Big Bankers Say They're Doing God's Work ... Are They Right? → Washingtons Blog
Big Bankers Say They're Doing God's Work ... Are They Right? - Washingtons Blog

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Big Bankers Say They're Doing God's Work ... Are They Right?

Preface: If you are a Christian or Jew, the importance of the Bible is probably obvious. If you are not, please consider passing this essay on to people of those faiths who you know.

If you are an atheist and believe that religion is crazy, please remember that some 85% of the American population identifies itself as Christian and millions more identify themselves as Jewish, and that most people make decisions and process information based on their beliefs and emotions.

The head of Goldman Sachs literally said he's doing "God's work" with his banking activities.

The head of Barclays also recently told his congregation that banking as practiced by his company was not antithetical to Christian principles.

And Enron's CEO previously said "We are the good guys - we are on the side of angels."

Are they right? Is big banking as practiced by the giant banks in harmony with Christian principles?

Do Justice

Initially, the Bible does not counsel us to ignore the breaking of laws by the the powerful.

In fact, the Bible mentions justice over 200 times -- more than just about any other topic. The Bible asks us to do justice and to stand up to ANYONE -- including the rich or powerful -- who do injustice or oppress the people.

There have been widespread, credible allegations that Goldman Sachs and other giant banks have broken the law (see this, for example).

Indeed, one of the first things God asks of us is to do justice:
He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8)
While many churches and synagogues have become obsessed with other issues, many have arguably ignored this most important of God's demands of us. As pointed out by a leading Christian ministry, which rescues underage girls trapped as sex slaves in third world countries:
In Scripture there is a constant call to seek justice. Jesus got upset at the Pharisees because they neglected the weightier matters of the law, which He defined as justice and the love of God . . . Isaiah 58 complains about the fact that while the people of God are praying and praying and praying, they are not doing anything about the injustice.
Should Christians just pray for justice and leave the rest to God?

That's not what the Bible asks us to do. Instead, Hebrews 11:33 tells us that we are God's hands for dispensing justice, and God uses us to "administer justice."

We have to "walk our talk" and put our prayers into action.

God demands that we do everything in our power to act as "God's hands" in bringing justice. And as Saint Augustine reminds us, "Charity is no substitute for justice withheld."

Please reflect on the following Scripture:
The Lord looked and was displeased that there was no justice. He saw that there was no one, He was appalled that there was no one to intervene. (Isaiah 59:15-16)
This is the only place in the Bible where the word "appalled" is used for the way God feels -- in other words, the only thing which we know God is appalled by is if people are not doing justice.

There are hundreds of other references to justice in the Bible, including:
  • Blessed are they who maintain justice . . . . (Psalm 106:3)
  • This is what the LORD says: Maintain justice and do what is right . . . . (Isiah 56:1)
  • This is what the LORD says: Do what is just and right. (Jeremiah 22:3,13-17)
  • Follow justice and justice alone. (Deuteronomy 16:19, 20)
  • For the LORD is righteous, he loves justice . . . . (Job 11:5,7)
  • Learn to do right! Seek justice . . . . (Isaiah 1:17)
So if the powerful players in the giant banks broke the laws, they must be held to account.

Manipulating Money

Moreover, there have been credible allegations that Goldman Sachs and other giant banks manipulate the currency and other markets.

As Ron Paul notes, the Bible forbids altering the quality of money (which, at the time and place, was entirely in the form of coins):
Even the Bible is clear that altering the quality of money is an immoral act. We are instructed to follow the rules of "just weights and measures." "You shall do no injustice in judgment, in measurement of length, weight, or volume. You shall have just balances, just weights, a just ephah, and a just hin" (Leviticus 19:35-36). "Diverse weights are an abomination to the LORD, and a false balance is not good" (Proverbs 20:23). The general principle can be summed as "You shall not steal."
Proverbs 11:1 also provides:
Dishonest scales are an abomination to the LORD, but a just weight is His delight.
So to the extent that the giant banks have engaged in any dishonest acts or the manipulation of currencies, they are violating scripture.

Of course, any bankers who charge usurious interest rates should remember the little story about Jesus turning over the money changers' tables.

Oppression of the Poor

Finally, the Bible condemns oppression of the poor for the benefit of the affluent:
He that oppresses the poor to increase his riches, and he that gives to the rich, shall surely come to want. (Proverbs 22:16)
To the extent that the giant banks have oppressed the poor to increase their riches, they are violating scripture.


  1. Makes being an Atheist look pretty damn good from where I sit. So 85% identify themselves as Christians and yet they support theivery , illegal wars, illegal elections, torture and lots more stuff that Christ would not approve of, They want to denie health care to those who can't afford, they agree with the right wing on destroying most of the safety net and they support corporations that are more crooked than a dog's hind leg. I'll take my none belief and run with it. I started out a long time ago as a Catholic , I'm thankfull I lost that believe 50 years ago.

