What is the purpose of a for-profit business? Just for revenue to exceed expenses or something more? The Acton Institute and Calvin College recently answered this question by co-sponsoring a Symposium on Common Grace and the role it plays in business. Chris Meehan of CRC (Christian Reformed Church) Communications attended the event held at Calvin’s Prince Conference Center and recently wrote about it. He quotes keynote speaker, Peter Heslam, director of Transforming Business. “Business can be a positive agent in society,” Heslam told the participants. “Christians ought to value the transformational qualities that business can have.”
Heslam works particularly closely with faculty at Cambridge’s divinity and business schools and with leaders in international business. He has also published widely, including a book on Kuyper.
In his talk, Heslam said that Kuyper’s ideas, especially that every “square inch” of the world is under the sovereignty of God, apply to economics in significant ways.
“Faith and business do mix,” he said. “We know that God calls people to specific roles, and they feel called to business.
“The church and business can have a mutual relationship,” he said. “There are business people who refuse to separate their business practices and their theology.”
This is a message, Heslam explained, that he seeks to get across to those churches that believe businesses should be about liberating and not primarily transforming people.
Those who favor liberation often have a negative view of business, thinking, among other things, that business has no heart for its workers and that the bottom-line is what matters, he said.
But, he continued, it is important to consider that transformation, the other approach, “encourages Christians to participate in business…and to use their commercial skills to uplift society.”
I encourage you to read all of Meeham’s ‘Mixing Common Grace and Business.’ If you’re interested to learn more about Abraham Kuyper and his work on the concept of Common Grace, visit the Abraham Kuyper Translation Society’s Page and Christian Library Press’s English translations of his various works.