The prescription and process: What God’s image and work provide to produce transformation

The love of God

Given the recognized importance of motives and desires and broken spiritual condition of the heart, a Christian approach to ethics relies first on God’s love in Jesus to transform foundation-ally the human heart (e.g., Ezekiel 11:19; Ezekiel 36:26),27 consistent with Haidt's (2001, 2013) work drawing attention to the importance of the desires and motives of the heart in shaping morality. The right-hand column of Table 9.3 appends Table 9.1 by adding this Christian perspective.

Jesus viewed “the primary source of evil in the world as the evil in the individual’s heart" (Cahill 1987, 153) and taught that the reign of the kingdom of God brings about a transformed heart capable of doing good in human community (Hengel 1973). The kingdom of God refers to God’s spiritual rule and reign in a Christian’s heart and life as a gift of God’s grace in Jesus (Hagner 1997). Jesus details how the kingdom of God facilitates a process of Christian ethical change in the Sermon on the Mount (i.e., Matthew 5—7) — the most concentrated portion of Jesus' recorded ethical teaching (Sturz 1963, 3). It portrays a new relationship with God made possible by Jesus (Cahill 1987, 148).

Recognizing the foundational need to first restore our status, our identity, and the motives of our hearts, Jesus begins the Sermon on the Mount with the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3—12), or blessings Christians receive in Jesus. God, in His love, sent Jesus to rescue us from sin and restore community and relationship with Him.28 Jesus communicates that the Christian transformation process begins when Christians receive the blessings of pure hearts (Matthew 5:8; Psalm 51:10)29 and new identities as children of God (Matthew 5:9) ’" as a result of His gracious work and sacrifice. The Beatitudes are not telling us to do anything but rather what Jesus and His coming have done for us.31 They describe our human state and situation in general and how the coming of Christ and his kingdom in our hearts blessedly changes our relationship, status, and identity' with God. Given the importance of the Beatitudes — or blessings in Jesus — to a Christian approach to ethical change, the Appendix provides the interested reader with an expanded analysis of them. The blessings of Christ’s love transform our inner spiritual natures and redeem our identities from powerless sinners (Romans 5:6, 8)32 and enemies of God (Romans 5:10)” to adopted and accepted children of God (Ephesians 1:5; Galatians 4:4—5, 7).’4

Blessed with a new relationship and identity in Christ, Jesus next tells Christians in the Sermon on the Mount that they have a new outward-focused calling and purpose to live for God and His glory (2 Corinthians 5:15)3’ by serving others (John 13:34—35; Philippians 2:3—5)36 as salt and light in the world (Matthew 5:13, 14, 16).37 Later, Jesus encourages us to embrace the purpose of serving God and not money or creation (Matthew 7:19—21, 24).38 Ramsey (2008, 179) concludes that identifying a clear purpose and maintaining “purity in heart" are important business ethics lessons from the Sermon on the Mount. These connections between God’s love and a Christian’s restored relationships, redeemed identity, and transformed motives and purpose are presented in the first row of Table 9.4. Table 9.4 appends Table 9.2 by connecting concepts from traditional accounting ethics perspectives in the two left-hand columns to corresponding concepts from the Christian perspective in the two right-hand columns, which summarize how aspects of God’s character transform our Christian character and work.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is presenting a radically backwards approach to change. Instead of our good performance leading to God’s love for us, God’s unconditional love for us inspires our good performance. A Christian heart genuinely transformed by God’s love responds

Inform Moral Reasoning Competence: Improve Awareness and Analysis

Reform Character:

Improve Action

Transform Spirit: New Motives of the Heart

Pre-Conventional

Economic Perspective

Conventional

Regulatory Perspective

Post- Conventional

Self-Regulatory

Perspective

Post- Conventional

Spiritual System

Perspective

Means

Consequentiahst logic guides moral accounting decisions by considering an action’s consequences.

Non-consequentiahst logic guides moral accounting decisions by considering the action itself.

Virtue ethics (or Aristotelian) logic guides moral accounting decisions by considering the needed professional virtues of the decision maker.

Christian (or theological) teachings guide moral accounting decisions by a God-enabled transformation of the spiritual condition, desires and motives of a person’s heart.

Motive/

Mission

Moral accounting decisions choose actions that maximize net outcomes (i.e., maximize benefits; minimize costs). Manage reported information, resources, expenses, and profits with welfare and safety considerations to maximize net outcomes.

Moral accounting decisions choose actions that comply with business rules and regulations (i.e., regulatory compliance). Manage reported information, resources, expenses, and profits with welfare and safety considerations that comply with regulatory standards

Moral accounting decisions choose actions that comply with developed virtues (i.e., self-regulatory compliance). Manage reported information, resources, expenses, and profits with welfare and safety considerations to achieve societal flourishing.

Moral accounting decisions choose actions that love God by extending Christ s redemptive and restorative love to others and glorify God (i.e., love restores the motive to love God and others). Manage reported information, resources, expenses, and profits with welfare and safety considerations to extend Christs love to others and glorify God (i.e., God-glonfying mission).

Management

Management and control come from economic systems, markets, and price mechanisms that ensure actions lead to the best societal outcome (i.e., maximize the wealth creation of net outcomes).

Management and control come from regulatory system rules and regulations that guide behavior to the best societal outcome.

Management and control come from a self-regulatory system of trained professional virtues that guide behavior to the best societal outcome.

Management and control come from a righteous and sovereign God. We manage business practices by His love and for His glory.

Rest (1984) Model

Code of Conduct Attribute and

Cardinal Virtue

Image and Character of God

Transform and Change Our Character

Moral Will:

1 Moral Motivation:

An individual’s willingness to place the interests of others ahead of his or her own (Rest 1994).

Professional Public Service

1 Justice: Formulating and embracing ideals of fairness, equality, and lawfulness that provide the motives for action (Mele 2009).

The Love of

God

Restores

Community

Redeem Identity

Transforms

Calling

Identify Purpose

  • 2 Moral Awareness: The cognitive recognition that a dilemma’s resolution may affect others’ welfare (Rest 1994).
  • 2 Moral Judgment: Deciding what ought to be done (Navarez and Rest 1995).

Professional Competence

2 Wisdom: An intellectual virtue by which important goods and principles are identified and ranked (Cheffers and Pakaluk 2011).

The

Righteousness of God

Guides

Competence

Recognize

responsibilities

Judgment and

Reasoning

Moral Skill:

3, 4 Moral Character.

The virtues needed to carry out a chosen action.

Professional Character

  • 3 Courage: The ability to act appropriately when faced with challenges or threats.
  • 4 Self-control (moderation): The ability to act appropriately as regards physical pleasures, desires, cravings, and comforts.

The Sovereignty of God

Develops

Character

to God and His character in new ways. ’9 We now explore how the heart transformed by God’s love leads the Christian to respond to God’s righteousness and sovereignty in changed ways (the second and third rows in Table 9.4).

 
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