Writer Blames Old Testament for Low Ethics of Modern Generation of Business Men
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Writer Blames Old Testament for Low Ethics of Modern Generation of Business Men

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One who follows the Old Testament faithfully will be implicated almost by necessity, in a low-order of ethics, is the thesis of the article “God’s Gold,” dealing with the subject of religion and business, which is contributed by John T. Flynn to the July issue of “The Forum.”

“My own impression is that the businessman’s religion is no offspring of his business instincts. It is the other way round. His business instincts are the children of his religion,” is the contention of the author, who claims that “the most vital part of our present day religion comes from the Old Testament. In the early days of Christianity an effort was made to apply the principles of Jesus to life and it resulted in a social order which was almost communistic. This lasted until a Roman Emperor was converted and the Christian religion became a state religion and Christian bishops became interested in state subsidies and rich benefices. After that, the Christian religion began slowly to disappear and Europe went back to the Old Testament for its morals and its ethics.”


He holds the ethics of the New Testament are “infinitely richer in spirituality and in elevated philosophy.” He regards “those early Hebrew gentlemen,” as he terms them, “as the worst collection of heroes to hold up for the imitation of the young mind.” He cites a number of rich Americans who achieved their fortunes by following the ethics of the Old Testament claiming that there is “a good deal of hypocrisy among businessmen…. Rockefeller was a pious boy long before he was a millionaire businessman…. John Wanamaker and John D. Archbold and many other businessmen flaunted religion a bit ostentatiously in their later years.”

After citing examples from the stories of Abraham and his act of deception on Pharaoh, and then on Abimelech; and Jacob’s deception of Laban; and Joseph’s “pretty trick” when he became “famous for one of the most complete and ruthless grain-corners in history;” he presses the point that it is “impossible to read the Old Testament without getting the impression that religion was pretty much a matter of burnt offerings, of killing the bullock properly, separating the fat and washing the inwards according to the law; a religion of hosannas and praise-giving; a religion of glorification. This is the religion which was ladled out to the young people of the last generation and which the business man received along with the rest of the faithful. And as these business men grew in years and intellectual power, their energies were consumed in their material pursuits. They had neither the time nor the disposition to stand off from their early religious ideas and scrutinize them.”

Turning to the question of Bible reading in the Public Schools, he advises teachers to exclude the Old Testamet:—”I, for one, would oppose its use in schools because it is a bad moral influence.”

Concluding his article, the contributor to the “Forum” expresses the opinion that “Perhaps it will be a gain for society when his (the businessman’s) religion of praise-giving is done for ; when the businessman who wants to be religious will have to find refuge in a religion with fewer hymns and more ethics.”

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