St Mary Redcliffe’s Lent Study Course


“Dethroning Mammon: making money serve grace”


The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls: on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it. (Matthew 13.45-46)


With this, one of the briefest of Jesus’ stories, Archbishop Justin begins his new book. He starts in an obvious place: that the world is getting smaller and ever more interconnected. But moves on to note that one of the outcomes of this inter-connectedness is that “more power is held over individuals and nations by economics, by money and by flows of finance”. He reminds us that this force has a name, used by Jesus: Mammon.


No one can serve two masters: for a slave will either hate the one, and love the other; or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and Mammon. (Matthew 6.24)

More than that, he argues that this force “gains strength through our obedience … the more we let ourselves be governed by Mammon, the more power he has, and the more the vulnerable suffer.”


Writing in the foreword, Jean Vanier of L’Arch Communities, agrees: “Perhaps the greatest divide today is between the poor and the rich. It is a great and terrible divide, so wide that those on either side cannot even imagine its breadth … yet, our decisions, our consumption, have resounding effects upon everyone on this planet.” He praises the manner in which Welby explores the characteristics of Mammon and emphasises how our thinking and acting are subverted: “They infiltrate our day-to-day lives with such subtle discretion that we may not even be aware of mammon’s pervasive presence. If we are aware, then every day, in little ways, we can immediately begin this urgent process of dethroning Mammon … of freeing ourselves from the principles and spirit of Mammon, freeing ourselves to be true disciples of Jesus.”


So, along with many others no doubt, SMR is offering an opportunity to undertake this deeper reflection with others in our Lent group. Over six weeks we shall read and discuss Welby’s views, comments and conclusions.


Welby opens his book with the pearl of great price and explains that, whilst we are often encouraged to see ourselves as the pearl, we are also the merchant. And more than that, in the eyes of God, each and every person is a pearl of great price. The task now, he says, “is to find an approach to economic justice that works in fair weather and foul … it is only within such a global system that it is possible for individuals, businesses and societies to dethrone Mammon and to give all for the pearl of great price.”


Quotes from Foreword or Introduction; Dethroning Mammon; Justin Welby; Bloombsbury. 978-1-4729-2977-8


Everyone is welcome to come to the Vicarage on Thursday evenings (7.45pm drinks, 8.00pm start, 9.30pm end) to follow the book through:


Thur 2 March  - What we see we value

Thur 9 March  - What we measure controls us

Thur 16 March  What we have we hold

Thur 23 March  What we receive we treat as ours

Thur 30 March  What we give we gain

Thur 6 April - What we master brings us joy


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