Introduction to “Business Ethics” Issue

[1] This issue of the Journal of Lutheran Ethics deals with business ethics, a topic that impacts the lives of everyone – worker, manager, investor, and/or concerned citizen. Three authors in this issue speak to various facets of this topic.

[2] Eric Mount sets forth an argument for recovering traditional norms of covenant, community, and the common good from the neglect and abuse they have suffered in recent decades. He describes reasons for the erosion of these values. And he describes in detail the implications of these three norms for contemporary business ethics and corporate culture. He concludes that only through visionary moral leadership will there exist a culture of covenantal integrity and concern for the common good.

[3] Stewart W. Herman brings both business ethics and Jesus’ moral teaching together in light of rule-based ethics (aimed at compliance) and goal-based ethics (aimed at improving achievement). He claims that both business ethicists and the Bible and are concerned about how moral character is shaped and developed, and describes two models of character formation, found in both business ethics and the New Testament.

[4] James M. Childs also addresses the matter of character development, and specifically the Christian vision of servant leadership. In the face of ethical collapse in many corporate cultures, Childs holds up the example of a prominent corporate leader who openly connected his leadership style with his Christian convictions. Childs argues that a Christian view of vocation provides a vision for serving God’s purposes for humanity.

[5] Two essays outside the theme are offered in this issue of JLE . Terence E. Fretheim provides a stimulating discussion of the authority of the Bible in relation to churchly debates regarding sexuality. He describes how those who hold widely diverse perspectives on the interpretations of biblical texts regarding sexuality are nonetheless often in basic agreement regarding the authority of the Bible; and conversely, those who hold very different views of biblical authority often find themselves in agreement about matters of sexuality. Fretheim explores the implications of this reality for how we view and use biblical authority in ethical discussions.

[6] David L. Miller provides a personal reflection on how the passage of time and the exigencies of modern life may cause us to fail in our vocation as friends. He argues for understanding the sacramental character of friendship that leads us out of ourselves to participation in God’s care for the concerns and needs of others.