganguyton.wordpress.com/2011/09/16/ayn-rand-vs-jesus/

Katrina, Sunday School Blogger said...

A few of my good friends are insane about Dave Ramsey. They talk about him all the time, and most of the time, I just kind of zone out because I don't know much about him or what he discusses. Thank you for this blog post—you've helped me get a better understanding of what Ramsey's all about—including some of his shortcomings.

Anonymous said...

Man, what a bunch of envy.

So, a guy who provides great jobs for lots of people and gives a lot to charity is an a-hole because he has a huge house and good life?

How many of us have created tons of good jobs for a lot of people while helping others get their lives together?

Come on everyone. Share your stories of helping others with your provision of valuable services and providing gainful employment to many others.

Google Bono's house. He has a cool place, too. Does that mean he is an a-hole, too?

Anonymous said...

"I think $10 to the homeless guy on the street does more good."

Amen, says the liquor store owner.

stephy said...

Don't believe in riches but you should see where I live. —Bono

Jeffrey Baker said...

Just a comment on some exegesis. When talking about the rich young ruler, you can't stop at the camel in the needle, but need to continue the rest of the conversation. 26"Then who has any chance at all?" the others asked.

27"No chance at all," Jesus said, "if you think you can pull it off by yourself. Every chance in the world if you trust God to do it."

This is a conversation about earning your way to God and about public perception that being rich means you were in with God. That perception is based on a proverbs only approach to wisdom literature that ignores Job and really ignores Ecclesiastes.

Jesus isn't condemning the rich (at least not in this parable) to damnation. He is saying that everyone is dependent upon God. Which is I think much of your main point.

Ben said...

Shorter Anonymous: If you're not as rich as me, you're jealous!

Tony D said...

27"No chance at all," Jesus said, "if you think you can pull it off by yourself. Every chance in the world if you trust God to do it."

Verily, what a groovy, now translation!

Reminds me of a 60s refugee who told me about the New Testaments she used to hand out in Berkeley that had St. Paul saying things like, "I want you cats to be hip to this"...

Cristyn said...

I just posted this on my facebook, and I got blasted for it by a loved one. Apparently I'm not allowed to have an opinion on Christianity anymore now that I'm in a crisis of faith and drifting away from it. I thought that this particular person would find it funny, but she didn't. Instead, she told me that the way I present things is what is offensive, not what is being said. But all I did was copy and paste this blog.

stephy said...

Copy and paste or send me a screencap of what they said and I'll put it on the SCCL Facebook page. Super cathartic.

Cristyn said...

Nah, I couldn't do that. It's someone I love very much, and I know she means well. I wouldn't want it getting back to her and hurting her feelings. BUT after we talked a bit, she warned me about becoming bitter. So I linked her to your blog entry about calling anger bitterness. She started to get it after that. She's actually a pretty open minded person, I think she just needed to have a dialogue with me in order to understand. :D

stephy said...

Oh, thank goodness!

Anonymous said...

@Stephy
So Stephy. It seems that you seem to have a problem with peoples opinions. After all, anyone that has voiced an opinion that has criticized the thread or have sided with Dave have apparently "Missed the point of the post". I have a concern with that. Obviously you have a thorn in your side about wealth and the status of being "Christian". Is the point of the post that only people who live dirt poor of their own volition are the only true Christians? It seems to be. The post may be aimed at Dave, but it encompasses any human being on the planet who is in the upper-middle and above tax bracket and has the apparent audacity of calling themselves christian. So the point of this post is: To be an ignorant typical american who most likely doesn't have that much money, writing a flame post criticizing a man who is successful because they are jealous, and then seeing who responds. In my opinion, this post is a huge Troll against wealth. You want to know how the wealthy became wealthy? Because they weren't morons with their money. You want to know why the poor are poor? Because they were. Granted there are numerous exceptions that you could bring up, but then you are missing the point of my comment. Wealth isn't the product of being arrogant and greedy. Wealth is the product of intelligent use of assets. The poor have either squandered their assets, been too lazy to acquire any real assets, or in many rare cases, have lost their money to a true financial crisis. The latter is sad and should be helped, but I say anyone who does not have the guts or the brains to earn themselves a good living are being very ignorant and stubborn. Now, lets talk about the apparent lack of Christianity Dave (and by implication, any wealthy person) has due to his having 18 shower heads. I don't care if he's the richest man on the planet or a guy who just won the lottery, if you are a person who gives themselves to other people, be it time or money, then they are cristian, whether or not they have 18 shower heads or 180 shower heads. All Christ requires of us is our best, not someone elses best, but OUR best. How can we be expected to live according to, say Mother Theresa's best. 99% can't even come close. So why should you expect Dave, or anyone else for that matter, to live up to what you think a true christian is? In fact, your opinion doesn't even matter. Is Dave going to just up and give up his money and his house because you said he wasn't a true christian? Why should anyone take any action on what is, in my opinion, a very narrow minded judgment of someone else that is better off than you. Shame on you for being so egotistical and base. If you think about it a bit more, you're also being a bit hypocritical yourself. If christ read this post, would he be leaving a comment judging others based upon their standings in life, their opinions, or their views as you have done? Would he agree with this post? Christ associated with the poor AND the rich. The lepers, the beggars, the merchants, the fishers, even the priests who mocked him during his ministry. So, it isn't whether we have 18 shower heads in our shower, it's have we given ALL WE CAN, be it MONEY or TIME, as both are of equal value. You can be the poorest man on earth and still give a $100,000 to the needy with the time that you give. Dave has devoted his career to helping those who are in financial crisis, getting them debt free, and heck, he gives to charity on top of that. In my opinion, he has EARNED those shower heads on top of being a great christian.

