9 Things Christians Investors Need To Know About Handling The Dilemma Of Investing In A World Of Sin
Last time we talked about how to distinguish between different types of faith-based investing, and the importance of getting a good return and doing it with integrity. Most folks do their investing in publicly traded markets, not in the exclusive world of venture capital deals. But, as we said last time, this raises certain questions.
“In order to get a return one must venture out into investment markets. Markets, like all human endeavors, is infected with sin, which means that Christians who work in investment must contend with issues of morality in the markets.”
Below we will focus on the issues having to do with dealing with the moral questions which arise when one goes out into those public markets.
- The conversation among Christians has focused largely on the moral aspects of investment, and we will continue to focus on that element here. However, the wisdom aspect deserves focused attention in the future.
- There are four strategies we see in the Christian investing discussion when it comes to dealing with the problem of sin and immorality in financial markets: avoidance of sin, embrace the morally praiseworthy, active engagement on moral questions with the companies we invest in, or deferral of the question due to confusion and lack of consensus.
- These approaches don’t have to be mutually exclusive; one could employ negative sin screens, positive impact investing screens, engage with the sinful behaviors of companies that are not screened out, and also remain neutral on some of the individual questions involved.
- Since neither the Christian church, the evangelical Christian movement, nor the Christian financial profession have come to consensus on any of these topics, they are personal convictions and by definition debatable issues.
- Christians should not judge one another on such debatable issues. The New Testament controversies over eating with pagans, eating meat sacrificed to idols, the honoring of various holy days and other questions about the level of engagement with a pagan culture stand as an example to us when it comes to such questions. Such items have been treated in the scriptures as matters of ‘liberty of conscience’. When the client has a conscience issue with a certain investment, they should not violate their conscience, and it is a good thing to make screens available to them to help them act in faith.
- In such matters, the only practice clearly condemned by Scripture is to act in such a way as to create a ‘stumbling block‘.
- The Biblical requirement is greater than merely refraining from creating a stumbling block; it is active love for the brethren.
- Our world is being torn apart by political and cultural conflict. Christians can either mirror the world’s conflicts in microcosm or else we can mirror peace, love and unity to a world which is rapidly losing those virtues.
- I personally think that engagement is the approach to dealing with the issues of sin in financial markets which has been most neglected, whereas screening has gotten a great deal of conversational attention. At the recent Kingdom Advisors conference I presented my research, which looked at the life of Jesus as presented in the Gospels as an example of engagement.
Originally published on Townhall Finance.
Jerry Bowyer is a Forbes contributor, contributing editor of AffluentInvestor.com, and Senior Fellow in Business Economics at The Center for Cultural Leadership.
Jerry has compiled an impressive record as a leading thinker in finance and economics. He worked as an auditor and a tax consultant with Arthur Anderson, as Vice President of the Beechwood Company which is the family office associated with Federated Investors, and has consulted in various privatization efforts for Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. He founded the influential economic think tank, the Allegheny Institute, and has lectured extensively at universities, businesses and civic groups.
Jerry has been a member of three investment committees, among which is Benchmark Financial, Pittsburgh’s largest financial services firm. Jerry had been a regular commentator on Fox Business News and Fox News. He was formerly a CNBC Contributor, has guest-hosted “The Kudlow Report”, and has written for CNBC.com, National Review Online, and The Wall Street Journal, as well as many other publications. He is the author of The Bush Boom and more recently The Free Market Capitalist’s Survival Guide, published by HarperCollins. Jerry is the President of Bowyer Research.
Jerry consulted extensively with the Bush White House on matters pertaining to the recent economic crisis. He has been quoted in the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes Magazine, The International Herald Tribune and various local newspapers. He has been a contributing editor of National Review Online, The New York Sun and Townhall Magazine. Jerry has hosted daily radio and TV programs and was one of the founding members of WQED’s On-Q Friday Roundtable. He has guest-hosted the Bill Bennett radio program as well as radio programs in Chicago, Dallas and Los Angeles.
Jerry is the former host of WorldView, a nationally syndicated Sunday-morning political talk show created on the model of Meet The Press. On WorldView, Jerry interviewed distinguished guests including the Vice President, Treasury Secretary, HUD Secretary, former Secretary of Sate Condoleezza Rice, former Presidential Advisor Carl Rove, former Attorney General Edwin Meese and publisher Steve Forbes.
Jerry has taught social ethics at Ottawa Theological Hall, public policy at Saint Vincent’s College, and guest lectured at Carnegie Mellon’s graduate Heinz School of Public Policy. In 1997 Jerry gave the commencement address at his alma mater, Robert Morris University. He was the youngest speaker in the history of the school, and the school received more requests for transcripts of Jerry’s speech than at any other time in its 120-year history.
Jerry lives in Pennsylvania with his wife, Susan, and the youngest three of their seven children.