Book Review: Money, Greed, and God by Jay Richards

November 30, 2010

Early in my business education, I wrote a paper that questioned whether or not capitalism and Christianity could coexist. The premise of my argument was that capitalism required selfish behavior while Christianity commands unselfish behavior. As the years have passed, I have drifted from this position but never could articulate why. Until now. “Money, Greed, and God” by Jay Richards is an excellent defense of capitalism from a Christian perspective. Richards addresses my concerns in in great detail. Particularly helpful, is his distinguishing between greed and self interest. He maintains that self interest is not a sin. To the contrary, self interest is sometimes a virtue. We should care about our health. We should take our vitamins. We should care about our family. If we do not look out for ourselves, no one will. The Golden Rule assumes self interest (and does not decry it): “do unto others as you would do unto yourselves).

Greed, on the other hand, is a sin. Capitalism doesn’t require greed. But Richards rightly notes that capitalism is helpful in channeling greed for a good outcome. The butcher who is greedy and doesn’t care if he sells you spoiled meat will be pressured to do the right thing in spite of his greed. If he sells you spoiled meat, it will be bad for business. So he does the right thing in spite of his greed.

I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the Christian take on capitalism versus collectivism.


6 Responses to “Book Review: Money, Greed, and God by Jay Richards”

  1. Steven Says:

    I have the book, I just haven’t read it yet.

  2. Steven Says:

    It’s been OK, been buying books off of Amazon, and a few others from the author’s sites. A few weeks ago, I finished reading “The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus”, and right now I’m on “Hard Questions, Real Answers” by William Lane Craig. I was thinking of reading one of the NT Wright books I got after Hard Question, Real Answers, but I also want to read Daniel Hannan’s book, “The New Road To Serfdom”. How have you been lately?

    • W. Vida Says:

      I’ve been doing well. I have just been really busy with a new church plant that we are trying to get started in Ann Arbor. But things are going well. I am glad to hear your reading list, it sounds like some really solid stuff.

      • Steven Says:

        Yep, I also got “Muslim Mafia”, “Lives of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence”, “Jesus, The Final Days: What Really Happened”, and some JP Moreland books, and today I ordered 4 of John Piper’s books. I got a whole bunch of books, it will take a GOOD WHILE for me to read. How is the church plant?

    • W. Vida Says:

      Things are going well with the plant. We are only a few weeks in and right now we are just gathering people. Next year sometime we hope to get to the point of moving to the next step (launching etc).

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