Anonymous said...

Also, how old are you Stephy? Because if you are anywhere under 50 years old, you do not have any sufficient life experience with which to judge another human being by. And if you are over 50, you still don't. Both Christ and God are the only beings in this life who can judge a man, as only they know a mans intent. We as human beings have no place to criticize one another on our actions, let alone make accusations based upon supposed intents and an unreachable goal of "Christianity" the you seem to impose upon every other human being upon the face of this earth.

stephy said...

Anonymous, I'm so sorry, where have I criticized someone who's disagreed with me? (PS - I'm 85.)

Phillip said...

What about the poor you could have fed with the (hundreds of?)thousands of dollars you've spent on plastic surgery, stephy? Accept your age and grow old gracefully!

It's just illogical! Or is it dementia? Do you know what day it is?

Brandt Dotson said...

Wow, this anonymous guy really knows the heart of the Gospel, doesn't he. I distinctly remember Jesus saying 'Thou shalt save all your money, and when your storehouse gets too big, build a bigger one so you can store more stuff. Then when you die, just pack that stuff on a camel's back and head to heaven! And those who are poor are idiots, for they do not save. Blessed are the rich, for their goodness shall trickle down. Now somebody honor Me with a back rub!'

Oh, wait. No, He didn't say that. he said the opposite.

Christianity has been hijacked by the greedy. Dave Ramsey and those like him, and whoever this anonymous guy (or woman) is are certainly not Christian. They may say they believe, but even the demons believe, and they tremble.

Simone said...

Wow, anonymous. "The poor have either squandered their assets, been too lazy to acquire any real assets, or in many rare cases, have lost their money to a true financial crisis." Yep. Those are the ONLY reasons why people are poor. A "true Christian" (whatever that is) would have their head out of their pile of money long enough to know about the elements of society that set people on a path that prevents them from pulling themselves out of their circumstances. I assume you didn't start in the gutter as many poor people do.

"...but I say anyone who does not have the guts or the brains to earn themselves a good living are being very ignorant and stubborn." Sounds like someone is taking their education and supposed intelligence for granted. Do you honestly think everyone was born into a level playing field? This ignorance of the plight of the poor is what makes wealthy Christians bad Christians, not being wealthy. Thanks for assisting in making Stephy's point.

Jeff said...

Wow, such a wall of text. Please consider not hoarding parapraph marks. I know that the original bible texts were short on paper and left out spaces (and vowels in the Hebrew) but really this is a step too far.

Next, Stephy has a very valid critique against the prosperity gospel heresy. This is a heresy that equates financial success with God's favor. The worst example of this is idea that achieving financial success (cleanly) meant you had earned God's favor. Almost as bad is the presumption that financial success is attributable to God's favor and is a sign that one is part of the elect. I believe denying both of these are secondary purposes of the rich young ruler passage. (I'm enough of a reform theologian to assert that the primary purpose is to demonstrate grace alone to Peter et al.)

Kevin said...

I just read a lengthy Judith Butler argument. Its logic was so densely woven and faultless that I am stunned. And then, what should I see immediately after but Anonymous' ignorant comment. Primed by my intellectual journey with Judith Butler, I attempted to figure out the logic of this sizable post.

Regrettably, I am sad to report that if you dig into Anonymous's post you can see that he/she doesn't have any actual logic, and any attempt of mine to assign coherency to it would be naked projection.

