Christ is king of all creation. He rules over the universe as Mediator. As the great Dutch theologian Abraham Kuyper declared in his inaugural lecture, “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: ‘Mine!’ “. As his followers we have been called to mind renewal (Romans 12:1,2). The task of mind renewal requires that we rethink every field and profession from a Christian perspective. We need to develop a Christian philosophy – reality, knowledge, ethics – and lay this at the foundation of every sector of life and society. Our task is to give light to all spheres of life (Matthew 5:14-16), including Business. The paragraphs below represent an attempt in this regard. They give a basic summary of the Christian approach to business. It is an extract from a larger manual on the Christian worldview of Business which can be found here. The document is a fruit of the work of the Coalition on Revival, a network of evangelical leaders who share a vision for renewal in the Church and Society.
Man’s Dominion Mandate
Because man is under God, as God’s image-bearer, he possesses limited sovereignty over nature. Therefore man is responsible, as God’s faithful servant, to co-labor with Christ to bring all nature under God’s rulership, that His will might “be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). This mandate to subdue the earth (Genesis 1:26-28) was part of God’s provision for man in the creation, and was fully affirmed in Jesus Christ’s victorious Death and Resurrection, by which His eternal, triumphant reign is established. In the realm of business and trade, the mandate to subdue the earth is carried out by Christians’ serving mankind in productive activities, thereby establishing the reign of God in their areas of stewardship. Men are to use their God-given creative abilities and energies to serve God by serving man and helping man to overcome, control, and use the natural world. The role of Christian business people is unique and far-reaching. They interact with a major segment of the adult population; they are instrumental in the generation and distribution of wealth; they exert significant influence over public policy; and, they give credibility (or denial) to many of the great themes of Scripture.
A High Calling
A productive lifestyle is a true and a high calling of all Christians. All occupations not contrary to God’s Law are to be considered worthy. Old Testament distinctions between “secular” and “sacred” were done away in Christ (“All things are holy . . .”), and believers should view their “secular” work as “full-time Christian service.” God, in His sovereignty, calls men into various duties and stewardship within His Kingdom, giving them differing talents and abilities. It is the full use of those talents that determines success in the eyes of God, who alone holds the scales of success. Success is much more than the acquisition of material possessions. It is, rather, progressively increasing dominion in one’s sphere in obedience to God’s will as revealed in His Word and to the continuing revelation of His Holy Spirit.
Individual Performance and Conduct
The Christian in business, as he exercises God’s dominion mandate, subscribes to unchanging standards for individual performance. He is obliged to perform his responsibilities, no matter how seemingly trivial, as unto the Lord. While productive output may vary according to the talents and abilities of each individual, each one—working by this standard—will produce godly excellence, thereby increasing and expanding the dominion of God’s Kingdom on earth.
Christians in business are also obliged to pursue their efforts in a highly ethical manner, eschewing all practices and procedures that are unethical, even if they are legal. It also follows that they are obliged to promote good practices in their spheres of influence, and to expose practices contrary to God’s Law. Business activities that are controlled or manipulated for personal gain by ungodly means and methods will result in the destruction of the free market, increased coercive regulation, increased poverty, and decreased freedom under God.
The nature of the economic system in which the Christian businessman functions affects his ability to be productive and to contribute to the general good. In this regard, the principles of the free market (i.e., private ownership of property, fair competition, reward for productivity through profits, the uncontrolled pursuit of one’s dreams) more clearly conform to scriptural tenets than controlled or statist economic systems. Christian businessmen therefore should work to preserve and advance the free-market system, which is jeopardized in a wicked and perverse society. By so doing, both God’s and their dominion are increased. Resources that otherwise would be controlled by the kingdom of darkness are released to God’s purposes.
The extension of God’s rule is required in all occupations. We are admonished to exercise dominion by taking every part of the world away from the power of Satan and laying it at the feet of our Lord. He then places these areas under our stewardship, rewarding faithful service with trust and increased responsibility: “. . . to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more” (Luke 12:48).