Is Business Acceptable Within Christian Ethics?


In today’s business community, politically correct catch phrases such as “corporate social responsibility”, “transparency”, and even “integrity” are being tossed around freely in board rooms and news briefs.  This sudden focus on business ethics and business ethical responsibility has come about in a time where the size of the industrialized workforce is doubling due to the expansion of the marketplace and middle-class consumer into the Eastern world, particularly India and China.  Now more than ever, the ethics of business need to be evaluated in order to understand how they will transform the emerging markets and societies that contain them.  With one billion new participants, the impact on the overall world community is going to be felt, particularly in the Eastern World.  In the West, the marketplace business ethics have been adopted since the Industrial Revolution over one hundred years ago.  It seems that in the past few years, the East is undergoing its own revolution marked by the staggering outbreak of its middle class.

With this cultural and ethical shift already initiated over the past decade, it is the responsibility of the Christian community to understand how the ethics of business correlate, if at all, to the utopian, ethical ideal of Christian ethics as established in the Bible by God and personified by Jesus Christ.  Without this analysis, the application of what is commonly referred to as “Biblical values” is thoroughly diluted and rendered meaningless.  As a foundation, a brief discussion on the evolution of ethics both from an Eastern perspective and a Western perspective is required.  The contrast will show both how ethics of business was shaped by Western thought and how the ethics of the East was based on metaphysics and parallels Christian ethics in many ways.  The gaps and harm in itself does not automatically build a final judgment of business ethics.  If this ultimately ends in the decision that business ethics is a shift away from Christian ethics, is there a solution?  Is it possible for business ethics to be redefined to allow for the same industrial progress while ensuring a societal shift towards Christian ethics?

Ethics are commonly understood to be the unspoken guidelines that define how a man, given numerous courses of action, should react in a situation.  These would constitute laws, rules, thou shalls and shall nots.  From this perspective, ethics is the summation of the predefined set of regulations that clearly state how we are to obey in relation with one another.  However, this definition of ethics is hard to accept by most because of the constant change in these laws from society to society and even situation to situation.  Out of this confusion, we come to the even more bewildering concept of situational ethics which merely states that ethics are malleable and cannot be 100% translated from one situation to another.  If this is truly the case, then why even bother having this discussion.  The discussion exists because man can ultimately accept only constant ideas derived from a constant source.  Over the span of human history, that constant source has been God.  From that source alone is it possible to derive a constant ethical ideal.  Through God and the Bible we can finally achieve that unchanging ethic that man seeks.  Unfortunately for humanity, there is one particular ideal attributable only to man, sin.  Sin is what compels us to not fully accept that universal, Godly ethic.  As a result, man has taken a circuitous path in establishing his ethic.  It is this long journey which will ultimately conclude, rather once again return, to the ethic of God as proclaimed in the Bible, presumably in the day of Rapture.  Today, at the midway point of that journey, it is important to understand the path taken and the path yet to be taken.

East versus West

Civilization began in the East.  With civilization, thought was born in a variety of spheres, one of which was the metaphysical.  The Eastern philosophy of ethics that was derived focused on the Eastern understanding of God as the universal force that connected all matter.  The ultimate goal, the heaven in Biblical terminology, was to rejoin that universal force.  This was translated into the primary religions of the East, including Buddhism and Hinduism.  By 2000 AD, the East had already established an ethic based on this communal presence to which all belonged.  The moral law centered on understanding the connection that one had with his fellow man, performing one’s role in society for the greater good of all, and at the same time fully being aware of the need to relinquish one’s self.  The analogy of a human body can best represent this ideal.  One person may play the role of the hand, another, the foot, and another, the head.  Each has his own role to perform, yet all the parts are connected.  The body as a whole was designed to work best when all parts are working in unison to the best of their abilities.  In the analogy of the human body, there is no conflict because no single part has an awareness of itself outside of the others.  The awareness is only of the whole.  An argument can be made for the mind but, as long as the mind is linked to the rest of the body, it does not “think twice” about whether or not there is a foot attached to it to kick the football.  This concept is evident in the caste system preached by Hinduism, but this complete connection of all parts of the body is not present in society and humanity as a whole.  In the case of the caste system, it is the self-awareness of the mind or arm that makes it feel individually superior to the foot.  It is the same self-awareness of the foot that makes it strive to become the arm.  Ultimately, the body is left lame.  This disconnect between one man and his neighbor, one man from his society, and one man and God is what resulted from sin entering into the world.  Perhaps, it is this disconnect that caused sin to enter.  Eastern ethics have fought against this self-awareness and focused on the awareness of the whole.

