FAITH & ECONOMICS
NUMBER 76, Fall 2020
A Faithful Presence in a Broken Economy
Jeff Van Duzer
Seattle Pacific University
This paper is part of a symposium organized in cooperation with the AEI Initiative on Faith and Public Life titled: “In the Contemporary United States What Would a Truly Humane Economy Look Like?“
Abstract: Start-ups and other small businesses have a role to play in addressing the economy’s significant systemic and structural challenges. We briefly outline six frequent critiques of our current economy: income and wealth inequality, the decline in dignified work, the adverse impact of business on the environment, the short-term focus of business, the financialization of the economy, and the corrupting power of business. We
then explore an application of James Davison Hunter’s “faithful presence” strategy for cultural change to businesses and identify four perspectives that a Christian leader in a start-up or small venture should adopt as an antidote to these economic challenges. These perspectives include focusing on God’s general and particular calling for each business, viewing all employees as God’s image-bearers, approaching government as a partner rather than as an adversary, and grounding the business in a local community. By adopting these perspectives, small businesses can redress, at least in part, the previously identified shortcomings of business and contribute to the creation of a more humane economy.