To wit-

In post 1 Anonymous says that this post is "a flame post criticizing a man who is successful because they are jealous, and then seeing who responds."

While in post 2 he/she says "We as human beings have no place to criticize one another on our actions, let alone make accusations based upon supposed intents"

Coherency? No.

In post 1 Anonymous says "The poor have either squandered their assets, been too lazy to acquire any real assets,"

And a few lines down anonymous also says "If christ read this post, would he be leaving a comment judging others based upon their standings in life[...]?"

Coherency? No.

And here's my favorite- about midway through this giant, meandering, pointless, mean-sprited, accusatory, logorrheic diatribe, he/she says "Shame on you for being so egotistical and base."

How about this Anonymous, ditch the rage and try to talk constructively with Stephy or the other commentors about your thoughts. We'd be happy to hear them. But drop the tone, it is undignified and childish. I don't think you will try to have an honest chat with us though. I think you are a troll and we all know that rolls have no interest in productive dialogue.

I'm going to hazard a guess. Anonymous is one of those Christians who conflates Christianity with capitalism, who hates the very poor people Christ attempted to serve, and who cannot for the life of him/her understand a post about how Christianity is directly opposed to being a money-making venture.

If Anonymous disagrees with my characterization, Anonymous should respond. He/she won't (because he/she is a troll) but he/she should.

Glenn said...

Kevin wrote,
"Stephy, I just assume you made up all of this crazy shit. I mean, who would base a budgeting self-help series on the bible? Jesus fucking HATED rich people."

I'm still laughing. Favorite comment, Kevin. Thank you.

NoDebtDave said...

If Jesus himself didn't talk about tithing and it's only an "Old Testament" thing, then explain Matthew 23:23.

I really don’t like it when we want to ignore the Old Testament.....Jesus clarified many things in the Old Testament, but he did not nullify it. In many cases, as in Matthew 23:33, it seems to me that he re-affirms it.


Most of the people on here that are commenting on Ramsey clearly know very little about what he teaches....sadly even many of the ones who said they went through FPU....I guess you weren't very good students if you did. I'd be curious to know of anyone who has been negatively affected by his teachings. I'd also point out that everything Dave Ramsey teaches is available for FREE....his books are all available at the library, and his radio program doesn't cost you anything to listen too....any of us who have spent money for his products have done so willingly. I can't think of anything worse in society than poor Christians because they lack the common sense principles that are taught in the Bible....without wealth among Godly people then who is left to take care of the poor....the Government?

John said...

NoDebtDave obviously misses Jesus' point in Matt. 23:23, that scripture wasn't about tithing, it was about how pharisees neglected mercy, faith, and justice, just like Dave Ramsey and the author of this comment has done. Woe to the pharisees, they speak the same now as they did in Jesus' time.

Jesus' message was about Love, mercy, faith, and NOT about money!!!! That is the irony of Dave Ramsey's message. If it was a Christ centered message, then it would value what Jesus valued, which was NOT wealth.

WordVixen said...

"because they lack the common sense principles that are taught in the Bible" No, no, no, no, no! Even the Bible says that it doesn't make sense in earthly terms!

"without wealth among Godly people then who is left to take care of the poor....the Government?" See, this makes me cry. I could understand the concern if Christians were as generous as we're supposed to be- it would be difficult indeed to replace generosity such as that. However, we're not. Almost none of us are. But you know who is? Kind people who actually feel for other people- no matter who or what they do or don't believe in. And the problem is, if you're waiting to become wealthy before you give generously, then chances are, you'll never give. (I know, I'm talking to myself here)

buzzalot said...

You do know that you can help people without giving them money? It isn't ALL about money.

shelly said...

If Jesus himself didn't talk about tithing and it's only an "Old Testament" thing, then explain Matthew 23:23.

John's already done that. However, I will also add that that particular verse was directed to a particular group of people (the Pharisees) at a particular period of time. Let's remember that, until Jesus was crucified and he died on the cross, Mosaic law was still in effect. It is not in effect now. We are under grace. To advocate tithing is to encourage the mixing of law and grace, and it dilutes the finished work of the cross.

Jesus never taught tithing. Jesus never tithed; in fact, he would've been exempt from tithing under Mosaic law because he was not a farmer, nor did he raise livestock. His initial trade was carpentry. The apostle Paul also never tithed (his trade was tentmaking; he'd also have been exempt from tithing), nor did he teach tithing. Both taught, and advocated, giving.

