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‘Bailout’ vs. prosperity
R. Albert Mohler Jr.
Posted on Oct 3, 2008LOUISVILLE, Ky.
(BP)–Now that the economic “bailout” plan has been passed by Congress, expect all parties involved to claim credit if it appears to work and deny blame if the crisis worsens. Though the primary problem is a crisis in the credit markets and the financial sector, the entire economy feels the crunch. The crisis now may lie in the awareness of uncertainty — and no one likes uncertainty when it comes to matters economic.
The public is also bracing for more bad news. Just today (Oct. 3), the state of California announced that it might need a $7 billion bailout. The state’s credit rating is not the problem, but the state has been unable to get the short-term money it needs, given the constriction of credit. Who is next?

There are a host of issues to be considered here. Many Americans are just waking up to the basic facts of economics. Most, sad to say, remain oblivious. Some among the more curious are discovering how much borrowing and lending goes on in the course of business — and among their neighbors.

Niall Ferguson, one of the world’s most influential historians, puts much of this into perspective in an essay published in the current issue of TIME magazine. In “The End of Prosperity?” Ferguson argues that another Great Depression — a “Depression 2.0″ — is avoidable. Nevertheless, a period of far less material prosperity is almost surely at hand.

He explains: “The U.S. — not to mention Western Europe — is in the grip of a downward spiral that financial experts call deleveraging. Having accumulated debts beyond what’s sustainable, households and financial institutions are being forced to reduce them. The pressure to do so results from a decline in the price of the assets they bought with the money they borrowed. It’s a vicious feedback loop. When families and banks tip into bankruptcy, more assets get dumped on the market, driving prices down further and necessitating more deleveraging. This process now has so much momentum that even $700 billion in taxpayers’ money may not suffice to stop it.”

The unavoidable reduction of debt is traumatic at every level. Excessive and unsustainable valuations led to bad decisions and the illusion of free money. It never lasts. The “deleveraging” we are now witnessing will take some time to run its course. And that course is still unpredictable.

The most interesting part of Ferguson’s analysis has to do with the causes and course of the Great Depression as compared to the present crisis. His historical precision and honesty are helpful — even as his analysis is bracing.

One of the most interesting paragraphs in Ferguson’s essay has to do with the credit crisis at the household level. Consider this: “In the case of households, debt rose from about 50% of GDP in 1980 to a peak of 100% in 2006. In other words, households now owe as much as the entire U.S. economy can produce in a year. Much of the increase in debt was used to invest in real estate. The result was a bubble; at its peak, average U.S. house prices were rising at 20% a year. Then — as bubbles always do — it burst. The S&P Case-Shiller index of house prices in 20 cities has been falling since February 2007. And the decline is accelerating. In June prices were down 16% compared with a year earlier. In some cities — like Phoenix and Miami — they have fallen by as much as a third from their peaks. The U.S. real estate market hasn’t faced anything like this since the Depression. And the pain is not over. Credit Suisse predicts that 13% of U.S. homeowners with mortgages could end up losing their homes.”

We can only wonder how many Americans realize that total household borrowing now amounts to the productivity of the entire U.S. economy for a year. That is a staggering reality. Such borrowing levels are economically unsustainable. At the level of the individual household, this downturn can be catastrophic.

The Christian tradition has been very suspicious of credit and borrowing. Usury laws and a bias against borrowing and lending dissuaded most Christians from borrowing except in a dire emergency. Until fairly recently, the widespread use of consumer credit was unimaginable among Christians. Evidence that this is no longer the case can be found the popularity of so many Christian financial advisers who have been calling for believers to get out of debt.

In another article — fascinating on its own — TIME’s David van Biema looks at the influence of prosperity theology in the current credit crisis. His article, “Did God Want You to Get That Mortgage?” starts with a punch: “Has the so-called Prosperity Gospel turned its followers into some of the most willing participants — and hence, victims — of the current financial crisis? That’s what a scholar of the fast-growing brand of Pentecostal Christianity believes. While researching a book on black televangelism, says Jonathan Walton, a religion professor at the University of California Riverside, he realized that Prosperity’s central promise — that God would “make a way” for poor people to enjoy the better things in life — had developed an additional, toxic expression during sub-prime boom. Walton says that this encouraged congregants who got dicey mortgages to believe “God caused the bank to ignore my credit score and blessed me with my first house.” The results, he says, “were disastrous, because they pretty much turned parishioners into prey for greedy brokers.”

Lee Grady, editor of Charisma magazine, explained it this way: “It definitely goes on, that a preacher might say, ‘if you give this offering, God will give you a house.’ And if they did get the house, people did think that it was an answer to prayer, when in fact it was really bad banking policy.”

It is easy to see how prosperity theology could lead to these unwarranted assumptions. Prosperity theology is a lie, and a false Gospel. We are not promised economic or financial prosperity in the Gospel. We are promised what money cannot buy and poverty cannot take away.

It is also easy for non-charismatic critics of prosperity theology to look down on those who were so susceptible to its false promises. Many devotees of prosperity theology are desperate in ways the more privileged cannot understand, and they are prey to both lenders and preachers promising prosperity.

I must wonder how many other Christians — far removed theologically from Charismatic prosperity theology — might have bought into a very different prosperity theology. Have we all been seduced by the idea that prosperity is a given? Do we now think that prosperity is our right? Do we associate prosperity with the blessings we receive in the Gospel?

