What Dave Ramsey gets wrong about poverty
Financial advisor Dave Ramsey is also an evangelical Christian.
November 30th, 2013
09:59 AM ET

What Dave Ramsey gets wrong about poverty

Opinion by Rachel Held Evans, special to CNN 

(CNN)– Dave Ramsey is rich. And he makes his living telling other evangelical Christians how they can get rich, too.

Host of a nationally syndicated radio program and author of multiple best-selling books, Ramsey targets evangelical Christians with what he calls a “biblical” approach to financial planning, one that focuses primarily on the elimination of consumer debt. His for-profit Financial Peace University is billed as “a biblically based curriculum that teaches people how to handle money God's ways."

Much of what Ramsey teaches is sound, helpful advice, particularly for middle-class Americans struggling with mounting credit card bills. I have celebrated with friends as they’ve marked their first day of debt-free living, thanks in part to Dave Ramsey’s teachings and all those white envelopes of cash he urges his students to use instead of credit cards.

But while Ramsey may be a fine source of information on how to eliminate debt, his views on poverty are neither informed nor biblical.

Take, for example, a recent article by Tim Corley posted to Ramsey’s website. Entitled “20 Things the Rich Do Every Day,” the article presents some dubious statistics comparing the habits of the rich with the habits of the poor, including:

“70% of wealthy eat less than 300 junk food calories per day. 97% of poor people eat more than 300 junk food calories per day.”

“76% of wealthy exercise aerobically four days a week. 23% of poor do this.”

“63% of wealthy listen to audio books during commute to work vs. 5% of poor people.”

One need not be a student of logic to observe that Corley and Ramsey have confused correlation with causation here by suggesting that these habits make people rich or poor.

For example, a poor person might not exercise four days a week because, unlike a rich person, she cannot afford a gym membership. Or perhaps she has to work two jobs to earn a living wage, which leaves her little time and energy for jogging around the park.

A poor family may eat more junk food, not because they are lazy and undisciplined, but because they live in an economically disadvantaged, urban setting where health food stores are not as available: a so-called “food desert.”

Critics were swift to point out these discrepancies and among the critics were some of Ramsey’s fellow evangelical Christians who also noted that, though the book of Proverbs certainly heralds success as a common return on faithful labor, nowhere does the Bible guarantee that good habits lead to wealth.

The writer of Ecclesiastes observed that "under the sun the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favor to the skillful; but time and chance happen to them all."

And far from having contempt for the poor, Jesus surrounded himself with the needy and challenged the excesses of the rich. “Blessed are you who are poor,” he said, “for yours is the kingdom of God. … But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort” (Luke 6:24).

"It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle," Jesus famously said, "than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God."

It’s hard for the wealthy to flourish in the kingdom that Jesus inaugurated because the economy of that kingdom runs so contrary to the economies of the world. It rewards the peacemakers over the powerful, the humble over the proud, the kind over the cruel, and those who hunger to do the right thing over those whose wealth has convinced them they already are.

Ramsey responded to the pushback with an addendum to the original post calling his critics “ignorant” and “immature” and instructing them to “grow up.”

“This list simply says your choices cause results,” he said, again committing the false cause fallacy. “You reap what you sow.”

The list, he said, applies only to people living in “first world” countries, where Ramsey believes economic injustices are essentially nonexistent. While the poor in developing countries are so as a result of external circumstances beyond their control, the poor in the United States have no one to blame but themselves.

“If you are broke or poor in the U.S. or a first-world economy, the only variable in the discussion you can personally control is YOU,” Ramsey says. “You can make better choices and have better results.”

America, he argues, has prospered as a direct result of its “understanding and application of biblical truths” which have led to “life-changing industry, inventions and a standard of living never known before on this planet.”

“There is a direct correlation,” he concludes, “between your habits, choices and character in Christ and your propensity to build wealth.”

For Christians, Ramsey’s perceived “direct correlation” between faith and wealth should be more troubling than his other confused correlations, for it flirts with what Christians refer to as the prosperity gospel, the teaching that God rewards faithfulness with wealth.

Ramsey’s particular brand of prosperity gospel elevates the American dream as God’s reward for America’s faithfulness, the spoils of which are readily available to anyone who works hard enough to receive them.

But such a view glosses over the reality that America was not, in fact, founded upon purely Christian principles (unless one counts slavery, ethnic cleansing, gender inequity, and Jim Crow as Christian principles), so we should be careful of assuming our relative wealth reflects God’s favor. (The Roman Empire was wealthy, too, after all.)

It also glosses over the reality that economic injustice is not, in fact, limited to the developing world but plagues our own country as well.

When medical bills are the biggest cause of bankruptcy in the United States, there are systemic injustices at work.

When people working 40-hour weeks at minimum wage jobs still can’t earn enough to support their families, there are systemic injustices at work.

