Friday, 24 April 2009

The budget, government debt, and the Christian

After the recent budget, many commentators (e.g. Jeff Randall, Tim Carpenter, Cranmer, the Institute for Fiscal Studies) have expressed concern about the levels of debt that the government is incurring, and that will be inherited by tax-payers.

Should Christians be concerned about this? One angle on this is the fact that in the teaching of Jesus, sin is often compared with debt. Two obvious examples are the parable of the unforgiving servant (Matthew 18:23-35), and the fact that in the Lord’s Prayer as found in Matthew’s gospel, disciples are taught to pray “and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” (Matthew 6:12) In other words, there is a correspondence between sin and debt.

Many may consider sin not to be serious, but the Christian does. I am reminded of the words of Anselm of Canterbury, addressing Boso in Cur Deus Homo (Book 1, chapter 21) “You have not yet considered what a heavy weight sin is.”

If sin is serious and Jesus compares sin to debt, surely it follows that for Christians, debt is serious as well. And if that is so, government borrowing which will saddle our country with huge levels of debt, possibly for decades, is serious.

Yes, it is true that in the Old Testament, there was provision for the cancellation of debt every 50 years in the Jubilee, but to argue that such a provision means that one of the world’s wealthiest nations (that has incurred its debts by living beyond its means) should have its slate wiped clean is simply ridiculous.

Perhaps the message for Christians who are not horrified by the levels of debt that we are incurring is: “You have not yet considered what a heavy weight debt is.”


L Rajiva said...

Hi -

I enjoyed this post and have republished it on my blog with a link back here.
Would you be interested in a link exchange?
Thanks very much.


Young Mr. Brown said...

Thank you for your kind words. I am honoured that you republished my post on your blog, and that you posted a link to it.

I don't do link exchanges as such. If anyone wants to link to my blog they are welcome to do so without informing me. Similarly, when I link to other people's blogs, I don't inform them - unless I have reason to believe that they would like to be informed. Several of the blogs that I link to don't link to me, which is fine by me. There are even a couple of blogs that link to me that I don't link to - somewhat to my surprise!