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Saturday, 31 October 2009

The Market-oriented Economy with Church and the Market-oriented Economy without Church

Posted by ChinaSource Wednesday, 16 September 2009

From the Hebrew, God’s perspective, God is not the creator of truth, but Truth itself. One’s knowledge of Truth is only from God’s inspiration. Just like a radio, one cannot receive anything if there is no signal from God. Compared to Absolute Truth itself, human knowledge of truth is relative and limited.

The first place I landed in the U. S. was Boston. I could see churches with pinnacle roofs everywhere, more numerous than banks and rice stores in China. In fact, from the east coast to the west, from small towns to cities, one could easily see that most of the buildings were churches. Churches, and only churches, seemed to be the center of America. On Sundays, people on the streets were either going to church or coming back from church.
Americans are not nerds. There must be some reason for the large number of churches and Christian bookstores. The reason is there is a big difference between the market-oriented economy with church and the one without it.

The main goal of a market-oriented economy is to help people get ahead. A market-oriented economy does not take money from investors, but it cannot be responsible for those who choose to lie and harm others in the process. The existence of the market-oriented economy is dangerous because it can be tempting to some to lie and desire to do harm to others for the purpose of profiting by any and all means. This is the trend in China right now. Many Chinese think the market-oriented economy equals making money, and making money always justifies the means.

However, a market-oriented economy with church is different. Are you pursuing honesty? If so, you would know that a product of faith is honesty.

We cannot be sure of individual motive, but most businessmen who regularly attend church practice business with integrity. It is easier for those who have a respect for morality and desire to obey biblical principles than for those who do not. Why is this so? Max Webster, in his book, Ethics and Capitalism, has explained that even though the goal is to accumulate wealth, Christians pursue wealth not for their own benefit but for “God’s Glory” and for an eternal reward. A wealth ethic means that the object of making money is in agreement with its means. To gain wealth through lies or unethical methods is to disobey God and brings damnation upon oneself. Christians have understood the right way to become wealthy and in the process have become men and women of character and noble thinking. From this point of view, the market-oriented economy is most effective when it is combined with market ethics, just like good horses with good saddles.

From a human perspective, the most successful business model in the market-oriented economy is one combined with church. The largest and sweetest fruit becomes the end product only when we do business in the market-oriented economy in an honest manner and not at the expense of others.

The other big difference between a market-oriented economy with church and one without is that the former abides by a set of common rules. Those who share the same faith have a tendency to trust each other. I found a paper which illustrates this on religion and economics in NBER which had done many case studies in over 100 countries. One discovery made was that in the religious countries the unwritten rules were much more common than in the non-religious countries. Law is the strongest support that churches offer behind the market rules. The fact that the market-oriented economy with church is more open has been proven by that NBER paper. The reason is that under God, the core spirit of equality and great love bring people openness, forgiveness and respect.

Whether there is a church or not can influence the outcome of history. Before the beginning Word, all we need to do is to choose. For example, to choose to believe in God is one response, but to choose not to believe in God is another response. To choose to believe in God and follow him enthusiastically is one response, and to choose to believe in God but not to follow him is the other response. How one views the development of life, the world, country and business affects many things. There is a story to explain what we have discussed above, told by one of my business friends.

During World War II, Japanese fighter pilots were able to fly their planes higher, faster and better than the American ones, but the Japanese were still beaten by the Americans. Of course, there are many reasons for this, but one important reason is often overlooked. Americans valued life more than the Japanese. The Japanese Air Force believed in “bushido” (the warrior spirit) where pilots would sacrifice their lives for their country. The Americans, under a Judeo-Christian influence, felt that life was very valuable and fragile. As the first-string Japanese pilots continued to die for the honor of the emperor of Japan, the American forces used their best pilots as instructors. While the Japanese focused on flight speed and height and encouraged pilots to fight to the death, the Americans spent large amounts of money to build heavy, slow but thick planes so that those planes could protect the pilots’ lives. As a result, the American pilots kept their lives, but the Japanese pilots were gradually defeated, allowing the Americans to win the war.

Another important impact widens the balance between the rich and poor. Max says it is more difficult for a rich man to enter heaven than for an elephant to go through the eye of a needle. Those who show off their wealth use their money improperly and that is not pleasing to God. For a sincere rich Christian, it is another case. His faith tells him that gaining wealth should only be for God’s glory. He is accountable to God and must use the money wisely. Remaining humble is what earns God’s praises. Therefore, in the U.S., we see wealthy people who have donated ten percent of their property to the church and have shared their money with other believers. We see those who are at the top of the wealth list and are also at the top of the donation list. The relationship between the poor and the rich is not incompatible.

Looking back, there was an old Chinese man who swung his hand and said China allowed a few people to gain wealth first. However, how did those few people use their money? First, they renovated their ancestors’ tombs, which was a typical event in the 1980s. Secondly, they entered into sexual relationships with other women which is still happening today. Thirdly, some of them built homes the size of the White House. Fourthly, we see some of this nouveau riche traveling all over the world with their money. However, we know God is not pleased by any of these ungodly behaviors. Without God’s restraint, all these phenomena would occur quite often. Such indulgence and lust inevitably cause others’ wrath and God’s punishment. What should we do about it? In my opinion, we all need to spend our time reading the Bible.

From Boston to Indiana, wandering throughout the grand land of North America, listening to the profound ringing of church bells, I could not help thinking of an old poem written by a passionate poet many years ago. It goes as follows:

Fear God’s power

Fear lightning

Also fear thunder in the sky

Only with a fearful heart, can one be saved. Only with faith, can the market-oriented economy retain its soul.

This author, Ph.D. is a professor of Economics at Beijing Science and Technology University. He is also Executive Director of Cypress Leadership Institute. He and his wife have two children and live in Beijing.

Used with permission from Esquire magazine.



Capitalism without under the guidance of faith and fear of the everlasting after-life punishment will finally become EVIL as there is nothing to stop it to become one.

1 comment:

  1. A God-fearing country is the most blessed nation on earth. All nations should uphold God's precepts and principles and peace will be restored in humans' hearts.


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