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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. Big Ben

    It just goes to prove the wealthy have no idea how the poor have to live. A poor man rides the bus or has to car-pool. He does not have a chance to listen to videos. Poor people spend more time on the jobs they need to earn a paycheck. They are too tired to exercise. When they get home, they have another job to do for the family. They do not hire maids or people to do their laundry. Fresh fruit is very expensive., especially for 4 people. Most of the poor have to settle for a .99 cent box of macaroni & cheese for an evening meal. All you rich people with the big mouths, I dare you to set up a budget that the poor can live with. You will fail!

    November 30, 2013 at 4:59 pm |
    • Sara

      It's not just ignorance but willful ignorance. It is much easier to believe the poor deserve to be poor than to work to figure out what to do about it and then make the sacrifices necessary to make it come true. But you won't educate most people; they couldn't live with the truth.

      November 30, 2013 at 5:24 pm |
    • deegeejay

      Call the whambulance. You are aware that most people who start out with an income at minimum wage work their way up the latter to a new place don't you – usually the middle class unless they are on the govt. dole? I know you and Obama are trying to take the small business rungs out of the latter of upward mobility but you haven't fully succeeded yet. Ramsey teaches others how to do this through hard work (2 or 3 jobs), self-discipline, and self-restraint. These are successful tools for anyone – it has nothing to do with being poor or religious. Your bleeding heart is doing way more damage than good.

      December 1, 2013 at 10:32 am |
      • deegeejay

        *ladder

        December 1, 2013 at 10:33 am |
  2. john

    There are no guarantees in life, however; if you work hard (every day), work smart (build a viable skillset), stay our of trouble ( don't go to jail, don't do drugs), and don't do anything stupid in your personal life (get knocked up at 17, spend way beyond your means) you will DRAMATICALLY reduce the probability of living in poverty. Will you be rich, maybe, maybe not, but you will most likely live a healthy and productive life.

    November 30, 2013 at 4:56 pm |
    • myweightinwords

      You assume all of those things are easily within the control of the person involved and that nothing external is going to interfere.

      No one lives life in a bubble.

      Yes, work hard. Yes, apply yourself, educate yourself. Yes, attempt to make good decisions. These are all good things. They are not guarantees.

      November 30, 2013 at 5:53 pm |
  3. Feedback

    Fail. Claims the article is about Dave Ramsey, based the whole thing on what some guy named Tim Corley posted to Ramsey’s website.

    Have you listened to his show or did you just go on the website and find an article to pick on? Because of him, I'm debt free except for the house, and I'm aggressively working on that now.

    Some people are in a rut and some are at a disadvantage. I get that. Some others made poor choices, or don't know it's not smart to lease a new car every two years – and because of nice cars and other poor financial and/or life decisions, that's why some are forced to work 70 hrs a week.

    That's where giving comes in. Bet you didn't know that giving is an important part of his baby steps, though I'll bet you would disagree with him encouraging you to give once you have your own house in order. You'd maybe recommend giving via your credit card as long as it feels good.

    November 30, 2013 at 4:50 pm |
  4. Kacie

    This was a very interesting, thank-you for sharing! Although, I am a fan of hearing others contrasting perspectives the author has obviously neglected to take the course. Dave Ramsey is not out to make anyone "wealthy" per se, but to rather enable Americans to recognize their financial gluttony and stop abusing/or using credit cards. I appreciate the principles, bluntness, and motivation of Financial Peace University, and the fact that it is biblically based. Now, I feel that the true personal question boils down to your definition of wealth. If you think that being a multi-millionaire means your wealthy, than that is fine. But maybe your content to be working at a $25,000/year job and not be in debt to anyone! Dave Ramsey mostly preaches Living and GIVING in a Godly manor. He teaches you how to set yourself up to provide for yourself so that you do not become dependent on others, and so that you can leave a legacy for your children's children! Anyway, I agree with the authors point that there are a lot of systemic injustices, however I do not agree with her viewpoint that it is our "religious duty" to fix these injustices. I know Im a conspiratorial skeptic, but I acknowledge that I cannot fix ANYONE. People change/grow/fix themselves. I can only hope that my actions might set an example and be an encouragement to others.

