Sermon quotes on consumerism

Sam Alberry

Are we praying regularly for our church? The answer to that question is a good indication of whether we’re coming as Christians, or as consumers.

Why Bother with Church? And Other Questions About Why You Need It and Why It Needs You, The Good Book Company.

Randy Alcorn

The grace that has freed us from bondage to sin is desperately needed to free us from our bondage to materialism.

W.H. Auden

What the mass media offers is not popular art, but entertainment which is intended to be consumed like food, forgotten, and replaced by a new dish.

The Dyer’s Hand


Wendell Berry

But even in the much-publicized rebellion of the young against the materialism of the affluent society, the consumer mentality is too often still intact: the standards of behavior are still those of kind and quantity, the security sought is still the security of numbers, and the chief motive is still the consumer’s anxiety that he is missing out on what is “in.”

The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays.

Paul Eldridge

Avarice is fear sheathed in gold.

Jim Elliot

He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.

Gregory of Nazianzus

Let us treasure up in our soul some of those things which are permanent…, not of those which will forsake us and be destroyed, and which only tickle our senses for a little while.

Samuel Johnson

There will always be a part, and always a very large part of every community, that have no care but for themselves, and whose care for themselves reaches little further than impatience of immediate pain, and eagerness for the nearest good.

Taxation No Tyranny

Stanley Hauerwas

A social order bent on producing wealth as an end in itself cannot avoid the creation of a people whose souls are superficial and whose daily life is captured by sentimentalities. They will ask questions like “why does a good God let bad things happen to good people ” such people cannot imagine that a people once existed who produced and sang the psalms. If we learn to say “God ” we will do so with the prayer “My God my God why have you forsaken me?”

Robert Herrick

Who covets more, is evermore a slave.

Thomas Merton

The tighter you squeeze, the less you have.

Malcolm Muggeridge

The most terrible thing about materialism, even more terrible than its proneness to violence, is its boredom, from which sex, alcohol, drugs, all devices for putting out the accusing light of reason and suppressing the unrealizable aspirations of love, offer a prospect of deliverance.

Rich Mullins

It’s a cultural disability in America that we worship pleasure, leisure, and affluence. I think the church is doubly damned when they use Jesus as a vehicle for achieving all of that. Like, if you give a tithe, He’ll make you rich. Why? Are you hacking Him off or something? If you give a tithe, you get rid of ten percent of the root of all evil. You should be giving ninety percent. Cause God can handle money better than we can.

Pliny the Younger

An object in possession seldom retains the same charm that it had in pursuit.

John Powell

To live fully, we must learn to use things and love people, and not love things and use people.

Will Rogers

Too many people spend money they haven’t earned to buy things they don’t want to impress people they don’t like.

Jonathan Sacks

We know – it has been measured in many experiments – that children with strong impulse control grow to be better adjusted, more dependable, achieve higher grades in school and college and have more success in their careers than others. Success depends on the ability to delay gratification, which is precisely what a consumerist culture undermines. At every stage, the emphasis is on the instant gratification of instinct. In the words of the pop group Queen, “I want it all and I want it now.” A whole culture is being infantilised.

Jess C. Scott

“Nin knew how much humans loved money, riches, and material things—though he never really could understand why. The more technologically advanced the human species got, the more isolated they seemed to become, at the same time. It was alarming, how humans could spend entire lifetimes engaged in all kinds of activities, without getting any closer to knowing who they really were, inside.”

The Other Side of Life

James K.A. Smith

I’m broken, therefore I shop.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon

You say, ‘If I had a little more, I should be very satisfied.’ You make a mistake. If you are not content with what you have, you would not be satisfied if it were doubled.

Leo Tolstoy

That which constitutes the cause of the economic poverty of our age is what the English call over-production (which means that a mass of things are made which are of no use to anybody, and with which nothing can be done).

 On the Significance of Science and Art by Leo Tolstoy, Philosophy.

Mark Twain

Any so-called material thing that you want is merely a symbol: you want it not for itself, but because it will content your spirit for the moment.

David Foster Wallace

“The assumption that you everyone else is like you. That you are the world. The disease of consumer capitalism. The complacent solipsism.”

The Pale King

Tennessee Williams

“The human animal is a beast that dies and if he’s got money he buys and buys and buys and I think the reason he buys everything he can buy is that in the back of his mind he has the crazy hope that one of his purchases will be life everlasting!–Which it never can be….”

 Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Gregg Easterbrook

Our lives are characterized by too much of a good thing—too much to eat, to buy, to watch and to do, excess at every turn.

The Nation: Wages of Wealth; All This Progress Is Killing Us, Bite by Bite,” New York Times, March 14, 2004.

Broken Bells

The open doors left me wanting more . . .

It’s another way to win a useless fight

You’ve been lying so long don’t know you’re faking.

“Perfect World,” After the Disco, Columbia Records, 2014.

Ken Myers

[Suffering] may be as serious for modern Christians as persecution and plagues were for the saints of earlier centuries… it is the burden of living in a consumer culture where the individual looms larger than institutions, convenience trumps self-sacrifice, and personal preference eclipses virtue. The challenge of following Jesus amid comfort is just the tip of the iceberg. Convenience has an anesthetizing effect that leaves us unaware of less-visible oppression.

Taken from All God’s Children and Blue Suede Shoes

Swedish Proverb

Den som köper det han inte behöver stjäl från sig själv.

He who buys what he does not need steals from himself.

