Title: The Legend of the Monk and the Merchant
Author: Terry Felber
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
“We’ve got to humble ourselves and get down on our knees to make it through life successfully … and to please God,” Antonio reminisces in Terry Felber’s The Legend of the Monk and the Merchant, a short tome about the challenges relating to vocational monetary matters.
This one hundred and eighty-five page hardbound book has a simplistic drawing of Rome during the Renaissance on the front jacket. With a little more than three pages of a forward by financial guru, Dave Ramsey, the tale is under one hundred and twenty pages and there is a sixty page study guide of twelve sessions that include discussion topics. The book is targeted toward those who have an ongoing relationship with God but does not delineate between any religious denominations nor gives any plan of eternal salvation.
The parable itself is about a grandfather in Rome during the sixteenth century named Antonio who passes on his cherished journal of life-learned lessons to his grandson, Julio. As they talk about the old man’s past career and financial status, he reflects on what his mentor, Alessio, tutored him when they met every three years for decades.
Within those three year meetings, Alessio shares with Antonio twelve principles for a successful life that range from “work hard and God will prosper you” and “trials develop your character, preparing you for increased blessings” to “be meek before God and bold before men” and “set aside the first ten percent to honor God.”
In conjunction with both Old and New Testament concepts of the twelve principles, the grandfather not only tells his offspring to provide for his family, take responsibility for problems produced from bad decisions, live debt free and keep within a budget, but to always gives back to God and His ministry by passing on the twelve doctrines to others.
In the second half of the book, the twelve sessions do not coincide in order with these principles, but jump around in topics, quoting and applying Bible verses and asking the reader questions. In this section, Felber often quotes Ramsey’s beginning foreword, expounding further on his statements on financial freedom. The story and study guide seem to conclude that if you work hard at your job so you can be promoted and make more money, always spend your earnings wisely and give to a ministry, God will always make your life successful and productive, which is neither Biblical nor credible.
Although some of the session topics and study questions tend to be unrealistic in our fallen world, the reader should remember that God is ultimately in control, loves us deeply and allows specific things to happen in our life unrelated to our vocation, lifestyle or monetary goals. Without being lazy, one needs to keep in mind the verse, Philippians 4:11 that states “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.”
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