Wall Street, Repent!

By Jim Wallis 04-29-2010

We are all familiar with the famous pop culture image of a street evangelist holding up a sign reading, "Repent, for the end is near!" But repentance is actually a fundamental religious theme, and one that's often misunderstood. This week, one could imagine a group of pastors, priests, rabbis, and imams holding up a sign on Wall Street for the titans of the financial industry to see, reading, "Repent, or the end could be near again."

The biblical meaning of repentance is to turn around, and start a new path. In a religious framework, it means realizing you have made a moral mistake, and deciding to change your behavior. It's not enough to feel guilty or sorry for something; genuine repentance requires a change in decisions and actions, by moving in a different direction. Merely admitting you were wrong is not enough. You have to change.

In the past few months, I've had serious conversations with financial leaders about ethics, morality, and even faith. Some come like Nicodemus

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