Perhaps we all need a refresher course in Christian economics and Christian theology. Niall Ferguson argues from the record of history in looking to the current crisis. Perhaps we should remember our own history lesson — that far more believers in Christ have been and are now among the poor, rather than among the wealthy. We should hear Jesus warn against materialism and Paul remind us that we are to be content when we have plenty and when we have little. We should know that the Christian virtue of thrift is incompatible with the lies of those who push consumer credit.

We are not promised prosperity. When we do enjoy prosperity, we should be thankful stewards — not peddlers of our own prosperity theology.
–30–
R. Albert Mohler Jr. is president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky. This column first appeared on his blog at www.AlbertMohler.com

http://www.sbcbaptistpress.org/BPFirstPerson.asp?ID=29071

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Televangelists Partly To Blame For Economic Woes
December 6, 2008 by C. KingHisglory

September 24, 2008
Andrew Strom: The Depression Has Begun
From: Revival School

The DEPRESSION HAS BEGUN

Ten months ago in November 2007 while preaching in Wisconsin USA, I felt a strong unction from the Holy Spirit to speak about the future of the United States and the imminent Crash. As often happens under that kind of anointing, a real boldness came over me, and for the first time I found myself clearly putting a “date” on the coming financial Depression – something I had never done before – except in the vaguest of terms. I found myself predicting that tragically within six months America would be in Recession, and within 12 months the actual Depression would begin.
(-This audio is on our website – http://www.revivalschool.com )

So let us look at the evidence. It is now ten months later. Has the Depression begun? Sadly the answer has to be “Yes”. In the last
two weeks the two largest mortgage giants in the world (Fannie
Mae & Freddie Mac) failed, the largest Insurance Company on earth
crashed (all taken over by the US Government), Lehman Brothers
went bankrupt (almost taking the entire financial system with it),
Money Markets reeled, the two remaining giant Investment banks
sought protection as “holding banks” – which means the end of
Wall Street as we know it, etc, etc. Stocks are in turmoil, Oil leapt
on Monday by the most ever recorded, gold is volatile – and on it
goes. -The most shattering two weeks since the Great Depression.
Meanwhile the US Treasury is seeking 700 billion dollars in a
forlorn effort to put Humpty back together again – tragically too late.

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Scamming the Lamb’s Fam: Hireling Mike Murdock Gets Paid $100,000 For Twisting the Gospel on the Inspiration Network  See video here

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THERE ARE “JONAHS” on THE BOAT

Why is this storm hitting America at this time? There are certainly
many reasons – most of which we have discussed before. But let
me put something else before you that I believe God spoke to me
not long ago:- There are “Jonahs” on the boat – and they are
sending the nation down.

Who are these Jonahs? I believe they are the “prophets” of America
who will not preach the truth – who sleep comfortably in the bowels
of the nation while chaos reigns all around them. Too afraid to
deliver God’s word ‘Repent’, they run the other way – toward smooth
talk and pleasant sayings – “Peace peace” when there is no peace.
And the depths of this great crisis can be laid directly at their door.

Yes – that’s right. A big reason why the ship of America is sinking
is because her prophets ran away from their God-given task and
message at the crucial moment.

If only these prophets had preached the TRUTH when the nation
so desperately needed to hear it. If only they had begun – way
back in the 1980’s – to call the lukewarm church to repentance,
to rebuke the people for their love of money, their greed, their sin.
But no – the siren call of “popularity” was too strong. The call of
“grace, grace”, of mass acceptance, of big reputations and even
bigger offerings. And so they sold out. And now they sleep bliss-
fully in the midst of the ship, while the storm whips to fury all
around. How do you sleep, O Jonahs, who would not cry “Repent”?

And it is not just the “prophets” either. It is the televangelists too.
Caught up in a world of fakery, hype and money-grubbing unseen
in the church since the Dark Ages, these hucksters are spreading
their garbage to every Third World Revival nation around the globe.
Greed, manipulation and pride on a scale that only America could
generate. Where is your shame, O charlatans of greed?

And so God is forced to act. And just like Jonah, the storm will
not abate until the wayward preachers are thrown overboard. Until
America is rid of these international thieves and prostitutes, she
is finished. And she will not recover until they are gone.

You see, it is not just the leaders who are at fault here. It is also
the people, who “love to have it so”. And thus until the heart of the
people is scourged and purged they will accomodate the “Jonahs” -
even seeking more of their ear-tickling fables to comfort themselves
in this time of breaking.

Until the heart of American greed is shattereduntil her people
act of their own volition to throw these Jonahs overboard – this
storm will go on and on.
In fact, it is about to grow a whole lot worse.

Mark my words, America: Until you remove these Jonahs, your
nation cannot recover. They have held the whole world in thrall by
their apostasy. And God cannot have it so any more. How long will
it take you to realize? How long will it take you to act?

THROW THE JONAHS OVERBOARD and be done with them!!
Only then will this mother of all storms subside.

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Are some Christians practicing Witches Unaware? Prosperity Gospel to blame for economic woes?  LIVE RADIO JAN 6 10pm on BlogTalkRadio.com/How2BecomeAChristian

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God bless you all,

Andrew Strom.

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http://hermansmith.wordpress.com/2008/12/06/televangelists-partly-to-blame-for-economic-woes/

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