Ayn Rand is the New Jesus: Dave Ramsey’s Gospel of Self-Reliance

As our leaders battle over the budget crisis in Washington, Christian finance guru Dave Ramsey has started a movement called the Great Recovery that is described as “a grassroots movement spread by people who are tired of looking to Washington for answers” and who believe the solution is for “each of us [to take] a stand to return to God and grandma’s way of handling money.”

The movement’s populism is certainly attractive: let the world be free from debt and let it begin with me. But in his 50 minute promotional video, Ramsey goes beyond calling upon his audience to be good stewards of God’s wealth to making self-interest the definitive human virtue in a message that sounds more inspired by Ayn Rand than Jesus Christ.

A non-controversial Christian doctrine across the theological spectrum is divine providence. As we become Christians, we learn to view our achievements as gifts from God rather than proofs of our own merit. We learn gratitude, which becomes the basis for both responsible stewardship and charitable generosity. Christian conversion means being awakened from the delusion of self-reliance and recognizing our utter dependence on God. So when Ramsey states in his video that we need “God reliance and self-reliance,” instead of “government reliance,” he has created a fusion between two antithetical self-understandings.

This is further corroborated in his statement that “the normative way that God provides for me is through the work ethic and ingenuity that he pours into me. He uses me to provide for me.” By fusing divine providence and self-reliance in this way, providence becomes meaningless. If all that I achieve is derived in myself, why should I be grateful to God? It’s easier to confuse my own efforts with God’s grace when I forget that God doesn’t use just me to provide for me; he uses my parents, pastors, mentors, and teachers to instill me with the virtues I need. When I forget how dependent I am on God’s prevenient grace through others, I become an ungrateful, unmerciful person who presumes that others’ hardships reflect a lack of discipline. Furthermore, a gospel of self-reliance makes it easier to squander God’s wealth because I view it as property that I earned and can use as I please. Ramsey doesn’t seem to have a problem with this: “It’s your job to take care of you so you should act in your own best interests… This is not a bad thing… It’s Biblical.”

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Two words that define Biblical economics for me do not appear anywhere in the Great Recovery promotional video: kingdom and mercy. Our call as Christians is not to be self-reliant, but to become a body that relies on God together. The gospel’s purpose is to establish the kingdom of God, a reality in which grateful people care for each other and inspire others to grateful stewardship through works of mercy, not by drawing thick boundaries of individual self-reliance. Perhaps Ramsey’s movement will accidentally build the kingdom of God and cultivate more generosity in American evangelical congregations, but only if people ignore his ideological commitment to individual responsibility and recognize that we are responsible for each other. It will certainly help our economy for individuals to stop living beyond their means, but programs like WIC and Medicaid should not be cut under the presumption that poor kids could pay for their own milk and health care if they just learned to save their money.

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Morgan Guyton is the associate pastor of Burke United Methodist Church in Burke, Virginia, and a Christian who continues to seek God’s liberation from the prison of self-justification Jesus died to help him overcome. Morgan’s blog “Mercy Not Sacrifice” is located at http://morganguyton.wordpress.com.


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About the Author

Morgan Guyton

Morgan GuytonMorgan Guyton is the associate pastor of Burke United Methodist Church in Burke, Virginia, and a Christian who continues to seek God’s liberation from the prison of self-justification Jesus died to help him overcome. Morgan’s blog “Mercy Not Sacrifice” is located at http://morganguyton.wordpress.com. Follow Morgan on twitter at www.twitter.com/maguyton.View all posts by Morgan Guyton →

  • Bonar Crump

    I must respectfully disagree with Mr. Guyton. To fully understand the emphasis Ramsey places on self reliance is to visualize the end goal. The end goal is two-fold. 1) Once you have your own house in order then you are freed from the bondage of trying to survive hand to mouth and become able to affect change in the lives of others (this is an important concept whether speaking of finances, relationships, or spiritual mentorship). 2) As children of God we…WE…are tasked with the responsibility and privilege to act as the right-left hand-foot of God in the lives of those around us, under us, and above us (see point number 1).

    Ramsey’s principals are all of our principals. That is, all of us that live in the real world with the hope of being useful to the Kingdom of God Almighty. Financial worry (read: opposite of peace) is one form of slavery terribly effective at hobbling God’s Kingdom.

    Mr. Guyton’s analysis is terribly short-sighted and dangerously close to advocating a “wait and see” kind of faith which cannot and never has produced fruit.

    • DMeans

      I must agree with Bonar.  Grace is not mercy, a confusion which is common among evangelicals.  Mercy says I’m going to do this good thing for you, end of conversation.  

      Grace, on the other hand, says I will do this for you if you will do that.  In example, salvation.  That it is by grace is not contested, but this grace is only actualized through repentance and faith, both choices and actions we must perform.  The Red Sea experience was a result of grace: God told Moses what to do, Moses did, and God parted the waters – it was a co-operative work.  

      God most certainly gives gifts, but it is up to us to actualize them, to work them out, to bring them to fruition.  Shall we rather just sit around, not reading our Bibles, not praying, and not sharing the gospel as we go, but instead wait for some gift to show up that makes us do what He would have us to do?  Holiness comes through yielding to the grace that is offered, not because God smacks us with a Holy stick to make us into something we chose not to be.

      Lastly, gratitude is not the basis charitable contribution and generosity – love is the basis of those things.  Which is another thing us Evangelicals don’t understand: love is not an emotion, it is action which builds another up.  Love creates, nurtures and builds, it adds value to others.  

      • Anonymous

        Wow! Grace means I’ll do this for you if you do something else in return? Who’s your pastor? That’s really problematic theologically. Sorry brother but that’s just not the gospel.

        • Jay

          Did you not read the rest of what he said to define what he meant by this? You are getting snagged on verbiage without understanding the context of the verbiage. Whether you’re doing it intentionally or not, I don’t know. Then again, you took one person’s words out of context. Why not two?

        • Anonymous

          Re-read the scriptures. When did God say He would make our sins white as snow if we refused to reason with Him? When did He say “that by grace you are saved, through nothing else … ” ?

        • David Means

          Hi Morgan!  If you’re interested, I’ve put up a post on faith and grace: http://dmeans.blogspot.com/2011/09/grace-faith-and-yeilding.html

      • deborah joyelle

        “Grace, on the other hand, says I will do this for you if you will do that.”

         You mention confusion amongst evangelicals and then exhibit a common confusion also observable among evangelicals; thinking grace can be earned.

        I have to say, I’m darn thankful that God smacks me with a Holy stick (holy spirit, perhaps?! ) to make me into something i would otherwise NEVER choose to be!  :-)

        God’s work in my life has not been co-operative, He has done it all. He has first loved me and then taken me from death to life. You are right, we do need to read our Bibles, pray and share the gospel. But I do none of these actions to help God achieve his ultimate plans, He can do that just fine without me. I do these things because “my soul magnifies the Lord.” He is life, breath, perfection, all that true. I want to do these things to know Him, to be with Him, and near Him, because He is so GOOD! He is the only one worthy of my praise.

        Ok, I’ll stop my ranting! Just wanted to share my perspective and understanding :-) I’m glad that at the end of this life these opinions won’t matter as much as we thought they did at the time :-) What will matter is what you stated at the end DMeans, and that is Love.  Did we love? We may see/experience things differently but that’s not so important as is our ability to love and build one another up. So with that said, much love and peace to you bro :-)
                                                                       

        • DMeans

          “…  thinking grace can be earned.”  I did not say that, nor did I infer it.  You are misquoting me.

           

          And from your comments, I
          can see that you’re confusing Grace with Mercy, just as I stated in my first
          post.   Consider the work of God in and through
          Jesus:  When did God ask our opinion in the matter, or
          consult us regarding how He would provide salvation?  Never.  Therefore, the work of God, as demonstrated
          through the life of Christ, is an example of His Mercy.   God choosing how he would save the world was His idea
          and His choice: it was and is an example of sovereignty.  Sovereignty
          says I will do as I choose outside of your consideration into or of the matter.

           

          Consider again, when did
          God ask us to consider His ways instead of our own ways?  Lots
          of times (Exodus 15:26, Isaiah 1:18, Deut. 13:18, Prov 2:1-5, 2 Chron. 7:14,
          and lots more)  Those offers are examples of God’s grace: “Come now, and let us reason together,”
          Says the LORD, “Though your sins are as scarlet, They will be as white as snow;
          Though they are red like crimson, They will be like wool.”  An offer is made with the promise of a blessing.  That is an example of grace.  When we accept the offer, grace flows and changes us, not before.

           

          What happens when you
          refuse to reason?  Are your sins made white as wool?  According to the version of the Gospel of Grace
          I’m reading around here, apparently so.

           

          What people don’t get
          about grace, is that it is the thing which makes us into something we can’t
          become on our own.  Nevertheless, we must
          choose to participate with God, as seen by the Psalmist: “Your word I have treasured
          in my heart, that I may not sin against You.”  And again, by why Jesus said: “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” When we refuse to acknowledge the truth of any situation, we are in bondage to a lie, and bondage to a lie is not freedom.

          You said, “God’s work in
          my life has not been co-operative, He has done it all.”  Okay, I’ll
          bite: at what point did God ignore your rebellion, your refusal to believe He
          is, your lack of faith and your refusal to acknowledge your
          sin?  When did God ignore your willingness to confess your sin and
          repent and acknowledge His right or Lordship over you?  When did He
          ignore all of that, step into your life, violate your will, and save you
          against your demonstrated desires?  That’s not grace, and that’s not the gospel.  It might be Calvinism, but that’s another debate.

          The scriptures are
          clear:  “For by grace you have been saved through faith;
          and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a
          result of works, so that no one may boast.”

          • deborah joyelle

            You are right, grace is the thing that makes us into what we cannot be on our own. I guess i just feel that although I do have a will, that somehow God did violate my will, cause being entirely left to my own will, i would never have chosen him! Does that make me a Calvinist?! I have no idea, I’m just a stay at home mom, I’m no theologian :-) I certainly do NOT believe that anyone’s sins are made white as wool when they refuse to reason with God, I just think that even your ability to reason AT ALL with God, goes back to him giving you that ability in the first place.

