Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Gospel of Prosperity, Stewardship, and Dave Ramsey

The budget talks continue on incessantly as it seems more and more political each day. Along those lines, someone recently sent me a Dave Ramsey discussion about how to recover the economy.

I have a brother who would probably rate his allegiances as follows:
Dave Ramsey

I've listened to Dave Ramsey, and we actually use his stuff with our kids at Ritter (he has a program geared towards teenagers). I've been impressed with what I've seen.

A book I read recently on leadership talked about how real leaders aren't in it for the money (in terms of trying to maximize dollars pulled in) and when I've listened to Dave Ramsey talk about finances, I get the impression that he is more along the lines of just wanting to help people. Sure he makes some money promoting his programs, but he almost always also promotes OTHER financial programs as well.

Ramsey's stuff is geared towards getting people to the point where they are debt free, and eventually build up some wealth to help people. He doesn't often bring religion in, but every now and then he'll quote Proverbs or mention biblical principles.

Some might get edgy because Ramsey mixes the Bible in with financial stuff, but it is NOT the same stuff as the Joel Osteen Gospel of Prosperity - the idea that if you love Jesus, he's going to pour out money and blessings in your lap. The Catholic understanding is not in alignment with the "Prosperity Gospel" from the standpoint that many people on the path to sainthood may experience periods of great suffering (material and/or spiritual) and the "Gospel of Prosperity" doesn't account for that.

Ramsey's approach is more in line with the Catholic notion of stewardship - we get our own house in order because then we can help others. So many divorces and so forth result from money mismanagement, and for those who are experiencing financial turmoil or who want to take another step towards financial security should perhaps check out Dave Ramsey's material. I think it would be wise for parishes to go through Dave's program for parishes as well - not so that the Church can get more money but so that a great stresser for many relationships can start to be healed on an individual level.

Here is Ramsey talking about the relationship between personal financial decisions and the state of our debt/economy. This message is geared towards church leaders, and this is an important message for people looking for more financial assistance.

Let me know what you think about personal finance and any programs you have come across that approach finances from a Christian perspective.


  1. You may want to check out which is Catholic based.

    I'm glad that you bring up the Gospel of Prosperity. Living in Texas I see and hear a lot of that. But I've come the the realization (thanks in part to the video on your talk about prayer) that I just need to say my Morning Prayers, Rosary, Evening Prayers and any prayers for the intentions of others daily and forget praying specifically for things for myself. God knows what is best for me without my asking. He will give me what I need when He sees fit. If I do ask God for anything it is for His help in overcoming a certain sinfull characteristic or character defect.

  2. Father
    How does this square with "a man cannot have two masters"? Or seek ye first the kingdom of God? Or consider the lilies of the field?

    I'm not being snarky. I really want to know because, while this is not the Gospel of Prosperity, neither does it seem Catholic.

    It almost seems as if Ramsay would blame the poor for their poverty. Or say that a couple should not have a child if doing so would upset their financial plan. Should we not accept the children God sends us as a great gift and trust in His Providence?

    I'm confused.


  3. He never blames the poor at all - his message is more geared towards people who are mired in debt. Ramsey's stuff targets people who SHOULDN'T be behind the 8 ball but have put themselves there. In fact, he says such people should clean their acts up financially so that they CAN help the poor and be generous.

    There are SOME, though, who are poor in our country, who are needlessly so, and could, through hard work, pull themselves out. Those people would receive condemnation from Ramsey and the Good Lord. Yes, the "poor will always be with us" as Jesus notes, but not all people who are poor are poor through no fault of their own.

  4. I am so grateful that you posted this. I am a Catholic who recently returned home. I was also converted in my 20's so did not get all of the church's teachings and am trying to learn more now. Before returning to the church my family started the Dave Ramsey program and it has been a major blessing for us. Dave Ramsey doesn't teach/preach prosperity. Instead, stewardship and good, old fashioned personal responsibility. But, in this day and age there are some people who confuse Dave Ramsey's program of stewardship with prosperity theology. I can tell you from first hand experience Dave's program isn't easy. We are out of debt but we are not wealthy. But, when my husband's salary was cut by a third last year we were able to scrape by due to not having debt, some savings, and already knowing how to budget our resources. This is where the true blessing are found. The old fashioned values of saving for a rainy day have not been part of our culture for a long time. Dave Ramsey simply reminds you how to do things like our grandmothers once did. Thank you Father for writing about this.