The industrial revolution and the development of the modern capitalistic system led to problems bet. owners and financiers of industrial enterprises (capital) and those carrying out the actual production (labor). The problems are complicated on the level of capital by the fact that those financing the operations are frequently concerned only by way of investment and return of interest or dividends, while the management of the operations is entrusted to employees; and on the level of labor by the modern organization of labor into unions, headed by professional leaders, who bargain with the management for the most advantageous wage and working conditions and enforce their demands by strikes.The Christian is concerned with these problems on two levels. On the 1st level he is mind ful of the behavior of the Christian who is himself an owner or stockholder in industry, a unit in the management, or a worker. That behavior will be conditioned by Christian love. The Holy Spirit at work in the Christian because of the redemption of Jesus Christ will actuate in him the readiness to be concerned for the other person at the expense of personal sacrifice, if need be, and to look at his relationship as a field of calling in which he can glorify God through his acts of love. In these situations the Christian confronts reactions of his own flesh and patterns of selfishness in the world around him, in which disregard for the interests of the other party is rationalized. Since folkways of behavior and attitudes of class consciousness are deeply rooted, it behooves the Christian to be doubly alert and sober in maintaining the watchfulness of love, and in carrying out the principles of love (Eph 6:59; Cl 3:22 to 25; 4:1).
On the 2d level the Christian is concerned for the welfare also of those who do not profess the Christian religion, and for his fellow Christians under the influence of those who are not Christians. That means that he will be interested in the leadership of corporations, the techniques of management and labor relations, and the operations of labor unions. He will be anxious to have Christians be influential in their direction. He will be interested in the part which the govt. will play in the conciliation of labor disputes, the regulation of securities, the supervision of labor unions. He will be anxious that the right ethical guidance will be imparted in the schools and universities of the land.Christians recognize that capital property is not in itself a sin, but are aware of the Savior's warnings that it can become a snare for the soul (Mk 10:2331; cf. 1 Ti 6:17). On the other hand, while understanding that the drudgery of labor is one of the curses of sin, they are aware of the dignity of work and put the capacity of the spiritual man to work in a zestful carrying out of the opportunities of labor (Eph 4:28). RRC
J. Daniel, The Church and Labor-Management Problems of Our Day (Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, 1947) and Labor, Industry, and the Church (St. Louis, 1957); Christianity and Property, ed. J. F. Fletcher (Philadelphia, 1947).
Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
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