What I Told Them in Jackson Hole
Recently I spoke in Jackson Hole, Wyoming at the annual Christian Economic Forum sponsored by Crown Financial Ministries. Crown was founded by Larry Burkett who, along with my friend, Ron Blue, launched the modern movement among evangelical Christians which focuses on Biblical principles of personal finance. Ron and Larry taught a new generation of Christians the Biblical admonitions toward productive labor, spending control, thrift and generosity.
These same virtues launched capitalism amidst the Calvinists of 16th Century Holland, and provided the character backbone of the rise of England during the Victorian era. Ron Blue is still going strong and has just launched the Ronald Blue Institute at Indiana Wesleyan University, but we’ll leave the RBI for another column. Though Burkett has passed away, his legacy is being carried on by my friend Chuck Bentley. One of Chuck’s best ideas is an annual Christian Economic Forum at Jackson Hole.
The CEF gathers Christian entrepreneurs, economists and other leaders every year shortly before the annual Jackson Hole meeting held by the U.S. Federal Reserve. The CEF is consciously counter-programming to the Fed meeting, and to the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. It is a Christian alternative to these gatherings of the national and the global elite of the financial ruling class. My remarks at the event covered three main topics. First, I talked about “Davos Man,” the quintessential member of the economic planning elite. Second, I talked about the Christian entrepreneur as the David to Davos’ Goliath, and the loneliness of that calling and the need to reinforce that role. Third, I narrate a new data set we’ve compiled which represents in animated graphic form the economic rise of the West. The entire speech can be heard here (link here). The section about the Christian entrepreneur will be covered in a future column. The section on Davos Man is transcribed (with edits for clarity) below.
“I was a talk show host for ten years…95% of the callers talk like fools, but I’ll wade through the 95% if there’s a good chance [to find] the people who are actually trying to make decisions to be wise, and to solve problems, not to raise themselves up, not Davos Man — that’s what we’re counterprogramming against, right? [The World Economic Forum in] Davos. That’s not my phrase; Davos Man is something in the financial press, some of the columnists in the Financial Times refer to Davos Man. What is Davos Man? Well, there’s Cro-Magnon man; there’s Neanderthal man; there’s Homo sapiens, that’s you and that’s me — that’s ‘wise man’; and then there’s Davos Man, the next stage in human evolution.
“Davos Man (it’s almost always man except for a few token women) has gone to a highly prestigious university, is extremely influential, and is extremely powerful. They do not think of themselves as part of the human race; they are above the human race. C.S. Lewis writes about them in The Abolition of Man, that wonderful essay, or…his novel That Hideous Strength. National identity is really no longer a factor for them. They’re almost like virgin births: They’ve come out of something but now they’ve left it behind, no matter what their humble circumstances. They now will save the world… If only you will obey them. If you will give them power, if you will leave religion, and the traditional moral code, and nationhood, and family, and neighborhood, and entrepreneurship behind and embrace the future, the Eurozone future of a constitution that’s [tens of thousands of] words long and cannot find one sentence to acknowledge the influence of Christianity in the formation of Europe. The post-moral, post-religious, post-national, post-modern man will save you.
“Davos Man is a theanthropos, he is a god-man, he is the new man of human evolution. Embrace him — obey him– and you will be secure. And the world will be stable. And the markets will settle down. And you won’t have to be afraid about food, about what you shall eat or what you shall drink or what you shall wear. You won’t have to worry about those things anymore; there’s a welfare state for those things and you can just be the cog in the great machine of humanity, which has no reference to anything outside of itself, and you’ll finally have peace, [have] shalom under Davos Man. Of course, it’s all bunk. The new man is Christ. He is the theanthropos, the God-man; He is the next stage in human evolution, not in the sense that He evolves through randomness, but in the sense that He is the advancement on Adam. Adam’s the first man; he failed, he is of the earth, earthy. Christ is the heavenly man, the God-man. He succeeded. He is of the heavens, He is heavenly. He is the new man, and so everybody incorporated into Him is the new man. By man – ‘anthropos’ in Greek [I mean] ‘human’ — not ‘Andros’, not masculine. So there’s neither Jew nor Greek, Chinese nor Western, white nor black, male nor female in the new man, who is Christ. So who’s the real new man? It’s the Christian.
“The Christian has no illusions that we’re going to save the world through economic power. We know that the world doesn’t need us to save it, because it’s already been saved. All we have to do is act like it’s already been saved — we don’t have to save it. If you try to save it, you’ll destroy it. All we have to do is walk as though it’s already been saved.
“Why am I here, why did I come? I came here because Davos Man is failing as he has never failed before in my lifetime. The more power they have, the more decisions they make, the more Basel I’s or Basel II’s or new financial architectures, the more meetings they have in Jackson Hole, the more meetings they have in Davos, Switzerland, the more meetings they have of G-20s and G-10s, the more rules they impose, [then] the more chaotic financial markets become. If somebody tries to rule the world in place of God in the name of stability, they do not produce stability. They produce chaos. We are living in the age of financial chaos because we gave in to the men who said, “Treat me like a god and I will give you stability.” So it’s a great moment in history. It’s a great time to be alive. I can’t think of any time in history – I’m at the end of something and I’m at the beginning of something. You and I stand at a hinge point in history. A friend of mine just started a university devoted to the study of the writings of St. Augustine, who was the theologian who was there at the fall of the Roman Empire. He said, “Jerry, we’ve already started the university but what do you think of the idea?” I said, “Great timing! Rome fell; a new civilization started; you’re at just the right point in time.”
“Europe is going and it’s going fast. Christendom that has become apostate is falling faster than any civilization in history and we get to see that. And then, we see the Gospel moving East. Now we see the revitalization of civilization from the East. Paul had a vision from the spirit: “Come West! Go to Macedonia,” and he followed and it was fruitful, and [then] they disobeyed and now they’re falling. Now the spirit says: “Okay, come East!” Why was the West such a great place for the Gospel to take hold? Not because it was great but because it was so terrible. It was broken. Why did it go through the Greek world? Why did the Gospel go through the Greek world? Because they had been destroyed, obliterated by the Romans. They were a culture in decline. Northern Europe, my former people, were the lowest of the low in global civilization – so why did the Gospel go through there? Not because God said ‘I want to choose the genetically best people in the world’. He went to loser land. He went to Western civilization, and we believed and became a predominant civilization.
“Now there’s crisis in the East; the West surpassed the East (I’ll show you some data about that in a moment) and became proud, arrogant, and said, “We have the power to get wealth. We have the greatest economy in the world. We can do whatever we want,” and now we fall. Those around the rest of the world who don’t have abundance are saying, “If they don’t want it, maybe we do. If they don’t want the fruits of Christendom, and if they don’t want the fruits of freedom, maybe we do want those fruits.” At this moment in history, when Davos Man is failing so miserably that now it’s almost impossible for even their most ardent cult-members [to say], “Basel will save us! The planners will save us! The Keynesian elites will save us!” How devout can you be before eventually you say, “Okay, that’s not going to work”?”
Article originally published on Forbes.com.