October 14, 2008
Thank you for this reminder of wisdom in the midst of an emotional election and economic distress!Perhaps if Christians became more skilled in the personal talents given to each of us, seeking jobs that we truly enjoy and that benefit others, rather than living primarily as consumers, we would see a change not only in the economic market, but also our churches and our witness to the world?
I think Trueman is wrong. I don't believe there is or can be such a thing as a "Christian nation" or a "Christian economy" or a "Christian business." But there is something structurally evil about the market economy, in that it divorces economic production from the people and the LIFE of people who were meant to be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth. We, made in the image of God, were given every herb bearing seed, and every tree, and dominion over every living thing. The soul-less corporation, The Market, were not. The goal of my employer is not my personal happiness, but maximizing return on investment. Investment is not evil, nor is a return on either investment or labor. What is evil is that instruments which originated in simple production for human survival and happiness, and even to allow us to seek godliness, have become an end in themselves. The virtue of the market is simply that human life has too many variables for a socialist administrator or a government bureaucracy of any ideology to sort out in any rational way. Now, if we can confine that flaming hot plasma in a moral or ethical magnetic bottle, where it will serve only godly purposes, including of course humanistic godly purposes, we will really be getting somewhere.
I agree, and think that therefore it can ultimately be seen as "God's fault," but not in the negative sense. God is in control, and he has a plan for the US and the world: to see humans love and trust his son Jesus. He is using economic downfalls to do this.
Okay here we go, have you ever stole food because you had no money to pay for it. Have you ever eaten from garbage cans because that is the only thing available. Were you poor not because of what you did, but because the beer your dad drank was more important that food. When you live below the poverty level and many do, you still have wants and needs. The need to get your children out of the row housing or the ghetto. A way to not be labled white trash by living in a nicer neighborhood. This is where it starts, because everyone wants something better for themselves and their children. So, here comes someone who is willing to give you the opportunity to live a better life and it won't cost you much in the beginning, that is until the interest rate goes up. You loose what you have and are on the most part worse off than before, but they don't care. The ones who are receiveing their million dollar bonuses and those in politics who are getting money for their support. I wanted many things and I worked hard to get them, but not all have had those opportunities I had by joining the military and working hard. What should we have done as Christians to stave off this crisis? Start with a soup kitchen, an english class for those who need it, a citizenship class. Help someone fill out a job application, stand in line with someone a an employment office and give them encouragement. Talk to your children about going to a community college first to stave off the cost of a four year college. Talk to your children or young people about serving their country either in the job corp or the military. Stand in the soup line and help others to accept where they are and to move to a better place by working for it, you at their side with a hand on their shoulder. We will never stop greed it is part of our nature, but we can and should help everyone we can with our gifts and talents. In God's Grace John
I lost my job a few months ago. While I don't think I've been as guilty as others in placing "faith" in our economic system, I have now been forced to concentrate more on (for lack of a better term) "God's economy," which includes a longer view of investment that the IRA or 401K."This world is not my home...I'm just a-passin' through..." In the meantime, I'm trying to be a good steward of what God has given me. The "blame" for the current economic situation can be shared by many, but maybe we can move beyond blame to living out our faith even more so more people can see the value of eternity...
I am not sure that this captures the issues, there have been a number of economic and inflationary choices made by the US and UK governments from 2001 which reflect short term political positions which have fed into a credit frenzie and in many ways has encouraged this excess. I agree with some of the quotes, but the conlusion/summary seems simplistic. I find the summary of Trumans points odd.Point 1 made above very much depends on perspective, if you live in a rich country which benefits from free market activity this may be the conclusion, but not from the context of a sweat shop in india which is on th wrong end of a impersonnal free market which drives at profit margins and then regulates with consequences for the poorest in the world.Point 2: I agree that markets are not of themselves evil, but expliotation of people using these market systems is offensive to Christians and I believe to the Lord. As people are involved regulation is essential. "All that is required for evil to prosper is for good people to do nothing."Point 3: Not convinced this point helps anythingI supect repentance for our collective and individual greed as western people and particularly as christians would be an appropriate response with an intent to protect the poor and honour the Lord in so doing.
There are profound errors in a system that was constructed without basic ethical standards, and we need to expose it and dismantle it. It is a serious injustice, especially when it was used by the rich to exploit the poor. The Bible is very clear about exploitative lending (called usuary). When we see attempts to fix this system by bailing out the perpetrators, the penny should drop! Pretty soon, this catastrophe is going to seriously affect third world nations and impede charities who assist the poor.We have some breathing space before the effects of this disaster become more obvious, but let's not soften on our duty to protect the marginalised and call their oppressors to account, as Wilberforce did.
