Crystal Cathedral, the California megachurch founded by televangelist Robert Schuller has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The church, which is affiliated with the Reformed Church in America filed bankruptcy with $55 million in debt and has laid off 140 employees, canceled its TV broadcasts in certain markets along with its Easter pageant in an effort to scale back costs. But the Crystal Cathedral isn’t the only church to face down debt by seeking the protection of bankruptcy. Small and large churches alike are filing bankruptcy in record numbers as donations decline due to the recession. But what many faithful members of these churches in bankruptcy may not realize is that the decision to file bankruptcy and to forgive debts is biblically based.
Below are two biblical citations that deal specifically with the forgiveness of debt:
“Every seven years we will let our fields rest, and we will cancel all debts.”
“At the end of every seven years you shall grant a release of debts. And this is the form of the release: Every creditor who has lent anything to his neighbor shall release it; he shall not require it of his neighbor or his brother, because it is called the Lord’s release.”
Most religious scholars understand the importance of debt forgiveness. And it is bankruptcy as created by our forefathers that allows debt forgiveness to exist in our secular society. So not only is bankruptcy not immoral it is the moral duty of each of us to allow others who are encumbered by debt to take advantage of bankruptcy so that they too can have their debts forgiven.