Thoughts on the Financial Crisis

1. Evangelical Christians seem very quiet about it (except wannabe Marxists who just say, ‘we told you so’).

2. Most of us have no idea what’s going on.

3. That’s what Google is for.

4. The current financial crisis really is a crisis – it’s not entirely a media beat-up.

5. It is a product of the same forces that produced Gafcon and the Beijing Olympics. 2008 will be viewed as a significant year in the history of the 21st century.

6. The shape of cultural, political, and economic relations within our world is changing.

7. These cultural, economic, and political shifts could result in increased sectarianism within Christianity. This has happened numerous times in our history. Whenever a particular society has identified itself with Christianity and the political/economic power base has shifted, the Church (as an institution) has split. Constantinople/Rome, Holy Roman Empire/Germanic States, Global South/Global North.

8. This will have profound implications for Christianity. It will require theologians. It will require humility in the West. It’s a good time to be thinking about leaving here and going there, and learning to think theologically with others.

9. When the shape of our society changes, so does theology. There are different questions, different metaphors and narratives:
A ‘shame’ rather than ‘guilt’ structure within culture will affect our theology of the atonement
A different family structure will affect our thinking about how we gather at Church.

10. It’s a good time to be teaching, training, and preparing our Church family for this future. Thinking theologically matters for this too.

11. Rowan Williams has done some good theological analysis of the financial situation here. Martin Wolf has done some good economic analysis here.

Things we need to do:

1. Credit/Debt is not intrinsically wrong – but much of our current credit practice has been immoral. Some of our easy access to credit has been paid for by poor people in poor countries.
We should repent, pray, and lobby for a fairer financial system.

2. People in our Churches are feeling uncertain, maybe even freaking out.
We should be comforting them. (Luke 12:13-34)

3. If the economy slows down significantly, It will probably affect giving to Churches, and it may reduce the funds available to the Government to fund things like theological study. It will almost certainly affect giving to Missions and parachurch ministries like AFES. Many Christians give sacrificially, but it remains the case that ministry is a luxury good. This particularly affects planned giving. When there is less certainty about money people feel less able to commit to giving over a long period. MIssions are unable to budget, and thus planning and staffing are affected.
We need to keep encouraging people to give.

4. What have I missed?

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