What is the difference between Christian finance and generally held financial principles?The definition of Christian finance should actually be titled Biblical finance and thus point to what should be the basis and standard for anyone professing to practice “Christian Finance”. In practice the waters have become so muddied that it is often difficult to tell the difference. There are many who are not Christians who employ some basic Biblical principles successfully and there are those who profess to be Christians who have not studied this specific topic and manage their money without any knowledge of what the Bible says about money. It is not for the most part that either group is trying to be hypocritical but rather that most of us have received any knowledge we have from a smorgasbord of family example, books, blogs, and magazines, or a trial and error approach to finances. Zeb’s book attempts and does an excellent job of setting forth the basics of what the Bible actually says about money, attitudes, and practices. Then we may decide if we will follow it. I intentionally use the word basics because when my own study and application began this is where I began and then continued to learn more as additional study and experience was gained.
Some of the principles in Road Map to Financial Security are also contained within the pages of In The Trenches but the first book was written specifically for Christians and In The Trenches was written for the general population including Christians. All this may sound like hair splitting but as some of the topics I will mention below one can see that despite all the muddle and some similarities that apply to both groups there are (or should be) also some major differences. It is not my intention here to create controversy for each of us is free to choose our own course.I will share some key differences and encourage people to get Zeb’s book for a more thorough study.
Creator. If one believes that God is the Creator and sustainer of all life and that the Bible is His inspired Word then our goal and purpose is to see just what exactly He says and expects in all things. It if from the position that He is our Creator that we can then choose whether or not He will be Lord. Those who reject this basic principle will choose another basis for all life decisions and direction. An atheist then would have no use for any other Biblical instruction but if they did follow any of the principles would receive the benefit of doing so. Meaning, when one chooses to acknowledge that God is God, what we believe about Him does in no way change Him, it changes us.
Stewardship. The primary difference between Biblical vs. generally practiced money management is the concept of stewardship. If we acknowledge Him as creator and sustainer of all then all the talents, opportunities, and even the weather are in His control and hands. This leads to a conclusion that all is God's and we are managers and accountable to Him. The second is based on "It's MY money I earned it".
Tithing. The principle of tithing, or the giving of 10% off the top of our income seems ridiculous to those who do not acknowledge God as Lord and is highly controversial even among those who do. The practice was initiated in the Old Testament and many question whether it is still expected or relevant in the New Testament, Road Map to Financial Security speaks on the subject in detail.
Some of the other topics include standards for obtaining money, debt, generosity, greed, etc. Some will find the book eye opening, some challenging, and some a good refresher in the basics of Biblical Finances. I hope that this brief review will gender a curiosity to read the book.