    November 30, 2013 at 4:47 pm |
  5. Chris

    I see many non-Christians who say the same thing. Why aren't we poking holes in the Atheist doctrine? Inequalities between the rich and the poor and the theories surrounding the reasons are not exclusive to the religious community.

    November 30, 2013 at 4:46 pm |
    • Sara

      I think he's just an example who happens to be using religion to justify this self-centered way of viewing the poor. Atheist libertarians have pretty much the same position.

      November 30, 2013 at 5:26 pm |
      • lol??

        Nope Jesus is the True Libertarian. The fleshies only have their way for a season.

        2Cr 3:17
        Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.

        November 30, 2013 at 7:15 pm |
    • myweightinwords

      Maybe because atheism isn't a doctrine (or doesn't have a doctrine) and no one who is an atheist and thinks this way about the poor lays the cause of their thoughts on the doctrine of atheism.

      November 30, 2013 at 5:50 pm |
  6. Stu

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

    Dave's tenets are good. We aim to live them. Trust the art/blessing not the artist/ messenger. I trust Dave on many things, but not healthcare.

    November 30, 2013 at 4:43 pm |
    • Sara

      Unjust, and financially ruinous for the country. We can't have small businesses going under right and left because of medical bills and expect to maintain a compet.itive economy.

      November 30, 2013 at 5:28 pm |
  7. ryanl34

    As an added thought: Maybe we are being a bit literal here with description. Clearly a person who exercises aerobically is more likely to be fit. It's a statistical fact that fit people are more likely to obtain jobs, get promoted, etc. We are a visual society, like it or not. We tend to gravitate towards healthy looking people. I think it's a stretch to say you don't have time or money to work out when it's easy to walk from place to place, take the stairs, etc. At the end of the day Dave's macro argument is simple: living well increases your odds of success.

    November 30, 2013 at 4:43 pm |
    • mychiefs58

      so does being white. more so, in fact. by a wide margin. perhaps Dave is unaware of how his skin color helped him. or, perhaps, he will add another thing for people to spend their poverty line dollars on (besides Whole Foods, audio books, and gym memberships)...skin bleaching.

      November 30, 2013 at 4:54 pm |
      • deegeejay

        Don't feel left out! Dave's advice applies to all skin colors! Hard work, self-discipline, self-restraint, and giving to the needy can work for anyone! Good luck!!

        December 1, 2013 at 10:41 am |
  8. Liberals are humane

    Not just the poor vote for liberals. There are millions of middle class and up that do as well. And, the government does NOT just give money, food, etc. to the WORKING poor. They are REQUIRED to follow rules, such as: attend resume, and interview workshops; they also have to look for work, or they will get cut off. Yes, that is the truth. I am NOT on assistance of any kind, but, I have to care about those that fall through the cracks: the disabled, people that don't make enough working 2-3 jobs, to pay for rent, food, and healthcare. And, last but not least, the elderly need assistance. Another thing: The government does not give out free phones. That is done by the cell phone companies themselves: AT&T, Sprint, Verizen, etc. For those that get Medicaid/Medicare..they have to pay premiums, and co-payments for doc visits and meds. It's not free, at all. Also, everyone knows that healthy food costs more. Organic is even more expensive, too. The bible thumper that teaches evangelists how to make money: That is one of many reasons I don't believe in organized religion. Giving money to "God" to serve him?? Spare me. I'd rather see where mine goes, like into a homeless,or domestic family shelter.

    November 30, 2013 at 4:43 pm |
    • Maddy

      That whole "Obamaphone" myth was debunked long ago. The Lifeline program was a Reagan policy, IIRC.

      November 30, 2013 at 4:56 pm |
    • deegeejay

      How simplistic your thinking – it is good then that you give whatever you can to the less fortunate. Dave's method helps more though – exponentially.

      December 1, 2013 at 10:44 am |
  9. whorhay

    That is true Crimzin but healthy eating and working out still takes lots of time and energy. And if you are broke all the time working multiple jobs then you very likely won't have the energy or time to do those things. Eating healthier is also frequently more expensive. The author is correct in that most of those items are not causation. It should be pointed out though that Ramsey is right in that your behavior is often the only thing you can change in such a situation. So while it is good to know what the other factors are, you should be leveraging the factors that you can change the most and work on the rest as you can.