            You wrote, “When did He ignore all of those things, step into your life, violate
            your will, and save you against your demonstrated desires and beliefs?
             That’s not grace, and that’s not the gospel”. I just cannot relate to that statement. I am not saying it is wrong, it is just that in my life God most certainly saved me from horrible desires and beliefs that I had. I will not go into my testimony here so as not to go on and on, but can you see how some of us view our faith this way? Many of us feel we where literally pulled back, a second from falling of the precipice to death, and we kicked and screamed like children, til slowing but inevitably we moved from pure babes, only able to take milk, to being able to digest the deeper things of God and have our desires changed by God and his power only, not our will power. Perhaps I am just a far worse sinner than you, in that I did not desire God initially (i am not being sarcastic at all!).

            This is why blogs end up depressing me…i would rather just meet face to face and talk over coffee, well coffee for me and whatever you like to drink  for you:-)

          • http://dmeans.blogspot.com David Means

            Yes, I like coffee!!  Caribou coffee is my favorite place.  I understand the fighting and resisting, I’ve been there myself.  But in the end, we did cooperate with God, else we wouldn’t have our beautiful testimonies, would we?  :-)

          • deborah joyelle

            true!

          • Valjean

            David, your theology makes me sad. 

            Your proof texts do not successfully demonstrate your ideas.  In fact, the verse you used (Eph. 2:8) demonstrates clearly your logical error.  “…through faith; AND THAT NOT OF YOURSELF”.

            You are mistaking human response to grace for being part of the thing itself.  Faith isn’t grace, it is the conduit by which it flows.  And faith is a gift provided by the Holy Spirit.  “No one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit.” (1 Cor. 12:3)

            No one denies that we make choices.  Look deeper.  By what power are we enabled to make those choices, especially when we were otherwise dead in our sin? 

          • http://dmeans.blogspot.com David Means

            I understand exactly what you’re saying.  The point I’m making is … too simple?

            You touched upon it when you suggested I was making an error by observing “human responses.”  

            That’s the point I’m trying to make – the human response.  Ramsey is suggesting that we have choices to make in our relationship with the resources God has provided.  However while making those choices, we must seek and know that God’s grace is available to make us into what we cannot become on or by ourselves.  Nevertheless, it is our choice to follow him, it is our choice to work with him, and it is our choice to obey – is it not?

            When Ramsey suggests “the normative way that God provides for me is through the work ethic and ingenuity that he pours into me,” he is actually is referring to the grace that God offers to build us up, to turn us into being like Christ.  Is it my work that changes me?  No.  Am I involved in the process?  Yes.  Scripture clearly teaches that we can “quench the spirit” – is quenching the spirit not the opposite of me working with the grace God has provided?  Should I reject the notion of walking in the spirit, as found in Galatians so that I can wait for God to make me into something I have demonstrated I don’t want to be?

            Therefore, It is our choice to exercise the faith that he has enabled us to have. If it were not our choice, then there would be no evil, no sin and we would be puppets of God.  You’re suggesting that there’s nothing for us to do, rather to just sit back and soak it up, and let Jesus do it all, and you’re wrong.  Repentance is involved, surrender is involved, faith is involved, all are things which I must activate in my relationship to God.

            You also suggested that I’m making the “human response to grace for being part of the thing itself.”  Have you never considered grace outside of the God and Human interaction?  Have you never considered mercy in the same light?  

            What I’m saying is that the goodness of grace cannot and will not function outside the wills of *all* involved.  If you want to see goodness confined to one single will, then look to mercy.

        • DMeans

          “…  thinking grace can be earned.”  I did not say that, nor did I infer it.  You are misquoting me.

           

          And from your comments, I
          can see that you’re confusing Grace with Mercy, just as I stated in my first
          post.   Consider the work of God in and through
          Jesus:  When did God ask our opinion in the matter, or
          consult us regarding how He would provide salvation?  Never.  Therefore, the work of God, as demonstrated
          through the life of Christ, is an example of His Mercy.   God choosing how he would save the world was His idea
          and His choice: it was and is an example of sovereignty.  Sovereignty
          says I will do as I choose outside of your consideration into or of the matter.

           

          Consider again, when did
          God ask us to consider His ways instead of our own ways?  Lots
          of times (Exodus 15:26, Isaiah 1:18, Deut. 13:18, Prov 2:1-5, 2 Chron. 7:14,
          and lots more)  Those offers are examples of God’s grace: “Come now, and let us reason together,”
          Says the LORD, “Though your sins are as scarlet, They will be as white as snow;
          Though they are red like crimson, They will be like wool.”  An offer is made with the promise of a blessing.  That is an example of grace.  When we accept the offer, grace flows and changes us, not before.

           

          What happens when you
          refuse to reason?  Are your sins made white as wool?  According to the version of the Gospel of Grace
          I’m reading around here, apparently so.

           

          What people don’t get
          about grace, is that it is the thing which makes us into something we can’t
          become on our own.  Nevertheless, we must
          choose to participate with God, as seen by the Psalmist: “Your word I have treasured
          in my heart, that I may not sin against You.”  And again, by why Jesus said: “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” When we refuse to acknowledge the truth of any situation, we are in bondage to a lie, and bondage to a lie is not freedom.

          You said, “God’s work in
          my life has not been co-operative, He has done it all.”  Okay, I’ll
          bite: at what point did God ignore your rebellion, your refusal to believe He
          is, your lack of faith and your refusal to acknowledge your
          sin?  When did God ignore your willingness to confess your sin and
          repent and acknowledge His right or Lordship over you?  When did He
          ignore all of that, step into your life, violate your will, and save you
          against your demonstrated desires?  That’s not grace, and that’s not the gospel.  It might be Calvinism, but that’s another debate.

          The scriptures are
          clear:  “For by grace you have been saved through faith;
          and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a
          result of works, so that no one may boast.”

      • Keithdaltoncraigslist

        what?! Mercy is Not doing something to someone who deserves it.. (example: the judge had mercy on the criminal and let him go.) Grace is Doing something to someone who doesnt deserve it.. a FREELY given gift. (example: When Christ died on the cross he showed grace to EVERYONE. He did it whether someone chose to accept the gift or not. THATS PURE GRACE) You have these definitions wrong (or at least the way you are describing them is askew)! Yes  we cant truly receive the gifts without acting upon them but he FREELLY gives them to us.

        • David Means

          I never said “mercy is doing something to someone who deserves it.”  When Chirst died on the cross, He demonstrated Mercy and Grace.  When God provides salvation, He acts through Grace (by grace you are saved) but (and don’t forget the but) “through faith.” That He acted in Mercy is also true.

          I’ve got a blog post over here (http://dmeans.blogspot.com/2011/09/grace-faith-and-yeilding.html), you’re welcome to drop by! :-)

    • http://www.bonarcrump.com Bonar Crump

      2 Months later I may owe Mr. Guyton something of an apology. Is Dave Ramsey showing his true colors? Mr. Ramsey’s latest blog post has me dumbfounded. Shame on him for thinking it and writing it down for others to see.

      http://www.daveramsey.com/article/dear-occupy-wall-street

  • http://twitter.com/sjsoco Mark Barrentine

    Matthew 6:19 “Do not store up for yourselves…”
    Luke 3:11 “John answered, ‘Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none…'”
    Luke 12:29-31 Jesus said, “And do not set your heart on… what the pagan world runs after… your Father knows that you need them. But seek His kingdom and these things will be given to you as well.”
    Acts 2:44&45 “All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.”
    The economy of the Kingdom of our God and of His Christ, Jesus our Lord, is counter-intuitive. Mr. Guyton, thank you for sharing.

    • http://AllFinancialMatters.com JLP

      Mark,

      You conveniently left out Proverbs 3:9-10

      “Honor the LORD from your wealth And from the first of all your produce; So your barns will be filled with plenty and your vats will overflow with new wine.’

      You also left out II Thessalonians 3:10

      “For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either.”

      It is not counter-intuitive.  You cannot give what you do not have.

      • Anonymous

        Jesus has a response for Proverbs 3:9-10:

        Luke 12:13-21
         13 Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”  14 Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” 15 Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”
         16 And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. 17 He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’
           18 “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. 19 And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’
           20
        “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be
        demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for
        yourself?’
           21 “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”

        Thessalonians 3:10 is legitimate if you’re talking about people who you’re in relationship with. When you use that as an excuse for dismissing the plight of poor people you’ve never met and not stepping outside of your own white picket fence, that’s abominable.

        We should save our wealth and live within our means not so that God will fill our barns and vats but because we’re part of a team called the body of Christ. If Dave Ramsey would just acknowledge the “we” in Christianity, I would have no problem with him. What he did that was unacceptable to me is to turn a helpful debt relief program into a propaganda campaign for individualism. I know that he’s helped a lot of people and that’s great, but that doesn’t give him the right to start weighing in on whether the government should cut off the poor or not.

        • Anonymous

          Mr. Guyton, how much personal debt do you have?

          • Anonymous

            I don’t have personal debt and I don’t judge people who do and I can understand being grateful for whoever helps you out when you’ve been in a whole like that. But I’m still going to object to a gospel of self-reliance.

          • Jay

            I think the difference may be a matter of method. Whereas you seem to be advocating giving a man a fish, Ramsey seems to be advocating teaching him how to fish. Both could be appropriate depending on the circumstances. Both could also be wrong depending on the circumstances. I do wonder whether Davd Ramsey would attack YOU for giving a man a fish in the same manner you are attacking him. I doubt it.

            P.S. We can’t give money we don’t have. That includes Uncle Sam who is in gross debt right. But I agree we should not cut people off who can’t do for themselves. But that should be the criteria for who we DO give to: they can’t.

          • Anonymous

            Where have I advocated giving a man a fish instead of a fishing pole? You’re just pinning a straw man ideology on me that in no way fits what my position is. Aren’t you doing exactly what you accuse me of doing? By the way, have you watched the actual video that I was critiquing or did you not need to do that in order to decide that I was taking Ramsey’s words out of context? Sorry brother, but there’s a lot of hypocrisy going on here.

