The society counts spiritual well-being and a relationship with God as more important than material wealth

While we do not believe that any government should attempt to compel its citizens to follow any particular religion, and while we strongly support the idea of freedom of religion within every nation, we realize that the beliefs and values that are common in a society often have a spiritual component to them. In some societies, sincere religious beliefs can be widely mocked and scorned, and routinely devalued. But in other societies, there is a generally acknowledged respect and appreciation for sincere religious beliefs and practices. To be truly wealthy, a nation needs more than material prosperity. It also needs to be spiritually wealthy, to have a widespread cultural belief that each person’s spiritual health and relationship with God are far more important than economic prosperity.

This value leads us once again to emphasize the crucial role that we think wise pastors can play in helping to move any nation from poverty toward greater prosperity.[1] Pastors can teach the values in this chapter (in fact, in this entire book) in a way that encourages a balanced emphasis on economic productivity along with relational and spiritual growth. And pastors can do this using the Bible as an authority that is more persuasive than any arguments from economists. It might be that the pastors in poor nations will not make the national headlines but will gradually transform the values held by their people, and these values will effectively lead the nation to adopt better laws and economic policies.[2] In that way, we hope that pastors and other Christian leaders will play a very significant role in moving their countries from poverty toward ever greater material and spiritual prosperity.

  • [1] By speaking of “pastors,” we do not mean to imply that only Christian leaders can effectively promote the cultural values that we describe in this last chapter. We would encourage religious leadersfrom Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, and other religions also to promote belief in honesty, hardwork, economic productivity, respect for property, education, humility, and other productive values.But because we are evangelical Christians, we believe that the Bible provides an entire worldview thatmost fully and consistently promotes these values, and we are writing primarily to Christians whoshare that viewpoint.
  • [2] See the additional comments about pastors at 32, 161, 186, 305, 316.
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