A little cud for you to chew in this election year:
One thing that always interests me is how often a faulty model of anthropology (human nature) shirt circuits men who are otherwise highly intelligent. I’ve commented before that Alan Greenspan, former chairman of the Federal Reserve, must be one of the smartest men alive, at least I hoped so because his decisions impacted my life so much. Below, Greenspan acknowledges a mistake in a recent article published at MSNBC.com:
“Greenspan, 82, acknowledged under questioning that he had made a “mistake” in believing that banks, operating in their own self-interest, would do what was necessary to protect their shareholders and institutions. Greenspan called that “a flaw in the model … that defines how the world works.”
I think that the basic flaw in Greenspan’s thinking was in underestimating the human capacity for selfishness. In the case of the recent banking and lending crisis, that selfishness drove banks to take excessive risks in pursuit of profit. The possibility of failure was outweighed by the prospect of getting rich. A Biblical anthropology (Romans 3 for example) would have instructed Greenspan that this kind of behavior was indeed a risk. Risk is always in play for humans that are neither sovereign or omniscient. Compound this with a corrupt nature and you get people who take unreasonable risk. People who take unreasonable rsik ultimately get nailed.
And boy are we all getting nailed. Checked the Nikkei lately?
Now I can’t just take poor Alan behind the woodshed. Their is no kind of restraint that can keep men in check. Who’s going to restrain them? More men? Really, this is the fundamental dilemma of human government. It is put in place by God to restrain evil (Romans 13:4), and yet it is composed of sinful men. This is the real reason why debates between government regulation and deregulation are so bitterly argued. It is further the same issue at play when we compare pure capitalism and socialism; the free market vs. a market totally controlled by the government. Likewise with views on the purpose of prisons, welfare, law enforcement, you name it.
How does this apply? The human spirit dictates that it wants to be free, but sin drives us to pursue our own freedom at the expense of others (1 Tim 3:1-3). Ultimately, the sinful human heart wants to be God (Isaiah 14:14). Government seeks to allow basic freedoms, yet finds it necessary to increasingly restrict those freedoms as sinful humans seek to fully express that idolatry of their hearts (2 Pet 3:3).
I constantly hear a wrong view of man at the heart of debates over social issues. In my opinion it is the sole reason that neither side ever seems close to resolving any of the questions. Of course, the problem is that when we work with the correct premise, that man is fallen and ultimately acts selfishly, nobody wants to accept the only realistic conclusion: regeneration and theocracy.
In other words, the people need a new heart and they need God as their King (Jeremiah 37).
We will have to wait for the Second Coming to see this. Until then Christians can function as salt and light to help humanity hold this tenuous balance between order and chaos. Biblical anthropology is a key to understanding how to live in a world that survives by ignoring their contradictions of its reasons. A Biblical view of the future keeps one from despair.
Now, if I could just get a copy of the Bible in front of Bernanke…