I have to admit, to no one’s surprise, that I am a social and fiscal conservative. I’d rather downsize the government than supersize it. No, I don’t want fries with that. But, I also admit that the failures of the laissez faire economy and the renewed calls for regulation intrigue me.
I don’t know enough about economics to know whether the bail outs proposed by the Obama administration are going to be helpful or hurtful in the long run. I do know, however, that the need for them as seen last week proves two biblical truths.
Humans are, by fallen nature, selfish. Human greed has driven the sub-prime market, the credit card prison of debt, and the golden parachute mentality of corporate executives. In each case, the desire to have more than we need at the expense of others bubbles to the surface like noxious gases from the bottom of a lake in
Greed explains why banks and mortgage companies loaned more money than people could afford for houses they didn’t need with nary a consideration of what the long-term impact might be. Greed explains why credit card companies loan people more money than they can realistically hope to repay and charge them fees that can only keep them enslaved. Greed explains why some corporate executives rake in millions of dollars per year for their work that has rendered their companies bankrupt.
“Greed is good,” Gordon Gecko once uttered in the movie Wall Street. Obviously the folks on Wall Street drank in his intoxicating message, ironically spoken during another era of Wall Street madness (savings and loan, anyone?). Drunk with their profits, the American people are now expected to pay for their hangover.
Theologically-speaking, none of us are surprised by the rise of greed and its debilitating mastery of the American economy. But, we may have forgotten that the Bible also speaks of the need for government to harness man’s evil and to protect man’s good.
Paul outlines the Christian’s obedience to the government in Romans 13. There he makes the case that the government has derived its power from God, acting as His emissary here on earth. Paul also reminds the reader that the government “is a minister of God to you for good.” Government, done right, is for the good of the people.
Last week as we watched the stock market take a hit and like a punching bag come back for more, we were reminded that fallen man is by nature fallen. We are wicked and we are greedy. And, like or not, until Christ comes and establishes His government, we are dependent upon our government to protect and provide.
Thus, we need to thank God for our governmental institutions. We need to ask God to guide of governmental institutions. And, we need to be actively engaged in the governance of our governmental institutions.
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About Peter Beck
Peter serves as assistant professor of religion at Charleston Southern University where he teaches church history and theology. While serving as senior pastor in Louisville, Ky., he completed his PhD in historic theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. His dissertation, The Voice of Faith: Jonathan Edwards's Theology of Prayer, is soon to be published. He, his wife Melanie, and their two kids, Alex (12) and Karis (7), live near Charleston, SC. Peter's goal for his teaching and writing ministries is "love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith" (1 Tim 1:5).
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