In the West, ethical study came about much later.  It was almost 500AD before Epicures, Socrates, Aristotle and Plato emerged on the metaphysical scene and defined ethics as they saw fit.  Ironically or not, all of these original western ethicists determined an ethical ideal that was very similar to the ethics of the East.  They preached uniformity and coexistence.  Epicurean ethics for example, strongly parallels the Eastern philosophies in that the search for inner peace will ultimately lead to a focus on the greater good.  As with his Western peers, Epicures accepted self-awareness but made it his ethical belief to convince the self that the betterment of the whole was what should be practiced.  The betterment of the whole ultimately leads to the betterment of the self.  It should be stated that Epicures teachings focused on ignoring the “perceived” pleasures and benefits of the materialistic world in order to focus one’s efforts on the true source of eternal and ultimate pleasure which would be in being within complete harmony with the world around.  This is a clear parallel to Eastern philosophy.

Over the centuries, Eastern philosophy has remained relatively stable.  However, Western philosophy has been constantly evolving.  Since the Enlightenment, such philosophers as Spinoza, Hegel, and Hume, began their search for ethics with the self.  What can the mind know but itself?  With this as the premise, God and spirituality were ushered out.  Instead, a cold, atheistic view began to emerge.   Kant, a devout Pietist, strongly fought to prove God against the recent victories of atheism.  However, he too used the self as the premise.  A brief tour of Kant’s thought throughout his writings will highlight his failure.

“…whether we should not succeed better with the problems of metaphysic, by assuming that the objects must conform to our mode of cognition, for this would better agree with the demanded possibility of an a priori knowledge of them.  “   [1]

Kant states his attempt to prove metaphysics through our own cognition, in other words through the self as the foundation of the proof.  This is counter to the Bible’s supposition that faith in a universal God can be the only foundation.  With the correct foundation, reason can come to the correct conclusions.

“Now I say: man and generally any rational being exists as an end in himself…Thus the worth of any object which is to be acquired by our action is always conditional…if all worth were conditioned and therefore contingent, then there would be no supreme practical principle of reason whatever.” [2]

Kant’s position is slowly shifting towards the inevitable conclusion, and a sense of despair is evident in this writing in his essay, Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysics of Morals.  Finally, in his Critique of Judgment, Kant has reached the end and acknowledges his failure.

“God, Freedom, and the immortality of the soul are the problems to whose solution, as their ultimate and unique goal, all the laborious preparations of metaphysics are directed.  Now it was believed that the doctrine of freedom was only necessary as a negative condition for practical philosophy, whereas that of God and the nature of the soul, being part of theoretical philosophy had to be proved independently and separately.  Then each of these two concepts was subsequently to be united with what is commanded by the moral law (which is only possible on terms of freedom) and a religion was to be arrived at in this way.  But we perceive at once that such attempts were bound to miscarry.”  [3]

If our own self-awareness is the root of our separation from the absolute God, then Kant had no chance of creating a link.  In the end, he also concluded that reason, based on the self, would ultimately defeat God and the spiritual ideal.  By the turn of the 19th Century, philosophy had evolved to the point where evolution had become the model for ethics.  Survival of the fittest was theme of Spencer’s ethics.  Schopenhauer and later Nietzsche would replace the absolute God with their deduced God of the “superman”.  Nietzsche took his critique on Eastern philosophy so far as to call it the slave revolt of morals.

“Without doubt, once they succeeded in forcing their own misery, the whole of misery as such into the conscience of the fortunate: so that these latter would one day begin to feel ashamed of their good fortune and perhaps say to one another: ‘IT is a disgrace to be fortunate! There is too much misery!’” [4]

Western philosophy had moved beyond an acceptance of the Eastern ideals towards an almost disdain for them.  If God is the absolute perfection of the universe, the “superman” was the absolute perfection of the self, the individual man.  There cannot be two ideals of perfection to strive towards, so God would have to be replaced.

The Rise of the Middle Class

What had driven the paradigm of Western thought to such an egocentric conclusion?  There are two overlapping periods of societal change that seem to parallel this shift.  The Renaissance and later the Industrial Revolution, which affected only western culture, brought about the rise of the middle class.  The middle class represents those individuals who have no claim to authority through lineage but have amassed enough material wealth to remove struggle and insecurity from their life, at least when compared to the insecurity faced by the lower class on a daily basis.  This middle class was created out of human opportunity.  It was opportunity to improve one’s own status through one’s own efforts.  Prior to this shift, the classes were predominantly set based on ancestry, similar to the caste system in India.  With no hope for a change in one’s status, one would go about life looking for the greater purpose or God that saw it fit to delegate that status.   Never before had so many lower class dwellers been given such an opportunity to change their societal position.  This bred a culture of self-entitlement which fed off of itself to propagate throughout the Western cultural landscape.  All of a sudden, the feet were able to make the choice to become hands, and the hand could choose to become the head.  With such possibilities, who would choose to be the feet?  The key word is “choose”.  Needless to say, society, out of sheer necessity and circumstance, will force someone to be in the lower class.  However, the choice to remain there was not of one’s free will, but of the choice made by the rest of society out of contempt for that lower role.  And after all, ethics is about the choices people make.

It is commonly accepted that the Christian ethic parallels the Eastern ethic.  The premises of God and the core faith may be different, but the resultant ethical philosophies are virtually identical to those of other Eastern religions.  With this shift of the Western philosophy away from that of the East, it is deduction to conclude that Western ethics has shifted diametrically away from what the Bible holds as Christian ethics.  God and Jesus have proclaimed that we should love God and our fellow man, and sacrifice our “self” in the process.  The ethics of Western culture is the promotion of the self to the “superman”.   This has culminated in the West in a transient sort of ethics which is perceived to vary from society to society.  The ethics of the 70s were different than the ethics of the 90s and they will be different again in the 2010s.  This is merely the result of man attempting to derive his ethical ideal out of his own transient self.  Society is an extension of the self.  In the 90s, going green became an ethical position and now society has evaluated the “superman” as being one who is also concerned with the environment.  It only follows that the super ideal for society would also incorporate that standard.  In another 10 years, the definition of the “superman” will change yet again and so will the ethics of that society.  When broken down to this level, it becomes apparent that the ethics of the “superman” is the ethics of sin.

“In particular, sin is that power which makes human beings forget their creatureliness and dependence on God, that power which prevents humankind from recognizing its true nature, which deceives the adam into thinking he is godlike and makes him unable to grasp that he is but adamah. “  [5]

When Adam and Eve first ate the fruit, the Bible makes it clear that they immediately became self-aware.

“For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Gen 3: 5).

Aside from that, they were the same two humans that God had perfectly created.  It is the self-awareness that separated them from God.  Fast forward to the present day and we can see the natural progression of this self-awareness in manifesting an ethic in which the sin from the Garden of Eden is not frowned upon but rewarded.  Before eating the fruit, man’s purpose was to be a part of God, simply to walk with God as Adam and Eve did.  After the fruit, man’s purpose is to become God or raise his own self to God’s level.  The serpent’s temptation to Adam and Eve was not a complete lie, but rather a lie of omission.  The serpent stated that Adam and Eve would actually “be like God”; the truth is that they would merely “think” they were like God.   Eastern philosophers have realized the futility and error in this for thousands of years.  However, with the seeming success that the middle class has achieved in pursuing this goal, western ethics are evolving to reinforce this sinful hope.

The Ethics of Business

The ethics of the marketplace are simply an extrapolation of the ethics of the men within the microcosm.  In many a seminar, the promotion of work culture and integrity is common.  Along with these characteristics, the same seminar will instill a motivation to excel through a sense of competition.  This competition is derived from the need for each person to elevate his own self to the “superman”.  Ultimately we must understand what causes a business to succeed?  It succeeds when it is able to provide security for its members.  It succeeds when it is able to provide wealth to its members.  It succeeds when it is able to provide respect and status within society.  Is there any other path for success?  On the grand economic scale, the various stock markets are the barometer for success, and any market analyst can confirm that at the end of the day, it is the money that separates a successful company from a failing one.  Some businesses attempt to blur the lines by having a moral goal.  For example, a business that makes seat belts for cars has as its mission to eliminate the preventable deaths resulting from traffic accidents.  At the outset of the business the goal may have been to prevent deaths, a noble goal.  However, in the ethics of business right and wrong is defined by dollar signs.  Somewhere down the road, a competitor will arise and the ensuing competition will force the company to blur the lines of whether its goal in all of its decisions is solely to save lives.  Adam Smith, considered the father of capitalism by many economic luminaries such as Alan Greenspan, himself saw this invariably disastrous outcome in his treatise, Wealth of Nations.

“That order of things which necessity imposes in general, though not in every particular country, is, in every particular country, promoted by the natural inclinations of man.  If human institutions had never thwarted those natural inclinations, the towns could no-where have increased beyond what the improvement and cultivation of the territory in which they were situated could support; till such time, at least, as the whole of that territory was completely cultivated and improved.  “ [6]

Smith states that without a third-party “thwarting” mankind, for instance a government, it would destroy its own environment, an altogether unethical outcome by any consideration.   The instant a decision has been made for the sake of profit, the line is blurred and will continue to blur until the original noble goal is merely an afterthought.  This happens for the simple reason that all three markers of business success are financial.  Without corporate success, the individuals cannot strive for the “superman” complex which society and sin have trained them to seek.  There is an old business axiom: “a

business that is not succeeding is failing”.  Regardless of the industry, owners, and employees, the gauge for success has always been and will always be money because society has determined that money is what provides the opportunity for the individual to achieve beyond himself and strive for the “superman”.

Some would argue that the indirect outcome of an act can ethically justify the act itself.  The success of the seat belt company is that more people are saved in car accidents.  The final outcome of the action was positive.  Nevertheless, ethics is not determined by the end result but by the intended result of the decision maker.  If a driver is driving down the road and sees a dog in the middle of the street, he may veer right to save the life of the dog.  That was his intention.  However, if in veering right, he may happen to run over two pedestrians standing on the side of the road.  The driver’s ethics remain intact because his intent in veering right is what is judged, not the outcome.  The man intended to save a dog, not to kill two people, a morally sound decision by any ethic compared to the converse which is to kill the dog. This parallels the Bible’s assertion that God does not consider our works in judgment, but instead he reads our heart.

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves [it is] the gift of God Not of works, lest any man should boast.  – Ephesians 2:8-9

Consider how God used Nebuchadnezzar’s sinful, egocentric heart to perform his ultimately good and perfect will.  Nebuchadnezzar is in hell because of his desire to follow the sinful ethical ideal of self.  However, God caused the repercussions of his sinful desire to work for good.  A business, on the other hand, has only one intention at heart, to succeed.  God may use it to bring about a good work, but the intention is unchanged.  As discussed, in the current capitalistic marketplace the success of a business can be defined and measured in only three ways.  The first level of success is security.  Has the business achieved the necessary critical mass to safely continue to exist?  Some businesses live with the constant fear of closing their doors, this adds to the insecurity of the individuals within the company.  Insecurity from the Christian perspective is in itself a sin.  As Christians, God will see to our needs.  How can God be our rock if life is spent seeking security through one’s own efforts?  If we choose a will aside of God’s for the purpose of security, we can conclude that the decision is against the Christian ethic.  Secondly, a business exists to provide wealth.  The Bible is direct when it contends that seeking wealth is not in accordance with its ethic.  Instead, we are to seek to accomplish the will of God.  As hard as it is for some to understand what God’s will is, it is sometimes painfully obvious what God’s will is not.  It is not to amass self-wealth during our time on earth.  And as the final goal of business is self-aggrandizement of the individual within it, it can be safely presumed without debate that the will of God does not contain the promotion of the Christian self over another as its primary goal.   If the intent of business is the security, social elevation and self inflation of the employees within it, this intent equates to a direct antithesis to the Christian ethic of “love your neighbor as yourself”.

