The Bible, they tell us, contains 2,350 verses “that have to do with money and possessions.” If we attend to the lessons of these verses and learn how properly to husband the resources God has given us, we will be doing his work, for “God desires a life for us that is free of debt , and the entrapments and common pitfalls related to financial difficulties” (Cross). “The way out of debt,” Dayton teaches, “is not a declaration of bankruptcy, but surrender to the word of God.”
But in another popular Christian discourse, there is no way out of debt, and bankruptcy is the condition we are in from the moment of birth. This is a Calvinist discourse in which the language of money is allegorized. The debt we owe is owed to the God who made us in his image, an image defiled and corrupted by Adam and Eve, whose heirs in sin we all are. We may think that this unhappy inheritance could be overlain and covered by a succession of good deeds, but every deed we perform is infected by the base motives from which we cannot move one inch away. Every piece of currency we offer in payment of debt only increases it. The situation seems hopeless.
But it’s not, we are told, if we embrace bankruptcy rather than try (vainly) to extricate ourselves from it. The acknowledgment of bankruptcy and of the impossibility of working our way free of it is the beginning of wisdom.
This economy, in which funds depleted are endlessly replenished, is underwritten by a power so great and beneficent that it turns failures into treasures. Some economists identify that power as the market and ask us to have faith in it. God might be a better candidate. (source)
For good measure he quotes the wonderful poet-priest George Herbert:
HAVING been tenant long to a rich Lord,
Not thriving, I resolved to be bold,
And make a suit unto him, to afford
A new small-rented lease, and cancell th’ old.
In heaven at his manour I him sought :
They told me there, that he was lately gone
About some land, which he had dearly bought
Long since on earth, to take possession.
I straight return’d, and knowing his great birth,
Sought him accordingly in great resorts ;
In cities, theatres, gardens, parks, and courts :
At length I heard a ragged noise and mirth
Of theeves and murderers : there I him espied,
Who straight, Your suit is granted, said, and died.
Does that poem not make your spine tingle?