I also highly recommend the book Tithing: Low-Realm, Obsolete & Defunct by Matthew E. Narramore. To me, it explains very well why tithing is NOT for present-day Christians. (Actually, all present-day "tithing" is, is a church tax!) If you google the title and/or author, you can find the entire thing online.

NoDebtDave said...

Wow....John didn't deal with it well, or truthfully. Shelly, I guess I just can't argue with people that can't read, or just refuse to acknowledge what the words actually say. Nothing more than I hate, is so-called modern Christians, who think that Jesus invalidated the old law completely.....it simply isn't true (if it were then the bible you read from wouldn't contain it anymore)... In some cases Jesus specifically validated the old law as he does in Matthew 23:23 (which in your red letter bibles was colored RED) and in other cases he clarified and added to the law with the new covenant.

Here are some various wordings of the scripture, and some mention the "tithe" by name.....others refer to that fact that the Pharisee’s should not have ignored justice, mercy, and faithfulness (because to Jesus these were more important, but continues to say, "…without neglecting the former" (specifically referring to the tithe).

New International Version (©1984)
"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices--mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law--justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.

New Living Translation (©2007)
"What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore the more important aspects of the law--justice, mercy, and faith. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things.

English Standard Version (©2001)
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.

New American Standard Bible (©1995)
"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others.

You are right about one thing WordVixen that many Christians are hypocrites, and by the sounds of things here, people want to somehow justify that they are also not tithing or giving what they should, because they are probably caught up in the other conformities of today’s society by living life in debt. I can prove it through scripture, but if you are just going to ignore the words and believe what you want then I can’t help you.
So let’s see how you stack up, John, Shelly and WordVixen? How much do you owe on your cars or student loans? I suppose you also “responsibly” use credit cards and care about your credit score. Of course you seem to only think that the Bible only preaches love and butterflies, when it is indeed a handbook of daily life for Christians. And that book recommends that Christians tithe (10% off the top, before you pay your bills), it also recommends taking care of your family first, for not doing so makes you worse than a non-believer, and then….we should be able to give, give, give. So tell me what is wrong with that? Unless you want to be Mother Theresa, you can’t give without building some wealth….at least not if you want to make an impact. There is nothing wrong with wealth in the right hands. Most Christians want to give more, but they’re broke….7 out of 10 live from paycheck to paycheck and regularly give less than 3%….so put down Dave all you want, what he teaches is useful and needed, even for those of you just trying to make excuses about how living without debt is not consistent with the teachings of the WHOLE Bible! Lame!

stephy said...

I couldn't have made my point with this post any better than NoDebtDave is making it for me.

Kevin said...

It seems that the further they are from understanding your point, Stephy, the more likely they are to be thin-skinned, defensive, and-worst of all- rude.

Brandt Dotson said...

The emphasis on tithing is a total modern Christian thing. This guy is judging the heart of a Christian based on how much debt they do or do not have. And we can talk about using wealth to help people all we want... the reality is many Christians with wealth worry more about their bank accounts and having all their stuff paid off and boasting about it... and not a whole lot of that wealth actually goes toward helping others. And giving your 10% to your mega church so they can pay the light bill for their stadium isn't 'helping.'

I've read the Bible, too, many times. I also know the prosperity doctrine very well. I used to teach it, and I used to work for a prosperity-based ministry. I regret so much for leading people astray, and I repent for that. It's pretty clear that the prosperity gospel is greed-based. The scriptures used are taken completely out of context, and the scriptures that speak against greed, possession and wealth far outnumber the ones that don't. They even go as far as to twist the meaning of Christ's parables, which is perverse beyond all comprehension. The 1st and 2nd century Christians did not believe in the prosperity Gospel, and they were taught by the original apostles who were taught by Christ Himself. New doctrines are man-based, because the Gospel of Jesus Christ does not change. A new doctrine created in the 20th century by modern Americans is a false doctrine, now matter how many Bible versus are used to justify it.

Wealthy people can certainly be Christians, and there are many wealthy Christians who are wonderful, selfless people. But to diminish those who don't have wealth or for having debt is so un-Christlike that I don't even know how one can follow Christ and treat others that poorly. People need love and encouragement, not condemnation. And twisting a Christian's desire to know Christ into giving money leads them into serious spiritual illness and it deeply saddens me.

These prosperity peddlers are so poor in spirit, and so poor in scriptural knowledge. And they certainly spend a lot of time defending men, and should be spending more time spreading the Gospel. Money has nothing to do with faith, and it has nothing to do with the Kingdom of God.

