5 Views: Business

H. Richard Niebuhr's classic book, Christ and Culture, shows how Christians have 5 different ways of engaging culture. Niebuhr summarizes these as, 1) Christ against culture; 2) Christ of culture; 3) Christ above culture; 4) Christ and culture in paradox; and 5) Christ the transformer of culture. These views apply to each of the 7 cultural mountains summarized at www.Covenant.net/7Mountains. To show how these five views apply to business, please view the following grid:

Position Christ Against Culture Christ Above Culture Christ the Transformer
of Culture
Christ and Culture Paradox Christ in Culture
Niebuhr's Order 1 3 5 4 2
Summary Culture is too corrupt so Christians must withdraw into Christ-centered colonies. The secular and sacred can be blended when leaders are given authority to seek the highest good. Sinful man can redeem culture through institutions that affirm the Lordship of Christ, the law of God, and the leading of the Holy Spirit. Man respects the Kingdom of God on Sunday morning and on the church campus while respecting a pietistic salvation message that gives believers "peace" as they support leaders who deny the Lordship of Christ on 6 of the 7 cultural mountains. The secular and sacred can be blended with "values neutral" ethics at the core.
Proponents Anabaptists, including Amish, Mennonites, and Hutterites Aquinas and some of Abraham Kuyper's followers. Augustine, Calvin, and some Dutch theologians. Luther and many Baptists Thomas Jefferson and Roger Williams
Typical Business Church-Centric Business: Business owners engage in trade with fellow members of the institiononal church while eschewing most engagement with the secular marketplace. Christians may only trade with those in the "Christian yellow pages" even if businesses in the secular yellow pages provide better quality and service. Church-Based Business: A megachurch, parachurch or large denomination actively creates property (books, videos, training programs, etc.) and generates revenues inside a non-profit organization that builds wealth and influence without paying taxes. Free Enterprise Business: Teachings of Augustine, Calvin and other Reformed thinkers are applied to encourage free enterprise and to give business leaders ample freedom to apply Christian principles and practices while building prosperous business entities. The freedom is guided by spirit (2 Corinthians 3:17) and truth (John 8:32, Galatians 5:1). "Baptized Humanism" Business: Pastors preach about the "Kingdom of God" and economic (stewardship) principles on Sunday morning and on the church campus but do not directly address economic and legal issues faced throughout the week by business people in the pews. Instead of focusing on the Lordship of Jesus in business, there is an emphasis on how Jesus as the savior can protect church members in the humanistic* "kingdom of man". Secular Business: In the name of "tolerance," the government grants charters (approves all articles of incorporation) for business and then limits hiring based on religion, discourages prayer meetings during working hours, challenges governance based on Biblical teachings, restricts corporate chaplains, limits the use of Christian arbitration, and stipulates which customers may be served (such as if a Christian business owner does not want to support sinful lifestyles).

* Humanistic = Centered around relativistic principles articulated by non-Christian business leaders instead of Biblical principles followed by Christian business leaders