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God's Economy: Redefining the Health and Wealth Gospel Paperback – October 10, 2009

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Editorial Reviews


“Most of the compelling books I know of in current Christian literature are compelling because they dare to deal simply and directly with radical concepts that have become immobilized by shrewdly nuanced ideas and rampant cultural theology. Wilson-Hartgrove has mastered the art of that kind of truth-telling, and there can be no doubt but that God’s Economy is a compelling book.” -- Phyllis Tickle

“Through an examination of money-changing activities ranging from panhandlers to war, God’s Economy challenges the reader to confront Christ’s principle ‘For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.’ A must-read for individuals and groups looking to invest time wisely.” -- Matthew Sleeth

“This is how the Gospel must hit the ground---running! God’s Economy is very brilliant, very timely, and very readable at the same time. This is practical theology and spirituality at its best!” -- [Fr.] Richard Rohr

“This is not the book to read unless you’re looking to change your life---in subtle ways and maybe great ones.” -- Bill McKibben

“This book is full of piercing questions that every serious follower of Jesus must ask. And its answers reflect a breathtaking vision and radical call to action.” -- Ron Sider

From the Back Cover

Are you dissatisfied with the gospel of health and wealth? Health and wealth proponents urge Christians to claim material blessings on earth. Others insist that God's best gifts can't be enjoyed until heaven. The truth of God's intentions, writes acclaimed author Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, is far greater than either perspective suggests. Packed with inspiring stories, God's Economy invites you to step into the good life God intends you to enjoy here and now---not a shrink-wrapped, plastic version of prosperity but a liberating approach to living that leads to genuine and lasting satisfaction. With persuasive enthusiasm, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove draws from Jesus' teachings on money, exploring five tactics for living in God's economy of abundance. Then, he demonstrates how people have practiced these tactics in the past, as well as what these principles can do for you, your family, and your church today. From your human relationships to your spiritual life, this practical guide cuts through the clutter and invites you to discover what can happen when you invest in God's Economy.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Zondervan; 1 edition (October 10, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0310293375
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310293378
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #985,491 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
[ This review originally appeared in THE ENGLEWOOD REVIEW OF BOOKS
Vol 2, #40 - 9 October 2009 ]

The biblical writer of Ecclesiastes wrote: "Of the making of books there is no end," and if that is true, it is even truer that there is no end of the making of many books about money: books on how to get it, books on how to keep once you've got it, etc. etc. But, in all my years of reading, selling and reviewing books, I've never encountered a book about money that is anything like Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove's newbook God's Economy: Redefining the Health and Wealth Gospel. Ultimately, God's Economy is about the good news of the kingdom of God; indeed that is the "health and wealth gospel" of the book's sub-title. But before your mind turns from the words "health and wealth" to images of the myriad of televangelists who have made plush lives for themselves - e.g. Benny Hinn or Creflo Dollar - by preaching such a gospel to the masses, allow me to reassure that Jonathan's message bears little in common with these slick television preachers. God's Economy is about "abundant life" - which although Jonathan doesn't specifically mention it - is perhaps a better translation of the familiar New Testament Greek phrase that is usually rendered "eternal life." He describes this abundant life: "It's a celebration of God's economy, where the poor find bread and the rich find healing because we rediscover one another as friends ... and we are not alone anymore." As he demonstrated in his previous books (including two superb ones that awe reviewed in the ERB last year: New Monasticism and Free to Be Bound), Jonathan is a masterful storyteller weaving together stories from Scripture, from church history and from his own experience.
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Format: Paperback
The book God's Economy: Redefining the Health and Wealth Gospel by Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove provides an interesting look at a controversial subject: How should Christians understand money?

The first four chapters prepare us through a combination of autobiography on the part of the author, examination of biblical texts, and theological discussion on the issues of poverty, money, and power. The latter four chapters explain four "tactics" Jonathon suggests Christians use in the world to help us create a new understanding of abundance.

Towards the beginning of the book Jonathon challenges many fundamental aspects of the "American dream." In speak of Joseph, for example, he says that his life was one "marked less by teh abundance of possessions than by abundant relationships." He takes the rest of the book to discuss how Christians might re-order their thinking around relationships instead of possessions. He says elsewhere that "what concerns Jesus about money isn't so much how we should use it...as how it affects our relationships with God."

He also spends the first four chapters attempting to get rid of the popular ideas that problems in the world are either: (1) The fault of the rich having too much, or (2) The poor being lazy. He explores a kind of "third way" where the lines aren't so finely drawn, and where relationships are central. His main example for this kind of life is St. Francis of Assisi who valued the relationships in his life over his wealth and possessions (indeed even ripping his own clothes off his back to return them to his father). Money has away of "quietly colonizing" us in ways we least expect.
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Format: Paperback
Originally published on my blog [...]

Christians often make very bad economists, or at least bad economics writers. They may have good theology, but good theology does not necessarily make good economic sense. And Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove is OK with that. He wants to focus on ways that we can re-define our understanding of economics. This is a common theme of both Christian and non-Christian books I have been reading lately. Economics is increasingly moving toward mathematical/rational determinism and away from ethical theory.

Wilson-Hartgrove is writing directly to move Christians back toward an ethical understanding of economics. As a student he wanted to change the world through politics and the religious right. Then he was deeply affected by a homeless man and began a long journey toward redefining what it means to be a Christian.

The first third of the book is a long introduction to both the author's biography and his way of understanding economics. The last two thirds of the book explores five `tactics' that Wilson-Hartgrove believes will redefine our relationship to God's Economy. Those tactics are 1) Subversive service, 2) Eternal investments, 3) Economic friendships, 4) Relational generosity and 5) Gracious politics.

This is book written not out of academic or theological insight, but practical living. The author has spent the last twenty years exploring these ideas through actually trying them. He is calling the church to change, not from an academic window or prophetic pulpit, but from the streets and homes of his community.

I just finished a financial bible study with my church small group.
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