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The Almighty Dollar: In Which God Do We Trust Conclusion

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My main concern is justice oriented.  If we are to eventually redirect it toward a new ethic on wealth accumulation, we need to understand how American religion, at least partially, became a tool for defending social norms that allow excessive wealth and grinding poverty to co-exist


Conclusion

While much of this thesis is descriptive, especially the first three chapters, my main concern is justice oriented.  If we are to eventually redirect it toward a new ethic on wealth accumulation, we need to understand how American religion, at least partially, became a tool for defending social norms that allow excessive wealth and grinding poverty to co-exist.  I have traced how Christianity evolved from explicit attempts to control activities in the economic sphere (as represented by Aquinas and Calvin) to a separation of religion from economics as described by Tawney and others.  We have seen how America Puritan individualism worked with the frontier experience and New Thought theologies to birth various gospels of success.  In the 20th century the prosperity doctrine emerged as a natural outgrowth of these characteristics for recombining economics and religion, being based on personal responsibility plus optimism about success.  That God is "kept in a box" to be called on as needed is a fruit of the prosperity doctrine that is largely ignored.

Fortunately there are both historical critiques, such as the social gospel movement, and increasing numbers of contemporary voices challenging the prosperity doctrine as a faithful way of reintegrating religion and economics.  The ministries and approaches introduced here will evolve and hopefully grow in scope in the coming decades so that American religious thought and practice can become a valuable resource for societal concerns about wealth as well as encourage individuals and communities of faith across America along the path toward spiritual health and wholeness.


Table of Contents:

Preface

Introduction

Chapter 1:  A Revolution in Attitudes Toward Prosperity & Wealth
   The Moral and Economic Philosophy of Adam Smith
   Weber and Tawney on Religion and Economics

Chapter 2 - America's Exceptional Individualism
   The Frontier
   The Religious Aspects of American Individualism
   New Thought Theologies

Chapter 3 - Evolution of the Protestant Ethic in 20th Century America       
   The Gospel of Success
   Pentecostal and Neo-Pentecostal Theologies
   The Prosperity Gospel Today
   Related Ethical Defenses of Wealth Accumulation
   The Reach of Wealth Accumulation Defenses

Chapter 4: Toward Developing A 21st Century Faith & Money Ethic
   Introduction and an Historical Note
   Challenging the Spirituality of Accumulation
   Biblical Perspectives on Reuniting Faith and Money
   Ministries for Transforming Our Relationship with Money

Conclusion

Appendix: Faith and Money Resources

Bibliography

A M.A. thesis submitted in candidacy for the degree of Master of Arts in Religion and Theology
Copyright © 2008 by Michael Troutman} , 3156 Elliot Av
Minneapolis, MN 55407 - 612-822-6059

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