          • Jay

            I know enough about Dave Ramsey to think you’re off base Morgan.  The reason why it seems to me that you “advocated giving a man a fish instead of a fishing pole” is because you talk about giving to the poor but don’t talk about teaching them to do for themselves.  I also used the word “seems” meaning I could be wrong.  If I’m wrong, great.  But you don’t seem to advocate teaching people how to do for themselves in your article since you “seem to be” bashing one who is.  But it would be hypocritical to not watch the video and still criticize you as you said, so, I did, and here are my observations (and some questions):

            Target audience: Mostly white people.

            “I found out you have to GIVE, because God loves a cheerful giver.”  Problem Morgan?

            “If you spend everything you make, you’re a fool.”  Problem Morgan?

            He’s talking to people in debt about debt.  He’s not talking to people with wealth, able to give wealth.

            I don’t agree with him saying “Money problems are not the problem, they’re the symptom.”  Sometimes money problems are the problem.  You can’t tell that to a kid in a hut in certain African villages.

            I agree with him that a government shouldn’t try to fix an economy.  When they do they’re really trying to save face while in office but the reality is the economy goes up and down no matter who is in office so no party can take ultimate credit or blame for the rise and fall of the economy.  They do more harm than good by tampering with it (aside from making sure everyone plays fair).

            “God is my provider and I through God’s help am my provider.”  Sounds pretty accurate to me Morgan.  I think that accounts for your statements about community as well.  Obviously we get what we have from others as well as ourselves by the grace of God.  I don’t think his statement contradicts that.

            “God is the author of our hope.”  Problem Morgan?

            “He uses me to provide for me and that’s how he provides for me.”  He says this is normative.  I agree.  Just like it is normative for my shoes to be tied because I tied my shoes.  Normative leaves room for other means, by the way (like: parents, pastors, mentors, and teachers).

            I do agree with him saying that diligence equals success.  However there are parameters on how much success a person can have according to their work depending on the surroundings.  There are many diligent people who are dirt poor because that’s what their surroundings allow for.

            When he says “It’s your job to take care of you so you should act in your own best interests… This is not a bad thing… It’s Biblical,”  He then says he doesn’t mean it out of greed.  He’s simply talking about good stewardship FIRST.  He does not speak highly of greed as you seem to suggest.  He is not talking about seeking your own best interest at the expense of others, as you seem to suggest.  We do a lot of things in self-interest that are within our responsibilities.  Like: take a bath (fill in the blank).  Me taking a bath doesn’t mean I want other people to be dirty.  It just means I want to be clean.

            He says “If you fix them and only when you fix them will you fix the economy,” (“them” meaning “us”).  This is a half truth.  Economies go up and down.  A more accurate way to say it would be: “the chances are BETTER that you fix the economy.”  Seeing that it’s God who makes nations rise and fall, there are no absolutes in this area as to how well we will do.  We are at the mercy of Go.

            He says if it doesn’t work (using God’s principles for money) it’s your fault.  He’s wrong for the same reasons as above.  There are other factors.  Not just what we do.  The system is not always in our favor, nor the circumstances.  Plenty of people do all they can do and still come up short.  I could see how this could be condemning to people who are trying with all they have.

            He seems to be in favor of oppressive businesses going out of business via people “growing a brain” and not buying from them.  Problem?

            He talks about making a way for the middle class to be upper class.  I do not see this as a Christian priority (or a target normative).  I don’t have a problem with some Christian’s being wealthy.  I have a problem with making it formulaic.  God’s will is not the same for everyone in this area.  Some he makes rich.  Some he makes poor.  Whichever, he does it for his own purposes.

            I do not agree with his idea that Biblical principles on money will somehow lead people to Jesus.  What the Bible says about money is written for the Christian who has already converted.  Not for the sake of conversions. He’s wrong about this.

            He misuses the testimonial he reads as somehow related to matters of finance.  This is almost blasphemous.  Getting your finances in order is not equal to conversion or deliverance from things like alcoholism.  At this point he seems to be selling a mechanism.

            I don’t at all like at the end when he somehow starts talking about the gospel when most of the speech was about money.  Talk about one or the other.  They are not related.  I do not like his mention of the word revival right after talking about money.

            He overstates the importance of his own “movement” and he links it with some kind of revival.  Error.

            “I want you start injecting different spirits into your people?”  Huh?  What spirits?

            I don’t like his call for leaders to preach his message to the Church.  It is helpful stuff (minus the obvious flaws), but it’s not the point of Church.  I would rather him make himself and his services available than make himself a point.  Big difference.

            I disagree with his idea that preachers need to start preaching on money, unless he means in light of the rest of what there is to preach on.  A place for everything and everything in its place, but money issues shouldn’t be over-represented in preaching.

            At the end when he talks about being broke at the time he started selling books he then says he eventually became prosperous.  Observation: in order to become wealthy you must write books on how to become wealthy.  Perhaps if we imitated Dave Ramsey in this way we could have what he has.  Let’s all write self-help finance books and we’ll all be well off.

            “Broke people can’t help people.”  Agreed.

            Conclusion: I don’t have a problem with most of his principles, but I do have a problem with where he takes them at times.  Way too formulaic.  He has to make more room for the sovereignty of God.  I agree that at times he talks out of his realm of expertise.  However, I don’t think he means to say anything about cutting WIC and Medicaid.

            He did fine until about half-way in my opinion.  His flaws are obvious and you have reason for concern, but I wish you would have been more specific in your original post, and I wish you would’ve acknowledged that he talked about giving almost the entire video at different points.  Sure he could’ve talked more about giving, but his presentation was about debt.  I would imagine we talk about giving in sub-sequence to talking about debt.

             

          • Anonymous

            So can we agree that the video deserved some push-back, even if the push-back itself deserved some push-back? Bless you brother. Thanks for your zeal for integrity. This is a good learning experience for me. I’m very new at this whole game.

          • Jay

            Bless you as well Morgan. These are always learning experiences for me too. I also appreciate your heart to take on ideologies and their proponents that tarnish the name of Jesus IN the name of Jesus. None of us are perfect at this, but at least you’re willing to consider what people are saying and wrestle with yourself as well as others. We need more guys like you.

          • Anonymous

            Where have I advocated giving a man a fish instead of a fishing pole? You’re just pinning a straw man ideology on me that in no way fits what my position is. Aren’t you doing exactly what you accuse me of doing? By the way, have you watched the actual video that I was critiquing or did you not need to do that in order to decide that I was taking Ramsey’s words out of context? Sorry brother, but there’s a lot of hypocrisy going on here.

          • http://frontlinesintertwined.wordpress.com/ Jonathan Chan

            @vkendall:disqus 

            I am not deeply familiar with Mr. Ramsey’s body of work, but in principle, I agree with Mr. Guyton.  And yes, to be perfectly honest, I am in deep debt, and each day I owe more and more.  Daily, my debt constrains me from buying and doing so many things.  If I allow it, it will consume my entire life.  It’s more wonderful than spending a single moment relying on myself.  

          • Anonymous

            Jonathan, you don’t have to live like this. God gives you a brain. Perhaps He is using this thread to encourage you to find a way out. Wouldn’t you love to be able to give to charity instead of interest on your credit card debt? I didn’t think we would ever be free. It is easy! God teaches us through others sometimes.
            Charity is wonderful. I know that is what has Mr. Guyton so upset, that perhaps some will be cut off. What should happen though, instead of cutting social programs, if we had a government with some moral and ethical decency, they would cut the wasteful spending instead.
            I really wish Dave had not stepped into the political fray quite so hard. He is a wonderful Christian with a giving heart. He just encourages people to be responsible. Ours is an “in-your-face-get-out–of-my-face” culture, and sometimes we aren’t happy with the side we are on. But I hate that it makes us lose sight of the point.
            It is not self-sufficiency over God that Dave is teaching, it is rather “cooperation” with God. Read the parable of the minas.

          • Jonathan Chan

            @1f7d55759de95361d8c26f2f3832a922:disqus , you’re not reading too much into my comment.  But I would say that I’m being completely literal.  Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians that we are not our own, we were bought with a price.  We were bought with the only thing that will truly last, the blood of Christ.  We were slaves to sin, now we are slaves to Christ.  And every day that we choose to, we can draw more deeply from the riches of his grace, grace that we cannot repay.

            @vkendall:disqus , I appreciate how the work of Dave Ramsey has helped you and your love ones find financial stability and the means to be generous.  Certainly much of his advice is profitable for making good decisions.  But any theology of finances and economics must start and end with the gospel, the story of the world that begins with God, not with us.  

            Matt Chandler says it best in this video:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z5YzI7b92L8.  We’re freed from consumerism and materialism by a person, not just a set of principles.  At the end of the day, financial peace is not an end in and of itself.  It’s a product of having the peace of Christ dwelling richly in our hearts, of being fully satisfied with the King of all creation.  

          • Jacob

            Great post.  Thanks Jonathan!

          • deborah joyelle

             I suspect you are not being literal here…am i reading too much into your statement?!
            “Daily, my debt constrains me from buying and doing so many things.  If I allow it, it will consume my entire life. It’s more wonderful than spending a single moment relying on myself. ”

             If you meant this how I am interpreting it, then that is beautiful and I would like to live this way :-) If not, sorry i misinterpreted you :-(

          • Jacob

            I suspect you are speaking of another kind of “debt”.  Thank you for the needed perspective in this conversation.  Most people missed Guyton’s point, and I think most people will misunderstand you here.  But it is beautiful. 

    • Anonymous

      What Ramsey is saying is that if you do not have, you cannot give!!! buried under a mountain of personal debt, we are not free to give.

      I’m reminded of the joke about the flood victim stranded on the roof of his house with water swirling all around. “God save me!” he says. A boat comes, he says, “I’m waiting for God to save me.” A helicopter comes, “I’m waiting for God.” Sadly, the man drowns, asks God, “why didn’t you save me?” God: “I sent you a boat and a helicopter. What more did you want?”

      If you follow the scripture references you quoted literally, no one should work. We should all sit around and wait for God to supply.

      God does not expect us to sit on our hands and wait for manna to fall from the sky. He gives us a brain, skills, and abilities that he intends for us to use to support ourselves. Paul had a JOB, for pity’s sake. God gave him a skill; he used it wisely.
      What many see as depending on God to provide is actually depending on the credit card companies to float them until God comes to get them.

      My husband and could not make ends meet and the first thing to go was charitiy. After Dave’s course, following FPU principles, we paid off $15000 in debt in 3 months, sold our too big house and used the proceeds to pay cash for one within our means. We are debt free and have money readily available to help those in need. We have given more in the last few years than in the entirety of our 30+ year marriage combined.

      Just curious how much credit card debt Mr. Guyton and those who love his post have.

      • Anonymous

        It’s wonderful what God has done for you guys and how you have responded responsibly with generous stewardship. I still don’t think that Dave Ramsey needed to put his nose into the federal budget debate and turn a helpful program into an ideological propaganda campaign for capitalism.

        • Anonymous

          Ramsey is trying very hard to do a good thing, to get people to handle their money in a responsible way. Your comment below about Ramsey’s quote “God uses ME to provide for me” is idealistic. God gives us hands to work, minds to think, and He expects ME to use what He has given me to work with to provide for ME. This is the way in which divine providence manifests itself in the real world–He doesn’t drop cash out of the sky, He gives you a way to earn it.

          I don’t believe Dave is trying to get the government to cut programs for the poor so much as trying to get those who are able to behave responsibly so that we can care for those people when the bottom eventually falls out. What good are social programs for the poor if the government has nothing to give them?

          • Anonymous

            You’re exactly right that divine providence doesn’t drop out of sky. That’s why it’s preposterous to say that God provides for me through me, as though nobody else was involved in the process. God provides for us through our teachers, mentors, parents, etc. When we forget all the other people who we were dependent upon for whatever good we have been able to do, then we become ungrateful, stingy, judgmental people.

          • Anonymous

            Matthew 5:14-30.

          • Anonymous

            Did you mean to post another passage? I’m not sure how this one relates. Please explain.

          • Anonymous

            left out the 2.
            Matthew 25:14-30.

          • Anonymous

            Wouldn’t someone who’s focused on avoiding debt bury the master’s coin in the ground to give it back to him when he returns?

            This passage is not a blanket endorsement of capitalism as such, which seems like what you’re suggesting by sharing it without commentary.

            We have been given gifts by God. When we use those gifts to build His kingdom, we are like the servants who invest the coins and make more coins in return for our master. The servant who buries the coin is the one who uses God’s gifts only for his own good and not to help anybody else.

            Bottom line is God has given us what He’s given us to use for His glory not to live wastefully beyond our means or to be stingy Ebenezer Scrooges with it either. When we live responsibly, we can help others, but we must always remember that we rely on God alone, not on ourselves.

          • Anonymous

            Did you mean to post another passage? I’m not sure how this one relates. Please explain.

      • deborah joyelle

        I have no credit debt and i liked this post :-) I am very happy for the changes you have made, that’s awesome! I think people are just misunderstanding each other a ton on this post. I like Ramsey, he is a great guy with much sound advice. But I am  just weary of an over emphasis on self-reliance.  Not an over emphasis on making good choices, good choices and wise stewardship are always wonderful!   

  • Anonymous

    Not one person I know who has lived Ramsey’s financial teachings has
    become selfish or unappreciative of God’s grace. They are all generous with both time and money. They
    credit Ramsey for having taught them well in regards to their finances. They are free from debt and handle their money wisely – with an open hand toward others.

    If you have ever taken Ramsey’s Financial Peace University, you know that one of his main points is that we GIVE – even when we don’t have alot. Even when you are first starting out in your financial recovery, he says that the first thing you do is establish a habit of giving – even if it’s a small amount. He encourages his listeners to be good stewards, live debt free and save so that you can first and foremost give back to God – he clearly recognizes the reality that we need each other and that generosity is a godly virtue.

    I think you may be misunderstanding his view-point on self-reliance. I think he means taking your finances into your own hands and managing it wisely. Nowhere have I heard him teach about hoarding money for oneself and drawing selfish boundaries between ‘mine and yours.’ (except as it relates to credit companies and scammers – he is no fan of the credit game and sees it as a financial trap.

    I’m not sure I see a problem with teaching a good work ethic (relying on oneself to get up every day and work) and learning wise money-management –  especially to a society that is becoming so sickly debt and welfare reliant…Ramsey teaches nothing less than a God-focused life and in every way teaches generosity.

    But you can’t easily help others if you are yourself drowning in financial disorganization and mismanagement.

    If Ramsey didn’t hammer home the reality that we DO have a responsibility to manage our own resources, many people I know would still be slaves to debt.

    • Anonymous

      It’s important for us to have a good work ethic but not as a means of self-justification. We should have a good work ethic out of gratitude for the way that God has provided for us through our community and as responsible members of the team called the body of Christ. I imagine that there are many people who take Ramsey’s practical advice without internalizing his propaganda about the merits of individualism and they probably become quite generous, charitable people. That still doesn’t give Ramsey the right to propagandize about laissez-faire capitalism which he did in the Great Recovery video.

      • Djcshc

        Regarding Ramsey’s “right” to propagandize about this or that, That right is called freedom of speech which you and I are engaged in right now. If you disagree with him say “I disagree with him.” Anything else is of the devil.

        • Anonymous

          He has the right to propagandize and I shouldn’t be attacked for calling him out on where he strays from the gospel.

          • Jennifer A. Nolan

            Right on, Guyton!!

          • Bernhe

            So Morgan did you attempt to contact him privately as Jesus taught or did  you just call him out publically?  Matthew 18:15.  Galatians 6:1,2.

          • Anonymous

            If he had been a member of my church, I would have confronted him privately. That not being the case, I followed Paul’s example with Peter. Not applicable, sorry.

          • Jonathan

            So a blog post, that Dave will probably never see, is now the same as Galatians 2:14. That’s quite a stretch! I don’t believe Paul and Peter attended the same church either, but that didn’t stop Paul from confronting him face to face. If you truly convinced that Dave is misleading people, then you should contact him directly. Otherwise, you’re just throwing stones and condemning someone whom you’ve never met or even know.

          • Anonymous

            Jonathan is correct, the Scripture still applies. By the way, I serious disapproved of something he said, which I felt was not like Jesus, so I called his office. My point was well received.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_ALJTB7FIYKY7MLAVYILQIZLNWA Michael

    I see the dominionists are out in force today lol

  • Pingback: The World Wide (Religious) Web for Monday, August 1, 2011 « GeorgePWood.com

  • Anonymous

    You can certainly apply Dave Ramsey’s teachings toward a responsible ethic of stewardship that includes taking care of the poor. And that would be great. But Dave Ramsey says “God uses ME to provide for me.” I cannot disagree emphatically enough with that statement because it makes the concept of divine providence meaningless. God uses all the people who made me who I am to provide for me. How does a kingdom of people emerge from people who have falsely individualized their relationship with God?

    It’s so important for me to start with the gratitude of recognizing that I didn’t pull myself up by my bootstraps. Otherwise when I lend a helping hand to others, I do so as an act of magnanimity reaching down from my condition of moral betterness. And I don’t see any urgency about helping out others. It’s more important to make sure that my kids’ college and my retirement is covered before I start to help out. When God works in our lives, it is always through bodies and kingdoms.

    • M. Carver

      Does Dave Ramsey say that he “only” uses ME to provide for me. No, he says that our personal financial situation is more affected by our own work than on decisions made in Washington. I hate to say it, but shame on you for taking Ramsey out of context (context which can easily be obtained through a variety of media outlets). Ayn Rand is not the gospel just like John Maynard Keynes is not the gospel. I have big problems with Ramsey (especially his ideas on investing) but to suggests that Ramsey thinks objectivism is somehow equivalent with the gospel is at best incorrect. At worst it is exploiting Ramsey (making him look bad) to increase readership of your article. 

      • Anonymous

        It may be the case that Ramsey’s other material is different but his Great Recovery promotional video was laissez-faire capitalist propaganda that is antithetical to the gospel in a very typically American kind of way. He said that predatory lending would stop when people “grow a brain.” and many other gems i didnt have space to respond to. I’m genuinely disturbed that somebody thinks this stuff is Biblical. It’s a very selective reading of the Bible at best. You can say shame all you want to but when powerful people are blaspheming God’s name and other Christians are following along like sheep it’s incumbent on us to speak out.

        • Aclifford

          You seem to be overreacting. Not sure that is “biblical.”

  • Anonymous

    Here is the most important guiding scripture for me when thinking about this kind of stuff.
    1 Corinthians 4:7: “What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?”

    • Joshua Smith

      I wholeheartedly agree with you, Morgan. But–to play the Adversary’s advocate here– there is a converse to the concept of divine providence: If some people received gifts from God, that means some people did not. So the wealthy get wealthier in our suburbs, leaving the poor and the homeless to think, “Why did they receive divine providence while I received nothing?” Like I said, I agree with you, I just find the logical conclusion of our beliefs disturbing…

  • Grace

    As a newly married person my husband and I signed up for Ramsey’s Financial Peace classes so that we could work together and use the same language to discuss our finances.  I am glad that Ramsey has helped some people, but I could not get over his attitude and political spouting.  It literally made me ill that I was listening to him hate people and the goverment while stilling in my chuch sanctuary.  I did not hear “giving” in his discussion at all, he was very much focused on me, myself and I.  My husband had to keep patting me on the back telling me to calm down.  Granted this was in 2010 during the middle of the Presidental election and Ramsey was giving a town hall meeting from a chuch in my native Oklahoma.  Not exactly the seat of politically encouraging discussion.  The next day I asked for my money back.

    I think I can be both fiscally responsible and a giver without giving Ramsey $100 and 8 weeks of my life.  I find other financial plans such as Mary Hunt of Debtproofliving.com much less political.

    • Anonymous

      Thanks for sharing your story. Helps me realize I’m not completely crazy. There’s no place for him to propagandize. He needs to stick to the financial advice without the political punditry.

  • Anonymous

    1. Every person was a baby at one time. Someone fed you, changed you, clothed you, sheltered you, and loved you. Many of us end up needing the same care at the end of our lives.

