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Is Entrepreneurship approved by God and the Church

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Is Entrepreneurship approved by God and the Church

Based on the Catholic social teachings, it is evident that the church has a bias against consumerism. The late Pope John Paul II noted in his encyclical letter on the Fatherhood of God that in every group of wealthy and surfeited individuals and societies who are ruled by pleasure and consumerism, there are also people who are suffering from hunger.[1] Such an assertion is founded on the longstanding aspect of Catholic social teaching that evinces immense concern for the poor. In fact, one of the reasons why the Catholic Church enjoyed vast success in evangelism worldwide in the initial centuries of its existence was due to its love and care for the poor in the society. As Stark states, the Catholic Church applied the precept of Mandatum novum whose outcome was the high survival rates of Catholics after plagues and famines in ancient times compared to the other groups in the society.[2]

Nonetheless, the preferential option for the poor advocated in the Catholic social teachings and the railing against consumerism by the Catholic Church does not mean that the church is against entrepreneurship and business. Elimination of poverty requires wealth and since its desire is to eradicate poverty, wealth creation through entrepreneurship and business must be promoted as a crucial contributor to the common good and the god of the human person. The scriptural backing for this assertion refers to the consideration of “the love of money” as the root of all evils. Thus, in as much the Church reviles consumerism, it does not chastise money as a facilitator of consumerism; rather, it upbraids the love of money that causes consumerism.

 

Entrepreneurship and its approval by God and the Church

There is no describing entrepreneurship without the mention of money. This is because a critical aspect of entrepreneurship is the interest in money and making money along with other attributes such as creativity, awareness of business information and novel possibilities in the market. While a normal entrepreneur will bring individuals and factors of production together for a business project, an entrepreneur of Catholic faith is also required to take into contemplation the common good in his or her operations. This is because God’s word is concerned with His saving action amongst humans and social justice issues such as caring for orphans and widows. Thus, while the Holy Writ is not a place where entrepreneurs can obtain investment advice, it espouses entrepreneurship as is seen in Sirach 42:1, 5 that states that people should not be ashamed of making meager or huge profits or gaining from commercial transactions.

Scriptures in the New Testament also promote the value of entrepreneurship. For instance, the parable of the talents found in Matthew 25: 14-30 advocates for diligence in the utilization of gifts given by God. Other parables allude to the value of entrepreneurship by referring to the extreme value of the kingdom of heaven and eternal life. It is true that these parables in the book of Matthew talk about the offer of eternal life. However, they do so through the application of the tenet of sublation as Lonergan denotes.[3] This means that while the parables bring to light a novel and distinct thing, that is, eternal life, they do not interfere with the conventional business acumen of the merchant. Instead, the parables preserve the business operations of merchants and approve their entrepreneurial aspect.

Just as the Bible approves of entrepreneurship, the writings of the Catholic Church Fathers also approve of entrepreneurship on many occasions. For example, Basil the Great supports the work undertaken by merchants while using the Creator’s garden as an exemplar “supplies the merchant with his wealth, allowing the rich to export their superfluities and blessing the poor with the supply of what they lack.” In his writings, the Father praises the merchant and his wealth and work within the basic theology of the creation while also stating that the poor are benefiting from the activities of the merchants. Therefore, the work of the merchant is contemplated as great service to humanity, especially in its eradication of poverty. Another piece of writing by a Catholic father, John Cassian states that there were Christians who in pursuit of perfection found it among a group of Christians who engaged in business activities.[4] These Christians practiced business and utilized their intelligence for survival “they devoted themselves to business alone and obtained their wealth and substance through naval commerce.”

Based on these writings by Catholic Fathers and evidence of entrepreneurship approval in the sacred text, it is safe to assert that individuals involved in business were not reviled for their business acumen. Instead, they were appreciated for their business operations in the society. A vital contributor to the consideration of entrepreneurship in light of the value of magnificence is St Thomas Aquinas. Based on the fact that St Thomas Aquinas lived at a time when the market economy was emerging, his sentiments regarding entrepreneurship are extremely vital to the perception of entrepreneurship by the Catholic Church. Based on Thomas’ writings, undertaking magnificent work requires both matter and form, that is largesse of outlay and largess of soul. This means that in as much as entrepreneurship is a crucial component of the economy, people should not seek to be entrepreneurs without first moderating their love for money. This is because if an individual loves money, he or she will be content with banking the money and obtaining risk. On the other hand, an entrepreneur who can moderate his love for money will be more willing to undertake risky and large projects. Moreover, he will be more willing to entertain the thought of the common good such as eradicating poverty rather than only thinking about himself.

Entrepreneurship and Catholic Social Teaching-is Entrepreneurship approved by God and the Church

Alterations and fluctuating circumstances in the society caused St Thomas Aquinas to contemplate more thoughtfully the prominence of the virtue of magnificence in the economics and business. I believe that similar circumstances and scenarios during the Industrial Revolution in the 18th and 19th century led the Catholic Church and other institutions to seriously rethink relationships in the social order. Of particular mention is the relationship between labor and capital. This was the benchmark of the impact of Catholic social teaching on economics through the renowned social encyclical, Rerum novarum, meaning ‘of novel things.’ For the most part until the 18th century, the society has been predominantly agrarian. Nonetheless, a preliminary perusal of ancient annals reveals that the advent of the eighteenth century was accompanied by a shift in the society towards industrialization.