When approximately 1% of Americans hold 40% of the nation’s wealth, there are systemic injustices at work.

When the black unemployment rate has consistently been twice as high as the white unemployment rate for the past 50 years, there are systemic injustices at work.

And throughout Scripture, people of faith are called not simply to donate to charity, but to address such systemic injustices in substantive ways.

The 17-year-old girl who lives in a depressed neighborhood zoned for a failing school system who probably won’t graduate because her grades are suffering because she has to work part-time to help support her family needs more than a few audio books to turn things around.

People are poor for a lot of reasons, and choice is certainly a factor, but categorically blaming poverty on lack of faith or lack of initiative is not only uninformed, it’s unbiblical.

God does not divide the world into the deserving rich and the undeserving poor. In fact, the brother of Jesus wrote that God has “chosen the poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom that he has promised to those who love him” (James 2:5).

God does not bless people with money; God blesses people with the good and perfect gift of God’s presence, which is available to rich and poor alike.

And that’s good news.

Rachel Held Evans is the author of "Evolving in Monkey Town" and "A Year of Biblical Womanhood." She blogs at rachelheldevans.com. The views expressed in this column belong to Rachel Held Evans.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Bible • Business • Christianity • Ethics • evangelicals • Faith • Leaders • Money & Faith • Opinion

soundoff (2,299 Responses)
  1. John

    "Ramsey responded to the pushback with an addendum to the original post calling his critics “ignorant” and “immature” and instructing them to “grow up.”"

    His response sums up what he is. I always thought this guy was a bit too arrogant and some of his "teachings" were not in sync with Christ. So many modern supposed Christian leaders have become hardened and rigid and have forgotten love, compassion and empathy entirely which was the foundation of Christ.

    Christ taught that He was the only way to the Father because he is God who came in human form to teach us and bring us back to Him so we would not be separated from Him eternally. What did Christ put ahead of everything else? Love God with all your heart, mind and soul and secondly love your neighbor equally. So Dave calling his critics names shows me what he follows. Dave needs a refresher on the foundation of what Christ is all about. We all slip up here and there, but when God puts you in a leadership role you become even more accountable and that should weigh heavily on your heart.

    December 1, 2013 at 12:41 pm |
    • John

      Love this:


      December 1, 2013 at 12:53 pm |
    • Laura

      I think this article misrepresents Dave Ramsey. People who are unfamiliar with him will be misled about him.

      December 1, 2013 at 12:53 pm |
      • John

        I am very familiar with him. My wife and I went to local financial classes created by him. He has many, many good points and really does help in many ways with people's finances. This article really hit home with me though. It says many of the things I have often thought when I read or listen to Mr. Ramsey. He comes across very arrogant and as with many "famous" Christian leaders gets more about themselves than Christ and that is a terrible and spiritual mistake. He needs to step back and rediscover humility.

        December 1, 2013 at 12:58 pm |
        • WhatsThePoint

          If you thought it was wrong for christian people to be out of debt, or have a 401-k or even be rich why would you even go toi his classes? The guy has a big ego. He also checks it quite frequently like most people have to. I don't know any one who is perfect. If you really attended his trining, you know he does not thump the bible. He admits he messed up and paid stupid tax two times in his life.He provides a sound method for financial stability whether you are religious or not. He only touches on religion as it applies to his opinions and even that is light stuff.

          December 1, 2013 at 4:47 pm |
  2. philipotts

    Interesting to see how "Christians" bully and attack each other over a simple disagreement. Compassion and understanding is the last thing on the agenda it seems.

    The bottom line is that Ramsey has helped tons of people and there is no law against being rich or making money. ALSO he should never have put up that ignorant list (and then defended it by calling those who disagree "ignorant" and "immature"). I judge his character based on his response to this situation, not based on the fact that he is wealthy.

    December 1, 2013 at 12:38 pm |
    • philipotts

      ..and just to clarify, I don't think that Dave Ramsey is "ignorant" (obviously he is a pretty smart guy), but I do think that the list could be described that way. It completely ignores the societal aspects of poverty.

      December 1, 2013 at 12:41 pm |
  3. Shane0426

    the gist of this of what Dave Ramsey preaches is to live within your means. If you don't have the cash to buy then you can't afford it. If you really want it you will save up money for it. Kind of odd our govt can't follow these simple rules.

    December 1, 2013 at 12:35 pm |
    • Maddy

      Spot on.
      First thing that should do is cut the bloated DoD budget. And fix the tax loopholes.

      December 1, 2013 at 12:38 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      When you say "If you don't have the cash to buy then you can't afford it. If you really want it you will save up money for it." as if that applies to the government, I'm betting you weren't affected by Katrina, Sandy, tornadoes, etc. Do you really think that the government should have a fixed budget and save up to provide FEMA assistance? Do you think the government should not be able to respond to international threats. By definition those are unknown and therefore unpredictable as far as costs are concerned.
      A government can carry debt in a way that individuals can't.

