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The Good of Affluence: Seeking God in a Culture of Wealth Hardcover – July, 2002

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This substantially revised edition of Schneider's earlier book Godly Materialism: Rethinking Money and Possessions is more scholarly and theological than the earlier title, but it retains the same thesis: there is a biblical precedent for the responsible ownership of wealth. He cautions, however, that "human history has never before known circumstances in which entire societies were affluent" and not just individuals, so such biblical support needs to be tempered with careful reflection about how Christians can seek God in a full-blown capitalist society. Schneider is unabashed in his admiration for capitalism, which he regards as uniquely suited to ensure that all of God's people enjoy prosperity. However, even readers who disagree with him on this point can learn much from his overall position, which lies between the "prosperity theologians," who believe that God blesses the faithful with material wealth, and the "radical Christians" (e.g., Tony Campolo and Ron Sider), who view individual wealth as almost entirely negative.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 233 pages
  • Publisher: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company (July 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802847994
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802847997
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,259,697 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Teacher on September 22, 2006
Format: Hardcover
When I was growing up, many well-meaning people talked to me about my obligation to care about global poverty, but their message was so extreme it was unlivable. The message was simple: as long as there is one child dying of hunger in the world, you have no right to enjoy the wealth and privilege you've been given as a citizen of this country. You should feel guilty for everything you have and live on as little as possible. As a college teacher, I see many of my students receive this same message, and many of them respond as I did: because the burden of guilt is too heavy to be borne, they give up on caring for the poor at all. John Schneider's book is a much-needed antidote to this guilt-ridden message. Schneider begins with a careful reading of Scripture and demonstrates how we should care for the poor while at the same time enjoying the goodness of God's abundant creation. This book is not a glorification of self-indulgence, but a call for a biblically-grounded attitude of generous delight in the gifts of God. I have used this book as a classroom text, and it was very well received.

Full disclosure: I'm acquainted with John Schneider, since we teach at the same college. However, I have many other colleagues whose books are for sale on Amazon, and this is the only such book I've ever bothered to review. I personally found the book to be a helpful word of grace.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By David Bahnsen on December 28, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Of all the issues that hold ideological significance in my life, none reach the level of gravity that the subject of faith and capitalism do. I am convinced that there are more souls to be won by demonstrating the compatibility of free market economics with the Judeo-Christian worldview than any other mechanism on the planet. Likewise, I am convinced that there are more societies and nations that can be won over to prosperity and freedom, if but only for the faith community's stubborn inability to embrace such. Dr. John Schneider's remarkable work, The Good of Affluence: Seeking God in a Culture of Wealth, is a huge first step in seeing this dream become reality.

I do not know what impact the book will end up having, as I do not believe it has received the audience it deserves. I am determined to change that. But allow me to comment a bit on what the book has successfully demonstrated:

- That God, as part of his normative will, desires for His people to live in delight. Our covenantal journey is one of starting at, and returning to, Edenic conditions. This is an economic journey, just as it is a spiritual and moral one. Schneider's thesis ought not be confused with prosperity theology. Schneider does not argue that all Christians will live in prosperity; he merely argues that those who do are called to such, and ought not be ashamed.

- The doctrine of moral proximity. That is, that believers are most responsible for the things most proximate to them. After reading Schneider's elaboration here, it is almost too obvious to be profound. But I believe it has gigantic implications in the Christian life.
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16 of 22 people found the following review helpful By GRB on February 16, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Author John Schneider answers the question with a resounding, NO! This book provides Christians with a Godly vision to live with integrity and humility in our capitalist society. Schneider eloquently describes how well off Christians can live in faith while enjoying life to the fullest. Schneider posits that God created man to delight in God's glory, including material delight. Schneider helps us properly achieve and enjoy affluence as God intended, in a God-centered, not self-centered, way.
Our delight includes compassion for our neighbors, especially the poor and powerless. This is an essential part of God's vision for us. But God does not require Christians to sell all of their possessions and give the proceeds to the poor. Schneider rejects as unbiblical critics of wealth who would impose the doctrines of asceticism or utilitarianism on Christians. However, God does call on us to use our affluence in a creative and redemptive manner to help the poor and powerless. Schneider persuasively argues that this directive is limited by the principle of moral proximity, which he describes at length.
Abundance is a condition that God intends for all of us. This book deftly helps Christians remain faithful to God while enjoying the fruit God provides in this capitalist culture. I highly recommend this book.
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25 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Ted A. Boers on February 15, 2009
Format: Paperback
When I first saw the title, The Good of Affluence, I was excited. I remember thinking how appropriate the title was, since most North Americans are affluent by world standards. I assumed that this Christian author's primary focus would be the scriptural mandate that those who are affluent must be "generous and willing to share" and a reminder that "to whom much is given, much will be expected".

I was surprised when I learned that a book, written by a Calvin College professor, suggests that the good of affluence is that the owner of this affluence can "delight" in his affluency.

In The Good of Affluence John R. Schneider sets out to build the case that God wants to lavish his riches on his children and wants his children to "delight" in all the good things they receive from him. So far so good but when he suggests that "it is the condition of affluence alone that makes full delight possible" (Pg. 61) I disagree.

As I read and reread The Good of Affluence, I kept looking for Schneider's insights on Biblical passages that indicate that the affluent need to help those who are not.

I never found it.

Instead Schneider specifically suggests that affluence does not necessarily put a moral burden of significant responsibility on the affluent.

Furthermore he introduces us to an argument that pretty much relieves us of sharing with anyone we do not know. He builds this argument on a concept he calls Moral Proximity. His argument is that even in today's global society we have no responsibility to anyone who is not morally proximate to us unless we feel some special kind of call.
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