One of the problems I have always had with the Bible, going all the way back to bible school, which I had most Sundays from age 5 to the 8th grade, was this idea that a rich person was evil and working against God unless they gave away all their material items during their life and wholly dedicated their life to God, in every way. I have never read the Bible that way nor interpreted religion with such narrowmindedness. Making money and religion were always two separate things as defined by the old powers of Europe, and I really didn’t have a personal approach to it until recently, when I spent a considerable time in the deserts of New Mexico writing my book The Gunfighter’s Guide to Business, and specifically the chapter where I say, “Money is not the Root of all Evil.” There I argue that America has been a different kind of invention that couldn’t have been understood during the Biblical period, nor when the Romans decided what books of the Bible to include in the Council of Nicaea. Cultures have been hindering themselves with this problem for many thousands of years at this point, and it’s caused a lot of problems. But before you can come to a rational conclusion on the matter, you have to go against literally every pastor, minister, and biblical interpreter that has ever been known because I think they all got it wrong and that they have been holding civilization back, and creating many of the problems we see today politically, and have actually empowered evil to thrive behind the definitions as they have been interpreted by institutionalism, as the Roman Empire was undoubtedly inspired to do.
A few of the most controversial passages from the Bible regarding wealth come from the Book of James 2:6 “But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you and draw you before the judgment seats?” Then again, with Jesus saying in Luke 18:25 that “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God,” There are many others, of course, littered throughout the Bible and I would argue not so much that they are wrong, but that they don’t capture the entirety of the morality of money. I have personally been able to forgive the Bible for these definitions, which run counter to the essence of a life well lived, but at the core of how the political left attacks conservatives is this deeply rooted guilt of making money and taking care of the poor. Because if a conservative has made a lot of money in their life, then by association, they will turn away from the Bible because it doesn’t fit their life experience with definitions like what the Bible provides. But with all other things, especially in the definitions of evil, which are well articulated throughout the Bible, then those get tossed away as well. My argument has been that the concept of American capitalism, as established by the wonderful book The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, is that in the times of Jesus, nobody had good definitions of money and how they were moral markers in a healthy society. And who would have expected the writers of the Bible to ever figure it out during that period of human history? Indeed, proper definitions of the value of money in a culture did not arrive upon the human race until Ayn Rand did it in her outstanding work, Atlas Shrugged, in 1957. And such a definition would have only come from a culture like America, which was vastly different in its use of capitalism than any other place in the world.
America was created to answer an ancient problem: living life free of kings and regional governors. In such a society, the only way to get rich was to obtain permission to be so by schmoozing up to the powers that controlled the region people lived in. And this is undoubtedly the issue during the teachings of Jesus. To preach the ways of God that he was, away from Jewish institutionalism, was a severe rebellion in those times. It was an unheard-of menace, so they plotted to kill him. And, of course, the people who were protecting their wealth would have been the villains of what Jesus was preaching. But there wasn’t an America even conceived of at the time, and the writers of the Bible never could imagine anything like freedom being possible. So the problem persists for a nation like America that it was built around a religious connection to ancient documents that defined money before the concept of individual freedom had been worked out politically. And for the human race, that is a very recent development. It’s even more recent than the work of Karl Marx in Europe. There is a morality to money, as applied by the United States, that is quite a good measure that is fundamental to rooting out evil in a society that is very much the topic of our present politics and is the theme of our times.
I benefit from knowing many people in my life who are very rich. In some cases, they are extremely rich, and I have been able to see up close how that wealth creation has benefited the world around them. Adding to that an extensive study of comparative religion and reverence specifically for biblical research, I can see how definitions working against the rich, or materialism in general, would cause people problems. But I would say the Bible is wrong about wealth creation and the “rich” in general while being “right” about the definitions of “evil” itself. We can’t just pick and choose what we like in the Bible and toss out that which we don’t, which most religions do, no matter what their source material is. Instead, I would say that wealth creation has benefited from inventions in politics over the years and that the criteria for rich people have changed with the creation of America. Money helps a healthy society measure the morality of a culture in ways that institutions have never achieved after many centuries of trying. In a free culture, those who make money do so because society values something they produce for that society. But we associate wealth creation such as the Biden family has achieved as a sell-out of his office to the rivals who would like to destroy the concept of capitalism to hide their evil actions behind the traditional definitions they can’t live up to. But for a person like President Trump, who has acquired all the material items and wealth that could be imagined in a single lifetime, then used that wealth to fight for the cause of truth and justice, then suddenly the Biblical definitions aren’t broad enough to encompass the morality of money as a representative of a life well lived. Then, in that case, all wealth creation is not equal; it is good and bad among the wealthy, and how they have made their money roots out their behavior in ways that benefit moral discourse. And in that way, the right kind of wealthy people are paramount to a healthy society, especially in contrast to those who were likely just as Jesus spoke about in his time with the metaphor of the camel and the eye of the needle.