The industrial revolution was characterized by a significant increase in the use of technology and inventions; a phenomenon that resulted in critical changes in quality and means of production. This means that men were no longer working from home and production was concentrated in the hands of a few individuals. Moreover, capital became the main resource, thus, wealth went to those who controlled the capital. Consequently, tensions began arising between the industrialists and poorer class of workers. Given that this emerging tension and shift in society touched on social justice, the Catholic Church adopted a social thought regarding the shift in society through the groundbreaking and renowned encyclical by Leo XIII in 1891. This encyclical presented two issues on social justice that provided the Catholic Church with a lasting paradigm for social teachings. First, Leo defended the prerogatives of workers to a fair and just wage. Second, he argued against socialism. Pope Leo was an ardent defender of ownership of private property which is a crucial aspect of entrepreneurship. He was of the opinion that ownership of private property flowed directly from nature and that taking away this prerogative from human beings would result in people losing interest in their welfare since they would no longer refer to anything as their won.Is Entrepreneurship approved by God and the Church

While this reasoning is indeed compelling and well-intended, I believe its opposition of socialism is ineffective as it does not provide an alternative and viable solution to the income and wealth gap brought about by the industrial revolution. When tensions began developing between the novel class of industrialists and the poorer class of workers during the Industrial Revolution, the socialists stepped up and promoted socialization of the means of production to curb the inequalities between the wealthy industrialists and the emerging working class. Thus, it is to some extent ironic that the Catholic Church that advocated for the eradication of poverty in the society and conducting of business for the common good would adopt a point of view that opposed an initiative to prevent poor people from becoming even poorer while the rich get even richer. However, there is a sense to the opposition of socialism by the Catholic Church.Is Entrepreneurship approved by God and the Church

While socialism would have resulted in a decrease in wealth and income inequalities in the society, it would not have necessarily brought about social justice. What this means is that there was a high likelihood of people, particularly those in positions of power and high social classes exploiting loopholes in socialism to suppress the people. I believe this is why Pope Pius XI wrote another social encyclical, the Quadragesimo anno to build on the Pope Leo’s social encyclical and the Rerum novarum by promoting and defending private action in the social order. The fact that communists and Nazi predators threatened the prerogative to private action evinces just how important the initiative was fostering social justice. While these threats were mostly social, the phenomenon that almost led to the abolishment of private initiative and action was the depression and its consequent despair that filled the air with talks of implementation of a welfare state. I believe Pope Pius XI made the right decision by refusing to give in to pressure and temptation by reiterating the need for the prerogative to private action and initiative in the society. This is because, in this instance, the Catholic Church came up with a viable alternative consideration, that is, the precept of subsidiarity formulated by Pius XI.

The tenet of subsidiarity means that instead of the state supplanting the work and role of private citizens, it can provide help that goes towards facilitating private citizens’ work and role. Through the provision of suitable working and business conditions by the state, private enterprise or entrepreneurship can flourish. Thus, in this manner the state serves and does not infringe on both the common good and private initiative. Thus, it is safe to assert that in more than forty years of Catholic social teaching, two crucial developments were influenced by the Catholic Church with respect to entrepreneurship in the economy. First, the church vehemently defended and affirmed the prerogative to private action and private property. Through discordant periods of shifts in the economy, socialism and threats from groups and movements, the Catholic Church vividly taught that no individual should have his or her prerogative to property denied. In the same manner, people’s right to private action ought to be contemplated as sacrosanct. The common good depends on this assertion being upheld in the economy. Second, the Catholic Church though its social justice teachings formulated the principle of subsidiarity and the principle of solidarity. With these principles as economic frameworks, the Catholic Church defended the people’s right to private property and just wage to enhance the material well-being of humanity.

Conclusion-is Entrepreneurship approved by God and the Church

Catholic teachings on social justice have existed since the time of Christ and so has entrepreneurship. However, while the former has faced less scrutiny and criticism, the latter has been the subject of economic discussion and faced threats from socialists and institutions with less regard for human rights. There is no doubt that the Catholic Church has influenced to a significant extent how the society views entrepreneurship in terms of its impact on social justice and the economy, as well as, in the church’s view. Through the crucial and renowned social encyclicals written by Catholic Fathers and the Church itself, the right to own private property and right to private initiative and action have been protected, defended and affirmed by the Catholic Church. These rights are extremely vital to entrepreneurship. Thus, it is safe to assert that the Catholic Church considers the task performed by entrepreneurs as a noble one since it entails fulfilling one of the prominent aspects of Catholic social justice teachings of constructing the common good while building their own humanity. This is evident in the different stances taken by Catholic Fathers and Popes. For instance, Leo XIII defends private property ownership and criticizes socialism, Pius XIII declares entrepreneurship as vital to social advancement, the Vatican II advocates the spirit of enterprise and Pope John Paul II provides a spiritual meaning and significant to role and work of entrepreneurs in the society.Is Entrepreneurship approved by God and the Church

References

Lonergan, Bernard J. F. 1972. Method In Theology. New York: Herder and Herder.

Miller, J. Michael. 2001. The Encyclicals Of John Paul II. Huntington, Ind.: Our Sunday Visitor.

Schaff, P, and H Wace. 1999. “Sulpitius Severus, Vincent Of Lerins, John Cassian, 14 Vols,”.

Vol. 11: Nicene And Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers..

Stark, Rodney. 1997. The Rise Of Christianity. San Francisco: Harper Collins Publishers.

 

 

 

 

 

[1] Miller, J. Michael. 2001. The Encyclicals Of John Paul II. Huntington, Ind.: Our Sunday Visitor.

[2] Stark, Rodney. 1997. The Rise Of Christianity. San Francisco: Harper Collins Publishers.

[3] Lonergan, Bernard J. F. 1972. Method In Theology. New York: Herder and Herder.

[4] Schaff, P, and H Wace. 1999. “Sulpitius Severus, Vincent Of Lerins, John Cassian, 14 Vols,”.

Vol. 11: Nicene And Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers..