Business & Economy

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As stewards of creation, humans are called to care for this world, creating products and offering services that stimulate flourishing across society. We are each part of an intricate network of relationships, having our needs met through the service of others. The role of businesses is to meet many of those needs within the structures of an economy that directs business efforts.


Our Approach to Business and the Economy

Introduction

This section seeks to examine the relationship between Christianity and the economy, and between Christianity and business. Over the last hundred years, the most dominant ideologies—from capitalism to socialism—have been, at their heart, economic, and have shaped society considerably. Similarly, business, in one way or another, sustains and supports us. At the same time, business’s influence upon society has grown so prominent that several companies now have wealth beyond that of most countries. Given the considerable impact both capitalism and business have on society today, it is crucial to consider what a Christian view of the economy and of business might be, and how Christians can live out this understanding faithfully within these areas.

The MI Approach to Business and the Economy

Why Christians Should Care About Business & the Economy

Most of us depend upon others for the provision of at least some of our daily needs. From the food we eat to the place we live to the clothes we wear, there is a good chance someone else was involved in providing part of our material needs. This interdependence is not unique to our time and cultures. Even at the start of the Bible, in Genesis 4, we see one person gardening while another cares for livestock. This dispersion of vocation is modeled throughout Scripture from the delegation of judicial duties by Moses to the building of the temple by Solomon. Today, these activities are typically organized and executed through business. Economic policies and structures have also been developed, regulating how businesses and people engage with one another to ensure that needs are met in an equitable manner. These are basic aspects of human life that call Christians to help ensure that business and the economic structures operate in an equitable manner, and that they contribute to and preserve the overall thriving and fullness of the world and its inhabitants. 

Business as a Response to God’s Call to Humankind

Genesis 1-2 recounts God’s call to humankind to work and care for the good world he created. These passages show us the inherent goodness of both work and material things, and that they are to be used to provide for the needs of the world. Genesis also tells us that these ends will not be achieved by lone individuals. God calls us to a coordinated effort, drawing in multiple people in order to achieve this endeavour (Gen 1:28, 2:18). And businesses are often places where these same activities of working in coordination can be found. People are provided with opportunities to engage in meaningful work alongside others in order to cultivate creation by providing goods and services that help it grow. In these ways, business works as a proper response to God’s call on humankind. This should encourage us to ensure that businesses continue to be places where humanity and the world we live in are properly cared for and valued.

How Christianity and Business & the Economy Complement Each Other

Christianity articulates various aspects of what humanity’s needs include, and what it looks like when these needs are fulfilled: people exist in right-relationships with one another so that each of them can flourish within their given environments. In this way, Christianity provides a vantage point from which business and economic policy can better imagine what solutions will best serve all levels of society. In turn, business and economic policy play an important role in providing structures within which daily human flourishing is enabled. They provide platforms for us to share and receive goods and services in far more effective ways than we could achieve on our own. Providing a place of employment so that people can better express their talents for the benefit of others, creating equipment that improves quality of life, and creating policies that ensure sustainable utilization of our resources are just a few of the many ways that business and the economy help humanity thrive.

How Business & the Economy Are Related to the Christian Story

At its heart, Christianity is about reconciling all humanity into right relationships. This includes right relationship with God, with one another, with self, and with creation as a whole. The Christian story challenges us to live well with one another, and invites us to take part in redeeming the human and worldly relationships that have been broken. It is true that businesses and economic structures are intended to meet people’s needs and enhance their livelihood, and we have seen the remarkable success of these structures in the past.

It is also true, though, that some businesses and economic policies—current and historic—have brought harm, whether to their customers, workers, suppliers, local community, investors, or the environment. Rather than imply that business or economics is inherently bad, this fact indicates how important it is that business and economic policies reflect a good understanding of what people’s needs are and what healthy relationships entail. Both of these points are central to Christianity and have significant implications on how businesses are structured and what economic policies are made.

Featured Resources

Other Business & Economy Resources

How on Earth Do Social Enterprises Survive?

Article: Michael Hodson
Source: Marketplace Institute

Factory or local food economy?

Article: David Brooks
Source: Marketplace Institute

What is a Christian vision for business?

Article: Nathan McLellan
Source: Marketplace Institute

Can NoiseTrade's Free Downloads Still Save Music?

Article: Wes Jakacki
Source: Christianity Today

What Is the Role of Markets?

Article: Nathan McLellan
Source: Marketplace Institute

Fidelity and Banking: An Interview with John Gage

Article: Adam Joyce
Source: The Washington Institute

CASE STUDY: La-Z-Boy Furniture Galleries

Article: Bernie Willock
Source: Marketplace Institute

Corporate Image and the Image of God

Article: Young-Man Chung
Source: Marketplace Institute: Vocatio

CASE STUDY: Basha Boutique

Article: Robin Seyfert
Source: Marketplace Institute

Maturing on the Vine: His Place, His Pace, His Pleasure

Article: Gino Cuneo
Source: Marketplace Institute: Vocatio

Why I Left World Vision for Finance—And Why My Current Work Matters as Much as My Former Work

Article: Mark Sheerin
Source: Christianity Today

Businesses Can Be More Ambitious When It Comes to CSR

Article: Matthew Taylor
Source: The Guardian

The Deal: Loyalty in a Short-term World

Article: Peter Curran
Source: Marketplace Institute: Vocatio

The For-Benefit Enterprise

Article: Heerad Sabeti
Source: Harvard Business Review

The Moral Dilemma of Growth

Article: Bob Massie
Source: Yale Divinity School

The MBA Oath

Video: Max Anderson
Source: Center for Faith & Work

Business People and the Church: Why Bother?

Article: Uli Chi
Source: Marketplace Institute

What You Can Learn from Family Business

Article: Nicolas Kachaner, George Stalk, and Alain Bloch
Source: Harvard Business Review

The Great Financial Crisis: A Biblical Diagnosis

Article: Paul Mills
Source: Cambridge Papers

Is There Any Such Thing As A Distinctive Christian Enterprise?

Article: Michael Hodson
Source: Marketplace Institute

How Great Companies Think Differently

Article: Rosabeth Moss Kanter
Source: Harvard Business Review

Why Business Matters to God

Video: Jeff Van Duzer
Source: Redeemer Presbyterian Church

Yes, There Is an Alternative to Capitalism: Mondragon Shows the Way

Article: Richard Wolff
Source: The Guardian

What Good Are Shareholders?

Article: Justin Fox and Jay W. Lorsch
Source: Harvard Business Review

What is a Christian Vision For Economic Life?

Article: Nathan McLellan
Source: Marketplace Institute

What is Capitalism?

Article: Nathan McLellan
Source: Marketplace Institute

Vocation of the Business Leader: A Reflection

Article: Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace
Source: University of St. Thomas

Risk, Reward and Responsibility: Limited Liability and Company Reform

Article: Michael Schluter
Source: Cambridge Papers

Capitalism, Religion and the Economics of the Biblical Jubilee

Article: Paul Williams
Source: GCGI (Globalisation for the Common Good Initiative)

Design Thinking: The Missing Link between Theology and Business Practice?

Article: Michael Hodson
Source: Faith in Business Quarterly

Free Markets Do Foster the Decline of Virtue

Article: Paul Williams
Source: ChristianWeek

Investing as a Christian: Reaping Where You Have Not Sown

Article: Paul Mills
Source: Cambridge Papers

Evangelicals, Pope Benedict, and the Financial Crisis

Article: Paul Williams
Source: Review of Faith and International Affairs

The Charitable-Industrial Complex

Article: Peter Buffett
Source: The New York Times

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