Do you know the difference between causation and correlation? It is sometimes difficult to tell the two concepts apart. It’s sort of chicken and the egg or chaos-theory butterfly stuff.  I’m wondering about all of this again after the Christmas Eve story on MSNBC: Is the Bible a Good Investment Tool?

Causation would say, yes, if you follow the principles laid down in the Bible you will be successful (in finance, parenting, politics, Super Mario Brothers, whatever).  Correlation says, no, while it shouldn’t surprise us that the Bible speaks truth to financial power, its effectiveness is limited by its purpose and the Bible’s purpose isn’t to set our financial house in order.

There’s no problem with asking how my new life in Christ should affect the way I make financial decisions, of course. But there is a significant problem with marketing the Bible as as part of an investor tool-kit.  The one approach remembers that redemption and new creation are central to the Bible’s themes and God’s purposes. The other approach reduces the Bible to the kind of advice many of us get in our inboxes everyday from other financial gurus. What happens if “taking the Bible literally” when it comes to finances doesn’t pay off? It’s easy to unsubscribe The Motley Fool. It’s a little harder to return to Scripture as a source of truth and life after you’ve weighed it and found it wanting for your bank account.

Of course, we wouldn’t have this problem if we didn’t ask the Bible to speak to issues it doesn’t really care about. The irony is that by making the Bible say more than it does, we rob it of its real authority over our lives.