"... greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right, greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms; greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge has marked the upward surge of mankind. And greed, you mark my words, will not only save Teldar Paper, but that other malfunctioning corporation called the USA."This weekend I finally saw the movie Wall Street. I've been wanting to see this film because I knew that it is both critically acclaimed and culturally important. [For Christian men reading this blog who are trying to avoid "lust of the eyes," I must point out that in the unedited version of this movie there is one scene of nudity about twenty minutes in and another sex scene later in the film- thankfully, I was forewarned about these scenes and by God's grace I was able to flip the channel to miss them, which I would encourage others to do as well if you choose to watch it.] The cultural importance of this movie comes, in large part, due to the philosophical outlook of the character Gordon Gekko, which is best summarized in the quote above. Though he is supposed to be the villain- the Mephistopheles character- of the film, Gekko has been an inspiration to many a businessman in the 20+ years following Wall Street's release. Both Michael Douglas, who won an Academy Award for "Best Actor" for playing Gordon Gekko, and Wall Street's screenwriter, Stanley Weiser, have said that they've been approached by numerous people who have told them they became stockbrokers because they wanted to be like Gordon Gekko. The motto, "Greed is good," along with a Gekko-like disregard for business ethics, has certainly helped to lead to our present financial crisis.
But "greed," which the Bible defines as "the love of money," is not something that has only impacted business-class elites: it has infected the thought processes of common folks in the pews of our churches as well. For while most church-goers probably don't spend much time dreaming of Porsches, piles of cash, and penthouses on Park Avenue, we do tend to long for the comfort, convenience, and confidence that comes from having a nice, normal lifestyle with a good bit of money saved up for a rainy day. In short, we tend to desire 'the good things in life'- and this desire, if not constantly placed in submission to the gospel, will threaten our commitment to impact the world for Jesus Christ. If we are not very careful, our small-scale greed will keep us from giving sacrificially and going as we have opportunity in order that those who have not heard of Jesus may learn of Him and trust in Him.
In a recent chapel service at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Dr. Russell Moore gave the following statement on greed within "modern evangelical Christianity," specifically focused on the threat that greed poses to churches of the Southern Baptist Convention:
"Modern evangelical Christianity is a mass conspiracy to sell each other stuff... and we are shocked and surprised when the people that we have been discipling according to their appetites are not able to overcome their appetites with the gospel. It's because we've given them a gospel of the appetites since they were two years old... It will not be hyper-Calvinism that destroys the Southern Baptist Convention: it will be hyper-capitalism that destroys the Southern Baptist Convention. When we in our churches and in our families and in our homes have a craving to be normal, have a craving to be economically viable, have a craving to be seen and to be respected and just to be 'regular,' we are walking in a way of Esau that will destroy you."In light of the thoughts above, I would like to offer the following adaptation of Gordon Gekko's [in]famous speech:
"Greed ('love of money' is the biblical word) is bad. Greed is wrong. In the long term, greed never works (Luke 12:16-21). Greed obscures proper priorities, cuts through relationships, and is consistent with a worldview based on Darwinistic evolution rather than biblical Christianity. Greed, in all of its forms; greed for life (1 John 2:16), for money (Matthew 6:24), for love (2 Samuel 13), knowledge (Genesis 2:16-17; 3) has marked the downfall of mankind. And only the Spirit of God, changing our greedy hearts and granting the love of Christ, will save us as individuals and as a nation."
Labels: Christian worldview