    2. Therefore, we are interviduals (not individuals). We are mutually dependent upon God and one another. The concept of “individual” is a fraud. One person, by him or herself, cannot reproduce. We live in a human community.

    3. Dave Ramsey is correct when he stresses personal responsibility. Taking on unsustainable debt brings the person down and others along with him or her.

    4. Dave Ramsey is incorrect when he assumes the Ayn Rand ideology of justifying self-interest. When this self-centered orientation is blown up to a national scale, then we justify the community sins of the past: colonialism, slavery, genocide, theft. Then we excuse ourselves of the injustices of the present: pollution, extreme poverty, war. For example, what would Dave Ramsey have to say about Mary’s song, the Magnifcat, from Luke 1?

    • Anonymous

      I’m really glad that somebody gets it. Is it just the case that 98% of evangelicals haven’t been exposed to the real gospel? It’s very discouraging.

      • mike

        I rather be poor in America with self reliant people who use free markets than poor in any other country.

        • perpetua

           I once had a roommate lament the fact that on a missions trip to Mexico she observed that none of the poor had T.V’s and she “felt so bad for them.” She was overtly addicted to entertainment, spending copious amounts of time in her room, in front of a screen. She once told me to watch a ‘funny’ video of a person basically being utterly humiliated on T.V. She found it hilarious. She was, in general, very desensitized, rude, and immature, and she pitied anyone else?! How sad. 

          In general I would say that I agree with you, I am very thankful to be born here! I have been blessed in soooo many ways and am not scoffing at that blessing at all. Just pointing out that we do not see the full picture.

           Many are made miserable thinking/being self-reliant, and thus becoming” the fool who says in his heart, I do not need God.” Just look around, millions on anti-depressants, high divorce rates, fatherless homes, high suicide rates, gambling addiction, porn addiction, plastic surgery addiction,,, on and on the list goes. I would say that many self-reliant Americans are not faring so well. Rich or poor, many of them are no more content than anyone, anywhere.

      • deborah joyelle

        I get it brother, and my husband will really appreciate your article when he gets to read it. Thank you for writing this.

        And your right, it is discouraging. It is why we can no longer go to the nearby mega church that cost 3.5 million to build and offers to pay me when i try to do nursery (shouldn’t it be expected that I just serve?!) or needs me to pay someone to watch my 2 yr. old at the church, while i do a two hr bible study with other woman?! Talk about self-reliance!! Yes, this church is very generous and does much good. But i begin to wonder if giving from the excess of our abundance can really be called generosity?! I am the first to confess I am guilty of this. I should be giving more, consuming less and would like to be encouraged in this and in humbly relying  and giving much more of my time/money/energies to a church family and people in general.  

    • Anonymous

      I’m really glad that somebody gets it. Is it just the case that 98% of evangelicals haven’t been exposed to the real gospel? It’s very discouraging.

  • http://www.fivedills.com Greg Dill

    How do we help others if we first can’t help ourselves? An alcoholic can’t free himself from alcohol until he first realizes he’s an addict. Only then can he begin to sober up and become a better person to society. Likewise, a debtor can’t help others until he first pays off his debts. Anyone who has debt becomes a slave to the loaner. And, if a majority of the U.S. population, including Christian communities are in debt, they can’t help others within their own communities because they’re too busy paying off their debt.

    Self-reliance is quite different from self-responsibility. I believe the ultimate goal of Ramsey and other financial gurus is to teach others the responsibility of becoming debt-free with the intention of blessing others. Take this from someone who once had nearly $40,000 in debt and is now completely debt-free. It’s liberating. It’s joyful. Now, I can bless others.

    • Anonymous

      Praise God that you’re debt-free! That’s awesome! Ramsey has a lot to say that’s helpful but promoting individualism for the sake of individualism is not helpful and it goes against the gospel. We are who we are because God has used the people in our lives to make us who we are. We are completely interdependent. Talking as though we’re independent is being dishonest.

    • Doane

      Yes, a debtor can help others before he pays off his debt, because I do.

  • Gary Bebop

    A key verse in Proverbs tells us to plant the field before we build the house.  That’s the basis of a flourishing stewardship.  The entitlement nation is on the road to bankruptcy.  Sad trajectory.  Dave Ramsey recognizes we are not living in a biblical way.

  • http://naturalaw.failuretorefrain.com jurisnaturalist

    Is it better for an unbeliever to live with the individualist ethic or the communalist ethic?
    As believers we are given entirely changed natures, making us capable of self sacrifice in joy. Can/should we expect the same of outsiders? What a burden to impose! No. Only Christians are responsible for caring for their fellow man. The proper vehicle for charity is the church, not the state.
    If, then, we cannot expect or impose others-interested ethic on outsiders, what is the best we can hope for them apart from us? The self-reliant ethic works best. There is certainly room for voluntary associations for security, but not for forced associations, they will always be turned to the benefit of the powerful.
    All regulation ends up being captured by special interest groups for their own benefit. It cannot be avoided. Reform, justice, concern for the fellow man and the least of these: these are the constitution of the church. To impose these on the state is to make the church superfluous.
    It is usually compassion, and a concern that the church won’t engage, that the church by itself is insufficient for meeting all the need. This is true. No one gets out of life alive. But God is sovereign over the suffering of His innocents. The ends may be noble, but if the means don’t follow the Christian ethic they are as filthy rags.
    Nathanael Snow
    Fairfax, VA

    • Anonymous

      Under the gospel of self-reliance the church is responsible for nothing because the church is just a gathering of individualists who aren’t concerned about each others well being. I have no investment in claiming that the state should do what the church is called to do. But promoting self-reliance dangerously undermines the solidarity within the church.

      • http://naturalaw.failuretorefrain.com jurisnaturalist

        Gospel = good news.  The idea that people could get along and prosper by each pursuing their own self interest within a set of rules (free competition, protection of property, enforcement of contracts) was certainly good news when Adam Smith wrote to a world so choked off from growth by entrenched corporations, cartels, and other institutions of state privilege that xenophobia was the rule of the day.  Even the unbeliever can benefit in this way, and be a benefit to others.
        Of course, the good news Jesus brought us is that we can be completely changed!  That self interest, rather than being properly channeled, can be reversed!  Jesus then demonstrated this sacrifice and called those who were following to pick up their crosses as well.
        But we are no good to the world if we have nothing to give.  This is why we are called to work as hard as we can!  To have something to share!
        Which message do American Christians need to hear?
        Most need to respond to the call to sacrifice. 
        But progressives go too far when they identify the state as the proper vehicle for social justice!
        Ayn Rand is right that the pursuit of personal excellence is the driving force of economic growth, and that if the fruits of these pursuits are taken away, then growth will slow down.  This is true no matter where you intend to spend your earnings.   As believers we would have nothing to share if we were not able to gather the fruit of our labor.
        Indeed, it should be clear that the presence of free markets has provided a way for many of the least of these to enjoy the full dignity of labor.  Technology has provided ways for handicapped individuals to become contributing members of society.  How that must bless the believer who was handicapped and unable to contribute through work before but now has something to give!
        As Christians we should not insist that the world live as though they already knew Jesus.  We can instead advocate a system which works best for them, and one which we can bless tremendously.
        Nathanael Snow

        • mike

          Amen

        • Anonymous

          I don’t have any beef with free markets. I don’t advocate the state necessarily taking care of the poor instead of the church. But I don’t think we should delude ourselves into thinking that we are the source of our own goodness rather than being completely dependent upon God and all the ways He has used other people in our lives. Self-reliance is what we are saved from by putting our trust in Jesus Christ instead of ourselves. Self-reliance is the same thing as works-righteousness. It’s amazing how people can bracket off one way of talking about matters like salvation and talk about everyday practical issues as though the same theology doesn’t carry over.

          • deborah joyelle

            right on bro…

      • http://naturalaw.failuretorefrain.com jurisnaturalist

        Gospel = good news.  The idea that people could get along and prosper by each pursuing their own self interest within a set of rules (free competition, protection of property, enforcement of contracts) was certainly good news when Adam Smith wrote to a world so choked off from growth by entrenched corporations, cartels, and other institutions of state privilege that xenophobia was the rule of the day.  Even the unbeliever can benefit in this way, and be a benefit to others.
        Of course, the good news Jesus brought us is that we can be completely changed!  That self interest, rather than being properly channeled, can be reversed!  Jesus then demonstrated this sacrifice and called those who were following to pick up their crosses as well.
        But we are no good to the world if we have nothing to give.  This is why we are called to work as hard as we can!  To have something to share!
        Which message do American Christians need to hear?
        Most need to respond to the call to sacrifice. 
        But progressives go too far when they identify the state as the proper vehicle for social justice!
        Ayn Rand is right that the pursuit of personal excellence is the driving force of economic growth, and that if the fruits of these pursuits are taken away, then growth will slow down.  This is true no matter where you intend to spend your earnings.   As believers we would have nothing to share if we were not able to gather the fruit of our labor.
        Indeed, it should be clear that the presence of free markets has provided a way for many of the least of these to enjoy the full dignity of labor.  Technology has provided ways for handicapped individuals to become contributing members of society.  How that must bless the believer who was handicapped and unable to contribute through work before but now has something to give!
        As Christians we should not insist that the world live as though they already knew Jesus.  We can instead advocate a system which works best for them, and one which we can bless tremendously.
        Nathanael Snow

  • http://twitter.com/adamparish Adam Parish

    Morgan: This is a good analysis and thank you for holding Dave Ramsey accountable.  He has helped many people and I enjoy listening to his financial advice, and at the same time he needs to stay focused on the Gospel (all the time – not just sometimes). Jesus could have saved the world without the 12 disciples, but he chose to build a community of followers. We were made for community with God and with fellow believers not for self-reliance. /Adam

    • Anonymous

      Thanks for the affirmation. I guess a lot of people aren’t on the same page. Why do people have such any easy time bracketing aside eternal spiritual matters as somehow under a completely discontinuous paradigm from how we should understand our daily lives? We are saved FROM self-reliance. It wouldn’t be controversial to say this if I were talking about works-righteousness vs. justification by faith. But people seem to think that there is no commonality between how we live spiritually and financially.

