A Scriptural Perspective on Economic Collapse and Financial Bailout

We live in the richest nation on earth.  It may be borrowed money, and we may be about to pay the piper for it, but Americans are simply the wealthiest society ever in history.  We currently consume over half of the world’s natural resources.  The poverty line in the United States is higher than the per capita income of many nations.  My dog drinks cleaner water than about half of the world’s children.  We spent more money last year on ice cream than NASA spent in the entire space program.  That is the beauty of capitalism.  The revenues generated go back into fueling the system.  Carl Marx predicted capitalism would destroy itself, but you see, greed makes it work.  Our greed drives us to work harder, put in more hours, educate ourselves to get higher positions, etc.  And what do we do with all of that additional hard-earned cash?  WE SPEND IT, creating jobs and providing increasing salaries for our friends and neighbors.  So what went wrong?

As simple as I’ve made capitalism seem, there is also a law about diminishing returns.  The economy cannot really go on growing at a geometric rate forever.  The “American Dream” has been running on borrowed money increasingly since the 1980’s.  The national debt has grown from $1 trillion in 1981, to over $10 trillion today.  Each year our government operates in deficit adds to the national debt.  We can’t even begin to think about paying it off until we slow down its growth rate.  This same problem of spending beyond our means also applies to individual Americans, as well as banks and other financial institutions.  So, when the government bailed out Wallstreet with a $700 billion loan, the government itself was already in the hole $10 trillion.  And why not loan money to the very institutions that have failed to handle money correctly?  Okay, so where’s the Scriptural perspective on all this you ask.

We have been blessed with material possession and prosperity for the past 200 years or so, increasingly for the past couple of generations.  To whom much is given, much will be required.  For the believer, the question becomes “Have we honored God with what we have?”  Jesus pointed out the widow who gave her two mites, because that was all she had.  If our American system of capitalism goes belly up, we can only say that God is good.  As Job sat in sackcloth and ashes, he proclaim that the Lord gives, he also takes away, finally “Blessed be the name of the Lord.”  We have been richly, richly blessed, and in many cases have used that prosperity to bless others.  But if next week your American dollars are good for nothing but starting a campfire, we will still have so much.  If the economy fails and the government collapses, for instance, we still have millions of acres of forest, oil and natural gas in the ground, clean rivers, lakes, and streams.  Japan has no natural resources (unless you count fish) but they seem to do alright.  Oh yeah, and we still have a God that knows our every need even before we ask, and has provided – and will continue to provide – for his people.  Not even just for his people; the rain falls on the just and the unjust.  God provides for humanity in general, a facet of his character known as common grace.  What a good God.

During the Great Depression of the 1930’s, Americans found out there was more to our way of life than spending tons of cash and partying like it’s 1929.  When the money was gone, many found out things like being alive, being with family, working hard for whatever is yours, those are important also.  Perhaps more than money.  I think we will get through this, and the greed machine will once again fed itself like the monster it is.  But if not, we know from the first century Jews, Daniel and his contemporaries, Job, Jacob and his twelve sons, the Prophet Elijah, the Apostle Paul, and Jesus Christ himself that God provides.  Has God provided for us well beyond what we need and deserve?  Very much so.  Will God provide for us in the future, even if it’s not economic blessing that he provides?  Absolutely.  And whether we are rich or have no possessions at all, we are to honor God with all that we have.  God decides how and when to bless us; what we do next is our responsibility.

13 thoughts on “A Scriptural Perspective on Economic Collapse and Financial Bailout

  1. 2 afterthoughts: recall Jesus’ words when he said “Foxes have holes, birds have nests, but the Son of Man has not where to lay his head.” Secondly, every bit of our earthly possessions will perish with this world, so Christians need to remember we’re storing up treasure in heaven, so that there our heart will be also. Don’t get too attached to anything here anyway, whatever our nation’s economy does next.

  2. The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord. If Job could say that, surely we can.

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  5. I’m going to end my “dry spell” on my blog and write about this issue also. Because of that I haven’t read the above post yet. When I finish writing it, which may be very soon, I will return and read it to see where we agree, disagree or if our thoughts went in different directions altogether.

    But, I have read the comments left so far and also say AMEN to thedomesticfringe.

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  7. Interesting post. I’ve had similar thoughts. One thing I’ve pondered, especially since I think this economic crisis is making ME question where my treasure is and repent because my heart has been in the wrong place, is if God isn’t hitting us American Christians in the wallet to get our attention? Americans know how to use capitalism to get a point across (I recently read some chatter from fellow Christians about a boycott on McDonald’s because of their involvement with a Gay and Lesbian organization–I use this as an example, not because I agree with it), so I wonder if God isn’t using it to get his point across too? At the same time, I have noticed a work of God among his people — in my life and heart and in the hearts and lives of people in my very big mega church. His followers are beginning to pay attention to social justice issues and the importance of working in areas that break the heart of God. We are beginning to have hearts broken for those same things. Social justice issues and living up to James 1:27 and Micah 6:8 have been areas that we evangelicals have been ignoring for too long. I think God is waking many of us up to our own greed and lack of concern for the least of these. Regardless, God is good all the time. All the time, God is good.

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  9. The Homeless One
    By John H. Dearing
    They borrowed a stall and that was not all;
    They borrowed a manger, too.
    They borrowed a bed to lay His head,
    Yet He was the Savior true.
    It was borrowed bread when the crowd was fed,
    And all were satisfied.
    He borrowed fish, too, and only a few;
    Many fragments were left beside.
    He borrowed a boat and set it afloat
    Not far out from the shore.
    He borrowed a seat and rested His feet,
    As the word to the people He bore.
    It came to pass that He borrowed an ass,
    And the praise of the people was heard;
    With borrowed garments, He trod on a borrowed road,
    The Savior, fulfilling God’s Word.
    He borrowed a room on his way to the tomb,
    The Passover lamb to eat.
    They borrowed a cave for the Master’s grave;
    They borrowed the winding sheet.
    Not reckoning the loss, He borrowed a cross,
    And Barabbas, the owner, went free.
    He borrowed the sin that was laid upon Him
    And borrowed His death from ME

    Not much of a capitalist, was he?

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