The Fool graciously has granted my request to create a meeting place for Christian investors. My hope is that others who profess a belief in Christ as Savior will gather here to discuss the creation and use of wealth according to the Bible. The Bible is full of teachings on the topic of how to accumulate and use wealth in a way that honors God, which is in keeping with the Motley Fool's understanding that investing has a moral component. I look forward to learning more about this from other Fools.Understanding that in today's culture the term "Christian" evokes a variety of responses, and hoping to avoid lengthy debates focused on theology rather than investing, the following definition (with supporting scripture, so that you know this is something more than my own musings) of "Christian" is the one I used in proposing this Board to The Motley Fool:(i) someone who recognizes that they are a sinner: "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Romans 3:23;(ii) someone who recognizes that because of that sin, absent salvation through belief in and acceptance of Christ as savior, they will be separated from God for eternity: "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 6:23;(iii) someone who confesses their sin to God and repents in order to receive forgiveness: "But unless you repent you will all likewise perish." Luke 13:3, and "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." 1 John 1:9; and (iv) someone who believes in salvation through Christ's sacrifice on the cross: "Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures," 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, and "If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved." Romans 10:9.The above scriptural references defining the fundamentals of Christianity cut across denominational differences, and across boundaries between Protestants and Catholics, so that all who believe in the above can call themselves Christians. I hope all will participate, and start an active dialogue on the Bible's teachings about money.I would like to kick off the investment discussion with the following scripture: "His master replied, 'I will judge you by your own words, you wicked servant! You knew, did you, that I am a hard man, taking out what I did not put in, and reaping what I did not sow? Why then didn't you put my money on deposit, so that when I came back, I could have collected it with interest?' Then he said to those standing by, 'Take his mina away from him and give it to the one who has ten minas.' 'Sir,' they said, 'he already has ten!' He replied, 'I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but as for the one who has nothing, even what he has will be taken away.'" Luke 19:22-26 (NIV). Does this mean God is a Bull? (I ask this somewhat tongue in cheek, recognizing that Jesus was discussing use of gifts other than money here as well).
Brian:Thank you for opening a Christian board. I look forward to gaining valuable insight from both you and other Christians who post on this board.I am a Christian living in rural Nebraska, where I make a living as a Christian counselor and psychotherapist.I have a question concerning the propriety of a Christian owning such equities as VO, RJR, MO, BUD, etc. I do not wish to judge those who do own such stocks, but is it correct for a Christian to keep these equities in his/her portfolio...considering what they do for a living? If it is improper for a Christian to own such stocks, where does one draw the line (a la Calvert Group, etc?)?In His name,Ken Connor
Ken:All I can say, as my reaction upon going to the Christian Fools Board and seeing your post, is, "Phew!" I was afraid my quest for other Christian investors had fallen like a lead balloon, and I was greatly relieved to see your post.Thank you very much for your good question; it is one to which I do not have a complete answer, and you have done me a favor by causing me to have to think it over. First, I do not hold any of those securities, but never even considered them because I think they are poorly run companies, so that I never even got to the moral question you properly raise. Second, as with any question that asks what is proper or improper for a Christian to do, I think that scripture holds the answer, and I welcome any additional thoughts you might have on what the Bible says here, because I know my knowledge of scripture is not as complete as it could be. Perhaps as a group we will arrive at the answer, which was my hope for this board. For me, the first guidance is from Paul in 1 Corinthians 8, where the question arose as to whether it was sinful to eat food that had been sacrificed to idols. Paul concluded that in isolation, eating this food was not sinful (v. 8 "But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do"). Eating this food was not sinful to a follower of Christ because "We know that an idol is nothing at all in the world and that there is no God but one" (v. 4). Thus, I do not think that for an individual Christian, and viewed only in isolation, that it is a sin to drink alcohol or to smoke, and by extension, to own stock in companies that manufacture such products. (I am assuming non-abusive use of these products, such as Jesus' providing wine for guests at the wedding where He performed his first miracle (John 2:1-11)). But I do not think that this is the end of the analysis, because my actions (here stock ownership) do not occur in isolation. After concluding that the isolated act of eating food sacrificed to idols was not a sin in and of itself, becuase of freedom in Christ, Paul goes on to say that Christians have an obligation to consider the effect of their actions on others: "Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak. For if anyone with a weak conscience sees you who have this knowledge eating in an idol's temple, won't he be emboldened to eat what has been sacrificed to idols? So this weak brother, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. When you sin against your brothers in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall." Thus, even though Paul concluded that his own depth of knowledge of Christ allowed him to go into an idol's temple and eat without sin, he understood that his act could be misunderstood by another, who might conclude that it was acceptable to worship idols rather than God, and fall into sin.So a partial conclusion to your question is that, although it might be possible for a Christian to own stock in those companies if that Christian does not abuse those substances and fall into sin through that use, there is no question that those companies produce products that cause others to fall into sin. Thus, it is wrong for a Christian to act in a non-sinful manner that causes others to fall.But I still have not completely answered your question, because I don't know what level of abstraction to carry this reasoning out to. Almost any product could be used in a sinful manner (should I get rid of my stock in Cisco because people use the Internet to download pornography?). At what point is the Christian no longer responsible for how their actions might be interpreted by others who would rely on those actions as an excuse to sin? Also, Anhueser-Busch has of late been sending out a consistent message against abuse of alcohol. As compared to the companies that manufacture malt liquor, does that mean BUD is an acceptable stock because it counsels against alcohol abuse?I anxiously await your thoughts on this subject, and any scriptural references that would provide additional guidance. Thanks again for your post.
<<. . . there is no question that those companies produce products that cause others to fall into sin. Thus, it is wrong for a Christian to act in a non-sinful manner that causes others to fall.>>Given your own example of Cana, it cannot be wrong for a company to merely produce alcohol. It is not tenable that none of the wedding guests consumed to excess. Indeed, it is implied by scripture. Thus, only in cases where the company egregiously promotes drunkenness or underage consumption would divestiture be indicated.
AmandaHugginKiss responds: "Given your own example of Cana, it cannot be wrong for a company to merely produce alcohol. It is not tenable that none of the wedding guests consumed to excess. Indeed, it is implied by scripture. Thus, only in cases where the company egregiously promotes drunkenness or underage consumption would divestiture be indicated."Thank you for joining the discussion! I agree with you, which is the point I was trying to get to by observing that Cisco manufactures a product (Internet switching) that can also be used in a sinful manner (to view pornography), though I do not believe that the potential for abuse of this product requires me to divest my CSCO holdings. The hard question, then, is where and how does a Christian identify companies that "egregiously promote" sinful use of their products where "divestiture [would] be indicated"? The portion of 1 Corinthians that I quoted in my earlier post does not quite answer that question. AmandaHugginKiss, thanks again for your post and for joining this board. I look forward to additional views, and scriptural references, that further explain this key issue for Christian investors, because my knowledge of scripture on this subject has been exhausted.
<<The hard question, then, is where and how does a Christian identify companies that "egregiously promote" sinful use of their products where "divestiture [would] be indicated"?>>I don't think it's so hard. Between FTC and ATF, the government keeps manufacturers on a pretty short leash. For example, all labeling must be approved in advance by ATF.Other than that, advertising is usually quite clear. For a nonalcoholic example, there is the Calvin Klein kiddie-porn ads they ran. I guarantee I won't be buying any of their stuff, although the only thing I reasonably might have bought would be glasses.Or a nonreligious (well, OK, semireligious) example: any company that uses Beatles songs in their ads earns a lifetime prohibition from me. Nike is the worst offender, with Revolution (and Instant Karma), now we have Nortel with Come Together.Anyway, I drink more wine than beer these days (sorry mmmmmBeer!), none of which has advertisements of any sort. For beer, I prefer Guinness, which has some of the best ads of all time, both print and TV.
7-8-99Dear Brian,I enjoyed reading many of your posts in the Christian Fools folder. I found them enlightening and heartwarming, especially yours and Ken Connor's to medvfe. Thank you!Just one more Fool for Christ,Stan Dylsjd2
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