      • deborah joyelle

         Don’t you think people’s attitudes about money say a whole lot more about their true attitudes elsewhere? Just because many Christians have been trained to say “its not by works I have been saved but by faith in Christs finished work,”  does not mean that they really live by that truth. Do we ever completely? No. Yet some are more mature in faith and really knowing it is Christs work alone that justifies.

         I believe you are very humble in your observations and convicting. You are just hitting a sensitive spot in American Christianity,  or rather, a complete blind spot… 

  • Bonar Crump

    Is anyone else surprised by this type of fundamentalist evangelical post on RLC? I’m good with it…I’m just taken off guard a bit. That’s probably a good thing.

    • Anonymous

      Wait. Now I’m a fundamentalist? What makes you say that? Lol.

      • Bonar Crump

        Sorry, I’m certain that our definitions of the term aren’t congruent. Unfair of me to project my definition on you without your “buy in”. I will humbly retract.

        • http://morganguyton.wordpress.com/ Morgan Guyton

          I wasn’t offended. I consider myself a conservative evangelical. I just try to take on the middle-class idolatries that have hobbled American evangelical Christianity and made us blasphemous and un-Biblical.

          I usually find myself on the same page with people who are actually give the Bible authority over their lives as opposed to using the word “Biblical” to describe a Christianity that means little more than voting for the political party who opposes abortion and homosexuality.

      • Jacob

        Yup, you’re a fundie for sure.  As in, this post is more fundamental to Scripture and our faith than most Evangelicals are willing to go.  Wear it proudly brother.

        • http://morganguyton.wordpress.com/ Morgan Guyton

          I’ll take that as a compliment.

  • mike

    You can not give what you do not have.  If more Christians were out of debt and more self reliant than we could give more.  I rely on God and the gifts and blessings He has given me, and work is a blessing.  We toil for our bread so to speak because it is good for man.  He gave us work to do before the fall.  Work gives us self-respect and dignity.  Luke 16 the steward acted in his best self interst and Jesus said he was shrewd. 

    • Anonymous

      Exactly. It’s a gift to be able to work and have dignity, something to be grateful for, not something to be prideful about or judge others about who for whatever reason are not able or willing to do it. Being out of debt and being self-reliant are not the same thing. We should get out of debt because we’re stewards of God’s wealth and we love God and want to honor him with everything that we do.

  • Anonymous

    Luke 1:46-55 features Mary’s Song, including the hungry receiving good things and the rich being sent away empty. How does Rand or Ramsey handle this text?

  • mike

    Matt. 25:14-30 How does Marx and Lenin handle this text.

    • Anonymous

      I don’t know. I’m not a Marxist. I’m a Christian.

    • Anonymous

      I don’t know. I’m not a Marxist. I’m a Christian.

  • mike

    Mr. Guyton please define self reliance and God reliance.

    • Anonymous

      Thanks for asking. God-reliance means that I recognize that God has given me everything that I have even stuff that I earned money to buy because the skills I used to earn the money I used are themselves a gift from God. Self-reliance means I think that I am the source of my own goodness. I pulled myself up by my own bootstraps so nobody else deserves any of my help since I had to do it by myself.

      I think you can be God-reliant and not believe in big government. The point is just be grateful for what you have and what you’re able to do and recognize that all of it is God’s, not yours. Use it responsibly and give to others responsibly in ways that will really help as opposed to just throwing a bunch of money in the air on the sidewalk.

      I agree with a lot of what Dave Ramsey says except where he tries to mix God-reliance and self-reliance together which is not Biblical.

      • Jay

        It’s not Biblical in your misrepresentation of what he’s saying.  I don’t think he would disagree with what you’re saying at all.  So why write this except to stir controversy about something you apparently know nothing about?

        • http://morganguyton.wordpress.com/ Morgan Guyton

          I only claim to respond to what he said in his promotional video of the Great Recovery, which had very little to say about how to get out of debt and a lot to say about John Maynard Keynes and how the world was always capitalist before the 1930’s (except for the 99% of human history when our societies were feudal or tribal). Watch the video. It was straight-up laissez-faire capitalist propaganda. That’s what needs to get called out. Dave needs to stick to the financial advice business and not make gross misrepresentations of world economic history. Self-reliance is not Christian, plain and simple. And that’s what he advocated in this particular video regardless of whether he’s been more balanced or nuanced in other settings.

          • Jay

            He’s not talking about ULTIMATE self-reliance.  You’re playing with words.

          • Anonymous

            Did you watch the promotional video for the Great Recovery? If so, then offer a different explanation for the parts that I found problematic. If not, then “why stir controversy about something you apparently know nothing about?”

  • mike

    Its better to rely upon yourself than to rely unpon the goverment.

    • Anonymous

      It’s better to rely on God than yourself or the government.

  • Jacob

    I’m sorry Mr. Guyton, your audience is American.  Self-reliance is a sacred cow, regardless of what our faith says to the contrary.  Wonderful post.  It is just a shame so few understood it. 

    • Jay

      What was wonderful about it?  He misrepresented his subject and argued with himself for half a page.

  • Jeff Urban

    Get OUT OF DEBT with Dave Ramsey and GIVE like Randy Alcorn.

    Ramsey is communicating Proverbial truths in today’s vernacular, and we need it.  We also need to realize that everything we have is from God and entrusted to us to promote the Kingdom of God.  The latter is where Randy Alcorn comes in – give, give, and give some more b/c that is what we are wired to do.

    • http://morganguyton.wordpress.com/ Morgan Guyton

      Haven’t heard about Randy Alcorn. I’ll have to look him up. I definitely think that Ramsey’s got a piece of the puzzle and is promoting a worthwhile movement. I just wish he would be more careful about what he says in his speeches.

  • Bernhe

    Since Morgan Guyton replies to many of the post I wonder if he has approached Dave Ramsey to tell him where he is wrong?  I wonder how many famous critics of Rob Bell attempted to approach him personally with their complaint?  Have they treated him as a brother to correct or a false teacher to condemn?

    Many times peoples hardships are a lack of discipline.  Buying TV’s, cell phones for every child in the family, etc when  they do not have $ for food or rent.
    Mr Ramsey is not advocating relience on self in place of God.  That is a distortion.

    I also have seen people apply Dave’s financial principals and it has freed them to be generous. 

    Mr Guyton, I think it is the politics of Dave Ramsey that you disagree with rather than his teaching. 

  • Jay

    “By fusing divine providence and self-reliance in this way, providence becomes meaningless.”

    All he means is, God made people to work.

    “If all that I achieve is derived in myself, why should I be grateful to God?”

    Because God made you.  You wouldn’t be able to provide for yourself if he didn’t first make YOU.  Whether directly or indirectly God still gets the credit.  

    “It’s easier to confuse my own efforts with God’s grace when I forget that God doesn’t use just me to provide for me; he uses my parents, pastors, mentors, and teachers to instill me with the virtues I need.”

    It’s very easy to misunderstand what he’s saying if you take it out of context like you are right now.  Then again, you wouldn’t have anything to write about unless you took it out of context, thus your article would be less sensational, thus not as many would care to listen to you, and with less of an audience you’d have less invitations to speak, and with less invitations to speak you’d have less love offerings, and with less love offerings you’d have less money.  With less money you may qualify for welfare, which I think is what you’re getting to.  I hope not.

    “When I forget how dependent I am on God’s prevenient grace through others, I become an ungrateful, unmerciful person who presumes that others’ hardships reflect a lack of discipline.”

    Not all hardship reflects lack of discipline, but a lot of it does.

    “Furthermore, a gospel of self-reliance makes it easier to squander God’s wealth because I view it as property that I earned and can use as I please. Ramsey doesn’t seem to have a problem with this: “It’s your job to take care of you so you should act in your own best interests… This is not a bad thing… It’s Biblical.””

    1. You’re misusing the word “gospel” which I find to be offensive.  Ramsey is not talking about saving money to attain salvation.  2. I don’t think Ramsey is advocating being a Scrooge.

    “Two words that define Biblical economics for me do not appear anywhere in the Great Recovery promotional video: kingdom and mercy.”

    You may have to watch more than the promotional video.  At the very LEAST to have credibility in writing such an article.  The fact that you only watched a promotional video and that you haven’t taken the time to listen intently what Ramsey has said and be able to repeat what he said in the spirit of what he said disqualifies you from saying anything meaningful about it.  You are creating a caricature and then attacking your own creation.  I never trust people who argue with themselves or people they’re making up.

    “Our call as Christians is not to be self-reliant, but to become a body that relies on God together.”  

    True, but how can I rely on my brother financially if he’s in gross debt?  First he has to get his own house in order.  Then we can talk about doing for others.  

    “The gospel’s purpose is to establish the kingdom of God, a reality in which grateful people care for each other and inspire others to grateful stewardship through works of mercy, not by drawing thick boundaries of individual self-reliance.”

    My employer wants me to work.  If I save what I work for I will be able to provide for myself and for others.  But first I have to work.

    “Perhaps Ramsey’s movement will accidentally build the kingdom of God and cultivate more generosity in American evangelical congregations, but only if people ignore his ideological commitment to individual responsibility and recognize that we are responsible for each other.”

    What would you know about his ideological commitment?  You saw a promotional video.

    “It will certainly help our economy for individuals to stop living beyond their means…”

    Glad you realize that.  That was his point.

    “…but programs like WIC and Medicaid should not be cut under the presumption that poor kids could pay for their own milk and health care if they just learned to save their money.”

    1. Is that what he is saying?  You wouldn’t know.  You only saw a promotional video.
    2. Sometimes working hard and saving will not get us far because our circumstances don’t allow us to go far.  But our chances are always better if we work hard and save.
    3. Government reliance doesn’t teach people anything but to beg.
    4. Scripture say people who are not willing to work shouldn’t eat.  The emphasis is on the “not willing” part.  Of course we should provide for people who CAN’T work.
    5. Dave Ramsey was not saying to not provide for people who can’t work.
    6. If you’re going to write an article about something like this, do the reader a favor and read on your topic of choice thoroughly, be able to say what your subject said the way he(she) said it, and don’t misrepresent their ideas for the sake of causing a stir and drawing attention to yourself.

    • http://morganguyton.wordpress.com/ Morgan Guyton

      It was legitimate for me to critique his promotional video as a stand-alone piece. What I critiqued was not taken out of the context of the video itself, which was way more political and ideological than it needed to be. I could offer you dozens of other quotes from the video that made me cringe. I know you’ll never believe me but I really was listening with an open mind.

      If I preach theologically orthodox sermons 51 weeks out of the year and
      you come the one week I say something heretical, it would be appropriate
      for you to rebuke me even if you hadn’t heard all 51 other sermons I preached that year. Just because this guy has a great program and has helped millions of people doesn’t give him the right to preach heresy. If someone listening to that speech comes away with a view of self-reliance that is antithetical to Christian orthodoxy, it doesn’t matter whether or not they’ve read all of Ramsey’s books to “get the right context.”

      I’m not any less cynical about my own motives than you are. I’m in a perpetual battle with my pride. I’m thankful for how God challenges me through your words, and I do take them seriously. But I still feel that it was important to make a theological point that self-reliance is a dangerous heresy within contemporary Christianity. Thousands of self-professing Christians make comments all the time that demonstrate that their self-reliance functions as their basis for casting judgment on other people whose specific life stories they know nothing about.

      We should hold each other accountable as a community for spending our money in Godly ways. It’s a journey we walk together. Dave Ramsey’s program actually affirms this in practice, but he doesn’t need to be giving speeches that affirm values which are incompatible with his program just for the sake of making the square peg of capitalism fit into the round hole of Christianity.

      There is no reason to affirm individualism as a virtue in itself. Individualism is the basis for thinking that it’s my money and I can spend it how I want to. If I recognize that what I have belongs to God and I’m grateful for what he’s given me and I consider myself to be part of a team that depends on my responsibility, then I’m going to take responsibility for myself not as an individual but as part of the body of Christ.

      • Jay

        Morgan, the Bible affirms a “soft” capitalism (you get what you work for) AND a “soft” socialism (leave some for the poor).  We can find this in the Old and New Testaments.  The problem is that these conversations are not nuanced enough.  A more nuanced article is consequently more boring.  A more boring article is consequently less viewed.  A less viewed article consequently means less notoriety.  Unfortunately we live in an age where everything is a blurb and most of us aren’t able to talk intelligently because we were raised around media which encourages sensationalism.  Not only in media, but in normal conversation.  We Americans tend to exaggerate about everything.  I completely understand your burden for the poor as a person who works with a segment of the population which makes up most of the poor: the mentally sick.  I also understand taking things out of context as a former blogger which is the reason I shut down my blog.  I don’t know you, but you obviously seem like a person who cares about grace and mercy, from what I can tell in your responses and the manner of them. I would like to see as much concern for intellectual honesty and for honesty otherwise as we have for things like “the poor” or anything else.  Otherwise we’re inviting the poor which we claim to care about into a house of lies and lesser lies (exaggerations).

        • Anonymous

          I wrestle a lot with this question of nuance vs. sensationalism. It helps me appreciate where you’re coming from to hear your own past experience. I’m trying to be intellectually honest. I’m also trying to call out celebrities who are too in love with their own ideas. I’m trying not to be in love with my own ideas or pursue celebrity myself but as you probably know from experience, Satan is there at every turn. This whole thing started through discerning a call to write and seeing that Christians are grossly blaspheming the name of Jesus in our public discourse by and large because we say judgmental things about other people based on our own self-justification as responsible, moral, socioeconomically stable (a.k.a. middle-class) people.

          So I feel called to speak out against all the golden calves so that people will worship only Christ, not America, not capitalism, not social justice, nor any other ideology. Evangelical Christianity has a whole lot of idolatry and compromising worldly loyalties that have gotten attached to it. I feel like I’m supposed to go after those for the sake of the Kingdom. I’m still learning how to do so in a way that has integrity. Thanks for wrestling with me.

  • gloria

    I looked into Ramsey’s “Great Recovery” about a week ago, and it sounded like a big ole commercial to me… I like Ramsey’s programs and financial strategies, but I don’t like him hiding his personal profits and marketing schemes behind either politics OR Christianity.  Why doesn’t he preach it instead?

    • Jeff Urban

      Good point, Gloria!  Why can’t he follow Rick Warren’s lead – stop taking a salary, stop charging for everything he does and instead do gratis work???  He has more than enough, so why not share his time and talents with no strings or bills attached?

  • Colin Bain

    All well and good to provide for yourself and then provide for others. However this does not solve or salve those who simply cannot. Not everyone is born with the abilities and gifts to help themselves. There are a few heroes who battle adversity, but heroes are in the definite minority. Reality sucks sometimes. Community provides the means of grace to help the opportunities for grace. Surely that is why Mother Theresa. That is why hospitals. Gods providence also provides opportunities for grace by Christians.

  • Bernhe

    My first response was to your article.  As I read your responses to others you seemed more reasonable.
    It you want people to respect your point you should first give credit to Mr Ramsey for the good he has done.  Countless people have gotten out of debt and are better able to help others do to his principles.
    Jesus said we would always have the poor, I take that to mean we should always take care of them.  Buying a house that the bank said I could afford would have left me unable to help the poor as I do.  If I had I would have been following the normal American Dream.
    If more people lived by the financial principals that Ramsey advocates there would be more $ available for the poor.
    I do not think anyone has mentioned that in the OT if you loaned someone $ interest could not be charged.  Look at the interest rates that are charged today.  Look at the charges people get if they accidently overdraw their bank account.  I know someone who overdrew their account by $100 and they were charged $300 by the bank!  That is criminal.
    I have not seen the Great Recovery.  I think too much of Dave’s stuff favors one political party and this keeps people from the benefits of what he says.  That is his error.

    But back to your article, if you had given credit for the good he has done and then questioned what he is teaching I think you might have gotten further with your point.  Observe the letters of Paul, how he wrote.
    It is not enough to be right, you want to convince people that you are, that is why you wrote it.

  • Doane

    Being out of debt is not something that is meaningful all by itself.
    I am in debt because I financed a car to get to work (in an area that does not have mass transit and is way too far to walk), my wife needed life-saving surgery and I took out loans so my daughters could go to college.
    If I did not take out the loans, I would not have a job, my wife would be dead and my children would not have the great jobs they have. The debt will be paid eventually.

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  • Countrygirlsheart

    I would have to say that I don’t think you have in depth and with an open mind taken the entire course, and nor have you taken this course from the understanding that you are in a financial (and thus life) mess that is impeding your ability to take care of yourself. Certainly, people get themselves into hardships that simply couldn’t have been avoided no matter what and those people are the ones we should be pouring our love and all manner of support too. However, the truly qualifying cases are VERY few and far between and if we all managed our blessings and finances better, we would have no difficulty handling these cases in our communities without government interference and there would be no need for government programs, and without government programs, we would not have to pay as high of taxes, allowing us to help more, so on and so forth. It can become a great cycle. The last lesson of his course focuses on using the wealth you can build to have the joy of giving it away and being a blessing to other’s in need. I really think you should watch the whole thing before you run your mouth about it.

  • James C

    “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love another.”
    Pretty straight forward.
    I haven’t watched Ramsey’s video, but I am certain that other than the twist this article gives I agree with him. Gov’t programs can do some good but many ultimately make us slaves of the state.
    Less taxes and less government is better. Since when should a government be in the business of “good works.” I think abortion is murder, but my tax dollars go to support abortion, is that right?
    The government and its programs are fraught with waste.
    And to stop this we should make gov’t bigger?
    Let those who give, give cheerfully.
    So am I storing up treasures in heaven by voting for politicians that will increase gov’t spending? Is this what Jesus is talking about?
    My responsibility then isn’t to be generous with my money, but to make sure that everyone is “generous.”

    Wouldn’t it be better if I can choose how to help others with what God gives me?
    Instead some politician gets to choose?

    How poor is American poverty? well read this link . . .
    http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/272081/modern-poverty-includes-ac-and-xbox-ken-mcintyre#

    Wouldn’t be better if we could choose to help people even more destitute?
    Let’s just rewrite the parable of the Good Samaritin.
    Instead of helping the half-dead traveller from our own abundance, we can just point to the latest gov’t program to assist him. No need to dirty our hands, we voted. :)

  • Craig

    I don’t often comment, but as a British person, I felt like this post left me looking in somewhat from the outside, not something RLC has often done (other posts that have been overtly to do with the American system/life have allowed me to feel somewhat informed if not fully engaged)…. 

    It seems as thought the writer has taken offence to Mr Ramsey’s political bias and perspective and so found a religious (albeit flimsy) issue on which he could base his attack. Followed up with a series of defensive responses to comments, it just looks like a good old fashioned wedge with which to further divide left from right, liberal from conservative.

    I honestly thought RLC was one of the few blogs that had moved (mostly) beyond this sort of thing. I believed RLC to be a blog comprised of a group of people coming form a variety of perspectives who are trying to help each other explore our faith and understand more of Jesus from a perspective of love and grace for each other.

    I’m sorry Mr Guyton, but this post just left me feeling sad and disheartened.

    • Bernhe

      Very perceptive Craig.

    • Jennifer A. Nolan

      Do you imagine Guyton supports the current American welfare apparatus?  Or is he merely admonishing Ramsey and those others who would tear it down and leave nothing in its place in the name of “Godly” self-reliance?  I don’t question the need for some personal accountability; nor do I imagine that most hardship arises from anything but human evil and stupidity: for instance, why, why, WHY do most poor American workers insist on building FAMILIES???  They will build families, which are very expensive as well as bad for the environment, but not a viable union movement or a voting bloc worthy of polititians’ respect.   I can’t stand these people.

      Even so, there are extenuating circumstances that call for a more charitable attitude; have you ever tried relying on your own resources after job cut-backs, major ilnesses without guaranteed medical-insurance or welfare provisions, natural disasters (we get many of these), crippling accidents?  As a Britisher, you surely must have enjoyed the benefits of more time for vacations and medical leaves, along with a single-payer medical system that provides for EVERY citizen at a much lower cost than ours.  We haven’t. 

