Purposeful Capital – by Brett Johnson

Purposeful Capital by Brett Johnson

(Summary of The Kingdom Summit 2015 session by Brett Johnson)

BLINDSPOT

There was an article that was in the Wall street journal by Sir. Jonathan Sacks who is a rabbi in the United Kingdom. He basically said, ‘the West was caught unprepared by the rise of the Islamic state, as it was a decade and a half ago by the attacks of Al-Qaeda’. Why was that? The unpreparedness was not accidental. It happened because of a blind spot in the secular mindset. The scripture would refer to a ‘blind spot in the mindset’ as a ‘stronghold’.

This blind spot was the inability to see the element of world-shaking power of religion when hijacked by politics. Ever since the rise of modern science intellectuals have been convinced that faith is about to die.

So in 1989, the year of the collapse of the Berlin Wall, people thought that was the end of religion and economics, of God in business, the end of religious influence on finance and politics. But they were totally wrong. He goes on to talk about the fact that man has a desire for meaning, for purpose and we cannot separate the desire for meaning and purpose from the reality of what happens in the marketplace.

THE MYTH OF HAND-TO-MOUTH EXISTENCE

Let us now move on to another wrong notion that capital is bad. Many Christians live with a wilderness mindset. They think that we have to live from hand to mouth. They think that ‘no capital’ equals ‘spiritual’. And that’s simply not true. We know that the nation of Israel left Egypt loaded. We know that Abraham, the father of our faith was a wealthy man who lived on the trade route between Baghdad and Cairo. And so we see that capital is crucial to God’s plan for purposes. It would have been difficult to establish a nation without walking out of Egypt with their capital.

DEFINITION OF CAPITALISM

Let us now look at the definition of capitalism. ‘Capitalism’ is the ‘economic system where people are engaged or encouraged to make voluntary exchanges within a system of rules that prohibits fraud and theft’. From this definition we will see that corruption kills capitalism.

2 VIEWS ABOUT MONEY

There is a view that money is just a medium of exchange – a way to earn interest, to store wealth, to hoard for difficult times, to become independently wealthy and so on. But that’s a wrong view. Money has a much greater purpose – to help us to fulfill our calling and that God can get the return on investment that Jesus deserves.

DANGERS OF CAPITAL

Here are some dangers of capital.

  1. Controlling capital. Capital is meant to empower and not to control.
  1. Capital accumulation being the goal. You have seen the bumper sticker, ‘he who dies with the most toys win.’ The reality is that he who dies with the most toys dies. Right? And so, the concept of the kingdom of God is flow through not flow in. There’s actually a money manager in the United States who has actually written a book called the Wealth Conundrum. When he had an encounter with God after visiting Mother Teresa in India and seeing all the poverty, he began to think about temporary assets vs. permanent assets. He decided that temporary assets were things like what’s in the checking account, savings account, under the mattress, in the retirement plan, in the house, vehicles and in the assets that we own. Permanent assets are what we give away. According to him, he wanted to ensure that his permanent assets, that would last forever, were bigger than his temporary assets.
  1. Over-stewardship. Over-stewardship is another form of greed. There’s a book in America called ‘Passing the Plate’, and it speaks about the giving of money. On an average, Americans are very generous people. And yet church going Evangelical Christians in America give 1.5-2% of their income. 25% of people who go to church twice a month or more give nothing. The biggest reason stated by Christians for not giving is by misquoting the Bible verse, 2 Corinthians 9 which says, ‘God loves a cheerful giver.’ And so when they think of giving money it makes them feel miserable and therefore they don’t give. God wants us to be not just generous givers but stewards, investors and huge hearted people when it comes to this area of capital. Everybody has some form of capital that we should use for the Kingdom.
  1. Mammon. ‘Mammon’ simply means ‘greed deified’ or ‘making a god out of greed’. These are problems of unrighteous capital. Our banking systems and economic systems are based on ‘credit’, that is the opposite to the principle of the Kingdom of God.
  1. Over leveraging. In other words, people have borrowed too much. Nations fall into a cycle of ongoing debt. Paper based money, the consolidation of power, too big to fail syndrome are some of the other problems.

ERAS OF CAPITAL

Let us quickly look at some of the eras of capital.

The first era was that of man and family in about 4000-2000 B.C, their nations, the first kingdom and then Jesus and the early Church.

Then comes a period of abdication. From 324 A.D through to about 1100A.D Christians got out of banking. Prior to that, they were involved in banking and financial services. There are historical records of slaves who worked themselves out of slavery by being in the financial services business. In 324 A.D, at the council of Nycia, the church distanced itself from the Jews and they became institutionally religious. And they declared that in that point of time anybody who charged interest would not be given a Christian burial etc. and the church got out of finance.

During that period Islam started.

Then there came the period of reformation, the modern capitalism and now the era of spiritualization of capital.

There are 3 flavours in the spiritualization of capital – materialism, Islamisation and causism. Materialism is the deification of capital. What we have in America and many other countries is not actually capitalism, it’s materialism. The Islamisation of capital started around the 1940s. It used the development of capital for a religious purpose. Causism of capital is the radicalization of capital; capital put to particular agenda.

As people of faith we should have a deliberate view of capital and we should use it for God’s purposes. That’s just smart. It’s His money. It’s His capital and the fact is capital is spiritual. We have to recapture the concept of the storehouse.

There are four things that we need to do

  1. We need new products.
  2. We need new institutions – kingdom flavored banks, private equity firms, venture capital firms and so on.
  3. We need a brand new set of operations and appropriate interests.
  4. We need transparency new policies, new guidelines and new set of faith based financial institutions, led by believers for the purposes of God.

WHAT CAN THE RIGHT CAPITAL DO?

  1. It can break the cycle of poverty at the individual level, nurture the next generation, fund our calling and so on.
  1. Corporately, the right kind of capital can make the capital accessible to everyone equally or ‘the democratization of capital’.
  1. Some of the good things that the right capital can do are: the creation of wealth, the tackling of giants, the blessing of nations, nationally creating order and the stewarding of infrastructure of nations where there is great wealth but the infrastructure is poor.

What must we do to fix capital:

  1. We have to understand the times or the era in which we live.
  2. We need to grasp the principles of faith based financing.
  3. Corporately we need to get back to God’s purposes for capital.

For example - Barclay’s Bank was started by four Quakers with the express purpose of funding businesses of men and women of faith.

  1. Supporting meaningful work, creating wealth, expanding order on the broader national side of things. Colossians chapter 2:5 says, ‘I delight to see how orderly you are and how firm your faith is.’ We tend to sometimes substitute order for faith. But that is not God’s way. From His perspective, these two things go together. God is both the God of order and of faith, and order in society comes about when we deploy capital properly. And when we fulfill God’s plan for history we have two major commissions in scripture. One of them is the great commission in Matthew 28:19, 20. That is the second commission. The first commission is to work with God, looking after the things he has created for his pleasure and purposes. We cannot disciple a nation without capital. We cannot transform a society without capital.

CONCLUSION

Jesus died on the cross so that we could go to heaven. But that’s not all. He died so that everything, out of order with the will and plan of the father could be reconciled to Him. And that includes the world of money, of finance, of capital. So our job is to get capital back on purpose to give Jesus the return to which He is entitled.

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