      December 1, 2013 at 10:55 pm |
  4. ronnieb2012

    my father started with $57.12 in his pocket, and a prayer with his 4 kids in the living room. he proceeded to work hard for the next 25 years of his life, where he did very well in his business. He denied himself certain luxuries over the years so he could later afford several luxuries as well as necessities. I have chosen a different life, and don't have as strong of an entrepreneurial spirit as him. that is my choice. i won't have as much as he does, and that is my life choice. i know it. you don't need money to make money. you need motive

    December 1, 2013 at 12:33 pm |
  5. Marty

    "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle," Jesus famously said, "than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God." At the time of this saying most cities in that part of the world had walls around them to protect them and the main gates were closed at night. This quote refers to the night gate that was only as large as a single person so they had to teach their camel to walk on its knees to pass through this gate called the "eye of the needle". although I do agree with a lot of what you say you need to learn more about your history before you quote things and get it wrong.

    December 1, 2013 at 12:32 pm |
    • Rhonda

      I'm a professor of New Testament so I know a little about this issue. The reality is that what you cite here is most likely a later interpretation of the Gospel passage that attempted to soften what Jesus was saying. He was saying that it, literally, would not be possible for a rich person to get into the kingdom, just as it is LITERALLY not possible for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle. And that's harsh teaching that people through the years didn't like, obviously.

      So at some point the interpretation you cited arose (at least by the 15th century, possibly several centuries earlier) by people who wanted there to be some way out of what Jesus says here. What if it were POSSIBLE, just not easy or likely? That seems to be the thinking. So this fable was created to provide a way for rich people to read the passage without feeling bad. But there is absolutely no evidence that I know of that this would be the way people in Jesus' day would have understood this saying.


      December 1, 2013 at 2:40 pm |
      • Rhoda

        Personally I'm a "professor" of Marvel Comics. Yeah right, sista...

        December 1, 2013 at 7:17 pm |
  6. Robert Seward

    Rachel Held Evans, this is the best article I have ever read. You are truly a visionary and you honor the immortal son of the almighty father by revealing these pamphlet Christians to be of the lie, by the lie and for the lie; but, they can't help themselves because it's their family tradition. They put their faith in their tax exempt status don't they.

    December 1, 2013 at 12:24 pm |
    • TaxesTaxesTaxes

      @ Robert Stewart.. Dave Ramsey the business has to pay taxes on his for profit business like any other for profit business.... Like any other Christian and/or citizen he has to pay taxes on any distribution. Duhr

      December 1, 2013 at 12:33 pm |
      • Robert Seward

        You are just a whiny little sycophant weeping and gnashing his teeth

        December 1, 2013 at 5:43 pm |
    • Jon Samuel

      Rachel Evans wrote"When people working 40-hour weeks at minimum wage jobs still can’t earn enough to support their families, there are systemic injustices at work ...When approximately 1% of Americans hold 40% of the nation’s wealth, there are systemic injustices at work."

      Minimum wage is not designed to support families. That is why is is called "minimum". If someone wants to support a family they need a real job not a lousy minimum wage job designed for college students and the like. The top 1% of US taxpayers pay almost as much in federal income taxes as the entire bottom 95%, and half of that bottom group paid no taxes at all in 2010. The Top 1% should be thanked for their contributions rather than trashed. I've never been employed by a poor person.

      December 1, 2013 at 1:05 pm |
      • Cpt. Obvious

        I think Evans's point was that some people are doing everything that they possibly can. I've known many people who have looked for a "decent" job for YEARS as they work two and three low-paying jobs just to try to get by.

        What's your solution for those who do not have the time or resources to better their financial situation and are perhaps caring for aging parents or young children? Throw to the wolves, eh? Let the American capitalist "survival-of-the-fittest" sacrifice them and their happiness for the 1% we should all feel so grateful for? What a great plan!

        December 1, 2013 at 1:09 pm |
  7. JeepRex

    Any argument this "writer" has is a decision based on choice. No one is forcing a person to eat a certain way. It all comes down to personal choice. You can spend "$10" on a meal and eat crap, or you can spend the same money and eat healthy. What it boils down to is people being lazy. They would rather stop at the fast food drive through than go home and cook a much healthier meal. Surround yourself with people who want to succeed, instead of people who are happy living in misery. We took Financial Peace University 6 years ago and are happy to say we are debt free and live well within our means.
    What it boils down to is changing your lifestyle. People don't want to give up their fast food and $500 a month sports package on TV (yet they will complain they don't have enough time...)

    December 1, 2013 at 12:17 pm |
    • ME II

      I think the author's argument is that not everyone has fast food and/or sports packages to give up.