To further illustrate the justifications Christians use to rationalize their effort in business, one of the most popular sayings among Christians is “you must do your work for God’s glory”.  As Christians, we know that God’s will does not include any of the three driving forces in a successful business: security, wealth, and status.  Is it possible to work at a task for the glory of God when we are clear that the purpose of the task is not in God’s will?  An extreme case of this failed attempt at a division between task and intent was evident in the Nuremberg trials.  Many of the war criminals guilty of killing hundreds to thousands of Jews used the argument that they were simply following the orders given to them to the best of their abilities.  That is the same argument that is used in the case of individuals working for a business having intent outside of God’s will.  From a human perspective, being a software engineer working at Infosys trying for a promotion is “much less unethical” than being a Nazi war criminal having committed mass genocide; in fact it is ethical from the human perspective.  Once again, it is clear that worldly and business ethics are not Christian ethics.  Worldly ethics would determine that the Nazi war criminal was clearly “more” wrong.  Christian ethics would contend that neither of the two individuals was right.  “He that is not with me is against me…”  (Luke 11:23) To God, sin is sin; we are either choosing to follow His will or not.

Are all those who work in the business marketplace committing sin?  This is not necessarily true, though for the vast majority it is.  Again, to determine sin, God looks at the heart.  Put another way, Christian ethics looks at the intent.  If an individual truly believes that the business they have chosen to participate in is conducting itself within God’s will and their intent in being there is purely to aid in the progress of God’s will, that individual has a solid argument under the definition of Christian ethics.  However, it has been previously established that any business competing in the marketplace cannot be in God’s will because of its focus on security, wealth and status.  How is this individual able to conduct himself within God’s will while the business to which he is contributing is outside of God’s will.  The key is that what matters is what this individual “truly believes”.  Ultimately, the prior statement can be reworded to say, “If an individual has deluded or has naively convinced himself into believing that the business is within God’s will”.  This is a possible case because the intent within the individual’s heart was real, despite the fact he was oblivious to the truth.  Ignorance is bliss.  In reality, for most this complete misinterpretation and misunderstanding of the intent of one’s employer is impossible to achieve.  After all, in a world established on sin, the best sinners will usually prosper.  Jeremiah has a sorrowful realization of this fact in his mournful book.

A creative rationalization for worldly success through business is the prosperity gospel.  This is a new age doctrine that states a life spent as a Christian believer will result in wealth and riches upon this earth.  One of the main reasons that this philosophy has gained momentum is because it satisfies the conflict between the ethics of the world and the ethics of Christianity.  In this way, business is transformed into a vehicle that God uses to dispense his blessings.  It correlates Godly blessings, considered a confirmation that one is serving God’s will, to the superhuman ideal, achieved by serving one’s self will.  The confusion or delusion stems from the definition of a blessing.  In fact blessing is not a proper translation of the Greek used in the original text.  Present understanding of blessing is some sort of a gift.  However, in the original Greek, eulogeitos, from which the English word, eulogy, is derived, is more accurately referred to as praise.  Western Christians tend to view blessings as the end result of a combination of hard work and God’s grace.  A blessing is simply praise bestowed on an individual by God in order to further His will in our lives and the world around us.  That is why in I Peter 3:9, Peter states “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing… “ We are not called to give our wrongdoers gifts, but to return their evil with love and praise.  When an individual contorts a blessing in to some sort of reward or prize for services rendered to himself (or his business), we end with the prosperity gospel.  Jesus himself makes it abundantly clear when he says, “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his own soul.” (Mark 8:36) Combine that with His proverb of “No man can serve two masters.”  (Mathew 6:24), and it is evident that the riches we achieve on this earth do nothing for God’s kingdom and provide no service to the will of God.

No Man can Serve Two Masters

Having understood that one’s service as a Christian should not be towards business and the only truly “forgivable” service to such business is absolute ignorance, is there any ethical foundation for which to base and justify a life spent in the business world.  In the black and white of the Bible and of God, sin is sin, and the answer would be decisively “no”.  In the sin powered world of man, all one can hope to do is move towards the ideal that God has set.  As a result of the Fall, it is not possible to exist in a completely ethical state in God’s perspective, so God has graciously chosen to look at the heart.  Was the individual’s intent throughout his life to move away from the sin that consumed him?  The individual is guaranteed to fail, God understood this from the beginning, but perhaps He will consider an acceleration of service towards Him as an acceptance of Him and His ethics.  In the three-fold definition of business success, if judged by the human ethic, the sequence of superhuman rightness is security at the lowest level, next wealth, and finally status.

“’Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that remains into eternal life which the Son of man will give you; for him did God the Father seal.’ … That is a parable about life for many people.  They labor for the food that perishes…they give the best years of their lives in working for what is worthless.”[7]

An effort made towards a life driven by service of only God’s will as the “one and only master” would require a complete reversal of course.  If an individual has achieved status, he must ignore it and in some cases sacrifice it.  If an individual has achieved wealth, he must again ignore it and possibly sacrifice it.  Finally, if an individual has achieved only security, even that he must be willing to sacrifice.  The sacrifice is not a requirement, but the willingness, the intent, to sacrifice is, proven by the almost sacrifice of Isaac by his father, Abraham.  An accelerated, conscious movement towards God is the most an individual can hope to achieve.  During their lifetime, many will not be able to get past “Level 2”, sacrifice their dependence on wealth.  The son of a king has the greatest hill to climb.  His status is considered his birthright. He must first relinquish his dependence on it.  He does not have to give up his crown, but he has to prove to himself and to God that he is not dependant on it, a very tall order.

Early on in Sunday School, young children are commonly taught by their Christian parents and elders to memorize the verse,

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 6:23

But equally worthy of memorization are the preceding statements Paul made in his letter to the Romans:

“For when you were slaves to sin, you were free in regard to righteousness…But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life.” – Romans 6:20,22

When considering all that has been said regarding business, Romans 6:20 and 22 present a bleak picture to humanity.  Man cannot serve sin and God at the same time.  He must choose, and as is understood, man will ultimately choose sin because, after the Fall, it is embedded in his nature to do so.   Paul immediately follows that the gift of eternal life is freely given, added almost as an empathetic solace.  As Jesus stated to the rich young ruler,

“One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.  But at these words he was saddened, and he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property….It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.“  – Mark 10:21-25

Jesus gave the disappointed man a choice, give up all he had and choose God.  He even confirmed that God will take care of his needs.  The man could not make that choice; his ethics would not allow him to.  This is the strength of the grasp that our sinful nature has upon man, and as Jesus mentioned, wealth makes it all the more difficult.  Simply stated in the context of business, the more successful your business, the harder it will be to enter the kingdom of God.  And, in just a few versus prior, Jesus definitively answers the question about morality and the ultimate good.

“Why do you call Me good?  No one is good except God alone.”  – Mark 10:18

Christian ethics is defined by making the correct choice to serve God’s will.  Business, as it exists in the sinful world, is a choice not to serve God’s will.

