Jeff Van Duzer, former dean of the School of Business and Economics at Seattle Pacific University notes the prevalence of this view in the introduction to his excellent book, Why Business Matters to God.
During his years as dean, Van Duzer says:
When I met with business leaders I would sometimes ask them how their identity as Christians changed how they did their work.
In other words, what difference did it make to their work that they were Christians?
Unfortunately, far too frequently, the answer that I got back was some variant of "Well, Jeff
, business is business, but I try to be honest and kind.
In other words, everyone does business the same way.
There is nothing any more particular about Christian business than there would be about the molecular formula (H2O) that a Christian scientist would use to make water from hydrogen and oxygen.
Being a Christian meant doing the same work everyone else was doing but just trying to be nicer about it - a perspective that I have come to describe disparagingly as "Enron
with a smile.
And I found myself asking if this really was all that Christianity has to say about the practice of business.
Van Duzer's book answers that question by exploring much of Scripture's rich counsel for business.
Regular readers of this column know that I agree with Van Duzer's
view that Scripture
has much to say about God's intent for business.
In fact, I believe the central thrust of that revelation is how the First Principle of God's moral universe - 'Love your neighbor' - is meant to thoroughly infuse and inform our understanding of the purpose and practice of business.
But this column intends neither to reprise Van Duzer's
exploration of biblical business counsel, nor offer my own.
Instead, I want to address what I believe is the root cause of the 'business is business' view that Van Duzer
found so prevalent among Christian business people.