      December 1, 2013 at 12:22 pm |
      • sjdawson

        That's the big hole in Ramsey's system. If you have nothing to give up, no assets to sell, he really can't help. His assumption is that there is fat in your budget that can be cut. He has not advice or help for those who are already at the bone.

        December 1, 2013 at 12:38 pm |
        • Cpt. Obvious


          December 1, 2013 at 12:42 pm |
  8. TraTra

    Well said Ms. Hail Evans!

    Ramsey is a touch arrogant to assert that an individual's will is the only thing at play, in respect to success, it's ALLLL God's will. Also, folks come and go from the poverty strata; maybe not much further than a step above but they do so blanket statements are false arguments.

    December 1, 2013 at 12:00 pm |
  9. Jerry Okamura

    Whether you are rich or poor, it is u to you and no one else to do the right thing.

    December 1, 2013 at 12:00 pm |
    • ME II

      And perhaps the right thing for individuals to do is to make sure the government does the right thing...

      December 1, 2013 at 12:05 pm |
  10. Reality # 2

    R. Evans went to Bryan College where she majored in English Literature. She received her Bachelor of Arts in 2003. And somehow she is now a biblical exegete. Give us a break!!!

    "Ramsey was born and raised in Antioch, Tennessee. He was a 1982 graduate of the College of Business Administration at University of Tennessee, Knoxville. At the age of 26, through his brokerage firm, Ramsey Investments, Inc., he built a rental real estate portfolio worth more than $4 million and became one of Tennessee's youngest brokers to be admitted to the Graduate Realtors Insti-tute.[6]

    Ramsey's success soon came to an end as the Tax Reform Act of 1986 began to have a negative impact on the real estate business. One of Ramsey's largest creditors was sold to a larger bank, which began to take a harder look at Ramsey's borrowing habits. The bank demanded he pay $1.2 million worth of short-term notes within 90 days, forcing him to file for bankruptcy relief.[6]" Give us a break again !!

    Considering the credentials, why are we being subjected to the thoughts of these two unqualified individuals?

    Obviously, both have been bred, born and brainwashed in Christianity and have never ventured into studying the history of the real Jesus. For those who want to do so, some recommended starting references:
    o 1. Historical Jesus Theories, earlychristianwritings.com/theories.htm – the names of many of the contemporary historical Jesus scholars and the ti-tles of their over 100 books on the subject.

    2. Early Christian Writings, earlychristianwritings.com/
    – a list of early Christian doc-uments to include the year of publication–

    30-60 CE Passion Narrative
    40-80 Lost Sayings Gospel Q
    50-60 1 Thessalonians
    50-60 Philippians
    50-60 Galatians
    50-60 1 Corinthians
    50-60 2 Corinthians
    50-60 Romans
    50-60 Philemon
    50-80 Colossians
    50-90 Signs Gospel
    50-95 Book of Hebrews
    50-120 Didache
    50-140 Gospel of Thomas
    50-140 Oxyrhynchus 1224 Gospel
    50-200 Sophia of Jesus Christ
    65-80 Gospel of Mark
    70-100 Epistle of James
    70-120 Egerton Gospel
    70-160 Gospel of Peter
    70-160 Secret Mark
    70-200 Fayyum Fragment
    70-200 Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs
    73-200 Mara Bar Serapion
    80-100 2 Thessalonians
    80-100 Ephesians
    80-100 Gospel of Matthew
    80-110 1 Peter
    80-120 Epistle of Barnabas
    80-130 Gospel of Luke
    80-130 Acts of the Apostles
    80-140 1 Clement
    80-150 Gospel of the Egyptians
    80-150 Gospel of the Hebrews
    80-250 Christian Sibyllines
    90-95 Apocalypse of John
    90-120 Gospel of John
    90-120 1 John
    90-120 2 John
    90-120 3 John
    90-120 Epistle of Jude
    93 Flavius Josephus
    100-150 1 Timothy
    100-150 2 Timothy
    100-150 T-itus
    100-150 Apocalypse of Peter
    100-150 Secret Book of James
    100-150 Preaching of Peter
    100-160 Gospel of the Ebionites
    100-160 Gospel of the Nazoreans
    100-160 Shepherd of Hermas
    100-160 2 Peter

