“In any society, only two forces can hold the sinful nature in check: the restraint of conscience or the restraint of the sword. The less that citizens have of the former, the more the state must employ the latter.”
Chuck Colson and Nancy Pearcey wrote those words in How Now Shall We Live.
Robert Winthrop (1852) put it this way: "Men, in a word, must necessarily be controlled either by a power within them, or by a power without them; either by the Word of God, or by the strong arm of man, either by the Bible, or by the bayonet."
In early America, the idea of “self-government under God” summarized the very meaning of liberty.
But today, the American concept of liberty boasts “self-government" while the "under God” part is gone.
As we move increasingly away from recognition of Higher Law, and away from the idea of accountability to a Higher Judge, the less real liberty we have.
Applying this to our economy, the more people participating in our economic system who lack internal control under God, the more need we have for external control under man. Thus the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010.
But what will steer the law-givers? What Higher Law will guide their minds and hands? [This is the bigger mess we're now in, and a topic for another day.]
While more external controls are necessary, no amount of legislation can solve the root problem of our economy. That's because the root problem of our economy is not economic. It's spiritual.
To bring ethical behavior into the marketplace, it must be carried into it by individuals who are "controlled by a power within.” Flatly put: we need bankers, lawyers, investment managers and loan officers who bring their love for Christ and voluntary submission to His Word to work with them every day.
This cannot be legislated.
Ken Eldred sums it up in his excellent book, God Is At Work:
“Transformation of culture really starts with the individual…Cultural change is not something that can be imposed at the macro level from the top...Person by person, hearts and minds must be transformed...In short, it is the Holy Spirit working a cultural transformation from the pattern of this world to the pattern of God. The process starts with...a personal relationship with God.”