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Faith and business

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David Miller's God at Work thoughtfully examines the Christian presence in business over the past century. He notes that pastors pray for teenagers as they leave for short-term mission trips and Sunday school teachers as they begin a new semester, but not for certified public accountants around April 15, or salespeople and those working on commission at the end of the month or year, when quotas are due.

The basic problem is that many see church or missionary work as "fulltime Christian service" but business offices largely as places to earn money that can support the real Christian workers (with maybe some workplace evangelism on the side). Seldom is heard the encouraging word that business activities can be worthy ends in themselves - for isn't God, who created us in His image, glorified when we show creativity through the products we make and the services we render?

Miller also points to an anti-capitalist ethos at many seminaries and among many pastors: "Many of today's leading senior theologians, ethicists, and clergy are deeply influenced by Christian Socialism, branches of Barthianism..., liberation theology (emphasizing state-controlled economic structures, rejecting free markets, and viewing capitalist businesses as oppressors), and even some Franciscan and monastic strands that glorify poverty and simplicity." He writes of ministers who court financial pledges from businessmen and then, from the pulpit, bite the hand that feeds them.

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The deeper week-by-week problem is not ingratitude or hypocrisy but irrelevance, Miller points out: "Frustrated by the apparent lack of interest or uneducated response to the challenges they face in the marketplace, many workers and professionals simply give up on the church and turn instead to secular therapists, consultants, and self-help guides for ethical guidance and spiritual nurturing."

Marvin Olasky
Marvin Olasky

Marvin is editor in chief of WORLD News Group and the author of more than 20 books, including The Tragedy of American Compassion. Follow Marvin on Twitter @MarvinOlasky.

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