The Exorcism of Money: Part 4, Giving is the Exorcism

As described in the last post, Jacques Ellul argues in Money and Power that money must be desacralized. Ellul calls this the "profanation" of money, stripping it of its sacred character. If money is a dark spiritual power, its demonic potency has to be exorcised.

But how is this exorcism to be conducted?

Ellul shares his startling and simple answer: Give it away. Giving is an act of exorcism. For in giving the spiritual power of money loses its dark hold upon our souls.

Here is Ellul:
Now this profanation [of money] is first of all the result of a spiritual battle, but this must be translated into a behavior. There is one act par excellence which profanes money by going directly against the law of money, an act for which money is not made. This act is giving...

In the biblical view, this is precisely how giving, which is a consecration to God, is seen. It is, as a matter of fact, the penetration of grace into the world of competition and selling. We have very clear indications that money, in the Christian life, is made in order to be given away...

Giving to God is the act of profanation par excellence. An object which belonged to a hostile power is torn from him in order to be turned over to the true God...

[Giving] "desacralizes" money...

We cannot measure the power of giving in human relations. Not only does it destroy the power of money, but even more, it introduces the one who receives the gift into the world of grace (remember the debtors in the parable of the unjust steward), and it begins a new chain of cause and effect which breaks the vicious circle of selling and corruption.
There's some rich and beautiful insights here. By desacralizing money, giving is an act of spiritual resistance, an act of exorcism. Why? Because giving is an act for which "money was not made." Giving dispells the dark enchantment. More, giving extracts us from human relations defined by buying and selling to create a new chain of cause and effect rooted in grace. Giving creates an economy of gift.

Going back to Part 1 and Paul's principle of equality and his discourse on giving in 2 Corinthians, this is why I used Ellul in our Bible class. Giving money to the church on Sunday morning can seem rote and perfunctory, dropping a few bucks in the collection plate. But Ellul helps us see that the Sunday morning offering is a profound act of spiritual resistance, as a battle with Satan himself. Dropping money in the collection plate, giving money away, is an act of exorcism. For in giving money away its demonic hold upon our psyche is broken. Do with money that for which it was not made. Give it away. Drive out the devil. As Ellul shares:
We should meditate on this fact and think of it each Sunday at the time of the offering. The offering is not a utilitarian act, and Protestants should stop thinking of it that way...The offering, the moment of giving, should be for us the moment when we desacralize the world and show our consecration to the Lord.

This entry was posted by Richard Beck. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply