Christianity and Renewal
The Christian tradition inherited the scriptural traditions in Deuteronomy and Leviticus. The tradition has split over its view of economic success, distress, and spirituality. Despite this division both traditions encourage forgiveness, community support of those in need, acceptance of the stranger, and the concept of renewal through faith.
Each of these principles supports economic renewal for those who are honestly in need of a new beginning.
A Focus Beyond Worldly Economic Success
On one side of the discussion we find support for the principle that God acts in the world through grace and that the worry over economic success is misplaced. Certain verses from Matthew may be viewed as examples of this approach.
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Despite an encouragement to look beyond financial success as a measure of spiritual health, this ethos encourages those who lend to view the extension of credit in a broader perspective.
19 Μὴ θησαυρίζετε ὑμῖν θησαυροὺς ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς, ὅπου σὴς καὶ βρῶσις ἀφανίζει, καὶ ὅπου κλέπται διορύσσουσιν καὶ κλέπτουσιν· 20 θησαυρίζετε δὲ ὑμῖν θησαυροὺς ἐν οὐρανῷ, ὅπου οὔτε σὴς οὔτε βρῶσις ἀφανίζει, καὶ ὅπου κλέπται οὐ διορύσσουσιν οὐδὲ κλέπτουσιν· 21 ὅπου γάρ ἐστιν ὁ θησαυρός [r]σου, ἐκεῖ ἔσται καὶ ἡ καρδία [s]σου.
A portion of Matthew 9 in Greek.
Calvinist and Prosperity Theology
On the other hand, certain traditions within Protestant theology view the pursuit of economic success as not only acceptable but as a religious calling or duty. This perspective is generally attached to Calvinist and Puritan theologies, which view hard work and frugal lifestyles as spiritual acts in themselves. John Wesley encouraged financial success. However, to avoid wealth becoming an obstacle to faith, Wesley exhorted his audiences to "earn all they can, save all they can and give away all they can." Included among those who view wealth as an outcome of faith are modern-day Christians who propound prosperity theology, indicating that God grants economic success and abundance to those who will believe in him and follow his laws.
Calvinist traditions might be more responsible for the current bankruptcy code than other Christian theological approaches. To encourage economic success and to allow for prosperity, society, one might argue, must have an avenue for those who need to start over to begin again. Bankruptcy, properly used by those truly in need, allows a Christian to undertake a new path through faith towards success.