What Is Your Opinion of “Think and Grow Rich” By Napoleon Hill?

Question from a Reader:

Have you done any specific research or written on Napoleon Hill’s book Think and Grow Rich? It does seem there are many discrepancies in his life story.

Answer from Randy Alcorn:

I did read Think and Grow Rich years ago when a brother in Christ highly recommended it. As is true of most books, there were some good things in it, but I was puzzled by it because it seemed to be Christianesque but lacked a scriptural basis. When I heard believers recommending it alongside truly good Christian books, I didn’t understand why.

Now, many years later, I see it as part of the corpus of health and wealth gospel books and teachings that selectively use Scripture out of context and fail to balance it using the clear teaching against “wanting to get rich” in 1 Timothy 6:9-10 and countless other texts. 

Consider just that one text: “Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”

Of course the problem is not making a lot of money (I minister to and have conversations with a lot of people who make tons of money), but loving it and keeping so much of it that it becomes the primary mass of our lives, thereby creating a gravity holding us in orbit around it. So money becomes our God and displaces the one true God. We are the wealthiest society in human history, but people are always wanting more, and thinking they need more. 

Even in Christian circles it’s as if we pay no attention at all to Jesus saying, “You cannot serve both God and money.” You can have both but you can’t serve both. But materialism is so rampant even among us believers that it is the very air we breathe. We don’t see it for what it is. We are no more aware of it sometimes than a fish might be aware of the ocean.

When I read Napoleon Hill’s book, as I recall it, I didn’t get any sense of the great dangers of wealth and the biblical warnings from the Old Testament prophets, or from Jesus about the rich young ruler and the rich fool, or from “weep and howl, you rich” of James 5 .

On Napoleon Hill, I thought this review of Outwitting the Devil, a book he wrote that was published years after his death, is very helpful. Most of it (the review, not the book) I agree with. Hope it might be of help to you. 

For more, see our other resources on money and giving, as well as Randy's related books.

Photo by Vladimir Solomyani on Unsplash

Randy Alcorn (@randyalcorn) is the author of over sixty books and the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries