They are wrong.
Because that isn’t what the Bible tells us.
What it tells us is:
“The love of money is the root of all evil.”
The love of.
Paul, in his first letter to Timothy (chapter 6, verse 10 of 1st Timothy, if you’re curious), tells us:
For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. (King James version)
A slightly more clear meaning might be gotten from International Standard Version though:
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, in their eagerness to get rich, have wandered away from the faith and caused themselves a lot of pain.
An important thing to note here is that the audience for this message consists of the Christian believers. The warning is that pursuit of wealth can lead to failures in our faith walk. That’s not to say that the message isn’t applicable to non-Christians, too; it is. After all, much of the evil in the world by people of any religion, or lack of religion for that matter, can be traced to the quest for wealth or economic power of some sort. Also, this passage shouldn’t be construed as saying that Christians cannot be wealthy.
But it is a warning. And a good one.
How many times have we seen major televangelists with huge audiences and wealth end up going into all sorts of excesses, whether financial, sexual, behavioral or otherwise? Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, Jimmy Swaggert, Oral Roberts, Robert Tilton and many more in the 1980s through the early 2000s alone, and now Joel Osteen, via his wife Victoria’s alleged violent and abusive misbehavior on a flight.
No servant is able to serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will stand by and be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.
(Mammon, by the way, is a term that was used to describe riches, avarice, and worldly gain in Biblical literature. It was personified as a false god in the New Testament.)
If you make your focus the pursuit of wealth, you cannot focus on God. Plain and simple. I don’t believe someone like Donald Trump is born again. I just don’t. He is so about the money and nothing but the money that I cannot imagine how there could be room for God in him anywhere.
We can gain wealth; we can even become truly wealthy. But we cannot do it by wanting to be rich or desiring to have riches or we will lose sight of what really matters: The things of heaven and of the spirit. And when we have wealth, we don’t have to give it all away but we do need to use it wisely, give generously and use what we have to help others and not simply enrich ourselves.
Money is not in and of itself evil. But we need to get over the idea that white is good and black is evil. The fact is that all too often, evil is green, because money is often involved somehow. (Well, green in the United States, anyway; evil is a bit more colorful in most other nations with their pretty, pretty cash denominations)