Previous | Next

July 1979 · Vol. 8 No. 3 · p. 15 

Two Additional Factors

Response to “The Church’s Responsibility in the Marketplace” by Calvin Redekop 8/3 (1979): 3–13.

Vern Ratzlaff

Redekop reminds us of issues which arise when Christians do business in the name of faithfulness. I would like to pose two additional factors.

1. Philanthropy and the Profit Factor. Profits increase by decreasing production costs or increasing the selling price. When profits from a business are used to support mission projects, schools, and other philanthropies, should we not recognize that the real benefactors are the consumers who have been overcharged and/or the workers who have been underpaid? I know a seminary student whose rent was raised because the landlord needed to raise the money to meet a mission pledge.

2. The Product Utility Factor. We have held that some business ventures (liquor manufacture?) are suspect. But what about businesses which utilize non-renewable resources for less than necessary functions or which create conspicuous consumption out of all proportion to living needs in any culture? For example, can we justify all of the recreational vehicle and travel industry? A friend in the construction business quit because he could no longer in good conscience build houses for Christian Mennonites whose expectations for living area and non-utilized space are incommensurate with a global ethic.

Vern Ratzlaff is Director of Mennonite Central Committee (Manitoba), Winnipeg.

Previous | Next