Forum on Christian Ethics in a Money Driven Worldposted 02.07.2015
The Forum on Christian Ethics in a Money Driven World was jointly organised by the Diocese of Singapore and FGB Gatekeepers Singapore (formerly, the Full Gospel Business Men's Fellowship). The forum took place on 3 March 2015 at the St Andrew’s Cathedral’s New Sanctuary. The speakers were Lord Stephen Green, former Chairman of HSBC, former Minister of State for Trade and Investment, UK and ordained minister of the Church of England, Mr Lim Siong Guan, Group President of GIC and FGB Gatekeepers Adviser, and Mr Philip Ng, CEO of Far East Organization and FGB Strategic Gatekeepers Adviser. The forum aimed to help Christian leaders and pastors to raise their awareness and understanding of issues in integrating faith with society.
In his opening address, Mr Richard Magnus, Forum Chairman and Chancellor of the Diocese of Singapore, highlighted how Bishop Rennis had in two consecutive addresses to the Anglican Synod last year, iterated that Christian witness in a nation must include engaging the issues of the day and influencing the culture of society with Christian values. This would mean using a ‘language of discourse’ to engage others in a secular, multi-faith public square whilst contending with an environment of relativism.
Bishop Rennis’ Keynote
In his keynote, Bishop Rennis talked about Kingdom advance and how the institutional church must undertake the task of disciple making as there is a clear need for it in the market place and for the market place. As disciples of Jesus, we are bearers of God’s kingdom in the world.
Bishop Rennis also noted the dominance of money; money has seductive power and we are prone to disguise or justify our love for money. Many people mistakenly see money as a sign of God’s favour and a reflection of their righteousness. However we should be using the money that God has entrusted to us to help others, not just ourselves. If we embody Kingdom values, we are changed. We are not held captive to money. We are also called to renew the ruined cities by transforming the moral and ethical landscape - not by assertive agendas but through transforming lives. It is possible for money to be redeemed and used as the currency of love.
The Forum Speakers
The first speaker was Mr Lim Siong Guan, who saw three things lacking in the market place: failure of leadership, lack of thinking, and the rise of relativist secularism.
He addressed the question, ‘Has anything changed after the Global Financial Crisis’ of 2008?’ He concluded that each of the financial crises were in fact a crisis of morality. They were the result of prioritizing self-interest. Mr Lim noted that living in a VUCA World, (a world which is volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) requires us to have confidence, courage, wisdom, judgment, imagination and integrity. And these qualities need to be anchored in kingdom values and the power of the Holy Spirit before Christians are able to live the life we are expected to live.
Mr Lim surmises that the church needs to influence the world - not blend in with the world. Like Paul in Thessalonica, influencing the world takes courage and conviction. Pastors cannot do this alone. The Christian values of their flock need to be reflected in every sphere for “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin condemns any people” (Prov 14:34).
Lord Stephen Green took to the podium next. He stressed that we are called to be in the world, but not of it. This requires us to work out our Christian faith, weigh our motives, and examine what we do and how we do it. It involves asking the questions: What are we doing our jobs for? Am I serving the common good?
Next is the issue of calling. We are called to a life in Christ, to live a life worthy of our calling. A calling is not just to the priesthood, it can also be to a vocation in commerce.
Lord Green used the example of the rich young man in Mark’s gospel to highlight that we all fall short and fail - even those of us who appear to have everything (Mark 10:17-31). Yet we can take heart in the gospel of failure. Jesus did not say to Zaccheus, ‘Stop being a tax collector.’ Instead, through the grace shown to him, Zaccheus’ life was transformed. There was repentance, redemption and renewal. We need these in our lives as well.
Mr Philip Ng then shared from Philippians 1:20-22 to emphasize that, like Paul, for us to live is Christ. This means bringing grace to our work place in the market place. Sharing from his own experience, he said this meant being ‘less transactional’. “How do you operationalize grace?” he was asked by his staff. The answer is we cannot. Grace is Spirit-born, and comes from the heart. Instead of hiding behind SOPs, Mr Ng shared that he tries to reflect his faith by living a blameless life – one which no one can criticise – and living by the higher standard of the Bible.
Altogether almost 700 lay leaders attended this inaugural forum and they engaged the speakers in a Question and Answer session that rounded off the evening’s programme.