Comments 6

  1. Thanks John. This was perhaps the most beautifully articulated description of shalom in the business world that I’ve ever read. You sum up my chosen profession well.

    While I appreciate that this is a largely positive “the way it should be” piece, I know you would admit (and implied here) that business is rife with reductionism and abuse. Very very few business folks, even Christians, adhere to the principles you describe.

    Perhaps you can write a more critical follow-up to this investigating the he many sins of the business community and how we as a community can do things differently, especially as we educate our children.

    For example, you discuss the importance of ownership of assets. However, it seems most business folks take this good as a challenge to play a real life game of monopoly. I would argue that since ownership is a good thing, it should be spread as wide as possible. Most others think that since ownership is a good thing, it should be hoarded by the few.

    How can you help us respond to the very ugly realities the 21st century business world? How can you as an expert and educator help shape our collective communal imagination so that our economic life looks more like your vision of shalom?

    1. Thanks, Laremy. Yes, the business world is strongly influenced by the values of the culture in which it is immersed, including individualism, the need to “beat” the competition, the desire to accumulate, lack of concern for neighbor, etc. It may be that I will need to tackle some of these in a future in all things post, but if/when I do so, I will be inclined to balance this off with the personal stories of business people whose remarkable dedication to value creation, relationship building, serving and sharing are indelibly etched in my mind. I guess some of this goes back to having Ephesians 4:29 as a favorite verse! 🙂

  2. What distinguishes a Christian business from being different than ethical business? What makes businesses that operate on Christian principles different than businesses that have morals or scruples? I don’t necessarily see how they are distinctly different — much less how one is even Reformed.

    1. Thanks, Jonathan. Your question is a good one, and in response, I would like to note that whenever we use the word “ethical,” we have something specific in mind which is tied to our worldviews and how we answer the big questions of life such as who am I, why am I here, or what is true, right or praiseworthy? Those of us influenced by Christianity, including those who have been influenced in mostly indirect ways, often understand terms like “ethical” in similar ways. But there are, nevertheless, wide divergences in how people with differing worldviews interpret this term and the level of influence of differing worldviews over time. Graphic examples include the persistence of corruption, deception, fraud, usury and even widespread killing among some groups of people for decades and even centuries. We should not assume they are necessarily purposely doing unethical things. In some cases their worldviews permit them do these things because they do not accept Biblical teachings as authoritative. In addition, Christian teachings about work, unselfishness, love of neighbor, respect for government, etc. will lead to (at least nuanced) differences in how the compensation pie is split up, what marketing messages make the cut, whether to establish a headquarters in a tax haven, etc.

      1. Interesting. I guess that every major (and probably minor) religion has a code of ethics and worldview that permeates their respective cultures and the business that happens therein. It seems that Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, etc. all influence business in an ethical manner. Therefore, I don’t see a substantial difference in how a Christian worldview affects business as opposed to how the other religious worldviews affect business. In fact, it seems that business has influenced Christianity in America even more than Christianity has influenced business in America.

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