Closing Analysis

The consequential question that was presented at the beginning is a challenging one.  “Is it possible for business ethics to be redefined to allow for the same industrial progress while ensuring a societal shift towards Christian ethics?”  The answer is in the definition of business success.  The scale by which business success is currently measured is money.  This is a direct consequence of the scale by which individual success is measured.  If all of the markers of business success are wealth, how can it be that the society which defined these markers is operating on some other scale?  However, there is an interesting distinction between business success and individual success.  Business success is a simplistic translation of individual success into a statistical value measured in currency.  Ultimately, individual success is about the foot not wanting to be the foot but to become the hand or even the head.   It is about self-respect and status among your peers.  For this reason, it is possible that society could shift the source of self-respect, so that the focus is not money.  For example, if somehow society, necessarily channeled by the government, could establish a system where business success (and individual success) was defined, not by wealth, but by the contribution to society, such a system would take the focus off of financial wealth.  This would appear more appealing.  Socialistic societies have established this ideal.  However, this is also a sinful system by Christian standards.  God wants the foot to accept that it is the foot and understand that its value is equal to all others.  More importantly, God wants the hand and head to realize the equal value of the foot.  Society cannot simply change the marker for individual success.  Money itself is not the problem.  For society to conform to the Christian ethic, the individuals within it must voluntarily forego individual success.  They must accept who they are and choose God’s role for them in His will.  An attempt to change their position for the purposes of establishing their own self-worth to themselves and within society is an attempt to step out of God’s will.  Business exists because of the attempts made by individuals to do just this.


  1. Dunn, D.G. James.  The Theology of Paul the Apostle.  Wm. B. Eerdman’s Publishign Company.  Cambridge.  1998.
  2. Kant, Immanuel.  Basic Writings of Immanuel Kant.  New York.  Random House, Inc.  2001.
  3. Morris, Leon.  Reflections on the Gospel of John.  Hendrickson Publishers Inc, Peabody, Mass.  2000.
  4. Smith, Adam. Wealth of Nations.  New York.  Random House, Inc.  2003.
  5. Smith, Douglas.  Friedrich Nietzsche On the Genealogy of Morals a New Translation by Douglas Smith. Oxford. Oxford University Press.  1996.

Wright, Christopher J.H.  Old Testament Ethics for the People of God. Inter-varsity Press, Leicester, England.  2004

[1] Kant, Immanuel.  Basic Writings of Immanuel Kant. (New York.  Random House, Inc.  2001. ) Pg. 12

[2] Kant, Immanuel.  Basic Writings of Immanuel Kant. (New York.  Random House, Inc.  2001. ) Pg. 185-186

[3] Kant, Immanuel.  Basic Writings of Immanuel Kant. (New York.  Random House, Inc.  2001. ) Pg. 384-385

[4] Smith, Douglas.  “Friedrich Nietzsche On the Genealogy of Morals a New Translation by Douglas Smith.” (Oxford: Oxford University Press.  1996.) Pg. 103.

[5] Dunn, D.G. James.  (1998).  “The Theology of Paul the Apostle.” (Cambridge: Wm. B. Eerdman’s Publishing Company.)  Pg. 112

[6] Smith, Adam. Wealth of Nations. (New York.  Random House, Inc.  2003.) Pg. 483.

[7] Morris, Leon.  Reflections on the Gospel of John. (Hendrickson Publishers Inc, Peabody, Mass.  2000.)  Pg. 220-222

2 thoughts on “Is Business Acceptable Within Christian Ethics?

  1. So I know I still haven’t formally responded to this paper 🙂 But for starters, I think my biggest problem with your hypothesis is that it seems you are working off the assumption that people go into business solely to pursue wealth and status. That’s my first problem. Haha, more to come.

    1. Alright, can’t wait for more!

      In the best case, I think people go into business because they love what they do and want to do it their own way. From a Christian perspective, I personally have a hard time seeing God’s will in pursuing what we want to do. We are supposed to conform our will to God’s, not hope God conforms His will to ours.

      Going back to the Nazi analogy, I’m fairly convinced that if we polled all the recruits enlisting in the German army and asked them why they signed up, all of them (or at least most) would truthfully say that it was to fight for their country and the security of their friends and families, I doubt any of them would say it was to exterminate the Jews.

      Actually, I don’t think it really matters why people go into business. At some point, they realize what the purpose or goal of a business needs to be in order to be successful. No matter how it started, once any business reaches a certain point as an organization, it becomes very obvious that its focus needs to be money. It’s why the stock market works the way it does.

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