Abstract This is my book review of Business for the Glory of God which we started the first week of this course. I have briefly articulated the author’s, Wayne Grudem, main positions and themes and then interact with them. That is, I have chosen two main points that I agree with and two main points in which I do not agree. My thoughts have been supported with well-reasoned arguments and additional supportive data derived from outside sources. Summary
Durring my first week of Business Law I was asked to read this book. In Business for the Glory of God Wayne Grudem attempts an apologetic for businesses. According to Wayne Grudem Business, is constantly in a bout with good and bad practices and good Christians are apprehensive and fearful that by being involved in business they are somehow falling short due to their relationship with other businesses. Wayne Grudem then gives a theological explenation and reasoning for several points related to areas of business. Grudem argues that business is neither evil nor even morally neutral but inherently good and created by God.
There are 11 main areas of business that Grudem scrutinizes; ownership, productivity, employment, commercial transactions, profit, money, inequality of possessions, competition, borrowing and lending, attitudes of heart, and effect on world poverty. The book is ended with a review of the effects of ownership, productivity, employment, commercial transactions, profit, money, inequality of possessions, competition, and borrowing and lending on the attitueds of the heart and the effects on world poverty.
It is in these last chapters where the reader is most able to see how a business can be fundamentally good. Each chapter starts with a phrase: "(Ownership, Productivity, Employment, Commercial transactions, Profit, Money, Inequality of possessions, Competition, Borrowing and lending) is fundamentally good and provides many opportunities for glorifying God but also many temptations to sin" and finishes with a sentence such as, "But the distortions of something good must not cause us to think the thing itself is evil. (Ownership, Productivity, Employment, Commercial transactions, Profit, Money, Inequality of possessions, Competition, Borrowing and lending) is fundamentally good and pleasing to God" Discussion
Grudem does a good job of briefly spelling out his reasoning as to why business is good and momentarily bringing to light some of the vulnerabilities of business including materialism, greed, and. “While extreme wealth and extreme poverty are both considered 'bad things' there's no way of drawing a line, no attempt at working out how some inequality is good but too much inequality is bad”(Bolton, 2014) thus I feel the weakest arguments by far are his argument that inequality of possessions is the way God intended things to be, that this is a good thing that gives glory to God. Additionally, there is no acknowledgement that in the countries that have best excelled in profit making and generally attainment of possessions and money to become rich are also the countries with the maximum inequality between social classes.
The next weak chapter is Grudem’s finishing remarks on world poverty. Many people agree with the foundation that “trade is better than aid”but there is a gullibility about his words that are distressing. Grudem implies that the main reason poor countries are poor is due to the establishment of pitiable governance, enormously ineffective system of government all of which is true but it's not the whole story.
There is however, no reference to unjust trade practices by wealthy countries or nations, no mention of corruption in under developed countries, or crimes such as slavery or undemocratic practices. These types of practices are easily seen in today’s world. Korea is a prime example. In the country’s most recent election the world news stated “The North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has been unanimously re-elected to the country’s parliament after every single eligible person in his constituency turned out to vote – with only his name on the ballot paper.” “Rather than being a democratic choice between candidates, elections in North Korea superficially provide the people with the chance to approve the politicians pre-selected by the leading party. Each ballot has a single named listed with the option to pick “yes” or “no”.” This type of business practice is evident even in many of our own institutions.
I feel that the picture Grudem paints is visualized as black and white and suggests the fault for being poor is with the poor which is not always the case. Finally, the book seems pointed at battling people who think business is essentially evil and believe that business is a elaborate scheme of the devil. After my reading I am still struggling to decifer who these agents of the devil are? Liberals, communists? Grudem does not say, which really marks this argument as a “straw man arguments.” Additionally, there is a poignant gullibility about it, that we, as the customers, set the price for the goods and chattels we pay - or we simply would stop buying them.
Through the reading it seems that Grudem believes that despite food riots around the world and rising fears about energy costs at home his rules and beliefes on these subjects still apply. After reading Business for the Glory of God I do however, agree with many of the points that Wayne Grudem has made. He confesses very early in the book that glorifying God is something that many people feel only belongs in church and definitely not in the business world. He specifically throw-out that inkling because one can glorify God “not only in the sanctuary but in the boardroom as well. The ways of worship may change, but the meaning and motives do not.”(Bolton, 2014) He and I are both under the understanding that the whole purpose of man is to bring glory to God. Grudem outlines how business can provide an avenue for that exact obligation.
“God has called certain people to be business leaders and with this call, to do business well. As Colossians 3:23-24 states, "Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ" (2007).” When reading the book, it is clear that business can be and in many cases are morally good but that it can, like anything handled outside the rules that God has given us, lead to sin and wrongdoing. Grudem sets the standard promptly in the beginning early chapters by stating in the book one "will find that in every aspect of business there are multiple layers of opportunities to give glory to God, as well as multiple temptations to sin". The book promotes the idea that honest business can bring glory to God.
The chapter on borrowing and lending also carefully counters the position of some well-meaning Christians whose moralities forbid accumulating any debt, which include a home mortgage and other. Romans 13:8 (“owe no one anything”), taken in context, does not prohibit all borrowing. It does however teach us that we should pay what we owe at the correct time. Getting a 30-year mortgage for a house is perfectly coincides with Romans 13:8 provided we dependably make our scheduled payments.
This being said, borrowing can be imprudent as stated in Proverbs 22:7, “the borrower is the slave of the lender”, for example, when someone borrows too much and cannot repay. Additionally Psalms. 37:21 states “the wicked borrows but does not pay back”. However, used correctly, borrowing and lending brings great good to the people of the world. Borrowing and lending allows us to rend (i.e., a car in any city with a rental car company in the world–for a day, a week, or any length of time.
Additionally, it allows a bank to spread money and multiply its value to work by lending it to a person to purchase a home this attributes to a contractor building a hom and other people such as cabinet makers and other trades to furnish the home. Furthermore, “microloans” are creating an astounding impact the poor in several countries. In the last chapter, Grudem states that “the only long-term solution to world poverty is business.” I could not agree more. Every country I have been to or visited that is bringing itself out of poverty has at least one mutual characteristic. This is a simple method for getting a small loan and starting a business. Unfortunately, many countries, especially communist countries impose excessive regulations on people wanting to create a business.
This is slowing and sometimes halting economic growth. Some evil governments confiscate wealth creating huge gaps between economic classes and creating a poor economy. It is obivious that the long-term solution to world poverty is business, In conclusion, while it is virtuous to be in business, and it is good to prepare those who are called to business, this short book is unbalanced by taking complicated issues and making them black and white.
This being said it is obivious that all Grudem needs to say is not being said in this short 87 pages, but as Grudem says“If attitudes toward business change in the ways I have described, then who could resist being a God-pleasing subduer of the earth who uses materials from God’s good creation and works with the God-given gift of money to earn morally good profits, and shows love to his neighbors by giving them jobs and by producing material goods that overcome world poverty, goods that enable people to glorify God for his goodness, that sustain just and fair differences in possessions, and that encourage morally good and beneficial competition? What a great career that would be! What a great activity for governments to favor and encourage! What a solution to world poverty! What a great way to give glory to God!”
References Bolton, D. (n.d.). Buiness for the glory of god book review. Retrieved from http://voices.yahoo.com/business-glory-god-review-11269688.html Withnall, A. (2014, March). North korea elections: Kim jong-un wins 100% of the vote. Retrieved from http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/kim-jongun-wins-100-of-the-vote-in-north-korean-elections-9180814.html Fogarty, M. (2041, March). What is a straw man argument?. Retrieved from http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/what-is-a-straw-man-argument