1927 U.S. Journalist

A change has come over our democracy. It is called consumptionism. The American citizen’s first importance to his country is now no longer that of citizen but that of consumer.

Quoted in The Century of the Self, BBC Documentary, 2002.

Victor Lebow

Our enormously productive economy demands that we make consumption our way of life, that we convert the buying and use of goods into rituals, that we seek our spiritual satisfactions, our ego satisfactions, in consumption. The measure of social status, of social acceptance, of prestige, is now to be found in our consumptive patterns. . . . We need things consumed, burned up, worn out, replaced and discarded at an ever increasing pace.

Quoted in Andrew Martin, “Consume, Consume, Consume with the False Promise of Happiness,” Collective Evolution , July 17, 2014.

Andrew Sullivan

Modernity slowly weakened spirituality, by design and accident, in favor of commerce; it downplayed silence and mere being in favor of noise and constant action. The reason we live in a culture increasingly without faith is not because science has somehow disproved the unprovable, but because the white noise of secularism has removed the very stillness in which it might endure or be reborn…. If the churches came to understand that the greatest threat to faith today is not hedonism but distraction, perhaps they might begin to appeal anew to a frazzled digital generation.

“I Used to Be a Human Being.”

Wall Street Banker

We must shift America from a needs to a desires culture…. People must be trained to desire, to want new things, even before the old have been entirely consumed. We must shape a new mentality. Man’s desires must overshadow his needs.

Quoted by Jeremy Lent in The Patterning Instinct: A Cultural History of Humanity’s Search for Meaning (New York: Prometheus Books, 2017), p.380.

Joshua Becker

Not only are my possessions not bringing happiness into my life; even worse, they are actually distracting me from the things that do!

The More of Less: Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own, Waterbrook Press, 2016.

Joshua Becker

Excessive possessions are not making us happy. Even worse, they are taking us away from the things that do. Once we let go of the things that don’t matter, we are free to pursue all the things that really do matter.

The More of Less: Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own, Waterbrook Press, 2016.

A.J. Swoboda

We’re tourist Christians. We remain as long as we’re entertained.

A Glorious Dark

Neil Cummings and Marysia Lewandowska

It is not objects that people really desire, but their lush coating of images and dreams. . . . It is never the object which is consumed—instead it is the relationship between us and the object of desire.

Quoted in James B. Twitchell, Branded Nation: The Marketing of Megachurch, College Inc., and Museumworld (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2004), 37.

Ashley Hales

When we keep purchasing, keep consuming, and keep envying and coveting, we are pining for what the objects represent: peace, ease, meaning, beauty, stability, adventure, knowledge, renown, connection, and esteem.

Taken from Finding Holy in the Suburbs: Living Faithfully in the Land of Too Much by Ashley Hales Copyright (c) 2009 by Ashley Hales. Published by InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL. www.ivpress.com

Skye Jethani

My secret is that I want to be relevant and popular. I want my desires fulfilled and pain minimized. I want a manageable relationship with an institution rather than messy relationships with real people. I want to be transformed into the image of Christ by showing up at entertaining events rather than through the hard work of discipline. I want to wear my faith on my sleeve and not look at the darkness in my heart. And above all, I want a controllable god. I want a divine commodity to do my will on earth as well as in heaven.

The Divine Commodity: Discovering a Faith Beyond Consumer Christianity (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2009), 174.

Skye Jethani

In a commodity culture we have been conditioned to believe nothing carries intrinsic value. Instead, value is found only in a thing’s usefulness to us, and tragically this belief has been applied to people as well.

The Divine Commodity: Discovering a Faith Beyond Consumer Christianity (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2009)

Philip Kenneson 

Part of becoming a Christian is coming to see that what you thought you wanted deeply is not what you most wanted. It’s having your wants retrained. So it’s pretty hard to appeal to this old set of desires to get people in the door and then all of a sudden say, `You know, we didn’t quite tell you the whole thing.’ Then people feel betrayed.””

Eugene Peterson

American culture is probably the least Christian culture that we’ve ever had because it is so materialistic and it’s so full of lies…. The problem is people have been treated as consumers for so long they don’t know any other way to live.

Interview of Eugene Peterson by Bob Abernethy, Religion and Ethics Newsweekly, May 13, 2011.

Mark Riddle 

Conversion in the U.S. seems to mean we’ve exchanged some of our shopping at Wal-Mart, Blockbuster, and Borders for the Christian Bookstore down the street. We’ve taken our lack of purchasing control to God’s store, where we buy our office supplies in Jesus’ name.

 “Rant #2 — The Christian Bookstore,” TheOoze.com, April 11, 2002, (accessed Sept 6, 2022).

Lyle E. Schaller

The big issue . . . is not whether one applauds or disapproves of the growth of consumerism. The central issue is that consumerism is now a fact of life.”11

The Very Large Church (Nashville: Abingdon, 2000), 100.

Jean Sulivan

Human beings are not looking for just anything but for the absolute, even when they believe they are turning away from it, or when they unknowingly repress it in a search for material things.

William Cavanaugh

What really characterizes consumer culture is not attachment to things but detachment. . . . People do not cling to things; they discard them and buy other things.

Being Consumed: Economics and Christian Desire (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2008), 34.

Kevin G. Ford

The consumer is never satisfied. Rather than being transformed into a life of sacrifice and service, the consumer will demand more and more of others.

Transforming Church: Bringing Out the Good to Get to Great, David C. Cook.

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