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The Word on the Week

Bank Robbers

In the good old days bank robbers were easily identifiable. They wore a mask and carried a gun. The nature of their business was evident. They wanted the money – as much of it as they could lay their hands on.

Modern bank robbers have one thing in common with their forerunners, they too want the money – lots of it, but there the comparison ends.

Our much loved Quinn family had the “Midas” touch for years. Growing out of humble quarry work and specialising in buying businesses which were inefficient, his empire grew across Europe.

Reckoning he knew a thing or two about banking he decided to buy the bank that had been so good at financing his schemes. Borrowing heavily from the Bank to buy its own shares seemed a good ploy until the global downturn came and the Bank itself was discovered to be toxic.

Damage limitation is now the order of the day for the Quinn family as they try to hold onto some assets by putting them beyond the reach of the receiver. Unfortunately this did not please those wanting their money back and prison has become a reality for at least one member of the family.

Across the water in the UK bank robbing is more sophisticated. Known as “Casino Banking” the robbers are running the bank! The Financial Times correspondent wrote, “The trading in the complex financial instruments central to the crash is now seen for what it is, a socially useless and financially dangerous way for small groups of people to make themselves absurdly rich”. Barclays Chief’s declared income was in the region of £100 million over the past five years indicating that he had found a way to beat the recession! Brought before Members of Parliament on the Treasury Select Committee, he was asked if he knew the three founding principles of the Quakers who set up Barclays. ‘I can’t, sir’, spluttered the embarrassed Bob Diamond. ‘Honesty, integrity and plain dealing’, the MP retorted.

The Bible would agree with these principles which were taken from a book written in 1678 by the Scottish Quaker Robert Barclay. The full title was An Apology for the True Christian Divinity, and it had a formative influence on the development of business ethics in the global economy.

Barclay got his inspiration from the 10 Commandments for the first two virtues. “You shall not steal” requires honesty and “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour” prohibits telling lies. Jesus dealt with “plain dealing” when speaking about the perceived need to put people under a greater constraint by oaths. His followers were not to engage in oath-taking but to “Let what you say be simply “Yes” or “No” anything more comes from the evil one”.

What Jesus is emphasising is that we are not in neutral territory. “The whole world lies in the power of the evil one” writes St John in his 1st letter chapter 5 verse 19. We need to know the Word of God and we need to know the God of the Word. Only then can we get equipped to resist the temptations of modern day living.

In Ephesians Chapter 6 verses 10/17 St Paul spells it out. Take his advice.