Has Christianity become too “pie in the sky”?
Review: “All Riches Come From Injustice” Stephen D, Morrison
Have we so over-spiritualised religion that it has lost its cutting edge so that it no longer “turns the world upside down” ? Morrison argues that it has – we have. In looking at the issue of “mammon” or riches or wealth, call it what you will, Morrison challenges us to examine or rather, re-examine, our attitude to the material and see what has happened. In the West, at least, Capitalism and Christianity seem to have been married so we just assume that one goes with the other. We have made certain assumptions that have become so embedded in our culture we no longer think about them.
They are merely accepted as the norm, the way things are. Democracy, Capitalism and Christianity comprise the Holy Trinity of Western civilization. Morrison challenges that, He urges us to re-examine our bind acceptance of the prevailing attitude to the materialism we accept on the grounds that it is not the appropriate expression of the Gospel, the outworking of the teaching of Jesus at all. In fact, it is just the opposite.
The uniqueness of this book is that Morrison just doesn’t interpret certain biblical texts to make his case but he reinforces the notion that the current way of looking at mammon is not the way it has always been. To that end he invokes the writings of some of the early Church Fathers who had much to say about this. In fact, the title of the book itself is part of a quote from St. Jerome. He also calls upon people of the calibre of Origen, Ambrose of Milan, Cyril of Alexandria, Augustine, John Chrysostom and others to show that we have moved a long way from the expression of Christian discipleship in regard to our view of riches and wealth.
In his Introduction, Morrison writes, This book examines the anti-mammon witness of the Bible and the sayings of Early Church Fathers to argue that the witness of both point toward a Christian anti-capitalist ethic today. ….The final two chapters argue for the necessity of a socioeconomic analysis of capitalism, one that brings together the anti-mammon wisdom of the Bible and Patriarchs with Marx’s critique of capital to create a basis for Christian anti-capitalism. Morrison confesses to being a Christian Socialist, but he does not argue for socialism per se.
The book is easy to read yet very challenging in that it gets the reader to examine some of the presuppositions that are rarely considered today. To use the analogy appealed to earlier, perhaps it is time for a divorce between the Church and its Capitalist spouse. Morrison would argue that the Biblical witness and the early Church Fathers would agree.
All Riches Come From Injustice is available now through Amazon.
Rev. Neil Ericksson
Retired Uniting Church Minister of the Word