      As bad as we working Americans are, under Gospel morality, our calls for help deserve a better response than your complaint about their “divisiveness.”  Calls for equal treatment of Blacks and Whites were “divisive” in their time; they were divisive because they raised the hackles of people like you.

      • Craig

        Congratulations. You have, by proxy, succeeded in calling someone racist and in doing so have not only misjudged their character with a cheap shot, you’ve also missed the point completely…

        *sigh*

        • Jennifer A. Nolan

          I didn’t call you a racist, Craig, I made a comparison of your claim of “divisiveness” with those of people in past ages who WERE racists.  There is a difference.  If calls for fair treatment are “divisive,” then there is no real social connection between the people being “divided.”  They belong in different societies, even different nations.  You don’t have to like the working poor, Craig; the Lord will sort out His sheep from His goats according to His own criteria — and many hard workers will get the same rebuke as Martha of Bethany.  But you and others of your stripe do have to respect the contribution they make to middle-class Western standards of living.  If corporate executives don’t think a day’s work is worth a day’s living, then any worker without the guts to object is just a chump!!

          • Craig_newey

            The thing is… I don’t have a horse in this race. It was a simple observation, and because you don’t know me, it’s no surprise that the picture you have painted of me is way off. In fact, from some of the things you’ve said and some of the communities/blogs listed on your profile, I expect we would hold many similar perspectives :) 

            My main issue was the fact that we need to get over this “I’m liberal, you’re conservative so I’m gonna use the bible to justify my position and state why you’re wrong” thing. 

            I used to call myself liberal, in fact I prided myself on the fact that I was too liberal for most churches, even here in the UK. But now I’m tired of it. I want to get on with living out grace and to be honest, I think I’m done with RLC after all this.

          • Jennifer A. Nolan

            Sorry, I didn’t mean to blow you off the RLC community, Craig. This is what happens when you try out-argue people who can’t even visit a dentist without going into hock, while 80%-85% of their employers’ earnings go to multi-millionaires. We get a bit hysterical. We get pretty loud and obnoxious. “Bootstrapping” will no longer help us. And we won’t get our good manners back by being told to be content with our lot, as I thought I was being told by you. One way of “living out grace” might be to spend a few vacation days in Liverpool or Glasgow, doing some volunteer work for the British poor and hearing THEIR side of the story. In many respects, it’s just like ours in the U.S.A.

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  • Paul Charles

    I think Dave Ramsay has a lot of wise things to say about money and good management, but to put together “God-reliance and self-reliance” is surely a mistake. It seems as though he is dangerously close to the principle that “God helps those who help themselves,” which is very hard to marry to the gospels insistence on grace and mercy. I’m slightly suspicious that I will ever have my life in order, and I will always be in need of grace in every area.

  • http://twitter.com/socialchild socialchild

    I’ve been listening to Dave Ramsey for several years now; I’ve been through FPU; I’ve reads his books. I’ve also studied Ayn Rand and Objectivism. I wonder if Morgan is thinking of a different Dave Ramsey. Or a different Ayn Rand

    Because while they both talk about the idea of working for your own self-interests, they mean different things and come to this idea from completely different first principles.

    Ayn Rand did not believe in God, or a god, or the gods; the first principle of Objectivsm is that nothing exists that can’t be objectively proven. She rejected the idea that there is a morality outside of a person’s own judgement. When she speaks of acting in one’s own self-interest, she means acting according to what you as an individual think is your own self-interest. Every positive impulse for the Objectivist is balanced by whether he thinks would profit from doing it. The Objectivist asks, “What will it cost me to do this good thing and will I get more ut of it than it costs.”

    I don’t see that in anything Ramsey does.
    When Ramsey talks of Christians acting in their own self-interest, he presupposes that we are seeking God’s will in our lives and submitting our judgement of what is best for us to God’s greater knowledge because submitting ourselves to god’s will *is* acting in our own self-interest. It’s kind of circular reasoning, but for Ramsey, the circle begins and ends with God. At 7:38 in the video linked above, Ramsey refers to his wealth (and it’s considerable) as “my money that God gave me to manage for Him.” The first thing you learn in FPU is that you have to budget your money, and the first lesson about budgeting is that you have to give–10% of your income is what he recommends. He also teaches that you should never loan money to or co-sign a loan with a friend or family member, but if you can, you should just give what is needed with no strings attached. And he speaks a lot about being generous in spirit.

    When Ramsey talks about acting in our own self-interest, he’s talking about acting responsibly–being responsible for yourself and your family as opposed to abdicating that (God-given) responsibility and allowing the government or even the church take it over. Because, as he said in the film, when you put your hope in government instead of in God, then there is no hope.

    But I guess the most telling part of the video linked in the article comes at the end where Dave talks about his ultimate hope for the Recovery Now program: revival. Yes, he wants people out of debt, and yes people to move into the middle-class, but his “wow” goal is revival, and he’s using his own resources to get there. Ayn Rand would call him a fool.

    I agree that there are lots of people out there who call themselves Christians who have contaminated Christianity with Objectivsm (several Republican presidential candidates and congressmen spring immediately to mind), but Dave Ramsey isn’t one of them.

    • Bernhe

      This is one of the best responses to this article.  Socialchild has gotten to the basic jest of the article.  His point will either be ignored, or some small detail will pulled out to try to discredit his entire argument.
      There are things I dislike about Dave Ramsey but trying to get people out the bondage of financial debt is not one of them. His financial principles are good for everyone; if they are Democrat, Republican, Independent, or whatever.  The problem arises from the fact that Dave does favor one political party and that is the basis of the critical things that have been said or written.
      I wish Dave would leave his politics out.  I wish the reader or listener would discern that and recognize the good he teaches. 

    • Anonymous

      I’ve been away from this for a while. I apologize. I’ll repeat myself. I’m responding to the particular promotional video for the Great Recovery in which Ramsey says some very problematic things (perhaps to score points with an audience that accepts Tea Party values as gospel truth and win them over to the Jesus party). I don’t think anybody is above reproach for conflating “Biblical” values and ideological pettiness regardless of how many people they’ve helped, how the body of their work transcends populist demagoguery, etc. We don’t get to revival through individual responsibility. If that were the case, then Pelagius would be right and Augustine would be the heretic. We get to individual responsibility through revival.

  • Jeremy

    This article is incorrect and short-sighted.  Mr. Guyton has made a sweeping judgment based on ONE presentation video. (In case you’re wondering yes i did watch the video) If the author had investigated Dave Ramsey’s organization more in depth (even just to the surface level of Financial Peace University) he would have found information that is diametrically opposed to his article’s assumptions and conclusions.  In the last lesson of FPU Dave teaches HEAVILY for an hour all about understanding it ALL comes from God and that we are servants.  Go watch it, Mr. Guyton.  It’s called The Great Misunderstanding.  This debunks about half of this article… “easier to squander…” etc.  It’s sad to see how you prooftexted his presentation, as Jay pointed out.
    Also, we are NOT responsible for one another.  Our responsibility is to SERVE and SUPPORT one another.  Those are two very different things.  Each believer’s responsibility is between them and God.  I am not responsible for my brother or sister but I am not blind to their needs either.  Look at marriage.  I am COMMITTED to serve and support my wife, but I am not RESPONSIBLE for her.  She is her own person and will stand alone before God.  Saying we are responsible for one another paints unhealthy un-Biblical boundaries that God did not intend.  Mr. Guyton said it right at the beginning of that paragraph “relies on God together” and then erred when saying “responsible for each other”.
    Speaking of responsibility it is Scriptural that we have a responsibilty to take care of our household and also to be faithful stewards with the talents we’ve been given.  God DOES provide for me by giving me the tools to provide for myself as well as the limits to those abilities to keep me dependent on Him.  If it was one or the other it’d be pointless.  If I had all i needed to provide for myself than I wouldn’t need God.  If I needed everything from Him and had no God-given ability then I’d be a weak baby of a Christian with no way to practice surrender to God because there’d be nothing of my own to surrender or power to give up.  Dave isn’t saying God uses JUST me to provide for me, just that it’s the primary way and that’s true.  Self-reliance isn’t exclusive.
     
    P.S. Mr. Guyton your responsibility to follow Matt 18:15 and Gal 6:1-2 is not restricted to your home church.  Do you not believe that we are one body universal and not just a local body?  All believers are in the family of God and the “rules of engagement” apply between all of us, not just if we know each other or hang in the same circles.
     
    P.P.S. one part of one presentation doesn’t constitute a “gospel” of something.

  • Anonymous

    There’s a video of Dave Ramsey saying to single parents: “You’d be wealthy if you didn’t do stupid things with your money.”

    Now tell me, is there *any* context where that statement would be appropriate?

    Dave Ramsey says, “Stupid are the poor.”
    Jesus Christ said, “Blessed are the poor.”

    (Note, Jesus did not say the “deserving” poor.)

    Who should we believe?

    • Anonymous

      Speaking of context, Anonymous, you have taken what he said out of context. Most of us, if we admit it, do stupid things some times. That does not mean we are stupid.
      Personally I feel the word stupid is inappropriate.
      Did Dave Ramsey actually say “Stupid are the poor?” If he did, that is wrong. If he did not, then you have misrepresented him.
      A lot of people do foolish things with their money. For some of them, that is why they are poor. I think his choice of words is sometimes poor. However, his financial advice is very sound. If more people followed his advice they would be much better off financially..

  • Guest

    “Our call as Christians is not to be self-reliant, but to become a body that relies on God together.” – This is the purpose of Jesus and the Christian religion in a nutshell.

    If Ramsey really was serious about changing people’s lives and changing society, he would insist on powerful corporations, bankers and hedge funds getting back to the debt-free ways, and “god and grandma’s” ways of handling money. Most of Wall Streets profit machinations are founded on debt, and that in the main gets us into trouble, such as the CDO crisis in home mortgage crisis. Yes, personal debt is a bad thing – but Ramsey blames the serfs and not the lords. If Ramsey would use his debt-free mantra to steer the populace away from consumerism and corporations, that would be Christ-like.

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Forgetting the Poor?

There’s a passage in Galatians 2 that has always intrigued me, so this week I’m going to share three posts...

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