Neither Poverty nor Riches is the best book about wealth I have ever read. It is practical, comprehensive, scholarly, balanced and thoroughly biblical. Blomberg’s central point is a simple one: that extreme poverty and extreme wealth are not to be tolerated – hence the title which is drawn from Proverbs 30:8, ‘Give me neither poverty nor riches’.
To give an indication of the challenge of the book, Blomberg argues that the rich should give more than 10% (perhaps many times that amount), to enable the poor to give less. But he takes a global perspective, reminding Western readers that the vast majority of us are firmly in the ‘rich’ side of the scales. And he reminds us that spiritual growth in the area of stewardship is ‘a necessary sign of [spiritual] life’.
Thankfully, Blomberg never falls into the trap of declaring all riches as evil, or advocating asceticism. God’s gifts are to be enjoyed, he reminds us, but they are also to be shared.
If I have one criticism it would be that in the chapter with application there is an emphasis on the relief of material poverty in the world that was not apparent in the earlier exegesis. As I read the New Testament (or the Old for that matter) I see a wide concern for the spiritual well-being of all people, and a narrower concern for the material well-being of believers. That is not to say we should be callous towards the non-Christian poor, or that we should only bring Bibles and not bring bread. But it is to say that when it comes to loving our neighbour, the Bible seems to make our two priorities the sharing of the gospel with the world, and caring for our brothers and sisters in Christ.
That, however, is a relatively minor criticism. If you want to think about the Bible’s teaching on wealth and poverty I know of no better book.