    November 30, 2013 at 4:38 pm |
    • Sara

      If we can make sure people have healthcare and avoid early pregnancies we at least give them a fighting chance to work on the few variables that are within their control. But no 20 yr old single mother is going to be eating sushi, visiting the gym and paying into her 401K unless supported by wealthy parents...who would probably have raised her to choose abortion over single motherhood.

      November 30, 2013 at 5:32 pm |
  10. Ron Moore

    Good work using Mr. Ramsey's name to get published. Perhaps you should work on fact finding and writing to get your next article published, instead of name dropping.

    November 30, 2013 at 4:37 pm |
    • Maddy

      RHE is a frequent BB contributor.

      November 30, 2013 at 4:58 pm |
  11. 1ofTheFallen

    What the author Rachel Held Evans gets wrong about poverty and hard work. I might be wrong but I'm assuming that Rachel's college education was paid for by her parents and she assumes that most people cannot go to college because their parents cannot afford to pay for it. WRONG – I came from a working class blue collar family that was only 1 generation from being poor dirt famers on 20 acres. I worked my way though college at minimum wage jobs. It took 6 years not 4 but I graduated with a computer science degree and within 4 years was making more than double what my father ever made at his blue collar job. Just beause people are rich does not automatically mean there are systemic injustices at work. Wheres the proof? Easy to say but hard to prove. Bill Gates, , Wareen Buffet, Steve Jobs, Donald Trump – These are a big piece of the 1% Rachel complains about. How much do these people contribute to the economy and jobs with their vast wealth? Just beause people are poor does not automatically mean there are systemic injustices at work. Wheres the proof? If you earn minimum wage they you are at the lowest skill level. Anyone can go to college with student loans and woking a job while going to school part time. I did it and it takes hard work but 95% of minumim wage employees can do this if they work hard and smart. College is expensive so choose wisely because the government will give you the money but does expect it to be paid back. This is not always the case since many people have gone to expensive colleges for degrees that pay very low but want the goverment to bail them out of their bad decisions. You have nobody to blame but yourself if you choose to keep working minimum wage jobs and choose to raise a family instead of trying to improve your skills through hard work. The very very sad fact is that most people on welfare do not use any of their spare time to try and improve their skills. It can be done. The government loaned me the money and it took several years to pay back the loans so I drove an old car for several years but it was worth it.

    November 30, 2013 at 4:32 pm |
    • theala

      I think you should ask for a refund on your education, since it consists both of poor grammar and uncritical thinking.

      First of all, it is very difficult for someone to put themselves through college these days, and if they do it takes them years. Working 20 hours a week while going to school full time is not possible for most students today. Most of my students work FULL time, and struggle through their studies because the program is so demanding they SHOULDN'T work at all.

      Just because you were successful for that model doesn't mean everyone can or should be able to do that. If it were easy everyone would do it. Dealing with what life throws at my students: illness, spouse loss of a job, lack of insurance, childcare issues, all impact the ability of my student to be successful.

      We need to stop punishing people and blaming them for being where they are. We live in communities; no man is an island. Helping one another used to be the American way.

      November 30, 2013 at 4:54 pm |
    • steveo

      ... Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Steve Jobs, Donald Trump...

      if your list of rich people (first 3 ARE rich, the last one is a tool who's declared bankruptcy 3 TIMES, you need to learn a little about their backgrounds before name dropping.

      and I worked my way through school too. dont beak your arm patting yourself on the back. the people she's referring to are the Pete Perterson, Jack Welch, Kock horz of the world.

      November 30, 2013 at 5:11 pm |
  12. Sharleen B.

    I agree with Ms. Evans. Even doing all the right things does not guarantee wealth or a life free of poverty. And yes, choices can be made which can help or hinder a prosperous life. However, it wouldn't take much for most American families to end up impoverished because of unexpected or overwhelming medical expenses or the loss of a job. I know; it happened to us. My husband was injured and has been out of work since Aug. 2012. Without the help of family, friends from work, and our church, we would have been cold and hungry once we were reduced to living on a single income.

    The Bible says it rains on the just and unjust, too. No one is immune no matter how much one tries to prepare. Dave has many sound and Bible-based helpful ideas. America is a consumer nation and all of us should do ALL we can to get out of debt and live rightly within our means.

    Just my 2¢! ☺

    November 30, 2013 at 4:31 pm |
  13. J-Man

    Rachel needs to write with a little more thrift. I was bored 1/3 of the way through and couldn't take it anymore.

    November 30, 2013 at 4:30 pm |
  14. Colin

    There are some pretty fundamental objections to Christianity that are hard to get around. Now before some believer rants back at me that I am evil, an “angry atheist”, or going to burn for all eternity in hell, please take the time to actually read and cogitate the objections.

    If you have a disagreement with a point I make, post it. However, please do not simply say "you do not know Christianity" and then not give any details of what I got wrong.

    1. At its most fundamental level, Christianity requires a belief that an all-knowing, all-powerful, immortal being created the entire Universe and its billions of galaxies 13,720,000,000 years ago (the age of the Universe) sat back and waited 10,000,000,000 years for the Earth to form, then waited another 3,720,000,000 years for human beings to gradually evolve, then, at some point in our evolution from Hom.o Erectus, gave us eternal life and, about 200,000 years later, sent its son to Earth to talk about sheep and goats in the Middle East.

    While here, this divine visitor exhibits no knowledge of ANYTHING outside of the Greco-Roman Middle East, including the other continents, 99% of the human race, and the aforementioned galaxies. One would have thought that a visitor from the creator of the Universe would visit (or at least mention) the millions up millions of Chinese and other Asians, all the people spread throughout North and South America, the Australian Aboriginals, the ancient Europeans or the Subsaharan Africans. Instead, his entire visit and his entire Holy Book, the Bible, is 100% concentrated on the Jews. It seems obvious beyond any rational doubt that the Jews made God in their image and not vice-versa.

    2. This ‘all loving’ god spends his time running the Universe and spying on the approximately 7 billion human beings on planet Earth, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. He even reads their minds (or “hears their prayers”, if you see any difference) using some kind of magic telepathic powers. He also keeps his telepathic eye on them when they are not praying, so as to know if they think bad thoughts (such as coveting their neighbor) so he knows whether to reward or punish them after they die.

    3. Having withheld any evidence of his existence, this god will then punish those who doubt him with an eternity burning in hell. I don’t have to kill, I don’t have to steal, I don’t even have to litter. All I have to do is harbor an honest, reasonable and rational disbelieve in the Christian god and he will inflict a grotesque penalty on me a billion times worse than the death penalty – and he loves me.

    4. The above beliefs are based on nothing more than a collection of Bronze Age and Greco-Roman Middle Eastern mythology, much of it discredited, that was cobbled together into a book called the “Bible” by people we know virtually nothing about, before the Dark Ages.

    5. The stories of Christianity are not even original. They are borrowed directly from earlier mythology from the Middle East. Genesis and Exodus, for example, are clearly based on earlier Babylonian myths such as The Epic of Gilgamesh, and the Jesus story itself is straight from the stories about Apollonius of Tyana, Horus and Dionysus (including virgin birth, the three wise men, the star in the East, birth at the Winter solstice, a baptism by another prophet, turning water into wine, crucifixion and rising from the dead).

    6. The Bible is also literally infested with contradictions, outdated morality, and open support for the most barbarous acts of cruelty – including, genocide, murder, slavery, r.ape and the complete subjugation of women. All of this is due to when and where it was written, the morality of the times and the motives of its authors and compilers. While this may be exculpatory from a literary point of view, it also screams out the fact that it is a pure product of man, bereft of any divine inspiration.

    7. A rejection of the supernatural elements of Christianity does not require a rejection of its morality. Most atheists and secular humanists share a large amount of the morality taught today by mainstream Christianity. To the extent we reject Christian morality, it is where it is outdated or mean spirited – such as in the way it seeks to curtail freedoms or oppose the rights of $exual minorities. In most other respects, our basic moral outlook is indistinguishable from that of the liberal Christian – we just don’t need the mother of all carrots and sticks hanging over our head in order to act in a manner that we consider moral.

    Falsely linking morality to a belief in the supernatural is a time-tested “three card trick” religion uses to stop its adherents from asking the hard questions. So is telling them it is “wrong to doubt.” This is probably why there is not one passage in the Bible in support of intelligence and healthy skepticism, but literally hundreds in support of blind acceptance and blatant gullibility.

    8. We have no idea of who wrote the four Gospels, how credible or trustworthy they were, what ulterior motives they had (other than to promote their religion) or what they based their views on. We know that the traditional story of it being Matthew, Mark, Luke and John is almost certainly wrong. For example, the Gospel of Matthew includes a scene in which Jesus meets Matthew, recounted entirely in the third person!! Nevertheless, we are called upon to accept the most extraordinary claims by these unknown people, who wrote between 35 to 65 years after Christ died and do not even claim to have been witnesses. It is like taking the word of an unknown Branch Davidian about what happened to David Koresh at Waco – who wrote 35 years after the fact and wasn’t there.

    9. When backed into a corner, Christianity admits it requires a “leap of faith” to believe it. This is probably the mother of all understatements. In any event, once one accepts that pure faith is a legitimate reason to believe in something (which it most certainly is not, any more than “faith” that pixies exist is) one has to accept all other gods based on exactly the same reasoning. One cannot be a Christianity based on the “leap of faith” – and then turn around and say those who believe in, for example, the Hindu gods, based on the same leap, got it wrong. In a dark room without features, any guess by a blind man at the direction of the door is as valid as the other 359 degrees.

    Geography and birthplace dictates what god(s) one believes in. Every culture that has ever existed has had its own gods and they all seem to favor that particular culture, its hopes, dreams, and prejudices. Do you think they all exist? If not, why only yours?

    Christianity is not belief in a god. It is a mere hope for a god, a wish for a god, no more substantial than the hope for a good future and no more universal than the language you speak or the baseball team you support.

    November 30, 2013 at 4:28 pm |
    • Chris

      Wow, you just summed up pretty much EVERY religion since the beginning of religion/mythology - yet you direct all your bais towards Christianity.

      November 30, 2013 at 4:43 pm |
      • Colin

        Well, 99% of readers are Christian, but I agree that much of what I wrote is relevant to the other two monotheistic faiths, and a few others.

        November 30, 2013 at 4:51 pm |
    • Tim

      This is not the place to discuss the merits or arguments of Christianity. Your post is off topic and would be more appropriate at http://www.reddit.com/r/Christianity or somewhere similar.

      November 30, 2013 at 4:45 pm |
    • jayflay

      You are an arrogant idiot. Your dissertation is basically drivel.

      November 30, 2013 at 5:18 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      Hey Colin, I hope you & yours had a wonderful thanksgiving.

      On your first point, God said he blessed the children of Israel because of his promises to their forefathers. God isn't ignoring all the other people on earth, the line leading to the savior is followed in the narrative, other descendants are mentioned, but the focus is on those that lead to Jesus. All people on earth can be blessed if they come to Christ.

      November 30, 2013 at 5:37 pm |
      • Tom, Tom, the Other One

        People seem to be blessed to the degree that they've built a stable society with an equitable system of justice and that values education and social mobility, Robert.

        November 30, 2013 at 5:46 pm |
        • Robert Brown

          I agree with you Tom, that all those can be blessings.

          November 30, 2013 at 5:54 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      2,

      God doesn't need to spy on everyone, he knows our nature. Good or bad thoughts don't determine rewards or punishment, what you do when presented with Gods offer is the determining factor.

      November 30, 2013 at 5:44 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      God displayed his love for you and every person by providing the way thru Jesus. He loved you first, the question is, will you love him back?

      November 30, 2013 at 5:51 pm |
      • Tom, Tom, the Other One

        If God were more accessible, perhaps so. But since the Standard God is so far removed from people's lives that people can reasonably argue that it does not exist, I think love is a bit much to ask.

        November 30, 2013 at 6:02 pm |
        • Robert Brown

          I guess it is a bit much. Would seeking him be ok?

          November 30, 2013 at 6:23 pm |
        • Tom, Tom, the Other One

          I would certainly seek a God that is entirely good and can reveal all the deep mysteries of how reality and the Universe are put together. But perhaps you can understand that the Standard God doesn't seem quite right, and no God makes itself plainly evident.

          November 30, 2013 at 6:29 pm |
        • Sara

          Give me some evidence a god exists and I'll go right out and seek him or her. Without some starting evidence, though, it's like chasing rainbows for a pot of gold. Why would I seek random things I have no reason to believe exist?

