The Moral Status of Wealth Creation in Early-Modern Reformed Confessions

Jordan J. Ballor*, Cornelis van der Kooi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This article examines the moral status of wealth creation, particularly within its theological and religious contexts, across Reformed confessions from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. These confessional standards are a key source for the moral teaching of Reformed churches, and their treatments of the eighth commandment demonstrate a relatively nuanced and sophisticated view of wealth. Rather than simply denouncing wealth itself as intrinsically evil, these confessional standards, from a variety of national and ecclesial contexts, both on the European continent and Britain, provide a basis for viewing wealth creation as a moral good, even while warning against excess, temptation, and vices such as avarice and envy. This survey of the treatments of wealth from a diverse set of Reformed confessional standards provides a foundation for understanding a critical element in the formation of Reformed, and more broadly Protestant, economic ethics in the early-modern period.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)188-202
Number of pages15
JournalReformation and Renaissance Review
Issue number3
Early online date3 Oct 2019
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2019


  • charity
  • greed
  • reformed confessions
  • theft
  • Wealth


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