Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

The Newest trend in Stability or is it a golden calf?

Written by: on November 9, 2022

Dr. Saifedean Ammous is an economist who holds his Ph.D. in Sustainable Development from Columbia University. In this book, The Bitcoin Standard: The decentralized alternative to central banking, Dr. Ammous presents the economics and history of bitcoin to introduce the workings of the new digital currency for the new digital economy of the future. Bitcoin is the “first demonstrably reliable operational example of digital cash and digital hard money.”[1] This book was written in three parts to help the reader “understand the economics of bitcoin and how it serves as the digital iteration of the many technologies used to fulfill the functions of money throughout history.”[2] The first part of the book, Ch.1-4, explains the history of the role and function of money and its properties within human economic society. The second part of the book, Ch. 5-7, reviews the global implications of “sound and unsound forms of money throughout history.”[3] And finally, the third part of the book, Ch. 8-10, discusses bitcoin’s network, structure, past and present usage, and growth and stability in the form of sound money for the global digital age. This book is beneficial in understanding the foundation of the economy of money and exchange in this digital age.

More and more in the world, the modern capital peer-to-peer digital economy is replacing the traditional system of government and third-party controlled cash money system. Back in October 31, 2008, Satoshi Nakamoto (pseudonymous computer programmer) introduced bitcoin to the world. I remember hearing about it for the first time back in 2008 because some of my computer engineering friends were raving about it. I had a couple of opportunities to invest in bitcoins back then, but I never did because I didn’t believe that it was going to blow up like it did today. Over the past couple of years, cryptocurrency has been in the news almost every week. And this week, one single ticket winning the $2.04 billion Powerball jackpot in California was the biggest news. If Satoshi were alive today, he would definitely join the list of billionaires today because they estimate that he owns between 750,000 and 1,100,000 bitcoins. The instability in the economy and hyperinflation is a new reality that is fueling people’s desire to find greater stability and accumulating in their wealth. In Chapter 4, the author highlights the beginning of the era of fiat money, government money, and how it has progressed over the years. The current government’s fiat money system is based on the value of gold because gold is impossible to destroy and impossible to create more which means gold holds the highest rating in stability. Why does gold play the king of value and stability? Why not diamonds or some other piece of rock from an asteroid? I was curious where was the first mention of gold in the Bible, so I looked it up, and it was interesting to find that it comes out in Genesis 2:11 – mentioning the first river coming out from the living stream of the garden of Eden that winds through a land called Havilah where there is gold.

The global governments for centuries after centuries agreed to set the stability and growth of the future of their nations on the value of gold because people trust that gold will never fail. The latest modern paper form of government currency was the latest invention in the economic system, but we see the heartbreaking reality of hyperinflation that brought complete disaster to many countries. Some actually survived the black swan. South Korea’s economy was miraculously saved from complete collapse back in 1997. The nation campaigned gold donation movement to save the nation and it actually pulled off. Everyone participated in this movement to donate gold to save the nation and it was saved and recovered from complete collapse. But, some like Lebanon, many countries in recent years have been devastating by inflation and hyperinflation that brought “complete breakdown of the structure of economic production of a society built up over centuries and millennia. With the collapse of money, it becomes impossible to trade, produce or engage in anything other than scraping for the bare essentials of life.”[4] In the concluding chapters, the author argues that Bitcoin is the newest digital human invention that is safe and stable and that “Bitcoin is the hardest money ever invented: growth in its value cannot possibly increase its supply; it can only make the network more secure and immune to attack.”[5] There is no doubt that our society will continue to grow and transform into something new and attractive and supposedly most stable for the time being, but the deeper question that we as the Church and Christian leaders need to ask is to search for true stability. The ministers and Christian leaders need to teach louder that a golden calf can never bring stability to our faith and our lives no matter how stable and indestructible it will become. The word Havilah means land of sand and suffering, and in that land and suffering, there are golds, fine gold. The verdict is clear for Christ’s followers – chasing after gold will leads you into the land of Havilah. We must never stay permanently in that land, we must continue in our journey to follow the river upstream and enter into the living stream of water that flows out in the garden of Eden. John 4:14 – “But whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

[1] Saifedean Ammous, The Bitcoin Standard: The Decentralized Alternative to Central Banking. 1st edition (Hoboken, New Jersey: Wiley, 2018), xv.

[2] Ibid, xvii.

[3] Ibid, xvi.

[4] Ibid, 66.

[5] Ibid, 173.

About the Author


Jonathan Lee

President of Streamside Ministry Lead Pastor of EM @ San Jose Korean Presbyterian Church in Sunnyvale, CA

6 responses to “The Newest trend in Stability or is it a golden calf?”

  1. mm Andy Hale says:


    What a powerful theological reflection. The Bible talks about money more often than people care to recognize.
    In fact, the Bible talks about money over 2,000 times, with one in four of Jesus’ parables on the topic.

    How do you think our Christian relationships with money have changed in modern times as we live in abundance and privilege?

  2. mm Troy Rappold says:

    Jonathan: I didn’t know that bit of economic history in South Korea in the 1990’s. Glad you brought that up, it shows how fragile any economy can be, and therefore its currency. he masses had to raid their gold supply to save the economy. It seems to me that Ammous is so optimistic about Bitcoin, he does not want to see that it too can become unstable and lose its value. I am approaching cryptocurrency purely as an onlooker right now–just wanting to watch and learn and see where it takes us, cautiously.

  3. mm Roy Gruber says:

    Jonathan, your post was a great read. In a world where we have no choice but to live with currency, what are the main ways we can keep that golden calf from becoming something we worship? Also, why do you think Jesus connected the our hearts to our treasure in Matthew 6:21? “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (ESV)

  4. Elmarie Parker says:

    Thank you, Jonathan, for your thoughtful and thought-provoking post. Your engagement with Ammous’s writing was thorough and I especially appreciated how you then wove that into scripture and a theological reflection on wealth. What do you hear from the young adults you relate to regarding their view on money–both fiat and crypto versions? How do you meaningfully engage them in theological reflection regarding the place of money/wealth in our discipleship journeys?

  5. mm Nicole Richardson says:

    Jonathan what an interesting story about Korea’s crisis that was resolved through the inspiration to call for donations of Gold. It seems the power in that story is in identity and community.

    What are the tensions you see with Korean-American youth between identity and love of money?

  6. mm Denise Johnson says:

    Thank you for your post. I particularly enjoyed where you brought in the scriptural context. What are your thoughts about the possibility of the current system recovering? Or are we destined to a cryptocurrency? Can the people in government be trusted to keep from controlling cryptocurrencies?

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