An Anglican Theology of Money

The Anglican Church of Canada has produced a report on The Theology of Money in which it denounces capitalism, a system that, apparently, is mired in “structural sin”. In its place, the report seems to be proposing Marxism branded with the stamp of an ecclesiastical imprimatur.

This would all be a little less risible if the senior ACoC clergy eager to impose economic strictures on the rest of us, earned less than six figures annually themselves. But, then, as a group of literary pigs have noted: all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.

I remember a number of years ago attending a meeting where Fred Hiltz, speaking in his usual soporific monotone, became almost animated when announcing some wonderful news: not that revival had overcome every obstacle carefully placed in its path and visited the ACoC, but that a major donation was on the horizon, a bequest from a dead – even more dead than usual – Anglican, as I recall.

Of course, Western civilization is obsessed with money and its acquisition but it’s not the system that’s at fault, it’s the people living in the system: us. That includes (I do like to be inclusive) clergy and a church that is forever begging for financial support.

Here, the church version of the Occupy (anything but the cathedral or the bishop’s house) Movement is explained by Rev. Maggie Helwig, a regular at the Toronto gay pride parade:

On October 18, an Anglican Church of Canada task force has released “On The Theology of Money,” a report calling the faithful to embrace a “vision of ‘enough’” when it comes to material wealth.

Many Christians in the 21st century are torn between their faith, which teaches that hoarding wealth is wrong and that Christians should support each other, and an economic system that values individualism, limitless growth, and commodification, says the Rev. Maggie Helwig, a priest in the diocese of Toronto and member of the task force.

Using Biblical texts, early church teachings, contemporary theology and political theory, Helwig’s essay, Non nobis, Domine (Not to us, Lord) provides the main substance of the report, a result of two years of research, reflection and study.

Helwig makes the case that the current economic system and the value it places on money are antithetical to authentic Christianity, and should be seen as a kind of “structural sin.”

The essay takes its title from Psalm 115, which attacks the idolatrous worship of images made of silver and gold,  “the work of human hands,” and argues that the money economy, as it is currently practiced today, is a similar form of idolatry.

Citing stories like God’s feeding of the children of Israel with manna in Exodus 16, to the early church practice of holding goods in common described in Acts 2, Helwig points out that the Bible consistently teaches that Christians are called to be satisfied with what they need, and to share with those who have less—an argument she believes is backed up by the Bible’s frequent denunciations of lending money on interest.

She notes, however, “This vision of ‘enough’ is not only very different from the ever-spiralling growth of the money economy, it is actually hostile to it. If we are satisfied with simple, basic human lives of good work and mutual care, we will ‘fail’ according to the terms of our economy.”

Furthermore, Helwig argues that, because the capitalist economic system sees no intrinsic value in human life, it is completely indifferent to the suffering of those who find themselves unable to succeed on its terms.

“The inability of the market alone to ensure adequate human lives for the majority of the population is increasingly clear, as the gap between rich and poor, both globally and within nations, increases,” she says, quoting a report from Oxfam, an international confederation of groups working to fight poverty, that shows inequality as having grown dramatically over the past 30 years.

“These statistics speak of human lives stripped down to the voracious needs of an economic system’s implacable internal logic,” she adds.


Helwig also believes Christians should have a voice in the political arena, pushing for more redistributive economic policies and resisting trade agreements that “have been proven to limit the ability of persons and societies to make choices for the local common good.”

6 thoughts on “An Anglican Theology of Money

    • Better still would be giving back properties that were legally stolen by the ACoC simply because the genuine orthodox Christians would not bow down to the apostate so-called bishops. Until the ACoC shows some genuine sign of repentance for the actions they have taken any comments by them relating to wealth are completely hollow.

  1. Amazing how they can use scripture to condemn interest, but for anything else, its at best an after thought. No doubt all the ACC clergy will stop using their housing allowance to subsidize their mortgage (and that bad, bad interest) and will be moving into the old rectories…

  2. As of Tuesday, Juiy 12, 2016, by virtue of the anti-Scriptural Resolution “made with hands”, the above apostate doctrine of pelf will ensure that only “the rich man” will be the source of all ACoC bequests; his having been deaf to both “Moses and the Prophets”
    + Luke 16.

  3. What drivel. Capitalism and business, success, wealth has done more to lift more people out of poverty and in so many cases provide not just one but two or three meals a day in so much of the world, than any church effort. Man’s ability to leverage small amounts of goods, capital, ingenuity and know how into huge tangible benefits to much of the world is to be encouraged, lauded, recognized by all religions and faiths. To suggest that all capitalists are stingy, indifferent and heartless when it comes to those either less capable or unfortunate is to lie about good works done in so many places. It is however often the very same failed or unfortunate folks that are in support of the above thesis that creating wealth is wrong, who seem to be the strongest proponent of creating capital equality by impoverishing the successful, rather than uplift the hapless.

    There are no end to the socialists and Marxists who would deconstruct our great lifestyle in Canada that have infected our Church. I heard that there were actually Anglicans marching in support of the Islamaphobia movement, a movement where the truly misguided and misinformed want no criticism of Islam, a shocking situation considering which infidel non-believer groups (Christians) are the recipient of so much Islamic violence and hate.

    The Anglican Church is definitely moving away from the support of a Canadian working and entrepreneurial class, and it saddens me that I am abandoned by the Church I was baptized in. Helwig will discover that the more vitriol the donor class receives from its Church, the more the Church will be suffering from the poverty it so wants everyone to vanquish. The Church is no longer my Church.

Leave a Reply