          November 30, 2013 at 6:35 pm |
        • Robert Brown

          God has revealed a lot of things to me about himself in the years I have known him. I haven't learned much about how the universe is put together. Learning natural things may have to be done the hard way, but he has blessed people in the past with superior understanding of how things work. Hopefully, you can see your way past the reservations you have about God someday.

          November 30, 2013 at 6:48 pm |
        • Robert Brown

          Ok Sara, what kind of evidence do you need.

          November 30, 2013 at 6:52 pm |
        • Sara

          I would be happy to hear a voice others hear at the same time, see a godly visitation, watch a message written accross the sky, see a hospital full of cancer patients cured all at the same time with a godly note left behind.

          November 30, 2013 at 8:31 pm |
        • Bob

          Any reasonably verifiable evidence at all would be good, Robert. So far you have failed to produce even a sliver of that, and have weaseled out of every prior request.

          Put it out, or admit that you have none.

          November 30, 2013 at 8:33 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      4,

      The bible is a love story. It gives us some important information about the nature of God and his interaction with the human family.

      November 30, 2013 at 5:59 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      It has been a few months, but I've read the Epic of Gilgamesh and don't see the similarities. I've also read about Horus, Dionysus, and the laundry list of others that are supposedly similar. If you'll do a little research, I think you'll find the basis for those claims is extremely weak in every case.

      November 30, 2013 at 6:11 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      6,

      The bible includes the history of the children of Israel and yes, barbarism was more widespread in those days. There are still great spiritual truths in the OT.

      November 30, 2013 at 6:30 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      7,

      Yes, people can be moral and immoral regardless of belief. I think you are the one who is linking morality with belief. Doubt, doubting Thomas. Intelligence & healthy skepticism, Proverbs & Ecclesiastes.

      November 30, 2013 at 7:16 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      We do know who wrote the gospels. You are taking the position of the bible critics or nonbelievers. Matthew & John were disciples & eyewitnesses.

      November 30, 2013 at 7:23 pm |
  15. Lynne Buchanan

    When did eating healthy require you to live near a Health Food store? That's the silliest thing I've read in a while. The poor eat poorly because they have poor habits. JUNK food costs 100 times more - buy potatoes, don't buy potato chips; buy beans and cook them; don't buy canned foods. I mean this is first grade stuff.

    November 30, 2013 at 4:24 pm |
    • ndlily

      Perhaps, but no one can deny that potatoes and pasta are far cheaper than broccoli and lettuce. Go to a grocery store and do some price checking before you open your mouth.

      November 30, 2013 at 4:39 pm |
    • Blessed

      Unfortunately, there are neighborhoods where the closest grocery store is a long bus ride, but the fast food restaurant is on the corner in walking distance. I've never had to use public transportation or live in those types of neighborhoods, so I cannot say what decisions I might make in that situation. We should be grateful rather quarterback another person's decisions.

      November 30, 2013 at 4:42 pm |
    • Joss

      I think she means fresh fruit not ...health food . In my experience working with lower income childrenThey love to get fresh fruit. The truth is that fresh fruit can sometime be costly.

      bottom line is Dave is laughing all the way to the bank.

      November 30, 2013 at 4:43 pm |
    • myweightinwords

      Eating a diet filled with beans and potatoes and rice is no more healthy than eating a diet filled with potato chips and fast food.

      Good eating requires the ability to purchase fresh fruit, fresh vegetables (or frozen) and fresh meat. It is very expensive to do these things. It also requires someone who can cook said food, who has the knowledge and the time to cook. Not every household has one.

      November 30, 2013 at 5:43 pm |
    • Sara

      This isn't about living near a health food store. If you read up on food deserts you'll find that thousands of people don't even live near a standard supermarket and rely on 7-11s for their groceries.

      November 30, 2013 at 6:37 pm |
  16. Colin

    The core of Christianity, that God sent Jesus to be crucified and thereby save us from the Original Sin of Adam and Eve has never made sense to me for a number of reasons.

    1. Why would we be responsible for an act committed by complete strangers to use before we were even born? Only an unjust tyrant would hold billions liable for such an act.