And we can give out of hearts, and we should, and it does not matter if it's 1% or 10% or 100%. And the reward we get is not 'more stuff.' The Widow gave her mite, which was equivalent to about 2 pennies, and Jesus praised her for it. He never condemned her for being poor.

WordVixen said...

Alright, NoDebtDave, I'll answer your question/statement.

Car debt- none. I paid cash. It's a '97 with well over 100k miles on it. But it runs great (so far) and looks pretty good. I also paid less than it was worth at the time.

Student loan- none. College is a waste for most professions, and all of the professions that I had an interest in didn't require a degree.

Credit cards- Yes, I use them responsibly. I don't use them AT ALL except for recurring payments- most of which are business related.

Credit score- I check it from time to time, but I'm more concerned with identity fraud than I am the actual score. We're not likely to change residences, open lines of credit, or anything else that requires a credit check in the next year or so, so it is what it is.

As for my opinion on the Bible, while I can't speak for the others, I certainly do not consider it to be full of butterflies and love- ok, full of love, yes. Love is the actual point of the Bible. But butterflies, no. And I'm not quite sure where you came up with the idea that any of us believe that?

I'm also unclear on where you came up with any of us claiming that living without debt is un-biblical?

Though many others have pointed out that not all giving is money (just ask the kids whose parents buy them anything they want but never spend time with them), I think we'll be at an impasse until we're able to agree on the definition of "wealth". By some people's standards, I'm rolling in it because I don't live in box. By others', I'm among the poor who need charity because I don't have a new car and I don't own a house. By my standards, I'm about normal- I rent a decent (but not extravagant) place, I have a decent (but not new) vehicle, and while I don't have to find a second penny so I can rub the two together, I still need to watch the grocery bill.

Let's break something down for you even more- my husband believes that churches are corrupt and swears that they will never get any of his (our) money. Do you want me to tithe despite his position, or would you rather that I "submit" to his authority?

Any tithing or giving that I do comes straight out of my little side business, since that money doesn't go directly to any of our expenses, our shared bank account, or our budget.

(BTW, I don't actually dislike Ramsey, and actually enjoy listening to his voice. I just get into these conversations because of comments that completely miss the point of the post.)

Chris said...

"...You can’t give without building some wealth….at least not if you want to make an impact."

Dave, I would appreciate it if you would go fuck yourself for invalidating anyone that gives out of their lack, and misrepresenting an entire religion so that you can defend your pet idol.

Would you like to discuss the WHOLE Bible? I don't think you do. I think you want to defend your money because you worked hard for it and it gives you self-worth. Let’s look at a little bit more of the Bible that you so love to abuse people with shall we?

Mark 12:41-44
41 And He sat down opposite the treasury, and began observing how the people were putting money into the treasury; and many rich people were putting in large sums. 42 A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which amount to a cent. 43 Calling His disciples to Him, He said to them, “Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury; 44 for they all put in out of their surplus, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to live on.”

It's too bad that building wealth is required to give (according to you.) It appears that Jesus was wrong then? How interesting. Shall we go on?

Numbers 18:21
Behold, I have given the children of Levi all the tithes in Israel as an inheritance in return for the work which they perform, the work of the tabernacle of meeting.

The actual "tithe" of the Old Testament was to go directly to the priests as they did not get an inheritance like the other tribes of Israel when they entered the Promised Land. 10% of the entire economy was devoted to supporting the priesthood. Then, the priests themselves tithed 10% to the High Priest in order to offer it as sacrifice to God.

Numbers 18:26
... When you take from the children of Israel the tithes which I have given you ... then you shall offer up a heave offering of it to the LORD, a tenth of the tithe.

So, unless your church is setting fire to 10% of all the donations they receive during your Sunday morning worship service, they are not following Gods mandates. Moving on.

Deut 14:28 ... bring out the tithe of your produce of that year and store it up within your gates. 29 And the Levite, because he has no portion nor inheritance with you, and the stranger and the fatherless and the widow who are within your gates, may come and eat and be satisfied, ...

So again, after you give the 10% of your wealth to the church, I assume that they have an open bank account that anyone in need can come and take what they need right? Because, that's what it says. Right there. In the Bible. No? Oh, you probably want to "steward it" so that it doesn't get wasted. See, that's the funny thing about the tithe. God decided how it gets used, because IT IS GOD’S MONEY. You "stewarding it" in any way other than giving it away to whoever needs it, is spitting in Gods face and saying that you know better than he does how HIS MONEY should be managed. Huge brass balls you have there Dave.

