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The Independent Critic

 Book Review: The Christian Capitalist by Rich Sanders 
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I have to admit that I was more than a little hesitant when I first considered checking out Rich Sanders' "The Christian Capitalist: The Gospel of Hard Work and Generous Giving."

I thought to myself "This is really just going to be another justification for prosperity theology theo-babble," however, I'm glad I took the chance on this engaging and informative work.

Sanders is a pastor, small business owner, healthcare attorney, retired adjunct professor at Emory University, and former U.S. Navy intelligence officer who comprehensively surveys what the Bible has to say about work, finances, and giving.

Sanders is, by just about any measure you can come up with, a successful human being. Yet, in "The Christian Capitalist" he paints a portrait of a God who doesn't just bless us but who expects us to live faithfully within that blessing. While he's unapologetic about his success, he's also committed to saving all he can and giving all that he can along the way.

"The Christian Capitalist" is that rare book that reaches across the theological spectrum. The book starts with 1 Timothy 6:17-19: As for those who in the present age are rich, command them not to be haughty, or to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but rather on God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. They are to do Good, to be rich in good works, generous, and reached to share, thus storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of the life that is really life."

In just under 300 pages, Sanders writes about working and giving as children of God built upon a foundation that we are made in the image of God to both work and give. Then, Sanders dives into laying the foundation for a Christian ethic of work and giving. This includes an extensive journey through the teachings of Jesus and multiple parables addressing the Kingdom of Heaven, work, giving, and Christian history.

Once Sanders lays this foundation, he moves forward into a quick but engaging look at working and giving in the first 1500 years of Christianity and into modern views on working and giving.

Ultimately, perhaps, it comes down to what Sanders paints as "The Christian Capitalist Ethic" - "The more we make, the more we give."

Now, THAT sure isn't prosperity theology.

I was engaged quite a bit with Appendices included that included further expansion of the Christian Capitalist ethic along with a variety of stories around Christian work and giving including The Rule of St. Basil, The Rule of St. Benedict, Max Weber, Andrew Carnegie, and others.

At times, "The Christian Capitalist" lays it on thick in terms of outright advocacy for capitalism and condemnation for the idea of socialism as a more Christian approach. While Sanders makes his point, it begins to feel a tad excessive.

Likewise, I found myself not in complete agreement with Sanders' views on communal living, however, I still appreciated his observations and where he goes with the conversation.

Ultimately, I was pleasantly surprised by "The Christian Capitalist," a thoroughly researched, biblically centered, and engaging book that approaches a subject desperately in need of further discussion for Christians. These aren't always easy conversations to have, however, they're an important part of living the Christian life and Sanders has provided a valuable resource to look at the gospel of hard work and generous giving through a comprehensive biblical lens.

As a technical note, all Bible verses come from the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) unless otherwise noted.

Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic