Tuesday, June 23, 2009


In the Minnesota Independent, Andy Birkey writes about Bullseye Collection Agency in Monticello. Bullseye sends out "collections notices with a WWJD header," and "According to court documents, 'Bullseye admits that "WWJD" is a "business motto" that should be interpreted as a reference to Jesus Christ."

Interestingly enough, there may be an answer to the question of what Jesus would do regarding debt collection; however, I don't think it is an answer Bullseye Collection Agency wants to hear.

In The Politics of Jesus, John Howard Yoder expertly argues that Jesus' ministry was political, and that Jesus spoke directly to economic issues. Jesus used the language of Jubilee, and that elements of the Jubilee "are not marginal but central in the teaching of Jesus. They are even at the center of his theology" (61). A major prescription of the Jubilee, one central to Jesus' teachings, is the forgiveness of financial debt. Some shenanigany policies and practices had made giant debts a problem, and Jesus was speaking to that. According to Yoder,

"The Lord's Prayer, which summarizes the thought of Jesus concerning prayer, includes the following request: ' remit us our debts as we ourselves have also remitted them to our debtors' [...] Jesus [...] tells us purely and simply to erase the debts of those who owe us money, that is to say, practice the jubilee" (62).

According to Yoder, Jesus advocated remitting financial debt as a key part of his new kingdom. I'm tempted to consider a debt collection agency using "WWJD?" as a business motto either ironic ignorance or offensive appropriation. However, I'm more than used to seeing Jesus' name attached to practices that I'm skeptical Jesus would endorse.

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