Basically, you have no clue what you are talking about. If you want to live by even one part of the law than you are bound to keep the entire thing. Galatians? Read it?

You are confusing personal money with Tithes. You confused on what a tithe actually is. You are attacking people over things that they have not even said. You are belittling people, for no reason other than that they dislike your Idol Dave Ramsey, without providing ANY actual proof, only threats and empty promises.

You say that you can prove your case using the WHOLE Bible? I welcome the read. Good fucking luck. I'm not even a little tiny bit worried that you'll have a tangible argument.

Until then, go bully someone else. I don't appreciate the hostility, and I don't appreciate the shame you heaped out in your last post either. Am I being hostile here? You bet. Regrets? Nope. Treat others how you want to be treated. Apparently your love language is being a dick. So, Love you Dave! 

John said...

@NoDebtDave Your words are like clanging brass. If you really do value wealth over love, then you cannot be a Christian. Giving and tithing is not even about money! Love is the most important thing, its what Jesus said were the greatest commandments. If you tithe, and still have no love, you just wasted your money. Your lack of love is apparent, and I really feel sorry for you.

shelly said...

Dave, dude, really? YOU'RE the one who doesn't get it.

Greed is a sin. The love of money is the root of all sorts of evil. You can't serve God and money (mammon). Tithing IS, despite what many a Christian believe, part of the Law. All of that is in the Bible. (Personally, I also believe present-day tithing is a form of legalism and bondage, not to mention it invalidates the finished work of the cross.)

Plus? You CAN give without building wealth first. Ever hear of the concept of giving your TIME to something? You know, stuff like volunteering at a homeless shelter, or a shelter for victims of domestic violence, or offering to watch a friend's kids while zie and hir spouse have a night out ("zie" and "hir" are gender-neutral pronouns, by the way), or visiting a nursing home. You know, stuff like that?

Oh, and for what it's worth? I don't owe any car payments because I don't have a car, not to mention I don't drive anyway (I can walk or cycle most places and ask for a ride to others). I don't have any student debt because I didn't go to college (not the right path for me). I don't have any credit card debt because... wait for it... I don't have any credit cards. (I use a debit card to pay for virtually everything.) Credit score is something I'm not concerned with. (If my identity were stolen, on the other hand...)

And I am VERY familiar with the "Prosperity Gospel"/Word-Faith Movement/"Name It Claim It" nonsense that some churches like to push. It's an extremely dangerous and irresponsible theology because it turns money into a god. It is, as Brandt said, greed-based. I've read stories of people who've "sown seed" into a person's ministry because they believed they'd receive a personal miracle of some sort if they did, only to get burned by it. (Some of them even donated everything they had to live on, and many of them were poor to begin with.)

All those who rely on the works of the Law are under a curse, because it is written, Everyone is cursed who does not keep on doing all the things that have been written in the Law scroll. (Galatians 3:10, quoting Deuteronomy 27:26; Common English Bible)

So why was the Law given? It was added because of offenses, until the descendant would come to whom the promise had been made. It was put in place through angels by the hand of a mediator. Now the mediator does not take one side; but God is one. So, is the Law against the promises of God? Absolutely not! If a Law had been given that was able to give life, then righteousness would in fact have come from the Law. But scripture locked up all things under sin, so that the promise based on the faithfulness of Jesus Christ might be given to those who have faith. Before faith came, we were guarded under the Law, locked up until faith that was coming would be revealed, so that the Law became our custodian until Christ so that we might be made righteous by faith.
God’s children are heirs in Christ

But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a custodian.
(Galatians 3:19-25; CEB)

Shaun Somers said...

Hello. This post is my first exposure to this blog - very interesting and I look forward to reading more.

In the interest of full disclosure I'd like to say that I am a DR-trained Financial Coach and I regularly lead FPU classes. I also help people with their own finances - sometimes for a fee, sometimes not (depending on their circumstance) - based on the principles Dave teaches.

I myself am not 100% comfortable with the home and number of shower heads that Dave has chosen to purchase. However, I just purchased a home in December with 2000 sqft and 1 shower head for $150k - despite there being homes available for purchase in my city for $50k less. The difference in monthly payment would do a lot of good for the poor - am I wrong for having purchased it and yet claiming to be a Christ-follower?

I also wanted to address The Reporter's concerns about Dave Ramsey's debt snowball system not being mathmatically correct, and his program being more psychology/self help. I would agree with you on that, and I'm sure Dave would too! He says personal finance is 80% emotional and 20% math, which from my experience seems about right. Some people these days mangage to get themselves in a LOT of debt. It's not because they can't do math; it's because they've overspent and the reason why is usually an emotional one.

