A Christian View of the Economic Crisis

JP: A good read by Albert Mohler. See my brief comments after the blockquote.

A Christian View of the Economic Crisis


More than anything else, this crisis has to do with what happens when the markets come to term with excessive valuations. Put bluntly, wildly inflated valuations led to risky financial adventures and worse. The sub-prime mortgage collapse came as more realistic real estate valuations forced market corrections. The vast global financial system has accepted the inflated valuations as real and traded in the risky mortgages as if the game would go on forever. This was a fool’s errand.

Christians should think seriously about this economic crisis and ponder what it would mean to come to a Christian understanding of what it means to be participants in this economy. As Adam Smith recognized, the economy is a moral reality. Human beings actualize their moral selves in making economic choices and through participation in the economic system — and we are all participants.

Indeed, one of the defining differences between the current crisis and the crisis of the 1920s and 1930s is that the vast majority of Americans are now, in effect, investors. Our retirement accounts are, by and large, mingled with the investments of the titans of industry. Through their pension funds, school teachers are investors right alongside Warren Buffet. This was not the case in the run-up to the Great Depression. We all want and need the stock market to do well, and the outcome of any market crisis effects both Bill Gates and the worker in the local medical clinic.

Christians should look at the economy as a test of our values. The Bible values honest labor and dedicated workers, and so should we. The Bible warns against dishonest business practices, and we must be watchful. False valuations are, in effect, lies. Dishonest accounting practices are just sophisticated forms of lying. Insider information is a form of theft.

The Bible honors investment and thrift, and Christians must be wary of the impulse for short-term gains and pressure for instant profit. Over the long-haul, the entire economy must prosper if the vast majority are to do well and realize a responsible gain.

This current crisis should also remind Christians that we are not called to be mere economic actors, but stewards. Everything we are, everything we do, and everything we own truly belongs to God and is to be at the disposal of Kingdom purposes. This world is not our home and our treasure is not found here. We are to do all, invest all, own all, purchase all to the glory of God.

Comments: I have a degree in economics and finance and my own head is swimming with the daily economic news! Here are some practical steps to weather this storm:

  1. Keep your focus on the Lord. Matthew 6:33, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”
  2. Work hard and earn a living. If you are a student, prepare to earn a living. Ephesians 4:28, “Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need.”
  3. Faithfully support your church. I Corinthians 16:2, “On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper”.
  4. Develop a budget: Proverbs 22:3, “A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself, But the simple pass on and are punished.” One could use a simple spreadsheet program to develop and track.
  5. Minimize personal debt. Proverbs 22:7, “the borrower is servant to the lender”.
  6. Economize and reduce waste. This may take the form of eating out less or driving less. Luke 15:13, “And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living.”
  7. Have a personal savings plan:
    • Proverbs 24:27, “Prepare your outside work, Make it fit for yourself in the field; And afterward build your house.
    • Proverbs 30:24-25, “There are four things which are little on the earth, But they are exceedingly wise: The ants are a people not strong, Yet they prepare their food in the summer;”
  8. Pray, trust, and don’t worry!
    • 1 Peter 5:7, “casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you”
    • Philippians 4:6, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;”

Helpful resources:

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