Today I want to talk about the first of what I believe are the three core, biblical truths that lead us to see capitalism as a moral, economic system. Creation is foundational to capitalism because capitalism is fundamentally a creative endeavour. I can feel the pushback or even confusion already. Are you trying to tell me that business is creative? The answer is a resounding yes!
But first about our calling as creators. The very first words of the very first verse of the very first chapter of the Bible are;
‘“In the beginning, God created …” (Genesis 1:1)
Throughout the first chapter of Genesis we see that God created the heavens and the earth, the land and the sea, the night and the day, the plants and the animals, and he created man and woman. In essence, God is a creator and he has made something out of nothing.
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth . . . (Genesis 1:27-28a)
He created man and woman in his own image and as such, we too are purposed to be creators. Whereas God made something out of nothing however, men and women are created to make something out of the raw materials he has already been made. We are called to be pro-creators and re-producers and throughout history, men and women have been applauded for their ability to create, whether as traditional artists (painting, sculpture, music, and film) or as artisans (carpenters, seamstresses, or silversmiths). But what does creativity in capitalism look like?
In its most raw form, creativity in capitalism looks like entrepreneurialism. On one level, it is the intentional act of creating a product or service. It is the entrepreneur seeing a need in the market and striving to fill that space; It is the industrial designer designing the most useful widget she can; It is the production engineer figuring out the most efficient process to manufacture them; and it is the employees who makes and sells them.
On another level, we have all those companies and people who help facilitate the process. They can include lawyers and accounts, or investment bankers and stock brokers. Although these people are generally not consider “producers” in the traditional sense, not only do they help create companies which create and sell products and services, but through the process of providing their own services, they too build up their own companies, they provide services, and they employ people.
I realise that most people are never going to see an entrepreneur in the same creative light as a sculptor. Even though their end product is not necessarily as aesthetic (although we can think of Steve Jobs and Apple), entrepreneurs are creators in the most fundamental sense of the meaning. Capitalism is the system that facilitates these people to be producers, by providing them with the infrastructure that allows them the freedom to pursue their dreams.
In his book Business for the Business for the Glory of God, Wayne Grudem argues:
That is why God made us with a desire to be productive, to make or do something useful for other people. . . such desires to be more productive represent God-given desires to accomplish and achieve and solve problems. (28)