How do we redeem corporate America?
Over the last eleven installments of this series, we’ve taken a historical walk through the Industrial Revolution, analyzed various ministries in light of it, and seen how business and the Church ultimately merged. We’ve seen the destruction of two-parent home-based economies, the flight to the cities, the nascence of youth ministry, the rise of Darwinism, the frightful folly of the eugenics movement spawned by Social Darwinism, and seen the Church subsumed by business practices. The only question to ask now is what to do about it.
To redeem the business world, we Christians have to ask some brutally difficult questions, the first being, “Where to begin?” The only answer is that we address the Darwinian thinking that informs business. When businesses say, “Change or die,” “You gotta swim with the sharks,” “We need a paradigm shift,” and “How do we manage human capital?”, they are all using Darwinian terminology. The idea of corporate “mutation” and the survival of the fittest ensures that while the company might live, much—usually human—will be sacrificed to meet that end.
To make this change, Christians need to abort the Darwinian thinking that dominates our own thoughts. Christians need to be thinking in terms of a worldview centered on Creation, Fall, and Redemption. The essence of the Gospel of Jesus Christ follows this three part worldview. God created man for a purpose, gave him work with a purpose, yet man fell and those purposes became lost or deviant. Today’s business practices reflect that lostness and deviancy. For this reason, every Christian needs to rework their worldview to be in line with a truly Christian view of all of life.
A good place to start in recreating one’s worldview, breaking the hegemony that Darwinism has over the whole of our social and economic fabric, is Nancy Pearcey’s outstanding book, Total Truth: Liberating Christianity from Its Cultural Captivity. For those who want more, Pearcey’s work is largely drawn from the writings of Francis Schaeffer, possibly the last of the great Christian thinkers. Schaeffer articulated the Reformation’s idea that God’s purposes for Man have been the same since the Garden, only that the Fall mangled them. But with the advent and subsequent death of Christ, God’s own seed of purpose can be re-implanted in the very spirit of Man. Our churches in America must begin to systematically work to counteract the Darwinian and Pragmatic worldviews—both of which are set up against the knowledge of God—that have prevented the work of God from being done in the souls of His people. Churches can no longer assume that a few memorized verses and attendance on Sunday is equivalent to espousing a worldview that is utterly Christian at its core. The strongholds the Bible readily acknowledges exist are housed in our worldview, and these are almost primal within us. Not only can the business world be affected by this change in worldview, but the issues that have rendered the Church in America little different from the world around it can finally be addressed if we start teaching people that what they believe they are using to process the world that goes on around them is far more Darwinian than it is Christian. Judgment begins in the House of God.
Christians have attempted to bring Jesus into the workplace and the result has been little or no fruit. We have not dented the business world. This is not to say that co-workers have not been witnessed to or that lives have not been saved for eternity because of this, only that our vision has been too small. because the problem is central to our culture and nearly subconcious. Laying a veneer of Christian practice over the top will not make the inner ugliness that defines corporate America vanish. We have to lance the business boil. Part of the blame here goes to Christian leaders, particularly those with media connections, who have utterly forgotten that Americans work, and who never mention workplace issues when the spotlight is on them.
Part of the fault lies in the fact that not enough people are willing to think long-term to a possible future wracked by devastating business meltdowns that threaten everyone’s livelihood. Much like modern business and politics, the Church is mired in short-term gains and is not planning for the worst case scenario. Or even the merely difficult one.
Church leaders need to be able to go to business and say, “What if we gave you a better employee and worked alongside you to strengthen the moral and ethical foundations of your company?” An employee with a fully realized Christian worldview IS a better employee, and far less likely to descend into the depths we mentioned in earlier installments of this series. We have to be able to show that a business that runs on Darwinian principles is running on empty and is sacrificing profits at the bottom line. I believe this is possible. But we need smarter Christians than me to be able to get that message out.
Another thing that can be done is to show that businesses that hold to a Christian worldview of Creation, Fall, and Redemption are capable of outperforming a competitor using Darwinistic business principles. Nothing proves a point like a living example. Again, if someone—anyone—with some business sense in the Christian world could step up and put this truth out there, then I think it might gain some traction. If nothing else, business as a whole loves to join bandwagons. We just need them to jump onto ours.
Christians business leaders must work conclusively to prove that there are better options than the short-term thinking that gives us globalization, H-1b visas, outsourcing, offshoring, downsizing on demand, and longer hours at work. Those are the easy answers and are beneth a truly Christian response. Our leaders in this need to be on the cutting-edge of business practices by showing how a Christian worldview opens up new possibilities that lead to win-win situations and not Darwinian win-lose.
This is where it must start.
Truthfully, though, I am not certain that two hundred years of assumptions will be changed. Our society is so inured to having dad (or now, dad AND mom) running out of the house to go to work that we may not be able to get back to a home-based economy—ever. Nor is the task of rooting out Darwinism or pursuing Christian alternatives to common business assumptions easy. Old habits die hard unless we have the thinkers and the bold Christian leaders who are prepared to tackle the monster of business. We easily forget how our current work lives influence every aspect of our existence, down to our church structures and even our faith itself. Who can honestly spend two hours a day in focused prayer and Bible study given the work lives we now pursue? Christians will never change the world unless we get a grip on our work lives. If we are not actively working with our Christian leaders—and most of all, with the Holy Spirit’s lead—to think and work radically different than the worldly people around us, then this lofty enterprise can only fail. And when it does, it will hurt us as much or more than the society around us. We can’t afford NOT to start speaking out and thinking differently.
In the next installment of this series, The Christian & the Business World #13: Radical Christian Workers Unite!, we’ll take a look at what we Christians can do to work around business follies that might never change, pursuing alternative work and living practices that can free us up to be more of the godly, countercultural people God has required us to be.
Thanks for reading.
Previous post in this series: The Christian & the Business World #11: The Redemption of Corporate America, Part 4
Next post in this series: The Christian & the Business World #13: Radical Christian Workers Unite!