     4. Jesus Database, http://www.faithfutures.o-rg/JDB/intro.html –"The JESUS DATABASE is an online a-nnotated inventory of the traditions concerning the life and teachings of Jesus that have survived from the first three centuries of the Common Era. It includes both canonical and extra-canonical materials, and is not limited to the traditions found within the Christian New Testament."
    5. Josephus on Jesus mtio.com/articles/bis-sar24.htm
    6. The Jesus Seminar, http://en.wikipedia.o-rg/wiki/Jesus_Seminar
    7. http://www.biblicalartifacts.com/items/785509/item785509biblicalartifacts.html – books on the health and illness during the time of the NT
    8. Economics in First Century Palestine, K.C. Hanson and D. E. Oakman, Palestine in the Time of Jesus, Fortress Press, 1998.
    9.The Gn-ostic Jesus
    (Part One in a Two-Part Series on A-ncient and Modern G-nosticism)
    by Douglas Gro-othuis: http://www.equip.o-rg/articles/g-nosticism-and-the-g-nostic-jesus/
    10. The interpretation of the Bible in the Church, Pontifical Biblical Commission
    Presented on March 18, 1994
    11. The Jesus Database- newer site:
    12. Jesus Database with the example of S-u-pper and Eucharist:
    13. Josephus on Jesus by Paul Maier:
    13. http://www.textweek.com/mtlk/jesus.htmm- Historical Jesus Studies
    14. The Greek New Testament: laparola.net/greco/
    15. D-iseases in the Bible:

    16. Religion on Line (6000 articles on the history of religion, churches, theologies,
    theologians, ethics, etc.

     17. The New Testament Gateway – Internet NT ntgateway.com/
    18. Writing the New Testament- e-xisting copies, o-ral tradition etc.
    19. JD Crossan's c-onclusions about the a-uthencity of most of the NT based on the above plus the c-onclusions of other NT e-xege-tes in the last 200 years:
    20. Early Jewish Writings- Josephus and his books by t-itle with the complete translated work in English :earlyjewishwritings.com/josephus.html
    21. Luke and Josephus- was there a c-onnection?
    22. NT and beyond time line:
    23. St. Paul's Time line with discussion of important events:
    24. See http://www.amazon.com for a list of JD Crossan's books and those of the other Jesus Seminarians: Reviews of said books are included and selected pages can now be viewed on Amazon. Some books can be found on-line at Google Books.
    25. Father Edward Schillebeeckx's words of wisdom as found in his books.
    27. The books of the following : Professors Gerd Ludemann, Marcus Borg, Paula Fredriksen, Elaine Pagels, Karen Armstrong and Bishop NT Wright.
    28. Father Raymond Brown's An Introduction to the New Testament, Doubleday, NY, 1977, 878 pages, with Nihil obstat and Imprimatur.
    29. Luke Timothy Johnson's book The Real Jesus

    December 1, 2013 at 11:56 am |
    • TraTra


      December 1, 2013 at 12:01 pm |
    • Dale

      Reality #2: you make the assumption that Held-Evans doesn't read anything of the sort of sources you list. Many Christians do a great deal of scholarly reading as layfolks. That's part of the role of the church, to be a lay seminary of sorts. Theology is not the domain of academics. Further, you lump her in with the "brainwashed", when the real case is that she is not in any way a fundamentalist which it seems you are assuming.

      December 1, 2013 at 12:20 pm |
    • Dale

      Reality #2: I am glad you do some decent reading. There's a lot more where those come from. But I'm curious. Do YOU have any theological degrees? If not, then you have done well for yourself, venturing into the realm of Biblical/historical scholarship. Could not Rachel have done the same, without the academic 'credentials'? From what I have read of her, it seems to me that she has.

      December 1, 2013 at 12:26 pm |
    • His panic

      Well, OK so Rachel Evans and Dave Ramsey are not qualified Biblical Scholars, I can live with that. Anyways I don't go to their church, neither listen to them. So no problema there!

      But then; are we to believe that Reality#2 is THE Highly qualified Biblical Scholar?
      Are we to believe that all those books and websites are also, so Highly Qualified Biblical Scholars?
      Are we also to believe that we need all those books and websites to understand Scriptures?
      Are we suppose to buy all those books, just because someone in an Internet Blog using a moniker recommends them?
      Are we to believe that some unknown, using an alias/moniker on an internet Blog, is just an ounce more worthy than Evans or Ramsey as Biblical Scholars?

      Really really, I think he/she/it may be in a State of Panic because her/his/its books are NOT selling. I even I may be his Panic!!
      Really Reality#2 you need a reality check! Either that or you are taking the wrong medicine.

      December 1, 2013 at 12:27 pm |
    • Reality # 2

      Had these two "unqualifiers" bothered to get their heads out of the bible, this is what they would conclude:

      Putting the kibosh on all religion in less than ten seconds: Priceless !!!

      • As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Abraham i.e. the foundations of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are non-existent.

      • As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Moses i.e the pillars of Judaism, Christianity and Islam have no strength of purpose.

      • There was no Gabriel i.e. Islam fails as a religion. Christianity partially fails.

      • There was no Easter i.e. Christianity completely fails as a religion.

      • There was no Moroni i.e. Mormonism is nothing more than a business cult.

      • Sacred/revered cows, monkey gods, castes, reincarnations and therefore Hinduism fails as a religion.

      • Fat Buddhas here, skinny Buddhas there, reincarnated/reborn Buddhas everywhere makes for a no on Buddhism.

