Angela Tilby on our Indebtedness

Being in debt is an ancient Christian metaphor for the human condition. The early Christians believed that we are lured into moral debt by the false promises of the devil who exploits our appetite for security, pleasure and power. So we all end up enslaved in one way or another. Christ’s death on the cross exposes the devil’s immorality and our willing collusion with it. So the cross becomes the way our moral debt is cancelled and we are freed to be human.

It is an irony that the failure of a particular group of hard up Americans to pay their debts has made markets plummet all over the world. The banks don’t trust each other. There are wild rumours. There is also great suffering. Poor men and women who were persuaded to take on these deals have lost everything. And so have many others who had much more to lose. Those who can still afford to invest are having to face the truth that without fairness in the system we can have no confidence that profits will be secure. We have to sacrifice greed if we really want dividends, because only fairness leads to the restoration of trust.

It is reflection on this that leads Christians to claim that it requires Christ’s sacrifice on the cross to put things right between us and God.

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