A Greek Evangelical View of the Greek Economic Crisis

I’m glad to provide a guest post by Dr. Myrto Theocharous (M.A. Wheaton College. Ph.D Cambridge Uni ), Professor of Hebrew and Old Testament at the Greek Bible College in Athens. She provides some reflections from Habakkuk on the Greek economic crisis from the vantage point of a Greek evangelical.

A Greek Evangelical View of the Greek Economic Crisis

The Greek debt crisis, while tragic, affords the opportunity to face hitherto hidden dilemmas for evangelicals. Parallel to the prophet Habakkuk’s view, the problem is both national and global. On the one hand there is the national ethical degradation. Greece is a nation which has learned to operate in its daily dealings through unlawful means, a situation which was often purposefully left unnoticed by government officials and the country’s leadership as this allowed them to pursue their own corrupt schemes undisturbed. These schemes included feeding off EU grants and loans, but also taxation from those who were not in a position to hide their incomes (usually those at the bottom), while at the same time enjoying political asylum. This cycle of corruption had become the established way of survival in the country and it was very difficult for anyone to do business without participating in one measure or another in this game. Businesses that refused to “bribe” their way in were easily marginalized and lost in bureaucracy.

On the other hand, as Habakkuk also observed in his time, the oppression comes from outside. Greece is one of the few countries that faced occupation for centuries. Upon escaping from Ottoman rule, the Greeks were faced not only with World Wars, but also civil wars, dictatorships and multiple Turkish threats (all in the last century) with each of these leaving irrecoverable wounds and a deep suspicion of government. The euro did bring some development for the country’s infrastructure… but much got lost in other pockets—yet no one at that level is ever punished.

In the crisis that we face today, although all have sinned, some have sinned to become wealthy and some have sinned to survive. Lots of Greeks see that not everyone is paying to make things right, thus perpetuating an unjust system where the elite always manage to escape with their funds unscathed. It is the lower strata of society that have to carry the burden for the sins of the powerful: their salaries are slashed, thousands have lost their jobs, cannot pay for their rent, stores are closing down one after the other – all sheep to the slaughter for saving the banks.

How does the evangelical religious minority react to this? On the one hand, the traditional approach continues: the church remains focused on spiritual issues and individual guilt, while passively submitting to the government (appealing to Romans 13) and trusting the EU’s “roadmap” on how to get out of the financial mess. Some tend to emphasize the church’s “heavenly” citizenship and the imminent coming of Christ, which render political involvement futile. Evangelistic efforts and charity continue, both of which focus on saving individuals from the clutches of what seems to be an irredeemable society. Without discounting the traditional approach, some are beginning to place greater focus on systemic evil, assessing what should be the level of their political involvement and what direction it should take. For some the evil lies in the productivity-killing corrupted socialist system of Greece, while for others it is to be found in the poverty-generating greed inherent in global capitalism.

Theological and political issues are thus discussed with an acute sense of urgency, as previous perspectives are now being put to the test in life-altering ways; there is no doubt that all of us will emerge from this changed. While there is currently no unified viewpoint or course of action among Greek evangelicals, the crisis is demanding a reevaluation of the church’s role in the political sphere, something we must all pursue in open and deep scriptural reflection in order for the church to be relevant to our troubled world. As the world learns from the Greek debt crisis, let us hope the lessons learned by Greek evangelicals will be heard and heeded by believers in countries whose turn for crisis has not yet come; for as Habakkuk assures us, it certainly will.

Myrto Theocharous
Professor of Hebrew and Old Testament
Greek Bible College,
Athens – Greece

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1402036903 Grayson Wolfe

    This commentary sidesteps the obligation of the church to act a a clarion voice calling out in the wilderness; to speak the truth and speak it boldly. The church has always acted as a conscience for the larger society and the church will have to accept this role with boldness in this age. The church (both in Greece and the rest of the world) should start seeking out documented evidence of corruption and using the weekly platform to call out to the guilty to confess and repent. Call out and name the individuals that create a system of corruption, participate in corruption and oppress the people. Until the Church is prepared to stand on its principles, and begin the clear declaration of public evil, it is complicit, corrupt and weak.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1402036903 Grayson Wolfe

    This commentary sidesteps the obligation of the church to act as a clarion voice calling out in the wilderness; to speak the truth and speak it boldly. The church has always acted as a conscience for the larger society and the church will have to accept this role with boldness in this age. The church (both in Greece and the rest of the world) should start seeking out documented evidence of corruption and using the weekly worship platform to call out to the guilty to confess and repent. Call out and name the individuals that create a system of corruption, participate in corruption and oppress the people. Until the Church is prepared to stand on its principles and begin the clear declaration of public evil, it is complicit, corrupt and weak.

  • Angelo

    http://www.versolanuovacreazione,it Stefania Caterina
    A dutiful introduction
    Dearest Readers,
    The messages Jesus is dictating to me these days and that will be published in the next months, definitely trace the path towards the events awaiting us. Therefore, I felt I had the duty to write this introduction, to help you enter more deeply in the subject you will be reading.
    Up to today I shared with you the revelations I received from God. In my first book, Beyond the Great Barrier that ends with the 15th chapter entitled “The new Creation”, I amply presented to you the central message of the revelations received, that is: recapitulate in Christ all things in heaven and on earth. I tried to lead you to the events that have to do with the Earth and the universe. These days, Jesus told me that in the next months He wants to prepare us to face those events awaiting us in the immediate future.
    How to face such events? I believe that in these years, through the many explanations I received and I communicated to you, we obtained the grace of understanding the interior walk which prepares us to enter the mind of Christ and to understand the mystery of God and of life, to elevate and transform us to the point of becoming new creatures. I spoke to you about this spiritual walk in particular in the book Writing History Anew – Vol. 1 In the mind of God. Furthermore, you have been accompanied by the messages published every month on this site; these messages continue and they introduce us, more and more, to a serious phase of preparation and decision making.
    I cannot comment on these messages. Jesus Himself and His Holy Spirit will explain them to you in your heart. An answer is expected from you to understand the words that you will read. Finally, it is up to each one of us to commit ourselves, for the Earth and for the whole universe, so that the promises of God may be realized.
    http://www.versolanuovacreazione.it

    • Charles Twombly

      Angelo, I have not received a revelation validating your role as a prophet. That fact probably says something about either you or me or both. Prophets of old sometimes stood alone (Elijah and Jeremiah being two examples), but in this day and age a self-proclaimed prophet needs to be validated by the Spirit witnessing to the community of the faithful who can then affirm or reject. Plenty of imposters around; plenty of self-deluded souls who (quite innocently?) mistake their own inner voices for the Spirt of God. From the standpoint of orthodox Christianity, Joseph Smith was one or the other of these; so were Muhammed and Emmanuel Swedenborg. “Test the spirits…….”

  • Angelo

    http://www.versolanuovacreazione,it Stefania Caterina
    A dutiful introduction
    Dearest Readers,
    The messages Jesus is dictating to me these days and that will be published in the next months, definitely trace the path towards the events awaiting us. Therefore, I felt I had the duty to write this introduction, to help you enter more deeply in the subject you will be reading.
    Up to today I shared with you the revelations I received from God. In my first book, Beyond the Great Barrier that ends with the 15th chapter entitled “The new Creation”, I amply presented to you the central message of the revelations received, that is: recapitulate in Christ all things in heaven and on earth. I tried to lead you to the events that have to do with the Earth and the universe. These days, Jesus told me that in the next months He wants to prepare us to face those events awaiting us in the immediate future.
    How to face such events? I believe that in these years, through the many explanations I received and I communicated to you, we obtained the grace of understanding the interior walk which prepares us to enter the mind of Christ and to understand the mystery of God and of life, to elevate and transform us to the point of becoming new creatures. I spoke to you about this spiritual walk in particular in the book Writing History Anew – Vol. 1 In the mind of God. Furthermore, you have been accompanied by the messages published every month on this site; these messages continue and they introduce us, more and more, to a serious phase of preparation and decision making.
    I cannot comment on these messages. Jesus Himself and His Holy Spirit will explain them to you in your heart. An answer is expected from you to understand the words that you will read. Finally, it is up to each one of us to commit ourselves, for the Earth and for the whole universe, so that the promises of God may be realized.
    http://www.versolanuovacreazione.it

  • http://www.facebook.com/richardalanengland Richard England

    Dear Doctor Myrto,
    Thank you for your post. It offers a lot to think about, as I suspect many evangelical churches in other countries would respond similarly when faced with such a challenge.
    May I wish you and your fellow believers God’s richest blessings as you seek not only a national solution but a sense of God’s prophetic word for the moment.
    Rev Richard England, UK

  • http://www.facebook.com/richardalanengland Richard England

    Dear Doctor Myrto,
    Thank you for your post. It offers a lot to think about, as I suspect many evangelical churches in other countries would respond similarly when faced with such a challenge.
    May I wish you and your fellow believers God’s richest blessings as you seek not only a national solution but a sense of God’s prophetic word for the moment.
    Rev Richard England, UK

  • Aris Deljohn

    Thank you Dr. Theoharous for your well described situation.
    We need some solutions though, even though I know U R neither an economist nor a politician. (But theology is the queen of all sciences.) For many years our Christian Orthodox brothers have made fun of the “Protestant ethic” of hard work and keeping the 10 commandments. Our relatives in Greece have to change their attitude towards 1. themselves, 2. their fellow citizens and 3. to the authorities, (as well the authorities towards the citizens.) The bottom line for all these is respect (love). We read in 1 John 3:11-12.
    ΙΩΑΝΝΟΥ Α΄ 3:11-12 11 Ὅτι αὕτη ἐστὶν ἡ ἀγγελία ἣν ἠκούσατε ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς, ἵνα ἀγαπῶμεν ἀλλήλους· 12 οὐ καθὼς Κάϊν ἐκ τοῦ πονηροῦ ἦν καὶ ἔσφαξεν τὸν ἀδελφὸν αὐτοῦ· καὶ χάριν τίνος ἔσφαξεν αὐτόν; ὅτι τὰ ἔργα αὐτοῦ πονηρὰ ἦν, τὰ δὲ τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ αὐτοῦ δίκαια.
    Because if you love some one you will not steal from him/her, and you will always seek his well-being.
    This today lacks in the Greek society.
    Aris Deljohn
    Boston, MA

  • Aris Deljohn

    Thank you Dr. Theoharous for your well described situation.
    We need some solutions though, even though I know U R neither an economist nor a politician. (But theology is the queen of all sciences.) For many years our Christian Orthodox brothers have made fun of the “Protestant ethic” of hard work and keeping the 10 commandments. Our relatives in Greece have to change their attitude towards 1. themselves, 2. their fellow citizens and 3. to the authorities, (as well the authorities towards the citizens.) The bottom line for all these is respect (love). We read in 1 John 3:11-12.
    ΙΩΑΝΝΟΥ Α΄ 3:11-12 11 Ὅτι αὕτη ἐστὶν ἡ ἀγγελία ἣν ἠκούσατε ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς, ἵνα ἀγαπῶμεν ἀλλήλους· 12 οὐ καθὼς Κάϊν ἐκ τοῦ πονηροῦ ἦν καὶ ἔσφαξεν τὸν ἀδελφὸν αὐτοῦ· καὶ χάριν τίνος ἔσφαξεν αὐτόν; ὅτι τὰ ἔργα αὐτοῦ πονηρὰ ἦν, τὰ δὲ τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ αὐτοῦ δίκαια.
    Because if you love some one you will not steal from him/her, and you will always seek his well-being.
    This today lacks in the Greek society.
    Aris Deljohn
    Boston, MA

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