  2. Too bad democrats changed usury.

    American Usury

    One of the fundamental issues that party managers wished to avoid was the scandal of American usury. Usury is the ancient sin of charging inflated interest rates sure to ruin the borrowers. It is considered immoral by Judaism, Christianity and Islam because usury involves the powerful using their wealth to ensnare weak and defenseless borrowers. The classic usurer offers an impossible choice that debtors cannot easily refuse. If they reject the terms of the loan, they will not be able to pay the rent or buy necessities. If they accept the usurious interest rates, their debts will accumulate until they are bankrupted (at which point the creditors claim their property). No civilized society can endure in such conditions.

    Usury used to be illegal in the United States but it was "decriminalized" in 1980--the dawn of financial deregulation. A Democratic president and Congress repealed all interest-rate controls and the federal law prohibiting usury. Thirty years later, American society is permeated with usurious practices--credit cards charging 30 percent and higher, subprime mortgages and other forms of predatory lending, the notorious "payday" loans that charge desperate working people an effective interest rate of 500 percent or more. Businesses, especially smaller firms, are also prey to usury in less direct ways.

    Needing credit to survive, they submit to the creditor's demands and are often weakened as a result, shedding workers and services that shrink customers and income.

    Oh and

  3. Amen brother, amen!

  4. Of course, any bankers who charge usurious interest rates should remember the little story about Jesus turning over the money changers' tables.

    Which cost the man his life. Bankers always win.

  5. LOL'ing at 'The Grey Tiger' - "Makes being an Athiest pretty damn good from where I sit."

    It would be pretty nice if we could ignore laws and standards based on the evil and negligence of those who claim to uphold those laws/standards. I'll just stop paying taxes, stop obeying traffic laws and pretty much every other law ever invented.

    Based on your reasoning for being comfortable with leaving the belief in God based on what some other human does, we can just pretty much ignore most moral and ethical codes in the world.

    Faith lost because of another man is a Faith lost that was never based on God.

    Way to go with missing the point of the entire article by the way.

  6. Great commentary, George :)

    This really points to the ironic hypocrisy of our political and economic "leaders." Without justice, there will be no peace. Without peace there will be no future.

  7. They are so used to calling Satan God that they now refer to their immoral raping of society as God's work.

    Please help them to see the error of their ways before some terrible tragedy befalls them.

    Ultimate Janitor

  8. What Would Jesus Do? Any follower of God/Creative Principle would:

    Take the Power to Create Credit Away from the Giant Banks and Give It Back to the People

    They sure as hell wouldn't do this:
    Wall Street's Naked Swindle

    or this:
    One Reason that the Stock Market is Rising While Unemployment is Soaring

    There's no evidence inside or outside the Bible (that i'm aware of) that the Year of Jubilee was ever observed. It's high time- these corporate criminals haven't earned their wealth, and what they're doing is impoverishing people around the world and poisoning the planet. That Blankfein claims they're creating jobs is a joke- but it's telling that they feel compelled to publicly defend their record now- and even more telling they do it by lying and dissembling.

  9. I say we send these greedy bastards to God and He can tell them what a fine job they're doing.

  10. I believe the GS executive is doing HIS god's work. Sadly it is his god's worshipers that had Christ crucified.

  11. bankers walk on water and then i will believe you untill then up against the wall scumbags

  12. Remember the Bible does instruct in Peter that there a lot of false prophets, or was that profits ?? Anyway whoever these bankers are, well their time will come :)

  13. good one dude prophets or profits lol you are great

  14. Tend to agree with what I think is the gist of your post, that justice is important. Justice is a Cardinal Virtue which basically instructs us to give others what they are due. Could be money owed, also is the dignity and respect due to every human. As such, taking advantage of the poor or weak is injustice, and is evil. In our society today, money is the chief leverage we have over others.

    Unfortunately, as money is concentrated into our government, it is the State that is gaining that modern day power. And, it's impossible to reason with the State when it comes to morality and justice. Power and wealth in the State becomes an impersonal, dehumanizing influence.

  15. According to the Bible Jesus said "and they will come speaking in my name saying lo he is here or lo he is there.. but pay them no heed for they be wolves in sheep's clothing for no man knoweth the hr of my coming."
    Every time I hear some one say I am doing God's work and you can look at the fruit of that tree and clearly see that it is not... I think of this statement.
    To me Goldman Sach folks are like those wolves in sheep's clothing.
    Smoke and mirrors,disguises and doublespeak are their tools.
    They now own or fund a portion of most large business in the world if not all and it has truly become a fact when they say if they fail all other Bz fails and economic chaos will exist in the world.
    So by extortion they continue.
    They are like "The Godfather" or the Mafia that says I would hate to see harm come to you or your family just because you do not support us or pay insurance to keep you and yours safe.
    I do not know what God they are talking about, but I know this... their God is not the same as mine.

  16. When big bankers say they are doing God's work,what they really mean, is that want even to make God unemployed, by stealing His job to.


→ Thank you for contributing to the conversation by commenting. We try to read all of the comments (but don't always have the time).

→ If you write a long comment, please use paragraph breaks. Otherwise, no one will read it. Many people still won't read it, so shorter is usually better (but it's your choice).

→ The following types of comments will be deleted if we happen to see them:

-- Comments that criticize any class of people as a whole, especially when based on an attribute they don't have control over

-- Comments that explicitly call for violence

→ Because we do not read all of the comments, I am not responsible for any unlawful or distasteful comments.