Fix the Economy GOD’$ WAY: Dave Ramsey’s Great Christian Recovery

Paul Harvey

During last night's disheartening tit-for-tat between President Obama and Speaker Boehner, the Speaker said "I've always believed that the bigger the government, the smaller the people." My snarkier side immediately thought, well then, the GI Bill turned the "Greatest Generation" into Lilliputians.

But more seriously, I'm interested in the religious history of the elements feeding the current budget stalemate and the respective economic philosophies of the various sides. One of those, I believe, is the significant influence of the Christian megastar financial advisor Dave Ramsey, whose radio show I have listened to for years (and whom I've written about very briefly here before). Last week, Ramsey held a sort of pep talk simulcast over the Web worldwide, called "The Great Recovery," which outlined his views of God's plans for economic recovery.

Over at Religion Dispatches today, I have a piece examining his philosophy, popularity, and political influence in terms of translating personal financial advice into nostrums of public policy. His plan is God's plan, and only God's plan will lead to economic recovery -- a familiar sentiment in American Protestant economic thought, to put it mildly. And a sentiment that provides a kind of theological base for the Tea Party caucus in Congress, whose members integrate much more religious thought into their worldview than is often understood. Anyway, a brief excerpt below, then follow the rest at the jump:

Wielding the Book of Proverbs and Zig Ziglar, where others might clutch their Friedrich Von Hayek or Milton Friedman, Ramsey provides a compelling theology of Tea Party national economic policy: Government spending is sinful, and arises from a national turning away from God’s ways of dealing with money; sin originated in the New Deal, the “first time in history” that people looked to the government and not to themselves for employment; and it is only the heroic efforts of private entrepreneurs, operating preferably without any government interference but with a strong Christian morality, that prevents exploitation and mandates helping others, that will restore both the spiritual and financial health of the country. John Galt, meet Jesus Christ

Continue reading . . . .

Update: Sara Mayeux has a really interesting post here on why credit card analogies, oversimplified as they may be, dominate fiscal debate -- very helpful for understanding Ramsey's basic trope of household finance = national finance, and also Obama's invocation of the same concept last night.


Randall said…
Paul: This is fascinating stuff!!

Karl and I considered including financial experts along with others in our Anointed book.
Paul Harvey said…
Randall: Shoot, wish you would have put them in! DEG has done some of that in his diss. (soon to be a great book we hope), and he has a buddy who's researching Larry Burkett and Crown financial Ministries, which I don't know very much about.
This is such a wonderful line of discussion. I put up a post on the Calvin College "Seminars in Christian Scholarship" blog about the incursion of the prosperity gospel into more bonafide "evangelical" circles, a couple weeks ago. It's a fascinating topic to me, and apparently to quite a few others. However, I see less critique among scholars of evangelicalism than I would have expected.

I look forward to putting up a blog post along similar themes within the next month! :)
Jonathan said…
Now I understand that why this guy's billboards are all over the Springs. Thanks, Paul. He's certainly not advertised as a Christian financial advice counselor, but I'm not exactly his target audience.

Rick Warren confirms Dave Ramsey's sentiments.
John G. Turner said…
Great post, Paul.

I listen to Ramsey occasionally when in Utah. He's quite forthright about his Christian beliefs, but in a rather inoffensive way (soft-pedaled is close to but not the exact word I'm searching for).

I agree that the role of Christian financial experts / ministries has become very important in recent decades. I interviewed Larry Burkett a number of years ago -- he was supportive of Bill Bright and the organization formerly known as Campus Crusade for Christ.

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