Filtered Minds

A Christian business executive I know attended a three-week course in business ethics at Harvard Business School. I was eager to hear his reaction. Surely, I thought, a Christian will see that Harvard has abandoned any belief in absolutes and can't teach real ethics. To my surprise, the executive raved about the course. "I learned some real practical ethical pointers," he told me. "It's summed up in what the professor said on the last day of class: 'Never do anything you think might end up in the newspapers.' " I thought he was joking. He wasn't. The man appeared to be a mature Christian, the kind of person who would walk into a Harvard classroom and subject the contents of the course to a critical biblical analysis. Instead, he himself had been subjected to a crash course in pragmatism: Good ethics is merely good business; there is no absolute right or wrong; if it works, do it; just don't get caught. How had my friend missed it? How had he let a secular view of ethics slip through the filter of his biblically trained mind? Ah, there's the rub. What does it mean to have a biblically trained mind? Many Christians think of biblical faith in very narrow terms. We think of it as religion, as something expressed in church attendance, prayer, worship, but without much relevance to the larger world outside. But that's not the biblical view. The biblical view is that faith has to do with all of life. Every decision we make reflects what we believe and what we value. Abraham Kuyper was a great Dutch theologian in the early part of this century. Kuyper argued that if Christians are going to be strong enough to stand against the philosophy of secularism, they must articulate a philosophy that is just as comprehensive as secularism. Christianity must be an all-embracing system of thought that gives us a perspective from which to view every part of life: family, church, work, politics, science, art, and culture. In short, Christianity must be a world view: a view of the entire world, an intellectual grid through which we can interpret everything we see or read or do. God created the world, and everything in the world relates to Him. Any honest work in any part of God's creation has dignity and can be done unto the Lord. If my friend had understood this, he wouldn't have been suckered in by the ethics course at Harvard. When we have a Christian view of all of life, we won't merely absorb a secular outlook on ethics—or on any subject, for that matter. We will learn instead to challenge the false views of life rampant in our culture. In my next commentary I'll explain what happened in the last century when Christians truly acted on the basis of a complete biblical view of the world.


Chuck Colson


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