Lining up one's debts by interest rate but giving up after 4 months is going to end up more expensive than doing it DR's way and actually completing it.

paul said...

It's amazing how Davey manages to do all he does while simultaneously taking "no thought" for what he will wear or eat. But then, who needs a god when you have a house like that?

Anonymous said...

THANK YOU for asserting the uncomfortable truth. Being rich is definitely a tremendous sin as long as people are starving or unable to afford health care, etc. There is no point escaping the uncomfortable truth. Jesus told the rich man to "sell all his possessions and give to the poor" BECAUSE every human being deserves necessities (food, health care, etc.) more than any rich person deserves luxuries in God's eyes. To pretend otherwise would just be preaching a lie.

Tim said...

It it appropriate for you yourself to arrive at your conclusion without you yourself also selling everything you have and giving it to the poor? I may be dead wrong, but that sure doesn't sound like the grace Paul preached to the church, but sounds rather Pharisaical.

kari said...

@chris, maybe you should have 'invited' brass-balls-dave to go fuck himself. more christian that way.

your comments are hilarious, thank you.

Anonymous said...

Be faithful with little, and you will be entrusted with a lot. Then again this only applies to Christians.

Anonymous said...

Sooo, Lets take a poll. How many people that have posted sold everything they had (any wealth or possessions) to donate to the poor? That would include your house, car, jewelry (engament rings), any sort of luxuries that include unecessary foods or clothing (anything that you actually do not need in order to survive)? Here is a break down...

Clothes - you are only 1 pair of shoes (you only have two feet)/ 1 jacket/ 1 pair of pants / 3 shirts / uniform to go to work. You do not want to waste money as there are kids that do not have clothes.

Food - Only rice and beans - this would be enough for survival. You do not want to waste money as there are children starving...

No need of a house - there are shelters that you can live on. You do not want to waste money on rent or a mortage as there are kids that do not have a place to sleep.

No computer / cable / internet. you dont need for survival.

No Cars - public transportation / or walking. You do not want to waste money on gas, insurance, car payments when there are kids who are very needy.

Wealth/ luxuries it is not just having 18 shower heads, and a million dollar house but also having 5 pairs of shoes or any other unnecessary item/luxury that you have.

Where do you draw the line? It seems that we have tendency to draw the line outside of our lives? My house is worth millions, or only 1 shower head? This is ludicrous! Those who have not sinned / or have any luxury in their lives cast the first stone.

I hope people can be honest and reply to the post with the following ...

1) I have done all that and have been doing all that. I am going to say to you ... you are much more that I can ever be.

2) I dont do all these things. I am going to say to you ... Welcome to striving Christian Club.

I am for responsible spending but this christian perfection is unattainable hence our need for grace. Even DR is recipient of Gods Grace, 18 shower et al.



Simeon said...

@Anonymous, above my comment. As a Buddhist practitioner I don't judge Ramsey on that. Or judge him at all. He should leave his faith out of it.

Jesus, I think, taught more about spiritual freedom. Money can't provide that. Attachments can't provide that. Giving up everything is not so much for the poor as it is for ones self. Being financially free is a good place to be from a Buddhist perceptive as it frees one to look else where (inside) to heal.

You can still pay by cash for "stuff" but its still "stuff" one chains themselves to. And its more about you being able to address your cravings.

The Buddha, Siddhartha, was rich. He gave it all up to find true freedom.

Anonymous said...

Christ spoke a lot of hard sayings. He also said unless you hate your father and mother you couldn't follow him. How many casting stones at DR have kicked their parents to the curb? As some have stated here, the point Christ was making is that he sees the heart, and he wants first place in your heart. Motives matter as well to him; the widow who gave her two mites God didn't praise her for the amount she gave but because of the attitude she gave it with. Likewise he didn't condemn the amount given by the rich but their attitude. He amplified the 10 commandments by saying if you lust in your heart you've committed adultery and if you hate your brother you've committed murder. Christ said "man looks on the outside but God looks at the heart". Remember Ananias and Sapphira's sin was not that they didn't give all of their money to the Church but that they lied about it in order to look important. Peter said that the money was theirs to give or not to give. The New Testament has plenty of examples of rich people who used their riches to bless others without becoming poor: Joseph of Arimathea was a rich man who had his own carved grave, a luxury perhaps on level with 18 shower heads at that time, and he allowed Jesus to be buried in it. Lydia of Thyatira was a seller of purple, the royal color, and was undoubtedly VERY rich. Paul praised her because she used her money to help others.

