A Review of The Creation of Wealth: Recovering a Christian Understanding of Money, Work, and Ethics
Writing in the context of the global economy, his multifaceted experience in Parliament, and as a CEO, the author, Fred Catherwood, shows the need and benefits of applying Christian principles in the marketplace.
Catherwood devotes a chapter each to such subjects as “Work,” “Wealth,” “Fair Trading,” “The Global Economy,” and “The Electronic Economy.” Although technology has changed the business sector globally, he argues that bedrock Christian principles such as a strong work ethic, truth, trust, and compassionate concern for others remain at the core of good business practice. He provides concrete examples from his own experience regarding the positive rewards and natural consequences of such practices. It is encouraging to read of Christians who have brought Biblical thinking into the high echelons of business organization as well as civil government. Very often there is the false dichotomy that Christianity is for private life and not intended for the work arena.
He uses examples of the sound business practices of the Huguenots as well as the impact of Christian businessmen in other economies to illustrate the historic role that Christianity has played in the past. He challenges the church to become more involved in aiding the impoverished, in moral instruction, and in ministering to single mothers.
Along with his stressing a strong church presence in ethical training and mercy ministries, he also points out the importance of a strong government in regard to aiding the poor. He is supportive of civil government’s programs for health care and employment even through higher taxation. I personally have many questions regarding the government’s involvement in these areas. However, if Christians do not seek to minister to the needy, we can expect the government to become heavily involved. When he writes of government having a major economic goal of full employment, he does not deal with the fact that not everyone wants to work. The problem is not always that there are not jobs available.
The final chapter is devoted to qualities that define a good leader. Using examples such as Moses, David, etc., he examines such characteristics as vision, delegation, patience, courage, and fair wages. This chapter is insightful and practical. It is clear that the leadership elements he discusses are practices he has tried to implement in his various positions.
His examples regarding corruption, mistrust, greed, and selfishness show how a lack of Christian ethics leads to poverty at home and abroad.
I noted a few points in reading this volume that need correction. He states that corrupt judges can be removed by popular election; however, in some cases judges are appointed, not elected. He also defines the United States as “the world’s first democracy” (p. 79). America is, in fact, a constitutional republic. Although many government officials are elected by popular vote, the Constitution’s authors put the electoral college system in place to prevent our presidents from necessarily being elected by majority national vote.
Catherwood is concerned that the historic Christian influence, which formed the bedrock for the Western rise in economic success and business innovation, has been lost because man has exchanged Christian ethical practices for short-term gains and the satisfaction of personal greed. Although I would see a more limited government involvement than Catherwood does, his volume is insightful. He, unlike many, sees the importance of Christianity in the national and international business arenas and shows that it can be implemented for society’s good and God’s glory in our own day.