      • A constant cycle of reincarnation until enlightenment is reached and belief that various beings (angels?, tinkerbells? etc) exist that we, as mortals, cannot comprehend makes for a no on Sikhism.

      Added details available upon written request.

      A quick search will put the kibosh on any other groups calling themselves a religion.

      e.g. Taoism

      "The origins of Taoism are unclear. Traditionally, Lao-tzu who lived in the sixth century is regarded as its founder. Its early philosophic foundations and its later beliefs and rituals are two completely different ways of life. Today (1982) Taoism claims 31,286,000 followers.

      Legend says that Lao-tzu was immaculately conceived by a shooting star; carried in his mother's womb for eighty-two years; and born a full grown wise old man. "

      December 1, 2013 at 12:37 pm |
      • Reality # 2

        And some added details:

        Only for the those interested in a religious update:

        1. origin: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20E1EFE35540C7A8CDDAA0894DA404482

        “New Torah For Modern Minds

        Abraham, the Jewish patriarch, probably never existed. Nor did Moses. The entire Exodus story as recounted in the Bible probably never occurred. The same is true of the tumbling of the walls of Jericho. And David, far from being the fearless king who built Jerusalem into a mighty capital, was more likely a provincial leader whose reputation was later magnified to provide a rallying point for a fledgling nation.

        Such startling propositions – the product of findings by archaeologists digging in Israel and its environs over the last 25 years – have gained wide acceptance among non-Orthodox rabbis. But there has been no attempt to disseminate these ideas or to discuss them with the laity – until now.

        The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, which represents the 1.5 million Conservative Jews in the United States, has just issued a new Torah and commentary, the first for Conservatives in more than 60 years. Called "Etz Hayim" ("Tree of Life" in Hebrew), it offers an interpretation that incorporates the latest findings from archaeology, philology, anthropology and the study of ancient cultures. To the editors who worked on the book, it represents one of the boldest efforts ever to introduce into the religious mainstream a view of the Bible as a human rather than divine docu-ment. “
        Adverb: Almost certainly; as far as one knows or can tell.

        2. Jesus was an illiterate Jewish peasant/carpenter/simple preacher man who suffered from hallucinations (or “mythicizing” from P, M, M, L and J) and who has been characterized anywhere from the Messiah from Nazareth to a mythical character from mythical Nazareth to a ma-mzer from Nazareth (Professor Bruce Chilton, in his book Rabbi Jesus). An-alyses of Jesus’ life by many contemporary NT scholars (e.g. Professors Ludemann, Crossan, Borg and Fredriksen, ) via the NT and related doc-uments have concluded that only about 30% of Jesus' sayings and ways noted in the NT were authentic. The rest being embellishments (e.g. miracles)/hallucinations made/had by the NT authors to impress various Christian, Jewish and Pagan sects.

        The 30% of the NT that is "authentic Jesus" like everything in life was borrowed/plagiarized and/or improved from those who came before. In Jesus' case, it was the ways and sayings of the Babylonians, Greeks, Persians, Egyptians, Hitt-ites, Canaanites, OT, John the Baptizer and possibly the ways and sayings of traveling Greek Cynics.


        For added "pizzazz", Catholic theologians divided god the singularity into three persons and invented atonement as an added guilt trip for the "pew people" to go along with this trinity of overseers. By doing so, they made god the padre into god the "filicider".

        Current RCC problems:

        Pedophiliac priests, an all-male, mostly white hierarchy, atonement theology and original sin!!!!

        2 b., Luther, Calvin, Joe Smith, Henry VIII, Wesley, Roger Williams, the Great “Babs” et al, founders of Christian-based religions or combination religions also suffered from the belief in/hallucinations of "pretty wingie thingie" visits and "prophecies" for profits analogous to the myths of Catholicism (resurrections, apparitions, ascensions and immacu-late co-nceptions).

        Current problems:
        Adulterous preachers, pedophiliac clerics, "propheteering/ profiteering" evangelicals and atonement theology,

        3. Mohammed was an illiterate, womanizing, lust and greed-driven, warmongering, hallucinating Arab, who also had embellishing/hallucinating/plagiarizing scribal biographers who not only added "angels" and flying chariots to the koran but also a militaristic agenda to support the plundering and looting of the lands of non-believers.

        This agenda continues as shown by the ma-ssacre in Mumbai, the as-sas-sinations of Bhutto and Theo Van Gogh, the conduct of the seven Muslim doctors in the UK, the 9/11 terrorists, the 24/7 Sunni suicide/roadside/market/mosque bombers, the 24/7 Shiite suicide/roadside/market/mosque bombers, the Islamic bombers of the trains in the UK and Spain, the Bali crazies, the Kenya crazies, the Pakistani “koranics”, the Palestine suicide bombers/rocketeers, the Lebanese nutcases, the Taliban nut jobs, the Ft. Hood follower of the koran, the Filipino “koranics”and the Boston Marthon bombers.

