Spiritual Goods: Faith Traditions and the Practice of Business
Daniel B. McGee
Business Ethics Among Baptists
A Story of Competing Visions
This study focuses upon two competing visions of wealth and work among Baptists in America and how these different visions have shaped Baptist business ethics. Russell H. Conwell reflected the Reformed tradition's inclination toward what came to be called the Protestant work ethic and its defense of capitalism. He contended that American capitalism presented an open door for any diligent worker to achieve deserved riches. Walter Rauschenbusch reflected the Anabaptist heritage in the stream of Baptist history. He challenged the dominant ethos of the industrial revolution in America and its preference for the interests of management; he called instead for the protection of the worker from the monopolistic power of the capitalists. These two contrasting postures influenced the response of Baptists to the labor-management struggle.