The Center for Christian Business Ethics Today (the Center) was established in 2009 to address the need for application of traditional Christian principles to business operations. The Center focuses on the ethical issues arising in the details of operating a business. The Center does not assume a global understanding of right and wrong for every situation. Rather the Center believes ethics starts with a clear understanding of the standards of right and wrong, then applies these principles to the gray areas of global commerce.
The logo for the Center is an extension of the principle of standards. The philosophical side of ethics endeavors to derive the standards by which man’s actions can be evaluated. The law is one such set of standards, but generally it is viewed as inadequate. Therefore ethics are those standards that raise behavior above the law. The Center finds that God’s standards as set forth in God’s Word, the Bible, transcend while incorporating both the law and ethics.
Therefore the Center’s logo is a circle with three colored bands. The black band represents the law, the minimum standard for proper behavior. The gold band represents man’s perspectives on proper ethical behavior, generally rising above the law and setting the higher standard. The green band represents God’s law, the universally high standard for all human behavior. These three are merged into a single circle to represent that all human behavior is in God’s creation, His world. Therefore, all human behavior is subject to God’s law as the ultimate standard. These principles apply to business just as much as to any other aspect of human community.
The Christian approach to business necessarily adheres to God’s views on business and economics as found in His world. Several key theological concepts frame the Christian’s approach to business. First, God is the Sovereign and the Creator. In short we do business in God’s world. Second, God created man for His glory and man owes his effort to giving God glory even in business. Third, man fell in the Garden of Eden and through that fall has a corrupted nature that has a propensity to do wrong. Fourth, redemption theology is important because it shows that God’s priority is in man’s salvation rather than just more current social and environmental issues.
An example of why this theology is important can be seen in the design of the daily operations of all businesses relative to internal controls. This Christian theology provides the finest answer to the question of why businesses must have internal controls. A business recognizes that each employee is subject to doing wrong and sets up mechanisms to protect the business from such wrong behavior. Internal controls are designed to protect the assets of the business from loss or theft. Stated another way, internal controls are designed to aid in preventing a person from being
tempted beyond what they are able to bear.
In addition to the concepts of right and wrong as given by God’s Word, the Center encourages an understanding of the distinction between the principles of business operations and the ethics in applying such principles. Science provides an illustration of this distinction in that gravity is a principle that is a given rather than subject to ethical application. Similarly, in business, that a profit is required in order to stay in business, is a given. The ethical application of making a profit relates to degrees of profit and treatment of customers in generating a profit. As the Center analysis business activity for ethical consideration, the separation of principles from business to ethics will be a starting place for discussion.
By way of contrast, many business ethics organizations focus on either governance or corporate social responsibility. The Center does not ignore the importance of governance and corporate social responsibility, but puts these in a different position relative to operating a business. The Center’s emphasis is first on running the business. Once the business is running properly, the governance and social issues can be addressed. As noted, governance and social issues are explored in other settings, therefore, the Center will endeavor to reference such material rather than recreating the same.