Greed and Idolatry

Doug Jones points out (Dismissing Jesus, pp. 67-69) that Paul equates greed and idolatry twice.

Paul command the Colossians to “put to death your members which are of the earth” which includes “covetousness, which is idolatry,” (Col. 3:5). Likewise to the Ephesians he says that no “covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the Kingdom of Christ and God,” (Eph. 5:5).

On these words of Paul, Jones writes

Paul’s identity of greed and idolatry, then, shows us that the prophets don’t focus ptimarily on two sins–idolatry then oppression of the poor. It’s all one sin. When the prophets indict the people for idolatry, they are indicting them for greed and vice versa. This also explains why the prophets got so angry at issues that most middle-class Christians don’t see as central. When the prophets see God’s people enslaving other believers or taking advantage of the labor of the poor, the prophets rightly see idolatry as big as Egypt and Babylon and the Enlightenment. Greed is idolatry.


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