Grudem’s “Business for the Glory of God: The Bible’s Teachings on the Moral Goodness of Business” gives a balanced view of how individuals are blinded to the way individuals abuse businesses and the way individuals have grown to idolize success, money and as a result, these individuals have lost sight of the fact that for every action, one must put God at the forefront of one’s life. In fact, Grudem believes that many individuals have lost sight of the fact that businesses are solely God’s belongings and not mankind’s. Wayne Grudem is an authority on the topics of business and God’s glory as he is a Harvard business graduate who also serves as the president of the Theological Society. His views are controversial at best as one often finds it difficult to integrate God into the very nature of business.
In the book, the author constantly refers to his concerns that there is generally no balance in business and that true wealth of attitude and the changing information is an act of glorifying God. The book is divided into the analysis of how God is glorified through acts of ownership, productivity, employment, commercial transactions, profit, money, inequality of possessions, competition, and borrowing and lending; and concludes with the attitudes of the heart and the effects of poverty in the world. While the book is short and the author could have expanded more on each idea, Grudem leaves the reader to remember that money, competition, profit, and business are neutral factors in the world. But, individuals often forget that “whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all for the glory of God." (1 Corinthians 10:31).
Grudem assesses the Christian perspective of business and offers a detailed explanation of the way one operates in the world of business. The author explicitly states that in every aspect of business including ownership, profit, lending, borrowing, money, and competition, God should be at the forefront. In essence, the author suggests that individuals operate businesses feel guilty mainly because only a small number of individuals believe "instinctively of business as morally good in itself. (11). The main theme of the book is to express that views that the different aspects of business activities can be classified as good and the good things bring glory to God. The truth is that people in business represent and imitation of God’s character as these individual are a reflection of God on earth. Grudem uses each chapter to reflect on the distinctive opportunity to show God's glory in business. Through private ownership, Grudem shows that individuals have the opportunity to imitate the sovereignty of God with the mankind’s superiority throughout creation. Interestingly, Grudem suggests that an individual who cares for worldly possessions, have the opportunity to imitate a number of characteristics that are representative of God. These characteristics include the wisdom, beauty, knowledge, creativity, kindness, independence, freedom, free will, and blessedness (Grudem, 20) that comes with interaction with others.
In fact, Grudem explicitly states that an individual’s desire to possess personal items is entirely negative, but instead, this represents the desire to have dominion over things. Private ownership gives individuals the chance carrying out great acts using the resources at hand and by sharing these things with others who are needy so as to encourage others to see God in a variety of ways. The Book of Genesis subtly refers to the greater good that mankind can produce, but the fundamental idea that one must remember is that God expects individuals to work at developing the entire world. Grudem believes that mankind should be given the “opportunity to praise God for anything we look at in the world around us" (Grudem, 26). With manufactured products, one is allowed to discern the "wonders of God's creation in the things that we have been able to make from the earth" (Grudem, 27). Additionally, individuals carry out productive work and this allows for the act of subduing the earth while using the resources of the earth in a productive way.
The rejections of Marxists views are clear in the book as Mr. Grudem suggests that "the Bible does not view it as evil for one person to hire another person and gain profit from that person's work" (Grudem, 31). In fact one could agree with the biblical lessons that allow individuals to accept that the relationship between the employee and the employer is beneficial to everyone. Such positive relationships provide the framework for mutual appreciation relating to the pride of others. An employer’s goodness often surfaces through the hard work of the employee; and. the poor performance of the employee is a reflection of the negative actions of the employers. Grudem observes that commercial transactions are important and normal to every society from the onset of creation. In fact, the Bible teaches buying and selling are ethically correct as these provide the opportunity for individuals to carry out great acts that provide other with the necessities of life. But, the imitation and integration of God in business only comes with the practice of faithfulness, fairness, honesty and commitment, (Grudem, 37).
Byron Snapp, in his review of the book, suggests that “believing that business has been long neglected as an important avenue to glorify God,” (Snapp, 2015). Additionally, Snapp suggests that Grudem’s reference to the nine controversial ideas allows the readers to reflect on the biblical foundations that apply to business and God’s glory. Under the chapter of “Competition, ” Grudem acknowledges that competition is a good reflection of the glory of God as it allows for the talented individuals to make a number of improvements relating to the products that are created by the competitors. As a result, the consumer has access to better products and eventually this leads to the lowering of prices. Nonetheless, mankind becomes unethical and unfair when they misuse these positive guidelines and become sinful. Agreeably, good business practices provide the opportunity for positive deliverance from the culture of poverty despite Snapp’s suggestion that individuals who live in this fast-paced society often turn from the glory of God.
The chapters in the book focus on the Scriptures and the need for God’s glory in business ventures as new business practices and opportunities allows for the practice of deliverance from poverty. The simplicity of the context of the book makes it easy to read at all levels of the society as the chapters contain solid material that provokes reflection and thoughts on how best to maintain the glory of God in the business world. In fact, Grudem’s attempt to show that Christian businessmen can appreciate the business world while they glorify God is clear. Agreeably, money and profit are important to the daily occurrences in life as each is beneficial to the survival of individuals. The truth is that money distinguishes mankind from the animals because it is a tool that allows for voluntary exchanges of services in a "more fair, less wasteful, and far more extensive" (Grudem, 49) manner. Grudem reiterates the views that profit and money and profit provides the means of glorifying God as it helps individuals to meet their needs. The reviewer agrees with Grudem’s position that money helps to provide charitable opportunities and helps the individual to expand on God’s need for stewards who can promote the mission that the church needs to promote in the world.
It is easy to defend Grudem’s belief based on the economic theories because of the refreshing, instructive, and encouraging way in which Grudem explains the theological ramifications of business. Liberal commentators, grounded in Marxism, believe that the inequality of assets stems from the level of competition in the society. Grudem suggests that in some cases, inequality of possessions can be pleasing to God, even though there is no evil or sin in Heaven, (Grudem, 51). Additionally, one can agree with Grudem’s arguments that the Bible reveals that there are different levels of reward in heaven and that God calls different kinds of stewards to service, (Grudem, 52). Based on the economic theory, the exchange of goods offers the opportunity to engage in voluntary transactions at the commercial level and this allows both parties to benefit, (Grudem, 36) if individuals engage in honesty and fairness.
Yet, the author believes that the excessive red tape of government institutions increases the likelihood of obstacles to businesses and eventually destroys the economic growth of the society. One could easily agree with Grudem on this point as many business employers face legal issues regarding fairness and honesty in carrying out their businesses. Clearly, the legalities of operating wide scale businesses leads Grudem to explore the number of repressive governmental systems that often stifle individual businesses and commercial exchange and rob individuals of the opportunity of building on the talents that God gives to mankind. Agreeably, the author lashes out against the evil that exists in the governments that choose to impound the wealth of the country and prevents business employers from assisting others to rise above the levels of poverty in the society. The truth is that these repressive governments seek to destroy businesses in order to enhance personal power over others, (Grudem, 81).
On the other hand, the author’s suggestion that one of the reasons for not solving world poverty stems from the negative attitudes towards business, (Grudem, 82) is debatable. The truth is that much of the problems associated with world poverty come from the attitude of individuals who prefer to gain wealth through unscrupulous means and their refusal to work hard to supply their needs. The widespread economic and the religious ignorance of putting God at the front of all business ventures is lost on many individuals and therefore, the teachings of being good stewards and helping others become lost in a world that is grounded in personal greed of sinful men. Of course, the Bible teachings of the greed of mankind and this greed often lead to abuse of business leaders. But, many individuals discard the Biblical teachings that mankind should use their gifts from God in a positive way.
The books of Luke and Corinthians in the Bible establish the framework for Grudem suggestion that there are times when the inequalities of possessions are needed in order to carry the numerous tasks in the society, (Grudem, 52). Similar to the author’s views, the reviewer rejects the common belief in the biblical views that the redistribution of policies, the teachings of wealth and health, and Christian communitarians can work together to carry out the glory of God. The author puts forth the idea that the Bible possesses no complete exclusion on loans despite the fact that loans represent a part of the way of life of the individual. Still, there is a clear indication that the biblical discussions on loans describe the abuse that comes with the process and not with establishing the loan. The problems rests with the sinful ways that agencies charge exorbitant interests on loans and this prevents the average individual form accessing a loan that would otherwise have been necessary for enjoying the benefits of life.
In concluding, one can agree with Grudem as he points to the reality that there is a strong need for moral goodness in business as this goodness allows for the smooth operation of businesses and equality among people. The moral goodness in this case allows for the practice of respect for the dignity of individuals. In order to carry out this moral goodness that will lead to a better relationship with God, one must be ready to accept that the abuses of business causes mankind to deviate from the teachings of the Bible and the glory of God. Clearly, God intended for his people to use their talents to improve their way of life and this is only possible if one incorporates God in the business and not lose sight of the reality that everything that man possesses belong to God. Grudem rightly explores the beliefs that there is a strong need to include God in the business world in order to maintain a productive business world. The book is a good read and can be recommended to everyone as the framework of the ideas rest in the reality that Christians also have a calling to enter the field of business, but they must maintain honesty, integrity, and fair play in order to maintain their relationship with God and glorify God’s teachings.
Bradley, Anthony, A Review of Grudem’s Business for the Glory of God: Teachings on the
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of Business. Wheaton, IL: Good News Publishers/Crossway Books, 2003.
Snapp, Byron (n.d) A Review of Business for the Glory of God: The Bible’s Teaching on the
Moral Goodness of Business Viewed at http://chalcedon.edu Accessed June 14, 2015