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Historic evangelicalism has unblinkingly taught robust doctrines of sin and sanctification. It has pronounced each human being born since the Fall of Adam and Eve to be corrupt at heart, bent away from God's will and toward foolish self-interest. Evangelical theology has maintained that, unless God's grace intervenes, each individual person and each group of human beings will subvert and pervert the good order of God's world. And evangelicalism has then gone on—in the face of this dark portrait of original sin—to rejoice that God does intervene. God forgives people's sins, regenerates their hearts, and remakes them. As they cooperate in this difficult work of sanctification, God progressively transforms each one into the image of Christ and joins each to the other in a community of holiness and love.The Institute for the Study of American Evangelicals (ISAE) has recently completed a major investigation of the history of American evangelical use and abuse of money. These studies—ranging over more than 200 years of church life and conducted by more than two dozen scholars in Canada and the United States—warn us that we are not taking sin seriously enough in financial matters.Our personal and professional financial habits are, in a word, liberal, and in the most superficial sense of the word: we apparently think we're basically OK, and our organizations are basically OK, and our work is basically OK, so we don't need to guard against evil in any important way.Look at what happened with the New Era scandal, a Ponzi scheme that bilked millions of dollars out of evangelical institutions. Few of the organizations involved in this fiasco exercised what lawyers and executives call "due diligence" in making sure that the scheme was ...

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June 12, 2000

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