This post has been written by Christen Forster and was originally published at his Supranatural Life website. It has been republished with permission. You can also follow Christen on Twitter at @RevivalTwit.
Over the last couple of years so many of the institutions and businesses that have once defined British life and stability seem to have imploded, collapsing in on a moral vacuum where there was once an ideal. Banks have bloated out on greed, Parliament tripped over its own double speak.
The BBC is the latest, affectionately referred to as “Auntie” by pundits and commentators, it seems she was a family member who wilfully ignored the abuse of children in her care.
When the BBC was founded in 1927, it adopted the vision statement “Nation shall speak peace unto nation”, which it claimed was inspired by the phrase in Micah: “Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.” In 1934 a new official motto was adopted for 15 years before reverting to the original this time the motto was, “Quaecunque”, the Latin word for “whatsoever”, this time inspired by Philippians 4:8: “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
Philippians had been referenced in the dedication of BBC Broadcasting House, its HQ opened in 1931. The dedication reads (in Latin): “This Temple of the Arts and Muses is dedicated to Almighty God by the first Governors of Broadcasting in the year 1931, Sir John Reith being Director-General. It is their prayer that good seed sown may bring forth a good harvest, that all things hostile to peace or purity may be banished from this house, and that the people, inclining their ear to whatsoever things are beautiful and honest and of good report, may tread the path of wisdom and uprightness.”
Of course there is an ironic ambiguity on dedicating a “Temple to the Muses (Pagan demi-gods)” to Almighty God. But you can see the intent… but at some point in the 1960’s the BBC started sliding towards celebrating the Muses for themselves… gradually it has lost authority around the world and now it is losing it at home too.
It is not unusual to find a spiritual vision behind the institution, agencies and businesses we now take for granted. They may be secular – in the sense that they are for everybody – but more often than not their origins were in faith, and they were founded on a promise from God to a person who shaped their life according to the word they received.
Walk into the Palace of Westminster and written in Latin on the floor between the Houses of Commons and of Lords you will see the words “Lest the Lord builds the house those that work do so in vain”. Paintings on the wall celebrate the right to read the Bible in English… You can’t escape the fact that the Mother of Parliaments was founded on the Christian faith.
Similarly so many of our banks where originally founded as an expression of their founders’ active relationship with the Lord.
LloydsTSB was started by father and son, Samuel Lloyd II and Samuel Lloyd III. The Lloyds were a Quaker family and the Bank was specifically set up help start small businesses in Birmingham. The family’s own history had been one of improvement through their faith and business. In particular Samuel Lloyd is described by the British Banking Societies website as: “religiously attached to the cause of Christianity”, and so “he endeavoured to act up to its ‘divine precepts.'”
Similarly Barclay’s Bank, the bank that this year was discovered to have been “fixing” the LIBOR rate thereby gaining benefit itself at a cost to those it traded with, was also founded by two Quaker brothers.
Anyway, I want to draw attention to the fact that whilst these institutions are secular, in that they are for everybody… they were firstly born out of faith. Proverbs says that “a righteous person leaves an inheritance to their children’s children”. It also says that “righteousness upholds a nation.” So…
Once upon a time our great institutions and businesses were the legacy of the righteous that made Britain great: Cadbury’s, Sainsbury’s, Laing Construction are national examples, but there are countless regional companies and charities that have well outlasted the life of the founder of faith… but as we shall see these legacies have increasingly become detached from the roots that grew them. I want to work through some logic here…
1. If righteousness is by faith…
2. and faith comes by hearing the word of Christ…
3. …but is completed by works…
…then we must be people who recognise the word of God to us and in us; and who then know how to take risks in line with their commission… to found the blessings that will serve a generation to come more than they will benefit the founder in this life.. It is how we work for the welfare of the cities we live in.
Over the years I have met a lot of people who say they have a word from Jesus to create a business that will release millions of pounds/dollars into the Kingdom… some seem to do it and others just create a lifestyle business that allows them to give a bit more than the average church member… so what is the difference?
When “the Word” came to people in the Old Testament it was a life-changing experience; in fact you could translate the phrase “the Word came to…” as “the Word became …Jonah/Isaiah/Hosea …” etc.. They didn’t just wait for a promise to come to them they became it. Those who I have met that have created projects, charities and businesses that look like they will achieve more in the future than they have in the founder’s lifetime always embody a passion and promise that is expressed in their work. They walk in commission not just ambition.
In Deuteronomy 8:18 we are told that the Lord … “gives the ability to create wealth”… to “establish his covenant in the Earth”. Perhaps if you don’t own a part of the big covenant as a personal promise then attempts at wealth creation will be more about personal success (even if that success is for Christendom), than they will be for the Kingdom.
Categories: Banking & capitalism, Faith in society, Media
Great catch Gillan!
Sent from my iPhone
A lot of organisations have a mission statement but see it as something they have to have to satisfy the beurocracy ,to prevent litigation or to project an image like a kind of organisational garnish. There is often a lack of commitment and conviction to those ideals because they see those at the top having a different agenda which are counter to customer welfare. I have two friends working in banks who see this a great deal. Words and deeds do not match up. Technology is also a factor in depersonalising services and making those accountable more remote. Kingdom principles are desperately needed in our public institutions. A great guest Christen