Skip to comments.Christianity and Capitalism: Using Business to Reach Our World
Posted on 07/16/2003 9:21:06 AM PDT by Mr. Silverback
At our recent BreakPoint "Christians in the Marketplace" conference, theologian and scholar Michael Novak told us of a trip he took to Sudan. He went for the State Department to talk to guerilla leaders there about religion, politics, and economics. About half of those men rebelling against their oppressive Muslim government were Muslims themselves. They told Michael that they were frustrated because they felt that their religion provided them with no real framework for democratic reform.
Explaining to those leaders how we in the United States had come to our understanding of basic human rights made Michael realize all the more how foundational the role of Christianity is in our political and economic systems. Unlike Christianity, you see, Islam places its sole emphasis on the greatness of God. The Christian faith emphasizes this as well, but it places equal emphasis on the idea of a God who willingly humbled Himself to reach out to His own fallen creatures. Islam does not.
The Islamic world has never developed what Michael calls a "theory of liberty" -- the idea of a freely chosen relationship with the Creator. That relationship, he believes, even more important than the law, is fundamental if we're to have a civil society -- because that consensus of belief provides the basis of human dignity, liberty, and equality.
And that relationship with the Creator also underlies our system of capitalism. To be made in the image of God, Michael argues, is to be a creator. The Scriptures teach that God gave us the gift of creativity, the power to find and develop the potential within the world around us. As Michael puts it, if you're running a business and not helping the people who work for you to develop their creativity and put it to good use, there's something wrong with your business.
The impact of a well run business reaches beyond its employees and even beyond its community. For example, just a few centuries ago, most people lived under tyranny and in poverty. But today, two-thirds of the world's population lives above the poverty line. This development is the direct result of human creativity that is so encouraged in Christian societies.
The Christian understanding of the world teaches that it is imperative to help as many people out of poverty as we can. History demonstrates that the best way of doing that is using business to create opportunities for those around the world who need them. Moreover, business development in needy countries will help provide the economic base that democracy needs in order to survive. As Adam Smith demonstrated in his seminal work THE WEALTH OF NATIONS, when we're trying to help the poor, the important question is not the root causes of poverty -- we don't want to create more of that -- but rather the root causes of wealth, and how to help these people attain wealth.
The marketplace today is full of Christians, but unfortunately, many of them don't understand how important their calling is, or how to live out their beliefs in their workplace. They should start by recognizing that when we exercise the creative capacity that God has given us, we not only benefit ourselves. We are helping to transform the world for humankind and for Him.
That bears repeating--as often as possible!
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If the Christian God is the real God, then He loves Kate Michelman, even though she has put her life into perpetutaing legal baby-killing, and in fact, He was crucified in her place. Take any evil God-hater or malcontent you want (Bill Clinton, Osama bin-Laden, Josef Stalin, etc.) and their evil actions and slot them into that sentence, and it fits. Jesus, His Father and the Holy Spirit love everyone without condition.
If the Allah is the real God, then God hates all those people I mentioned above, except Osama. He also hates me, even though I strive to live by almost all of the moral code his followers revere. He doesn't just think I deserve Hell for my mistaken adherence to non-Islamic faith, he wants his followers to kill me horribly in this life.
Religion of peace? Can't be, because its god is about as peaceful as the Columbine shooters.
The last half of Psalm 11 goes like this:
The Lord is in his Holy Temple, The Lord's throne is in heaven, His eyes behold, His eyelids test the sons of men. The Lord tests the righteous, but the wicked, and the one who loves violence, His soul hates. Upon the wicked He will rain coals, fire and brimstone and a burning wind. This shall be the portion of their cup.
For the Lord is Righteous. He loves righteousness. The upright will behold his face.
Of course, the Lord also says: "Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, and not that He should turn from his wicked ways and live?" Perhaps I can make the case that there are those who are merely wicked, and then there are those who "love violence" (and loving abortion clearly counts as loving violence). Why should it be surprising that God hates people who love abortion? Abortion is that which God did not command, nor did it enter His mind! Think of it: abortion is an action so vile, that it didn't even occur to the omniscient Creator of the Universe! (And just to stave off any "Can God make a square circle?" sophistries, omniscient means knowing everything that it is good to know.) If sacrificing (unborn) children to the gods of success is therefore "over the top" in such a horrible way, can you be completely sure that God loves those who do so and do not repent?
One of the difficult parts of being a Christian is that in a way the context for every individaul verse is the entire Bible. The views I've expressed here are consistent with orthodox theology and the text of the Word.
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