Do We Have Too Much or Too Little?

By: Sheryl Johnson  

Many authors writing about Christian financial stewardship engage the concepts of scarcity and abundance extensively, largely arguing that churches and individuals need to have an attitude of abundance rather than one of scarcity. Many argue that abundance is hopeful and encourages generosity while scarcity encourages us to be fearful and to protect what we have. Although this is a very common theme and may well have some truth behind it, this can become problematic particularly when scarcity is treated as merely a mindset to be overcome rather than a real, lived reality and a legitimate fear for most people living in an individualistic society with minimal social safety nets. More broadly, in my paper I will argue that Christian financial stewardship is a practice, sometimes seen as “personal” and internal to the church and separate from theology and belief, that requires thorough examination due to its “political” (and theological/ethical) ramifications. These ramifications are particularly pertinent to Christian economic ethics and any politically-grounded theologies. Further, I will argue that Christian stewardship has implications for social change, not only in its outcomes but also in how stewardship itself is conceived and conducted. The Christian tradition(s) of economic justice must be considered in relation to all Christian stewardship practices. Christian community and the achievement of broad social change cannot be used as ends that justify any means as the “means” of stewardship are themselves theologically and ethically critical.

Christian, Stewardship, Ethics
The Politics of Religion
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Sheryl Johnson

Student, Theology and Ethics, Graduate Theological Union, United States
United States

I am a third-year student in the PhD program at Graduate Theological Union. I am also an ordained minister in the United Church of Canada with experience as a professional fundraiser.