The financial crisis in Christian perspective

In a previous post Jason Pratt referred us to an article in the NY Times about increased attendance in evangelical churches as a result of the economic meltdown. I think it is fairly clear that our present predicament will prompt a rethinking in many people of what we owe to one another and the kind of economic practice that may lead to a more just, humane society. Of course, we will probably also see material want bringing out the worst in people, as they summarily absolve themselves of guilt for hoarding supplies or even stealing. As Dickens would say, it will be the best of times and the worst of times. What no one can doubt is that the next few years will definitely not be 'business as usual'.

How should Christians respond? I have no economic expertise and no specific suggestions with regard to job hunting, investments or policy. But I can point you to some resources which may help us keep our troubles in perspective and rethink economics from a Christian point of view. You may be surprised at how relevant theology is for making sense of this crisis and cultivating an attitude of hopeful resourcefulness. We would all do well to keep in mind the words of the Apostle Paul: "I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength." (Philippians 4:11-13)

First, some helpful general overviews of the causes of our current crisis (not specifically Christian):

-The End of Wall Street's Boom by Michael Lewis: the best single analysis of the financial meltdown. It is so engrossing that it's hard to imagine it not becoming a movie someday. The depth and breadth of the greed and sheer stupidity on Wall Street is staggering.
-Three days that shook the world: an detailed analysis of the days leading up to the collapse of Lehman Brothers, widely considered to be the trigger of the financial crisis
-Credit Crisis: the essentials: everything but the kitchen sink about the current crisis

Next, some online Christian resources on the crisis:

-Economic Crisis: Christianity Today's special coverage of the crisis. Lots of great insight and resources here, plus a continually updated news feed.
-One Salient Oversight: Neil Cameron is an Australian pastor and amateur economist. For years he has been commenting on economic problems from a Christian perspective. His insights into the financial crisis have been invaluable. Check out his blog here.

Finally, some good books on economics from a Christian perspective:

-Being Consumed by William Cavanaugh: this short, brilliant book will upend all your assumptions about economics and consumption. Drawing on thinkers such as Augustine and Hans Urs Von Balthasar, Cavanaugh tells a story of abundance rather than scarcity because of the transforming value of the Christian vision. I can't recommend this book enough. It clearly illustrates that Christian theology has great explanatory power in EVERY field, not just cosmology or philosophy.
-God and the Evil of Scarcity by Albino Barrera: if God is good, why did he place us in a world of limited resources? A theodicy of consumption.
-The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment by Jeremiah Burroughs: Puritan advice on how to put Paul's admonition to the Philippians into practice.

When discussing apologetics it's easy sometimes to lose sight of the relevance and explanatory power of Christian theology in all areas of life. Christian theology does not only make sense of the Big Bang, but can help us navigate stormy events like this economic crisis. The greatest proof of Christian theology, after all, is the existence of a community of people conforming to the loving, self-sacrificial pattern of Christ.


I'm not a pastor currently, but worked as one way back in the mid 1990s.
Jason Pratt said…
Actually, that was Chris (Layman), JD. {g}

Jason Pratt said…
Nice article and link-set, though! Thanks for putting it up!

emily26 said…
I am a Staff Author at a Marketplace for On-Demand telecom workforce, extending from field engineers to high-level network engineers, project managers and Network Architects in 146 nations.
Field engineer

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