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Faith and finance

Last month I suggested that the world of finance is shot through with faith. The very banknotes in our pocket or purse rely upon our faith in the Chief Cashier to ‘pay the bearer on demand…’ So what we mean by ‘faith’ matters when we go to the bank, just as it does in our personal life. Moreover, if we embrace a perverse understanding of faith, we risk shipwreck, whether as individuals or in our public life together.

Philip Sampson

Traditional banking emerged in a culture thickened by the biblical understanding that authentic faith and authenticating evidence are bedfellows. A 120% mortgage would have appeared reckless and irresponsible. But, in recent decades, the public understanding of faith has changed. A mystical ‘Dawkinsian’ view, which opposes faith to evidence, has gained ground and this understanding has come to dominate in public life. This perverse understanding of belief as irrational seals faith and evidence into separate boxes and has serious consequences for public life. Ironically, a doctrine which claimed to enlighten us actually makes us more vulnerable to delusion rather than less. Once our faith that all will be well is divorced from the evidence before our eyes, the 120% mortgage can become a selling point. Both bank and borrower lost the habit of relating faith to facts. If we refused to face facts like this in our friendships, we would rightly be called gullible. Banking became gullible and infatuated.