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Posted June 23, 2010

Book: Wealth and the Will of God: Discerning the use of riches in the service of ultimate purpose
Authors: Paul G. Schervish and Keith Whitaker
Indiana, University Press. Bloomington, IN. 2010. Pp. 189

An Excerpt from the Jacket:

Wealth and the Will of God looks at some of t he spiritual resources of the Christian tradition that can aid serious reflection on wealth and giving. Beginning with Aristotle — who is crucial for understanding later Christian thought — th book discusses Aquinas, Ignatius, Luther, Calvin, and Jonathan Edwards. Though the ideas vary greatly, th chapters are organized to facilitate comparisons among these thinkers on issues of ultimate purpose or aspirations of human life; on the principles of love, charity, friendship, and care; on the resources available to human beings in this life; and finally on ways to connect and implement in practice our identified resources with our ultimate ends.

An Excerpt from the Book:

Wealth opens a door for evil, and for good. What matters is that we see wealth as an opportunity, not simply as a predetermined limitation.

This point bears on Ignatius’ reflections concerning “spiritual poverty” versus “actual poverty.” Spiritual poverty has to do with attitudes of indifference and humility rather than material goods. It is the stance of one who seeking total dependence on God, “has emptied his or her self of the love of earthly things” and “filled that self with God and his gifts. Spiritual poverty does not necessarily dictate what we should do with our resources; it prepares us to discover what God’s will is for them. Consider the rich young man in the Gospel of Mark. He wished to follow Jesus, but turned away when Jesus told him to sell all that he ahd and give it to the poor. It is because he lacked spiritual poverty that he balked at the thought of actual poverty, not the other way around.

Table of Contents:

1. Aristotle: “Being-in-action” and discernment

2. Aquinas: “Distinguish ends and means”

3. Ignatius: All things ordered to service of God

4. Luther: Receiving and sharing God’s gift

5. Calvin: Giving gratitude to God

6. Johathan Edwards: Awakening to benevolence

Conclusion: Classical wisdom and contemporary decisions