Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Engaging, comprehensive, practical & intelligent Christian responses to current economy crisis

Simon Barrow and his team at Ekklesia has produced a very helpful and thorough discussion of the current global crisis. Their constructive piece titled 'Towards An Economy Worth Believing In' is by far, as I am able to observe, the most compelling piece representing an intelligent Christian response to the issue. Although it is written from a Western vantage point, the piece has much relevance especially in examining the role of churches around the world which are more or less caught within this global predicament.

On the other hand, Rowan Williams has himself written a reflection on the current situation,

"Behind all this, though, is the deeper moral issue. We find ourselves talking about capital or the market almost as if they were individuals, with purposes and strategies, making choices, deliberating reasonably about how to achieve aims. We lose sight of the fact that they are things that we make. They are sets of practices, habits, agreements which have arisen through a mixture of choice and chance. Once we get used to speaking about any of them as if they had a life independent of actual human practices and relations, we fall into any number of destructive errors...

And ascribing independent reality to what you have in fact made yourself is a perfect definition of what the Jewish and Christian Scriptures call idolatry...We need to be reacquainted with our own capacity to choose — which means acquiring some skills in discerning true faith from false, and re-learning some of the inescapable face-to-face dimensions of human trust."

Soo-Inn has chipped in some of his down-to-earth wisdom, encouraging Christians to play our crucial part,

"This is no time for the church to be in any "I told you so" stance. Instead the church is called to reach out to the broken. Financial difficulties often reveal other areas of brokenness already present in the lives of people."

Thinking as the discerning attitude that we must cultivate for ourselves and the generation that we are raising. This is the gist of N.T. Wright's recent sermon which has the current crisis highlighted,

"We live in a world of unreason, where right and wrong have been reduced to personal preferences and ‘attitudes’, which can then be manipulated by smooth talk – like the verbal shift which says ‘credit’ when it means ‘debt’, and the equivalents of that in every sphere – and where people don’t need to think because they can drift along with the current mood. And you and I know that the next generation will need – boy, will they need! – to be able to think: to think hard, to think through where the world is going and what they need to do in it, to think not about how they can feather their own nests but how they can wisely serve their fellow human beings in God’s world."

With a brief analysis of the situation, Tony Siew has directed some suggestions to individual Christians and churches on our own financial habits,

"What are Christians to do? First, spend within our means and have souIf possible save and deposit at least 20% of the house purchase price and do not take more than a 80% mortgage. The Bible says, "The borrower is slave to the lender" (Prov 22:7). If we have a wind-fall then use the money to repay debts or settle the home mortgage sooner instead of using the money for some other unnecessary spending...

As for churches, I suggest we take a breather from building projects in light of the financial down-turn. If already committed, get out of it if possible. If at all possible the church should not be indebted to anyone or institution."

May the Lord has mercy to us all. May the Holy Wisdom drive us to live our life accordingly. "I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength," recalled St. Paul of his own struggles through economic crisis (Phil. 4.11-13).


Simon Barrow said...

Thanks for your encouraging comment - and for the other material you have collected; and indeed for an interesting blog. Grace and peace, S.

Sze Zeng said...

Hi Simon,

Thank you for dropping by. I really appreciate the works Ekklesia is engaging in. I'm all with you that 'faith IN society'. May God continue to bless and make your works fruitful; helpful to every other us around who are being toss to and fro by social currents.