        And who funds this muck and stench of terror? The warmongering, Islamic, Shiite terror and torture theocracy of Iran aka the Third Axis of Evil and also the Sunni "Wannabees" of Saudi Arabia.

        Current crises:

        The Sunni-Shiite blood feud and the warmongering, womanizing (11 wives), hallucinating founder.

        4. Hinduism (from an online Hindu site) – "Hinduism cannot be described as an organized religion. It is not founded by any individual. Hinduism is God centered and therefore one can call Hinduism as founded by God, because the answer to the question ‘Who is behind the eternal principles and who makes them work?’ will have to be ‘Cosmic power, Divine power, God’."

        The caste/laborer system, reincarnation and cow worship/reverence are problems when saying a fair and rational God founded Hinduism."

        Current problems:

        The caste system, reincarnation and cow worship/reverence.

        5. Buddhism- "Buddhism began in India about 500 years before the birth of Christ. The people living at that time had become disillusioned with certain beliefs of Hinduism including the caste system, which had grown extremely complex. The number of outcasts (those who did not belong to any particular caste) was continuing to grow."

        "However, in Buddhism, like so many other religions, fanciful stories arose concerning events in the life of the founder, Siddhartha Gautama (fifth century B.C.):"

        Archaeological discoveries have proved, beyond a doubt, his historical character, but apart from the legends we know very little about the circu-mstances of his life. e.g. Buddha by one legend was supposedly talking when he came out of his mother's womb.

        Bottom line: There are many good ways of living but be aware of the hallucinations, embellishments, lies, and myths surrounding the founders and foundations of said rules of life.

        Then, apply the Five F rule: "First Find the Flaws, then Fix the Foundations". And finally there will be religious peace and religious awareness in the world!!!!!

        December 1, 2013 at 12:39 pm |
        • Salero21

          One more piece of evidence that atheism is Total stupidity.

          December 1, 2013 at 4:53 pm |
        • The Truth

          One more piece of evidence that Salero21 is Total stupidity.

          December 1, 2013 at 10:47 pm |
      • Reality # 2

        The Apostles'/Agnostics’/Atheists' Creed 2013: (updated by yours truly and based on the studies of historians and theologians of the past 200 years)

        Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
        and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
        human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven??

        I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
        preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
        named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
        girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

        Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
        the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

        He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
        a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of

        Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
        many semi-fiction writers. A descent into Hell, a bodily resurrection
        and ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
        Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
        grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
        and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
        called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

        (references used are available upon request)

        December 1, 2013 at 10:46 pm |
  11. Willie Houston

    I agree with some of what he says but GOD's will has a place in this. Somethings in life we have not control over. A middle class person with cancer can be wiped out I don't care what type of financial principles he practice

    December 1, 2013 at 11:49 am |
  12. Alexander

    Once again it is all about the almighty dollar and insatiable greed that comes with it.

    December 1, 2013 at 11:45 am |
    • His panic

      The dollar is not almighty, the dollar can also fall victim of anxiety, fear, mass hysteria and Panic. I even I, may be his Panic. There have been financial Panics that have affected the dollar, that proves is not almighty. However those who really really Trust in God and in Jesus Christ God's Only Son WILL NOT Panic!!

      December 1, 2013 at 12:05 pm |
    • TexanWarrior

      So you think that money is the root of all evil? Have you ever asked what is the root of money? Money is a tool of exchange, which can't exist unless there are goods produced and men able to produce them.

      December 1, 2013 at 12:15 pm |
  13. julnor

    You don't need a gym to do aerobic exercise. Running is free.

    December 1, 2013 at 11:43 am |
    • ME II

      As long as one has "free" time to do it.

      December 1, 2013 at 11:57 am |
  14. Clint

    My biggest argument against Dave's perspective is YOU are in control. The ENTIRE Bible says otherwise. You are a steward, you are a servant, you are a leader...etc., but ultimately God gives as he sees fit.

    I fail to see how Dave can Biblicaly justify that You are the only thing standing in Your way. If he wants to sell that as "this is what I believe works...", fine. But stop pretending this is exactly what God wants you to think.

    December 1, 2013 at 11:22 am |
    • TexanWarrior

      Always finding things to attack. God isn't going to manage your checkbook, is he?

      December 1, 2013 at 12:15 pm |
  15. Mark

    Ramsey is a purveyor of financial soundness in a debt-crazy culture and definitely not one of the pack of get-rich-quick advocates who sell books and programs based on dubious schemes and trends. The core principles he teaches are time-honored and well-proven. In other words, they work. The greatest message I get from Ramsey is one of taking responsibility for your actions. It's no great leap of logic to simply say we'd all be better off owning our choices. It's also key to note that Ramey's financial "Baby Steps" include one very important principle about money not often found in other financial management guides: Give it away.

