In this thread I’ve been giving a short history of ancient Christian views of giving to charity – a matter of real interest for the blog itself, but of bigger interest for the world at large. Surprisingly, before Christianity started to take over the Roman world, no one apart from Jews appeared to think that the “poor” mattered enough to do much of anything to help them. Jesus, though, as a Jew, stressed the importance of taking care of those in need. That’s what God does and it’s what his people should do – give everything to help those without resources.
After his death his followers moderated Jesus’ views and began to stress that wealth was not necessarily evil or opposed to God. Those who had it could keep it, as long as they were generous with it when it came to helping out those who were poor, hungry, homeless, ill, and so on.
Eventually Christian leaders started actually to celebrate wealth, a rather serious change in the views promoted by Jesus. But how could they possibly read his own words and think that being rich was actually good before God?
The first sustained move to justify wealth in this way comes in
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