The Gospel and Student Loan Forgiveness
The federal government recently decided to cancel a portion of college student loans for qualified borrowers. Although this policy must be analyzed from an economic and political point of view, Christians would be wise to consider it from a biblical point of view. Should Christians support this policy because of the gospel, as some have suggested? Is student loan forgiveness an accurate application of biblical grace, forgiveness, and justice?
More important than having good federal politics is having the right gospel. The scriptures are not ambiguous about the only good news that leads to salvation. The gospel is clear: mankind owes the unpayable debt of sin (Romans 3:23; 6:23); Jesus paid the unpayable debt by his sacrificial death on the cross (2 Cor 5:21; 1 Peter 3:18); and Jesus purchased the gift of eternal life by his resurrection for all who repent and believe in him for salvation (Rom 1:16-17; 10:9-10; 1Co 15:3-4). When trying to live the gospel, the details are especially important. God forgives the debt of sin by Himself paying the cost of the debt, which is the life of His Son, Jesus. The gospel is not forgetting the debt, but just paying the debt. Salvation does not abdicate God’s justice, but rather faithfully executes God’s justice upon our Substitute. So, the grace of salvation is that we receive an undeserved gift (forgiveness) because the creditor (God) has justly paid the wages of sin on the cross (the atoning sacrifice of Christ).
When we understand the gospel well, we can more clearly see the disparity between the gospel and the federal student loan forgiveness policy. For student loan forgiveness to be a faithful replica of the gospel, the creditor (the government) should pay the entire debt. Biblical forgiveness and grace can only be granted by the one who lends the debt. However, the reality of student loan forgiveness is that another must pay the debt – current and future generations of taxpayers.
While it is true that Jesus taught that it is better to lend without expectation of repayment (Luke 6:35), he is not calling us to lend someone else’s money and then change the terms of the loan. ‘loan agreement. Forcing a debt on a nonpartisan third party is biblical injustice (Lev. 19:15, “Thou shalt not be partial to the poor nor deferring to the great.” Biblical justice would be the lender paying the debtor’s debt, not the Lender Forcing Debt on Another The scriptures do not teach the enforcement of payment by a non-compliant third party, but rather that lenders and debtors deal fairly with each other.
Christians always seek justice because the gospel of salvation is the greatest demonstration of justice. But drawing false equivalences between federal policies and the gospel not only makes bad policies, but – infinitely worse – distorts the gospel. Regardless of our position on federal politics, we must always understand and properly articulate the gospel.