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The Christian Faith and the Financial Crisis
Part One: The Christian Faith (9)

TWO TIER CHRISTIANITY - MONASTIC AND EVANGELICAL

Monastic Christianity could be described as a two tier Christianity. There are the ordinary Christians like myself for whom Christianity is a hopefully positive accompaniment to our everyday worldly lives. And there are those who have found the Kingdom of God, the pearl of great price, the treasure in the field, the lost coin and are able to do what Jesus tells them to do - to renounce everything to live it fully. They can join the monasteries or religious orders and devote themselves to communion with God in prayer and repentance or - more so in the Western Roman tradition than in Eastern traditions - a life of disinterested service of one sort or another.

The evangelical Christian tradition to which Griffiths belongs (or belonged. I'm not sure if he has remained attached to it) also teaches a sort of two tier Christianity. There are the people who, like myself, call themselves Christians but aren't really, and there are those who have had a personal experience resulting in the certain knowledge that they have been saved through the sacrifice offered by Christ on the cross. 'New people with new motives', to quote Griffiths (Creation of Wealth, p.62). In some cases they too will renounce everything, take up the cross and follow Christ in, for example, the missionary field, but their options are limited. Short of becoming a missionary or a preacher (which in some branches of evangelical Christianity can become a very remunerative profession (12)), what are the options?

(12) I stress not those of Martyn Lloyd Jones or John Stott who both lived modestly.

Here is a suggestion from John Wesley, in his famous 'Sermon on the right use of money', quoted by Margaret Thatcher in the course of a theological foray she conducted in response to criticisms from religious leaders in 1988, the period of her closest association with Griffiths: (13)

(13) See e.g. 'Thatcher pounds the pulpit for her revolution', Christian Science Monitor, 27/05/1988, available on the web at http://www.csmonitor.com/1988/0527/omora.html/(page)/2

'it is the bounden duty of all who are engaged in worldly business to observe that first and great rule of Christian wisdom with respect to money, "Gain all you can." Gain all you can by honest industry. Use all possible diligence in your calling. Lose no time. If you understand yourself and your relation to God and man, you know you have none to spare. If you understand your particular calling as you ought, you will have no time that hangs upon your hands. Every business will afford some employment sufficient for every day and every hour. That wherein you are placed, if you follow it in earnest, will leave you no leisure for silly, unprofitable diversions. You have always something better to do, something that will profit you, more or less. And "whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might."(13) Do it as soon as possible: No delay! No putting off from day to day, or from hour to hour! Never leave anything till to-morrow, which you can do to-day. And do it as well as possible. Do not sleep or yawn over it: Put your whole strength to the work. Spare no pains. Let nothing be done by halves, or in a slight and careless manner. Let nothing in your business be left undone if it can be done by labour or patience.' (15)

(14) The quote is from Ecclesiastes, 9.10 referring incidentally to the condition of a man faced with the inevitability - and finality - of death.

(15) Obtained from http://new.gbgm-umc.org/umhistory/wesley/sermons/50/

That is how I think we can understand the famous 'Weber thesis' - the argument of Max Weber's book The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism that the fact that the explosion of industrial capitalism followed the Reformation was not accidental. In suppressing the religious orders, Protestantism released a huge store of human seriousness, dedication and energy which could now be put to the service of things of the world. So the Protestant countries - most especially the Anglo Saxon Protestant countries - became the centre, the power house, of the world economy.

I will finish here with an extract from the Book of Revelation which I think gives some idea of how God, as Author of the Book of Revelation, looks upon the power house of the world economy:

'1 After this I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority; and the earth was made bright with his splendor. 2 And he called out with a mighty voice, "Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! It has become a dwelling place of demons, a haunt of every foul spirit, a haunt of every foul and hateful bird; 3 for all nations have drunk the wine of her impure passion, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth have grown rich with the wealth of her wantonness." 4 Then I heard another voice from heaven saying, "Come out of her, my people, lest you take part in her sins, lest you share in her plagues; 5 for her sins are heaped high as heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities. 6 Render to her as she herself has rendered, and repay her double for her deeds; mix a double draught for her in the cup she mixed. 7 As she glorified herself and played the wanton, so give her a like measure of torment and mourning. Since in her heart she says, 'A queen I sit, I am no widow, mourning I shall never see,' 8 so shall her plagues come in a single day, pestilence and mourning and famine, and she shall be burned with fire; for mighty is the Lord God who judges her." 9 And the kings of the earth, who committed fornication and were wanton with her, will weep and wail over her when they see the smoke of her burning; 10 they will stand far off, in fear of her torment, and say, "Alas! alas! thou great city, thou mighty city, Babylon! In one hour has thy judgment come." 11 And the merchants of the earth weep and mourn for her, since no one buys their cargo any more, 12 cargo of gold, silver, jewels and pearls, fine linen, purple, silk and scarlet, all kinds of scented wood, all articles of ivory, all articles of costly wood, bronze, iron and marble, 13 cinnamon, spice, incense, myrrh, frankincense, wine, oil, fine flour and wheat, cattle and sheep, horses and chariots, and slaves, that is, human souls. 14 "The fruit for which thy soul longed has gone from thee, and all thy dainties and thy splendor are lost to thee, never to be found again!" 15 The merchants of these wares, who gained wealth from her, will stand far off, in fear of her torment, weeping and mourning aloud, 16 "Alas, alas, for the great city that was clothed in fine linen, in purple and scarlet, bedecked with gold, with jewels, and with pearls! 17 In one hour all this wealth has been laid waste." And all shipmasters and seafaring men, sailors and all whose trade is on the sea, stood far off 18 and cried out as they saw the smoke of her burning, "What city was like the great city?" 19 And they threw dust on their heads, as they wept and mourned, crying out, "Alas, alas, for the great city where all who had ships at sea grew rich by her wealth! In one hour she has been laid waste. 20 Rejoice over her, O heaven, O saints and apostles and prophets, for God has given judgment for you against her!" 21 Then a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying, "So shall Babylon the great city be thrown down with violence, and shall be found no more; 22 and the sound of harpers and minstrels, of flute players and trumpeters, shall be heard in thee no more; and a craftsman of any craft shall be found in thee no more; and the sound of the millstone shall be heard in thee no more; 23 and the light of a lamp shall shine in thee no more; and the voice of bridegroom and bride shall be heard in thee no more; for thy merchants were the great men of the earth, and all nations were deceived by thy sorcery. 24 And in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints, and of all who have been slain on earth."' (Revelation, ch. 18)

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