Luther’s Condemnation of Prosperity

If your aim is to make Luther unpopular to Americans, or prosperity preachers, or the greedy, just read them this quote:

“Where there’s prosperity there are all sorts of sins, for:

  • Property produces effrontery,
  • Effrontery produces poverty,
  • Poverty produces humility.

Accordingly the rich must give a vigorous accounting, for ‘to whom much is given, of him will much be required’ [Luke 12:48]. Wealth, talent, beautiful form are fine gifts of God, but we misuse them badly. Talent can be an evil thing, too, when we use it to speak in a bad way, for it has been said, ‘He who wishes to submit to talent will be nobody.’

It’s better not to be so handsome to look at. Sickness can come and take beauty from a person, but talent is not so readily changed. It’s written, ‘you will be like God’ [Gen. 3:5]. Yes, indeed! You’ll also be as rich as God. This sickness we’ve inherited from Adam: ‘You will be like God.’”