image Gilbert Meilaender, professor of theology and Phyllis & Richard Duesenberg Chair of Christian Ethics at Valparaiso University, wrote in his essay “The Problem of Possessions” which was included with other essays written by moral theologians in a work edited by Richard John Neuhaus entitled The Preferential Option For The Poor:

Christians can, therefore, adopt and recommend no single attitude toward possessions. When they attempt to understand their lives within the world of biblical narrative, they are caught in the double movement of enjoyment and renunciation.

Neither half of the movement, taken by itself, is the Christian way of life. Trust is the Christian way of life.

In order to trust, renunciation is necessary, lest we immerse ourselves entirely in the things we possess, trying to grasp and keep what we need to be secure. In order to trust, enjoyment is necessary, lest renunciation become a principled rejection of the creation through which God draws our hearts to himself.

Indeed, affirmation must, I think, have the final word. Principled renunciation is more dangerous than principled enjoyment because created goods are channels through which the divine glory strikes us, and those who love and delight in any good thing may yet learn to love god. The heart may be drawn from image to Reality. But to renounce all enjoyment of created things—to delight in nothing—must either be only one part of a movement that, we trust, will end in enjoyment, or it must be hell, (pg. 85-86).

HT: Kevin DeYoung

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