Remember also the parable of the talents. He took the 1 talent from the person who didn't use it and gave it to the one who had the most and did use them. Those who are faithful in little will be trusted in much. The history of Israel is full of examples of where when they were faithful God blessed them. When the blessings distracted them from God and they felt they no longer needed Him, he took it away. God does bless some financially, not all, I don't espouse Health and Wealth doctrine.
If you are blessed by God financially through your own efforts or the talents/skills he gives you praise God and glorify him with it.

I can't judge DR's heart, only God can. Is he doing good with his money? I think so. If nothing else by the act of multiplication by teaching others to leave debt and use the money we free up to bless others. I think a case can be made that the Bible teaches that debt is not a good thing. Prov. 22:7 says the borrower is slave to the lender. Also when we live a life of debt we are most likely doing so to spend on ourselves. I don't know many people who run up 200K debt to feed the poor. I know he also gives a large amount to charities. More than I'll ever give.

To be continued.

Anonymous said...

continued...

Is the problem that DR claims to be a Christian and says that he feels what he teaches is in line with the Gospel? Or is it that he's successful? It seems a lot of people use judgementalism to mask envy, or bitterness that they aren't as successful as others. Remember,the Bible teaches to not covet anything our neighbor has. It also teaches that we all have different roles to play in the Church and the hand should not complain it's not an eye. Let DR live the life he feels God has called him to and only judge any heresy he may teach (none that I know of) and let him be the hand or foot or eye that God wants him to be while you do the work you're supposed to do.

I've not taken FPU but I've heard his radio show and have been convicted of how selfish I have been with my own money, and how foolish I've used it at times. Is he a rock star to me? No. I think the criticism of CC can be shared with western culture at large. Things that appeal to a bunch of people get "hot" and we are excited about it. Christians are the same in that regard as everyone else, maybe because we are human too. I think Christians may feel more isolated/attacked from the general pop culture and so they may be too excited about a cultural figure they can identify with, like DR or Tebow. So it could be an over-reaction but its understandable considering the hostile environment we are in these days.

Anonymous said...

Also, a word about tithe:

The concept of a tithe goes back to the beginning before the Law. Remember Cain and Able. Able offered the "first fruits" of his labor, in his case shepherding. When Abraham defeated the kings of Elamite he offered a tenth of what he looted to the Priest-King Melkizadek. So the tithe concept predates the giving of the Law. It is also considered a basis, or minimum. The scripture often refers to tithes AND offerings. Offerings being above and beyond the tithe. Also tithes don't have to be only money, they most certainly can be time and any yield. So giving your neighbor vegetables from your garden, could be an offering to God if given in that spirit.

Anonymous said...

Forgot to mention that Daniel said that the exile of the Israelites to Babylon was because they refused to give God a tithe of the land. The land was supposed to lay fallow every 7th year as a tithe to God. (I guess to show the Israelites that God is their provider, not the land) They had failed to do that for 490 years so God said they would be in exile for 70 years so that the land would lay fallow for the time it was supposed to be offered as tithe but wasn't. Just another example of how tithe is not just money.

Steven Kippel said...

I just realized this Frank fellow was talking up metals as an investment. Which is a particular brand of CC that somehow also reconciles Ayn Rand among their Ikons.

If you took Frank's advice, you would have seen your investment plummet while Ramsey's advice in mutual funds would have seen significant growth. Goldbugs don't seem to realize metals don't have any intrinsic value and are given to the same laws of supply and demand as USD and T-bills. The latter two have much more demand than precious metals.

Gold prices have fallen so much that mines are operating at a loss.

Frank literally put his faith in the gold Jesus commanded to abandon.

Jon Scovell said...

You misinterpreted the story of Jesus asking the rich man to give up his money and follow him. This is not a commandment from Jesus for His followers not to be financially wealthy. It's about giving up what you have, sacrificing what is important to you and following Him. It's not about money but the things in our life that get in the way of having a personal relationship with Jesus.

Amy Latta said...

My sister gave my husband and me a class to Financial Peace. Some of his ideas made sense, but the class was purely about getting out of debt. I'm sure the kit we had to get wasn't cheap and the two classes we went to felt cold and commercialized. That's why I love Clark Howard. You can call up anytime and get free financial advice. His website doesn't sell anything and he doesn't endorse any companies. When my husband and I bought a house, we used free resources from his site to help us figure everything out.