“Business for the Glory of God,” by Wayne Grudem

I had to teach a lesson Monday night to a group of college students at The Crossing about what the Bible teaches about work. I decided that my Discovery Class lesson from week 5 would suit it well, but I also wanted to bring in a few fresh ideas. So Monday morning I read a little ninety-six page book by Wayne Grudem entitled, “Business for the Glory of God: The Bible’s Teaching on the Moral Goodness of Business.” Not only did it provide exactly what I was looking for to supplement my preparation, but after reading it all I kept thinking was, “Man, I wish everyone at The Crossing would read this little book.” So I’m writing this blog to initiate that very thing: I want YOU to read this book.

It’s interesting that Wayne Grudem is also a source in some of the other lessons in our Discovery Class. That’s because he wrote a systematic theology book we consult frequently as pastors and also sell at our bookstore. He’s currently a Professor of Theology and Biblical Studies at Phoenix Seminary. He’s a good writer and a good teacher on the Bible and theology. Plus, he has his B.A. in Economics from Harvard. So he doesn’t approach this issue merely from the Bible.

Again, the themes in this book are very similar to the Discovery Class lesson I teach on being redemptive in culture as Christians. But Grudem hones in on the way Christians do that—be that—particularly through hard work and profitable business in which we find satisfaction and advance society and culture.

Grudem’s thesis is that the Bible teaches that profitable, productive, and competitive business is an important way Christians are to glorify God.

Specifically, the Bible shows us that God created the following nine business realities as good
1. Ownership
2. Productivity
3. Employment
4. Commercial transactions (buying and selling)
5. Profit
6. Money
7. Inequality of possessions
8. Competition
9. Borrowing and lending

Grudem is routinely faithful to point out that these nine things are indeed corrupted and deformed by sin, and are therefore real temptations for people, including Christians, to misuse and abuse to their own destruction and the destruction of society. But he also repeatedly reminds us that the misuse and abuse of something God created as good does not mean it’s no longer good and to be used for good. Christians must learn to practice these nine business realities in the good way God intended for human beings created in his image. But when we see these nine God-created good things as evil, or somewhere in between, then the result of either disregarding them or disrespecting them is to truly unleash and entrench the evil of poverty in our society and the world, and to fail to fulfill a key function for which God created us in his image.

Each chapter following the introduction explains the biblical mandate for Christians to see the need to engage in these nine things in a redemptive way, followed by an important chapter on how doing these nine things of business biblically and redemptively is the best means to meet the problems of poverty in our culture and world.

Here are a few excerpts from the Introduction…

As for the relationship of business to serving God, when people ask how their lives can “glorify God,” they aren’t usually told, “Go into business.” When students ask, “How can I serve God with my life?” they don’t often hear the answer, “Go into business.” When someone explains to a new acquaintance, “I work in such-and-such a business,” he doesn’t usually hear the response, “What a great way to glorify God!”

This additional way to glorify God is the key to understanding why God made the world the way he did. It is also the key to understanding why God gave us the moral commands he did. And it is the key to understanding why human beings have an instinctive drive to work, to be productive, to invent, to earn and save and give, and to do the thousands of specific activities that fill our days. This additional way to glorify God is imitation—imitation of the attributes of God.

Are things like profit, competition, money, and ownership of possessions always tainted with evil? Or are they merely morally neutral things that can be used for good or for evil? In contrast to those two views, this book will argue that they are all fundamentally good things that God has given to the human race, but that they all carry many temptations to misuse and wrongdoing.

You can buy the book this Sunday at our bookstore at The Crossing. In my opinion, every adult Christian needs to read this book, not just those in business. It corrects a destructive, anti-business movement today in our culture in a helpful, practical, theological, biblical way that’s so needed. Otherwise, we will see more poverty in our world, not less. And Christians will miss out on real opportunity to be redemptive in our culture in a way that truly leverages their engagement in business for the good that God intended.

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