Acton Institute Powerblog

Civil Society, Entrepreneurship, and the Common Good

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Acton University has been full of thought provoking lectures and stimulating discussion. It is easy to see why the attendees wish the conference was much longer. There are many interesting lectures, one just wishes he or she could attend all of them.

Yesterday Dr. John Bolt, of Calvin Theological Seminary, taught a course titled “Centralization and Civil Society.” Bolt’s course paid special attention to Alexis de Tocqueville and his contributions to defining a civil society. As one can imagine, by bringing Tocqueville into his lecture, Bolt discussed the role of religion and the sense of community in the United States.

Bolt explained that America is self-reliant; however, this self-reliance didn’t come through reflection. The American people didn’t wake up one day and decide they wanted to be more self-reliant. Instead, Bolt explains that America’s self-reliance is habitual. Furthermore, Bolt discussed how Tocqueville demonstrated that America can afford to be self-reliant and individualistic because it was founded on Christian principles and that liberty exists in the United States because of religion and Christian principles.

The dinner lecture was a real treat last night. The Acton Institute has always promoted entrepreneurship and what it means to intertwine faith with entrepreneurship. A panel of successful entrepreneurs shared their insight on how business can promote the common good. Betsy DeVos, chairman of the American Federation for Children and Alliance for School Choice and chairman of the Windquest group, articulated how she finds joy in enterprises that make a difference in other people’s lives. She believes that enterprise is a vehicle we use and invest our God given talents in.

According to Mark Murray, president of Meijer, Inc., entrepreneurs need to be servant leaders. In order to succeed they must remain rooted in integrity. Murray explained how the values found in Christianity, such as humility, are not only applicable but needed in business. Furthermore, we are all created in the mage and likeness of God. We are called to use our God given gifts and express our creativity. Murray believes we put our talents and creativity to use through work, and the development of the human capacity is promoted through business.

Stewardship was highlighted by John Kennedy, president and CEO of Autocam. We are all temporary custodians of everything and have to do the best with the assets we are given. Furthermore, Kennedy said that we must remember people and employees are all assets and leaders must discover the gifts of their employees and how those gifts can most help the enterprise. Not only are employees assets, but so is capital. Entrepreneurs are called to be stewards of both their employees and capital and use all they are given to the fullest extent, and by doing this entrepreneurs demonstrate their appreciation for all God has given and blessed them with.

While there are flawed business leaders who are not examples of how businesses contribute to the common good, Acton University attendees witnessed what it really means to be called to entrepreneurship. When the calling of entrepreneurship is accepted and founded in Christian principles, the entrepreneur is a tool to create and promote the common good.

Louie Glinzak


  • Roger McKinney

    Excellent article!

    If you look closer, you’ll find the Circle of Protection
    signatories are part of the Jim Wallis anti-economics crowd. They consider the
    science of economics to be evil.


    Trashing the field of economics is extremely popular with
    the masses today. It began with two people. Marx initially considered himself
    an economist. Then when he couldn’t defend his nonsense against a tsunami of
    criticism from real economists, he decided to discredit the entire field. Socialists
    tend to be very anti-economics.


    The other critic of economics was Carlysle, a racist who
    hated the fact that most economists of his day opposed slavery. He gave the
    field the unflattering term “dismal science.” Every reporter who uses that term
    promotes the trashing of economics.


    The anti-economics crowd prefers their medieval economics in
    which wealth is static and one person can gain wealth only at the expense of
    another. All rich people are guilty of taking from the poor to enrich
    themselves, so the only way to help the poor is through forced redistribution
    of wealth.


    The public needs to know that the Circle of Protection
    signatories don’t care about the poor; they only care about promoting their
    medieval economics.

    • Roger McKinney

      Sorry! I posted this comment under the wrong article. I reposted it under “Budget Morality”. You can delete this comment.