The lesson from this is that human beings are, to steal a phrase, “totally depraved”. This does not mean that human beings are incapable of good: that’s obviously not true. What it means is that our sinfulness is capable of touching all aspects of our humanness. As an economist, I think that is particularly relevant when people insist on associating the marketplace with greed, allegedly quoting Adam Smith, but more likely channeling some
In fact, as Doug has argued in several places, the morality of an economic or political system is directly tied to the morality of the people in it. Immoral people can and do taint the market, the government, the voluntary association, the family, and the church.
Jesus called for us to repent. That is our daily charge as Christians, but it is an impossible task if we are left to our own devices. No one, no Christian, no congregation, no denomination is exempt. After all, long before Gov. Blago the pre-reformation Catholic church suffered from “simony,” the sale of church offices. In the 1970s, the Methodist Church-sponsored “Pacific Homes” group of retirement homes was ensnarled in legal problems that have been described as running a Ponzi scheme. In the 1990s, several people were convicted in the bankruptcy of the Baptist Foundation of Arizona. And, just in the past couple of years, a high ranking employee of the Presbyterian Church USA was accused of a massive embezzlement scheme. I John says:
“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
It is the forgiveness that comes from Jesus Christ and the transformation of the Holy Spirit that are our hope. I recently heard a hymn performed by
Coming up soon: how are we all, in our own way, little Blagos and Ponzis?