n Koers : Bulletin for Christian Scholarship = Koers : Bulletin vir Christelike Wetenskap - Goals, ways and the roots of our economic crisis : other contributions

Volume 79, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0023-270X



This article deals with the question if and how far religious points of view and messages of churches involved matter in the analysis of the roots of the present global economic crisis, and even more in the discussion about how to overcome the crisis itself. Economic experts such as Stiglitz point to the presence of factors such as greed, fear and utmost selfish behaviour. It inevitably leads to the ethical, but in fact also the religious question of how far people, especially economic agents, can go in the pursuit of their own economic interests without doing harm to others. Jesus asked his disciples to follow him: with Bonhoeffer, we could call that a Way-orientation. Where and how far can a conflict therefore arise between human goal-orientations, on the one hand, and a biblical Way-orientation, on the other hand? And is it indeed relevant when considering our present economic crisis? This article defends the last position, describing some categories (such as the choice of ultimate meaning, the sacro-sanctity of chosen instruments, and the demonisation of opponents) which indicate that the borderline has been passed between responsible and irresponsible goal-orientations. The glorification of greed and the delegation of ultimate power to financial markets indicate that at this moment elements of idolatry (or the obedience to Mammon) are at hand. They are also aggravating the present economic crisis. This implies that returning to the choice for decisive normative Way-orientations in economic life is possibly the only true way out of the present economic crisis.

Hierdie artikel vra of, en tot watter mate, religieuse standpunte, insluitend die standpunte van die kerke wat betrokke is, saak maak in die analise van die wortels van die huidige globale ekonomiese krisis, en selfs meer in die bespreking van hoe om die krisis self te oorkom. Ekonomiese kundiges, soos Stiglitz, wys op die teenwoordigheid van faktore soos hebsug, vrees en uiterste selfsugtige gedrag. Dit lei onvermydelik tot die etiese (en eintlik ook religieuse) vraag van hoe ver persone, veral ekonomiese agente, kan gaan in die najaag van hulle eie ekonomiese belange sonder om ander skade te berokken. Jesus het sy dissipels gevra om hom te volg: saam met Bonhoeffer kan ons dit 'n Weg-oriëntasie noem. Waar en hoe ver kan 'n konflik tussen menslike doel-oriëntasies aan die een kant, en 'n Bybelse weg-oriëntasie aan die ander kant ontstaan? En is dit inderdaad relevant wanneer ons ons huidige ekonomiese krisis bekyk? Hierdie artikel verdedig laasgenoemde posisie en beskryf van die kategorieë (soos die keuse van finale betekenis, die onaantasbaarheid van gekose instrumente en die demonisering van opponente) wat aantoon dat die grenslyn tussen verantwoordelike en onverantwoordelike doel-oriëntasies oorgesteek word. Die verheerliking van hebsug en die delegeer van finale mag na finansiële markte dui daarop dat elemente van idolatrie (of gehoorsaamheid aan Mammon) inderdaad tans teenwoordig is en die huidige ekonomiese krisis vererger. Dit impliseer dat die terugkeer na 'n keuse vir bepalende normatiewe Weg-oriëntasies in die ekonomiese lewe moontlik die enigste ware Weg uit vir die huidige ekonomiese krisis is.

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