    2. We now know Adam and Eve was a myth. There was no Original Sin from which we need saving inthe first place.

    3. Why demand that a human being be gruesomely tourtured and executed? Why not just forgive us? Why did he need a "sacrifice?" After all, he is God, he makes the rules.

    4. If Jesus is a part of the Christian Holy Trinity, is not God essentially sacrificing himself to himself? That makes no sense.

    5. If he is saving us from hell by the sacrifice, why did he create hell in the first place? He could avoid the whole issue by simply not making the eternal oven he must now take a sacrifice (of himself) to prevent us going to.

    In short, Christianity has never made sense to me. Whenever I asked, the only answer I ever got was a totally unsatisfactory, "God moves in mysterious ways" or some nauseating derivative thereof.

    November 30, 2013 at 4:24 pm |
    • Lynne Buchanan

      The Hebrew text (known as the old testament by Christians) says one person cannot pay for the sins of another. The Christians got it wrong.

      November 30, 2013 at 4:26 pm |
      • Vic

        A human individual cannot pay for the sins of other humans, and that's why ONLY the Divine can do by manifesting in the human flesh and offer the Ultimate Sacrifice. Jesus Christ, when on earth, was God's incarnation in the flesh Who died on the Holy Cross for the remission of our sins.

        November 30, 2013 at 4:37 pm |
        • Colin

          This is the very nonsensical, contradictory rationale that raises all of the above issues.

          November 30, 2013 at 4:40 pm |
        • Vic

          This not a matter of rationality, it is a matter of "faith." God transcends our realm and rationale.

          November 30, 2013 at 4:43 pm |
        • SuZieCoyote

          Explain to me why this killing of an innocent was necessary? I would think an all-powerful deity could figure out another way that doesn't require murder of His own son.

          November 30, 2013 at 5:10 pm |
  17. gina

    I consider myself a fan of Dave Ramsey radio show, but i only listen if I happen to be in my car when it is playing. Although I am quite certain that Dave and I have quite different political and spiritual views, I find that he basically provides callers with some common sense ideas to help work out their financial issues. Sometimes that is all people need. I also find him to be pretty kind and compassionate to those who call him, regardless of their situation. He for the most part seems to keep politics and religious dogma out of the discussions on his radio show, though he does occasionally mention that he is guest on a Fox News show (ugh).

    November 30, 2013 at 4:24 pm |
  18. kkollwitz

    We aren't rich, we don't shop at health food stores, and we don't eat junk/fast food more than once a week.
    We aren't rich, we don't belong to a health club, yet I stay fit by doing pushups and situps in my den, and running around my block once or twice a week.
    We aren't rich, and don't care. But I listen to Dave Ramsay from time to time, and agree with his tenets of personal thrift, responsibility, initiative, and discipline.

    November 30, 2013 at 4:23 pm |
  19. Crimzin

    Lol. More hilarious excuses. Here's what Rachel got wrong: you don't need a "health foods store" to shovel something other than Cheetos, Hot Pockets and Big Macs into your mouth and you don't need a gym membership to engage in aerobic exercise.

    November 30, 2013 at 4:21 pm |
    • myweightinwords

      No, but you do need money to eat healthy and you need time in order to exercise.

      A single mother raising two kids with two jobs just to keep the rent paid has precious of either. And no amount of telling her to make "better choices" is going to fix that.

      November 30, 2013 at 4:45 pm |
  20. Michael

    Thank you so much! I am a Christian, and Dave Ramsey angers me. I remember I was listening to his radio show one time, and this man called in and wanted to buy this expensive watch for himself. He wanted to know if it would be a good purchase and so Dave Ramsey went down the list of debts and income and such things. Ramsey told him that he had the financially ability to definitely buy the $20,000 watch. If Ramsey is such a Christian, he would have scolded the man for wanting a vain possession and to put it toward a missions group or something because it is better to invest in people rather than your own possessions. That is what the Bible says if you read it. Obviously not word for word, but that is the general idea it gives.

    November 30, 2013 at 4:18 pm |
    • IndianaHoosier

      There is nothing wrong with people that can afford it to indulge themselves with pricey possessions. If you think money should be spent on mission trips or whatever – then that is where you should put your money.

      November 30, 2013 at 11:33 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.