Credit crunch is ‘God’s punishment’ for nations ‘consumed with materialism’, says Bishop

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Bishop of Lewes, the Rt Rev Wallace Benn, has written in a church newsletter that materialism has a "stranglehold over our lives" and that some good may therefore emerge from the crisis.

In the November 2008 newsletter the bishop said: "I believe that God ultimately has allowed this crisis for good.

"Our nation, like all the western nations, has become consumed with materialism. It has a stranglehold on our lives.

"We have found our security in 'securities' and have failed to grasp that nothing is permanent other than God.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Posted October 30, 2008 at 8:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. Sick & Tired of Nuance wrote:

“Hurricane Katrina was, in fact, the judgment of God against the city of New Orleans.” “New Orleans had a level of sin that was offensive to God,” Hagee said, because “there was to be a homosexual parade there on the Monday that the Katrina came.”

“The Rev Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson set off a minor explosion of their own when they asserted on US television that an angry God had allowed the terrorists to succeed in their deadly mission because the United States had become a nation of abortion, homosexuality, secular schools and courts, and the American civil liberties union.”

“An Anglican bishop has claimed the credit crunch is God’s way of punishing Britain and other western nations for being too materialistic.”

Gee, I guess it isn’t just the frothing at the mouth Evangelicals that can fall into thinking this way.  An Anglican Bishop can, too.

Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”  ~ Luke 13:1-5

October 30, 9:41 am | [comment link]
2. Sherri2 wrote:

Not to take away too much from the bishop’s words, but ... “western materialism” has provided job opportunities around the world - that those opportunities are not always as safe and healthy as they should be is a problem that needs adjusting, but I’m pretty weary of everything on the planet being the fault of the West. Especially since it is patently untrue.

Unquestionably, our society is too focused on things and not nearly focused enough on God.

October 30, 10:23 am | [comment link]
3. John Simmons wrote:

I notice that the phrase “God’s punishment” is up there in the headline in quotes, but in the article itself is nowhere attributed directly to the Bishop. I wonder whether he actually wrote this, or whether it is simply what a sub-editor thought he wrote?

October 30, 11:10 am | [comment link]
4. Spiro wrote:

Thank you Sherri2 (#2) for that observations.

As a Christian, I take seriously the biblical passages that call us to refrain from putting our trust in riches and in being greedy for gains.
Having said that, count me as the last person to blame “western materialism” for all the woes of this world. The non-western world and worldviews are NOT paragons of godly living, righteousness, and perfection.

I have lived, worked, campaigned, and fought (not militarily - but nonetheless, with scares to show for my efforts) in Africa, Europe, and now in the United States. I know exactly what I am talking about. Trust me on that one.

Human nature is human nature, is human nature! (Margaret Thatcher on IRA terrorism some decades ago – Terrorism is a crime, is a crime!).
Only from Christian perspectives do we find some meaning and purpose in the accumulation of wealth, and in living out the Christian principles, there is hope (as there has been) and the promise of an abundant life that transcends,  but does NOT exclude the material.

Rightful accumulation of material wealth and the proper planning for our future are not inherently sinful. God is glorified and honored when these are done purely from Christian perspectives and with full recognition and acceptance of the fact that GOD is the real owner of all the wealth – personal and communal. Period. 

James chapter 4:13-14: “Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a town, stay there a year, conduct business, and make money”. You do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”

Many other passages in the Bible (such as Psalm 62:10) warn us against putting our trust in riches. I believe these are some of the points the bishop is trying to make.

Fr. Kingsley Jon-Ubabuco
Arlington, TX

October 30, 12:23 pm | [comment link]
5. Franz wrote:

Sort of on the topic, and perhaps something one might want to read as well


October 30, 12:58 pm | [comment link]
6. farstrider+ wrote:

Note that the bishop did not attack the principles of the free market. This is not a political piece. What he challenged is Western materialism. Will anyone here seriously argue that materialism is a godly thing?

Also, as John Simmons wrote, the bishop does not use the word “punished,” rather he speaks of God allowing something painful to occur for our greater benefit. Can anyone find fault with this?

October 30, 1:20 pm | [comment link]
7. William Witt wrote:

This is just the kind of thing we would expect to hear from one of those left-wing reappraising Obama-supporting C of E bishops.  Try again.  This guy is a conservative Evangelical. Very conservative.

October 30, 1:28 pm | [comment link]
8. DavidBennett wrote:

Good for the bishop. Like some other posters on here, I agree that the bishop seems to be saying Western materialism is a bad thing, not free market economics per se. I agree with the bishop that maybe this has happened for our good, at least in the long run. Obviously that people have lost jobs, etc, is not good, but if this crisis leads to people rethinking their love of money (the root of all sorts of evil), then we may actually see people start to grapple with deeper theological and moral questions. There was a time when Christians (and conservatives in general) emphasized thrift, prudence, and living a moderate life within one’s means. I think sometimes it is too easy to get caught up in materialism.

October 30, 3:47 pm | [comment link]
9. Brian of Maryland wrote:

I’m shocked, shocked I say.  There’s sin going on around here!

October 30, 4:11 pm | [comment link]
10. Philip Snyder wrote:

One of the problems with Christian finances is that they do tend to emphasize prudence, non-debt, sacrificial giving and thrift.  These are not just Christian virtues, but they are common sense ones.  However, when you practice these financial virtues, you tend to accumulate wealth.  History shows that, in general, the accumulation of wealth leads one to less dependence on God.  This, in turn, tends to lead one to turn his or her back on the virtues that God requireds.  This leads to not following those virtues and that leads back to poverty.

It is said that the problem with the Quakers is that they went to California to do good and ended doing well instead.

Phil Snyder

October 30, 5:14 pm | [comment link]
11. NewTrollObserver wrote:

“I fear, wherever riches have increased, the essence of religion has decreased in the same proportion. Therefore, I do not see how it is possible, in the nature of things, for any revival of religion to continue long. For religion must necessarily produce both industry and frugality, and these cannot but produce riches. But as riches increase, so will pride, anger, and love of the world in all its branches.”

—- John Wesley (1703-1791).

October 30, 6:14 pm | [comment link]
12. Harvey wrote:

Then we have those in the TEC hierarcy who scream for more and more $ as less and less people are remaining within the church.  And when I see Bishops close to home saying “..we need 20% pledges - NOW.

October 31, 2:30 pm | [comment link]
13. John Wilkins wrote:

There is a paradox:  Christian attitudes toward wealth create the kind of culture that undermine Christian culture.  It is precisely the culture of thrift, frugality that produce wealth.  Wealth, alas, seems to undermine religiosity.

October 31, 3:39 pm | [comment link]
14. farstrider+ wrote:

I suppose it depends on how sacrificially one gives. When my wife and I were on the mission field we (together with many other individuals and organizations) were privileged to have the support of an older business man who, in my eyes, is a living saint. While his annual income is in the seven digit range he gives nearly all of it away. He and his wife live quite frugally, but their love for the Lord is super-abounding.

October 31, 6:15 pm | [comment link]
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