I recall one place where N.T. Wright said that the economic policies of Margaret Thatcher were “evil.” As a good portion of the Western world is now in the process of running out of money, this set up an interesting train of thought.
Is it “evil” to be broke, to run out of money? Presumably not, because it was for the sake of such broke people that Wright was taking his stand against the likes of the Iron Lady. But that means it is not evil for a whole nation to wind up neck deep in the poverty bouillon. Right? With me so far?
Now if it is not a sin to be poor, how could it be a sin to anticipate that you are going to be poor? Or is it only a sin if you, like Thatcher, take steps to prevent it?
As the modern state continues on in a frenzy of spending (a practice bound to land on the less fortunate and defenseless eventually), it is perilously easy for tenderhearted Christians to advance the cause of economic illiteracy, and all in the name of Jesus. And even though it is part of their qualifications for high ecclesiastical office, such illiteracy is not limited to bishops.
But when we get to the level of “thou shalt nots” and “thus saith the Lords,” we had better be sure we are correct. Otherwise, we will be like the printers of the early “wicked Bible,” who accidentally left the “not” out of the seventh commandment. Yesterday, I saw one of those wicked Bibles on display at the Cambridge University Library. If such a mistake were to be made today with regard to the eighth commandment, there are too many church officials who would not call it wicked, but would rather hail the arrival of a more compassionate economic policy.
In contrast to this ganglion of self-deception, the Tea Party protests have done a great deal of good, at least thus far. We have seen streets filling up with citizens concerned about massive pillage, theft, dishonesty, and fraud. But some Christians may have stayed home because that kind of thing might ruin their testimony and all — who knows where taking a stand against dishonesty might lead? Perhaps to denominational headquarters and mission agencies, and it is therefore best to let sleeping dogs lie.
It is interesting to me to note that association with Tea Party types, some of whom are libertarian pagans, is morally problematic for some Christians. A continued and much closer association with the statist pagans who mail out the entitlement checks presents no apparent problem at all. This is because the statist pagans have a big pile of swag that they dispense hither and yon, much of it to Christians whose sense for self-justifying rationalization is much better than their sense of smell.