    December 1, 2013 at 11:21 am |
  16. Kenman

    I think it's pretty obvious that what USUALLY separates the under successful from the successful is DISCIPLINE! That is what is being expressed in those differences you pulled out to discuss.

    There have been innumerable stories, books, movies, etc over the years about someone coming from impoverished or unfortunate backgrounds and, through their drive, iniative and discipline, were able to achieve something that is akin to a miracle! And, with God's Word and inspiration, they are more likely to strive to do those things that lead to successes rather than to bathe in their misfortune.

    It's all about the Spirit inside of you, and listening to God's promise for you, not the social shakles of our world.

    December 1, 2013 at 11:20 am |
    • ME II

      The plural of anecdote is not data.

      December 1, 2013 at 11:58 am |
  17. jimpuntney

    I've listened to 'sermons' by those that trumpet the 'almighty' dollar as the benchmark for discipleship. I must say they left me with a desire to vomit, to spew the misguided, misunderstood "biblical truths' they presented, as the foundation to their 'money machine church'.

    It's quite clear that what call itself 'church' has a passion for money, someday they will awaken to the real 'currency'...Love.

    The Kingdom of God is built upon and founded in Jesus Christ, and from this, His Love flows like a river to one and all. When we 'see' that His Life, and Love provided by Him is our all, we will have all that we need, and more.

    May the words of Paul strike a chord;

    "Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you."

    December 1, 2013 at 11:12 am |
    • TexanWarrior

      Again what is money? Money is but a tool of exchange.

      December 1, 2013 at 12:17 pm |
      • Robert Seward

        Since you ask the stupid question twice, " The love of money is the root of all evil". Maybe a whited sepulcher like you should ask, what is the soul?.

        December 1, 2013 at 12:40 pm |
  18. Brad Spelbring

    Just because you are low income doesn't make you poor, I believe most of you are mistaking poor with broke. I grew up in a poor and broke household, my father,mother and grandmother always worked and baked. Made most of our meals from scratch. When I was about 11 the oldest child in our household,they taught me how to cook. I worked in school sometimes 2 part time jobs, played sports and loved it. Todays society makes work a dirty word, it isn't, we should teach these poor people how to shop, cook healthy meals and how to save money. I agree God doesn't hate the poor, but the poor have to stop hating themselves. http://toolbelttrainerllc.com

    December 1, 2013 at 11:10 am |
  19. BobbyHiggins

    I first heard of Dave Ramsey on a Nashville talk radio program in the 90s. I called in to the show one day and before they took my question they wanted my address. I thought that was strange, but gave it to them. A few days later I got a package from his show in the mail wanting me to invest in a mutual fund that charged a 5.75% front load. For anyone with just a little financial savy, this should sum it up. He is using religion to make money and laughing all the way to the bank.

    December 1, 2013 at 11:03 am |
    • Jim

      Thanks to Dave Ramsey I have the financial savy to sum that up.

      December 1, 2013 at 11:12 am |
    • JJ

      "He is using religion to make money and laughing all the way to the bank." Don't they all do this?

      December 1, 2013 at 11:23 am |
  20. david

    The man talks about talking to Jesus . He is certifiable.

    December 1, 2013 at 10:55 am |
    • Kenman

      Every Christian talk to Jesus, it's called prayer.

      December 1, 2013 at 11:27 am |
    • JJ

      Anyone talking (praying) to an invisible non-existent being is, at best, delusional.

      December 1, 2013 at 11:35 am |
      • bibleverse1

        Prayer and faith are central to humanity, is 80% of the human race delusional?

        December 1, 2013 at 12:01 pm |
        • ME II

          It is possible for 80% of humanity to be wrong, yes. It has happened many many times before.

          December 1, 2013 at 12:14 pm |
      • Kenman

        Sad for you.

        December 1, 2013 at 12:07 pm |
      • TexanWarrior

        There is actual proof that Jesus lived among us.

        December 1, 2013 at 12:16 pm |
        • igaftr

          Sketchy evidence at best. There is NO evidence at all that he was a god or had any supernatural powers.

          December 1, 2013 at 12:19 pm |
        • ME II

          There is evidence that someone named Jesus lived, true. (not "proof")
          But there is no evidence of His divinity, nor the existence of god(s).

          December 1, 2013 at 12:25 pm |
      • Shawn

        Oh MAN! Looks like we have a subject matter expert here! So tell me, how did you scientifically prove that the Judeo-Christian god doesn't exist? I'm quite curious!

        December 1, 2013 at 12:17 pm |
        • Cpt. Obvious

          LOL!!! You are so correct!!!! And I am going to continue to believe in unicorns until someone objectively and scientifically proves that unicorns don't exist!! Yay!!

          December 1, 2013 at 12:20 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.