Men have always sought to replace genuine Christian faith and the authentic Biblical living attached to it with ideologies that give the impression of conferring the ultimate cure for all of life’s ills. Minimalism is one of those supposed panaceas.
Take the following definition of Minimalism, provided by a famous duo that preaches the doctrine as the primary elixir, as an example:
“Minimalism is a tool that can assist you in finding freedom. Freedom from fear. Freedom from worry. Freedom from overwhelm. Freedom from guilt. Freedom from depression. Freedom from the trappings of the consumer culture we’ve built our lives around. Real freedom.”
The dogma teaches that Western society is abhorrently focused on things, materialism. People are too fixated on what they have and don’t have and being defined by one’s possessions is an evil that entraps a person in frivolity and vanity. In response, the minimalist seeks to get rid of any excesses and live with “essentials”. Supposedly, this change in outlook and reduction in one’s belongings will cause an individual to stop attributing importance to ephemeral goods and give priority to what really matters.
At first glance, the concept provides the impression that it and Christianity are compatible (as most pseudo-religious concepts do). The Bible condemns the love of money, greed, envy and idolizing anything and everything that isn’t God, including material things. Minimalism (or rather, its proponents) would argue, on the surface, that they adhere to the same ideas but without including God in the mix.
However, a closer examination reveals that Minimalism solves nothing because it concerns itself chiefly with the very thing it purports to remedy – a focus on things. It is obsessed with material goods by making their acquisition a sort of malevolence, a villain that if anyone has an abundance of is somehow immoral. In essence, it is Marxism repackaged.
Although it is a growing trend, the concept is not new because it is a derivative form of asceticism (renouncing material comforts). It is also important to note that minimalists tend to be an arrogant bunch. Even though their hubris isn’t overly evident much of the time, they are proud of the fact that they choose not to have and subtly disdain those that do. It is a form of moral superiority and snobbery cloaked in false humility.
This sort of attitude is not even remotely Biblical. The Bible doesn’t condemn riches, contrary to what many have misinterpreted when they read the Scriptures. (Example: Thinking that God’s Word denounces money when it is the “love of money” it condemns.)
Abraham, Job and other persons mentioned in the pages of Scripture were blessed by God with wealth. Furthermore, both David and Solomon gave godly, practical counsel on how to achieve prosperity. (Psalms 112:1-3; Ecclesiastes 5:19; Proverbs 6:6-11) To make the distinction clear between simply having wealth and the idolatry of it, God’s Word also makes clear what wretched end awaits the man who makes riches his god. (Psalms 49; 1 Timothy 6:6-10)
It is clear then that Minimalism offers no cure for the problem of avarice and the emptiness brought about by the dependency on material goods. Even when a person becomes a minimalist, when they do obtain something, whether it is needed or for simple pleasure, the guilt trip over having obtained that thing still abides. This is because, as we’ve noted, possessing things is a potential evil in Minimalism.
Besides, has anyone deigned ask a Minimalism apologist how much is too much and how little is just enough? I reckon that no minimalist knows or, worse yet, is willing to provide a concrete answer because the game will have been uncovered. Furthermore, if not having much (in essence, poverty) is as wonderful a state as some minimalists imply it is, why do they insist on owning anything at all?
Money is an instrument for acquisition and nothing else. It ought not be deified but neither is having it immoral. Material goods eventually perish with time and use. Certainly, vanity based on what one possesses isn’t good and avarice is sin, plain and simple.
The Christian attitude is as Paul stated,
“Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:11-13)
In conclusion, our examination of Minimalism demonstrates that Epicureanism is alive and well. Hopefully, modern Christians can spot the error of the doctrine just like Paul did during his time. (Acts 17:16-34)
“Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations— ‘Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,’ which all concern things which perish with the using—according to the commandments and doctrines of men? These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.” (Colossians 2:20-23)