Summary: A changed heart doesn’t guarantee that you will change the world.

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If you’re like me you’ve been keeping up with the federal government’s attempt to bailout failing housing and financial markets this week. I found an article from Reuters in which the blame for this economic slump has been traced to a decline in Christian influence in our nation.

DALLAS (Reuters) - Conservative U.S. Christians say the culture has gone to hell and it has taken the economy and Wall Street down with it. It is a view which outsiders may find puzzling but has wide resonance in the U.S. heartland: the notion that moral decay and a lost sense of responsibility has brought on the worst banking and credit crisis since the Great Depression.

Such a view helps explain the unpopularity in conservative Christian circles … of a $700 billion bailout plan which the U.S. House of Representatives rejected on Monday, rocking financial markets. Mounting consumer and household debt as housing prices fall is one of the main reasons behind the current crisis -- a crisis that religious conservatives say has moral roots.

The narrative goes roughly like this: the "collapse" of the traditional family, widespread divorce and a "permissive" culture have led to a disregard for personal responsibility. A culture focused on instant gratification -- through the overuse of credit cards to buy consumer goods, for example -- has also lost other "traditional values" such as thrift and hard work.

"You can’t have a strong, vibrant society when you don’t have strong, vibrant families. It’s a crisis of commitment, it’s a crisis of responsibility," said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, a conservative lobby group with strong evangelical ties. "If you don’t live up to your responsibility you are going to see that in the broader culture. You see this on Wall Street," he told Reuters.

It is a view that has been echoed by other conservative commentators, on Christian radio stations and on popular "Talk Radio" programs. "To spend more than you’ve got is not the way we brought up our kids ... You have a whole credit industry that grew up around people wanting what their parents had without working 20 years to get it," said Gary Ledbetter, spokesman for the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.

"Although debt is not a sin, it also is not a normal way of life, according to Scripture ... debt is a dangerous tool that must be used, if at all, with extreme caution and much prayer," says the conservative evangelical advocacy group "Focus on the Family" on its web site.

“Evangelicals see moral decline in Wall St. woes” by Ed Stoddard,, 10/1/2008

I wholeheartedly agree with the Christians who were interviewed for the article. Biblical values, if accepted by a society, would lead to a prospering economy. There is one glaring insight missing from the story. Why do Christians have so little impact in our country today? It seems as if we’ve lost our ability to influence. It’s as if our light is hidden under a bushel. We’re the salt of the earth, but it appears that the salt has lost its flavor and is instead trampled underfoot. Jesus calls His people to impact the culture where they’re placed, yet we certainly seem impotent to make even the slightest change in our current situation.

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