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7 Ways Dave Ramsey Sells Jesus Short
So many church people listen to and tout various personalities. However, I would like to look at one of the most prominent authors and speakers in religious circles and consider a few details. I am concerned about how his following is being led astray.
Dave Ramsey is one of the best-selling authors in Christian circles today. He’s written eight national bestselling titles. He is featured on 600 radio stations weekly and has a listenership of around 20 million. Ramsey’s estimated worth is around $55 million. Recently, he sold his home in the Nashville area for $10.2 million in 2021 in order to build another one. Ramsey identifies as an evangelical Christian and a conservative, both fiscally and culturally.
While Ramsey is not too different from other “evangelical” leaders, the concern is, while listeners soak up Ramsey’s ideas, philosophies or attitudes, what else are they ingesting? How do these things affect ministry, lives, and how we interact with the world?
Indexing a Point of View
It is clear that Jesus—and all other New Testament authors—taught being a counter-culture. This is most illustrated in the fact that various and often opposing demographics in society of that day sought to exterminate not only the messengers but the message and the alternative they represented. Anyone who would deny this fact is Biblically dishonest. Secondly, nothing historically, biblically, or socially has ever changed that counter-culture expectation God has ordered. The truth of Jesus today is just as counter-cultural as it ever was. Nothing will abrogate this tenet of following Jesus, save the teachers like Dave Ramsey, who talk a good-sounding Jesus game but have otherwise departed company from Him.
Here are 7 Ways Dave Ramsey Sells Jesus Short:
- Dave Ramsey doesn’t teach counter-culture at all. He is, and advocates being—being a christianized version of the unregenerate culture. He wants people to be millionaires, just like any other financial planner that is unabashedly secular or even atheist. How does this square with Jesus or Paul? It doesn’t! If God, in the person of Jesus Christ, did not have a place to lay His head—but turned the world upside down—how is Ramsey following Christ in any way? If you are following Ramsey, how are you emulating Jesus to say nothing of following Him?
- Dave Ramsey “says” he wants people to “save” a lot so they can give a lot. Sounds good, right? But God owns the cattle on a thousand hills (Ps. 50:10-12). Do you think He needs your money? In his song, To Obey Is Better Than Sacrifice, Keith Green wrote: “I don’t need your money, I want your life.” Green adds a dagger in the next line, “And I hear you say that I’m coming back soon, but you act like I’ll never return.” In my experience, Ramsey believers are the stingiest people I’ve ever met, and I know many. Do you suppose I just know the rotten ones or those I know didn’t get Dave’s memo? I doubt that! Ramsey teaches how to extract and hold money, just like unregenerate people do. He does not teach how to give. In so doing, he hamstrings many faithful people who cannot find support because Ramseyites are deaf and blind to what real need is and what actual giving is about because they are owned by their money that Ramsey has shown them how to amass.
- Jesus taught that one cannot serve two masters. Dave Ramsey speaks ad nauseam about money (mammon). You can say, “Well, sure, he’s a financial guy. What do you think he’s going to talk about?” Such a response is a copout because if one is sold out to Jesus and His purposes, everything they talk about will be predicated upon serving Him. Jesus and God are footnotes in Ramsey’s teaching. No one listening to him will come closer to Jesus, serve Jesus better, or want to know Jesus deeper the way the New Testament teaches. Secondly, they will have a barrier to anything Jesus because the Ramsey teaching is about money concerns and money as an end. Ramsey sells Jesus short not for just 30 pieces of silver but as much money as is possible. Nowhere in the New Testament is “becoming a millionaire” an advocated focus.
- Ramsey sells Jesus short because none of Ramsey’s ideals relate to living in a degenerating world where believers are second-class. His ideas do not work in “poor countries” or under repressive regimes. This will become more acutely apparent when the government and society turn against believers as they turned against the Jews in WW II. Like all Evangelicals, Ramsey does not think of a world like this because they cling to the escapist mindset. What happens to believers who buy into a Ramsey mindset when the government goes collective, as they are already starting to do? Ramsey’s approach enslaves people to think they have rights as believers and should “manage” the situation to be faithful to God. This notion is categorically false, but Dave makes millions telling Christians that they can play in Sodom and live off the fat of the land while honoring God. It didn’t work for Lot, and it doesn’t work today.
- Ramsey does not have a clue about being the kingdom of God amongst the kingdoms of men, which the New Testament is replete with such teaching. Invariably the vast majority of Dave’s teaching is based upon Old Testament texts to a virtual denial of the New Testament. God’s cause in the world is not better off because of Dave Ramsey. Dave Ramsey is a modern money changer in the temple. He’s selling “better truth” (his truth) for God’s money in the hands of Christians who are over their heads in the world’s excessive games. In Dave Ramsey’s approach, it is almost as if the New Testament is relegated to “getting saved,” but if you want to live right by God, you must go back to applying the Old Testament. What a misunderstanding of God’s intent. This issue is another point of selling God short: through theological gerrymandering.
- Ramsey’s logic works only on acquiring and maintaining wealth, not living close to the ground and being the Good Samaritan or taking money out of the world just to put it into kingdom work. Dave’s teaching seems like you can just pick your desired lifestyle and then figure out how to bilk people in an unregenerate system out of enough money to make it possible… This does not sound like the New Testament to me. To build Ramsey’s wealth system, one must be as onerous in business, rental, and property management as the next guy who is entirely unregenerate. Part of BEING counter-culture uses entrepreneurial thinking to develop and create systems that solve problems in the world to be a minister by way of living and working.
- Another part of Ramsey’s sell Jesus short is slapping a “Christian” name or spinning worldly ways in Christian-sounding ways. Ramsey uses God’s name to enrich himself and live excessively while giving license and abetting others in applying this godless approach. At the same time, Ramsey’s teaching is duping people that “it’s Christian.”
You might think it mean to cast a teacher’s approach into a pitched light by asking questions or presenting things the way I have. Yet, Paul admonishes us to expose fruitless deeds of darkness (Eph. 5:11) and teachers who teach a gospel foreign to the one Paul gave (Gal. 1:8-12). Paul would not recognize Dave Ramsey. Ramsey doesn’t use the money issue in Churchianity to bring people into God’s intended idea for His followers of being a counter-culture to the world to expose its hypocrisy.
I listened to Ramsey’s so-called testimony, which is a joke. He merely parrots a bunch of Christianese instead of sharing and showing how God gripped His life through conviction of sin and how God transformed His life. That’s because none of it happened. Ramsey “filled a hole in his emotional heart” and is now off and running to success in terms of the world deals in. This is not the example we have in ANYONE written about in advocative terms in the New Testament.
We need to learn better ways of living and not letting money own us. But this has to be done through contentedness, learning minimalism as it applies to getting us focused on our gifting and calling in the Kingdom of God (Matt. 6:33). Then, living to minister, love, give of ourselves and be truth, rather than talk endlessly about something we can’t even do as most Evangelicals do. Dave Ramsey is selling God short. Don’t kid yourselves. He may not be a Ravi Zacharias, but he’s not an angel, nor is he teaching the gospel of the kingdom of God.
It isn’t about what you give. Its about what you keep.
Comenius writes and lived quite consistent to the New Testament in his allegory: The Labyrinth of the World