The system of turning shonky mortgages into a global investment instrument is utterly immoral. It is a product of a international financial system that has been in a silent ethical collapse for 20 years. What we are seeing at the moment is a serious injustice, especially when this system was used by the rich to exploit the poor. The Bible is very clear about exploitative lending (called usuary). When we see attempts to fix this system by bailing out the perpetrators, the penny should drop! Pretty soon, this catastrophe is going to seriously affect third world nations and impede charities who assist the poor.We have some breathing space before the effects of this disaster become more obvious, but let's not soften on our duty to protect the marginalised and call their oppressors to account, as Wilberforce did.
I am mixed in my opinions. First, I think you need to actually study what is going on and have a basic understanding of economics. Too often we go on gut and out gut is wrong (and the same goes for a lot of pundits that have no real understanding of the economy.) There are certainly issues with the ethics of the economy. A Christian response is one that cares primarily for the people, not the system. With the caveat that the system does affect the individual. His second point is important. A fallen system is going to be fallen. And I don't think that a completely moral system is possible short of the new creation. But that doesn't mean we can't work to make it better. Classical economists say that there should be virtually no restrictions on the ability to make a contract. But pretty much everyone agrees that there should be child labor laws (which in economic terms is a restriction on the ability of the employer to make a contract with the employee). His third point is odd. I think I understand his point. That no one thing has caused the economic problems and I agree with that. But the third point could also be construded to say that we should not question the system, which I wholeheartedly disagree with. The system should always be questioned. (But you should actually spend some time learning about it as well so that the questions are helpful, not just antagonistic.)
We are like sheep and government is our sheepherder. We have been herded and led astray in a world where we worship the gold of this world.(all that glitters is not gold). When we were offered money in a home where our equity went from $88,000 to $795,00 and pulled out $400,000 in a refi, we became as a sheep being led to the slaughter of bankruptsy. We have PLAYED and now WE MUST PAY. Pray to the LORD and ask for forgiveness and GO AND SIN NO MORE.
In the 1990's My wife and I and family lost our house. I was a builder seeking to retire and had bought a piece of ground with an option. I was earning good money had good propects and I thought a good future. I had to remortgage to complete building also had Â£30.000 over draft Â£1000 a month outgoings wages to pay "Suddenly" Bank manager called me in and closed everything up. We lost the house. exactly what people are going through TODAY.. I negotiated with mortgage company this took 3months in the mean time My wife and kids had to leave they all got flats etc. cutting a long story short "the council bailed us out " we were given to 2 Prefabs to live in 2years later we were given this House for my wife. My children were also given flats to live in. This experience made me realise the futillity of amassing "MONEY" "Indeed it was better to put ones trust in God than in posessions and money. What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul says Jesus
Thanks for sharing what you learned from that situation.
Government is not our shepherd. For the past 40 years, the mantra from Washington has been that government is the problem, that we need to just get government off the backs of business and everything will be fine. Unfortunately, that means the wolves can have a field day with the sheep. But, it is also true that most of us have bought into the game in various ways. I recently read the average credit card balance per American is $17,000. I don't carry my share of that, thank God, but that is merely grace, not virtue.Now can we really say, don't worry about money? I don't think so. I am not interested in living on a hillside, or wandering homeless, or being given a flat by the council (local governments don't do that in the US, and I don't think in Canada either). John Wesley's sermon on The Use of Money has been cited here before, and is a good reference. He advises, gain all you can, but not at the expense of life or health, then save all you can, then give all you can. Our current problems are that we have prioritized money over life and health, our own and others, in many ways, saved next to nothing, and had little left to give. "We" is not a mass of people acting identically. Individual greed and willingness to live on debt is one thing, unscrupulous lender are another, and so on. I remember a commercial not too long ago advertising that you can cut your monthly payments by hundreds of dollars with the "Quicken Smart loan." Only for a fleeting second do they note that it is an "interest only" loan. Evil to offer it, gullible accomplice to desire it.
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I have to say I don't agree with point #3.Â There IS blame to be assigned, and it does no good to sound as though everyone is equally at fault.Â It's one thing when unsophisticated people want more than they can pay for and are persuaded to take loans that are far beyond their budget - but it is something else entirely when the one who offers the loan, the one who bundles the loans, sells the loans, lies about the risk of the loans, when all those people who know far better what they are doing, do it anyway, largely because the instant rewards are huge and there will be no down side for them.Â The blame in those circumstances is NOT the same, and until we hold those accountable who knew what they were doing, and did it anyway, there's no reason to believe things will improve.
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