A financial newspaper, prominent in the English ‘secular’ media in our country, recently gave favourable publicity to an evangelical book written by a ‘global CEO’. This global evangelist is Pat Gelsinger, heading a multinational company called VMWare (‘2014 revenues: $6 billion’),who preaches that ‘we all work for God, not for a boss or for the president of the company’. Fair enough if that had been his personal motivation, but it isn’t because he assumes speaking for the rest of us (‘we all’) and admits that in his organization ‘we have Hindus and Muslims and I respect these faiths, though I haven’t studied them in depth. Atheists challenge me more than anyone else. They say, `Pat you’re trying to make us Christian.’’
Gelsinger is driven by an interpretation of ‘God’to which he subscribes, but it is clear that his employees who do not share that interpretation find themselves pressured into accepting it, so it behoovesthose of us who are infidels in the eyes of Gelsinger’s god to understand what he’s really selling behind all those billions.
I used to teach B-school courses on ‘culture and business ethics’ and on ‘entrepreneurship’ and drew on indigenous texts such as the Mahabharata to contextualize the points I made. One year the entrepreneurship class had ‘Andrew’,a pastor from one of our north-eastern States, and he asked why I didn’t draw on the Bible too. I asked him whether he advocated the Old Testament or the New and which particular verses therein he recommended. He gave me ‘Jesus CEO’ by Laura Jones to illustrate what he meant.
I read the book, and then emailed him:
I have looked through ’Jesus CEO’, the book you very kindly recommended to me as source material (as an addition to an Indian epic) for my class.
‘Jesus CEO’ is certainly inspirational but, for an infidel teacher like me, it raises some basic questions.
The book is premised entirely on God/the Son of God (for all practical purposes, the same, according to the doctrine of consubstantiation). The authority or validity of a statement is because of ‘God’. And the ‘God’ is quite explicitly that of a particular religion (pantha) and admits of no other.
Now, as I believe in what I teach, that creates rather a problem for me.
Recall that I had quite explicitly stated the Mahabharata is a sociological text. It is not a religious one. It is not the defining scripture of any pantha or sampradaya. It is not even the defining scripture of dharma (in fact, dharma has no defining scripture). That the Mahabharata came to be considered ’religious’ is part of our Macaulayan legacy. However, I am sure you will agree that the Bible is quite explicitly a religious text; it is the defining scripture of a particular religion (pantha).
Now, as you can see from the Course Outline, my whole case of humans behaving in certain ways (including business ways and, therefore, entrepreneurial ways) is because humans as a biological species have evolved to behave in certain ways. I do not, even for a moment, believe that god – any god – made us that way (or, indeed, made us at all).
I believe Darwinian evolution has a scientific base, and it is on this base that cultural behaviour can be rationally explained.
The Bible does not accept Darwinian evolution; it follows that the faithful believe that humans behave in certain ways because their god Jehovah has designed that we behave that way.
Therefore, Andrew, to teach entrepreneurial behaviour as following from Jehovah’s design requires first that I believe in Jehovah.
Take another example, the team. For me, its relevance is in that we have evolved that way biologically, and an example, say, from the Mahabharata, is precisely just that, an example, an illustration in human practice of a scientific fact.
I really can’t teach that we should form teams because a dharmic leader or a panthic leader -Yudhisthira or, for that matter, Jesus – formed teams. I am perfectly prepared to say that the 12 Apostles are an example of team formation but not the reason for team formation – you see the crucial difference?
But while Yudhishthira’s team-formation can be critiqued, can I do the same for Jesus? Can I say that, in Jesus’s team, Jesus ‘set up’ his team player Judas in a way that (as we know from the Judas Gospel) consigned Judas very unfairly to historical infamy?
Now, Laura Jones is not overly generous in her quoting chapter and verse from the Bible. Or even from the New Testament. She gives her reasons, but I suspect the real reason is that she’d have difficulty reconciling her claims for Jesus with what He and the Bible actually say.
Andrew, let me put it to you that the Laura Jones book is valid enough – but only for the faithful. A plain reading of the New Testament shows that Jesus Himself distinguished quite explicitly between the believer and the infidel.
How, in an MBA class of infidels, does an infidel teacher defend what Laura Jones advocates to the followers of Jesus when Jesus Himself classed infidels differently?
I have the Authorised King James Version, and have copied below some verses that I think need to be explained to infidels like me.
The New Testament is part of the Bible. So is the Old Testament. They together constitute a defining text. Likewise, Jesus and His Father are defined as one.
I and my Father are one- St John 10.30
Then answered Jesus…Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise – St John 5.19
I believe and teach that business behaviour is an aspect of general human behaviour. Therefore, to accept ‘Jesus CEO’ I have first to accept ‘Jesus Christ’. And, accepting ‘Jesus Christ’, I must accept Jehovah too.
Instead of teaching human behaviour – and, therefore, business behaviour – as evolutionary behaviour, as I now do, Laura Jones would have me teach human behaviour – and, therefore, business behaviour – as the way God (Jehovah/Jesus) behaved and should inspire me to behave.
Andrew, I’m sure you’ve read the Old Testament. How can an infidel teacher possibly teach Jehovah’s injunctions against nonbelievers as guidelines for human – and business – behaviour to infidel MBA students?
And what answer do I give an infidel MBA student who, from the NT, asks whether Jesus has one standard for his believers and another for us, or whether a devout believing businessperson is under a divine injunction to kill the infidel businessperson (following Luke 19.27)?
In an MBA mixed class of infidels and believers, if a question is put that requires a critique of Jehovah/Jesus, can we expect a believer to criticise his God? Would that not be blasphemy? And how can a true believer allow an infidel to criticise Jehovah/Jesus?
What is the punishment for blasphemy? And have believers historically exempted blaspheming infidels from such punishment?
Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, thatdenieth the Father and the Son – 1 John 2.22
Remember, biblically the antichrist is Satan.
And note that, by definition, I (the class teacher) become a liar and a devil (or, certainly, a follower of the devil).
With what self-respect can I as liar and devil-follower then stand before all of you in class?
He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God – St John 3.18
He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him – St John 3.36
I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins – St John 8.24.
And from St John 16.7-9, it is clear that ‘sin’ is not to believe in Christ.
St John 4.13,14; 5.22-30; 8.44 are variations on the same theme. And there are numerous similar verses elsewhere in the New Testament.
Can there be any doubt that we infidels – and, therefore, infidel businesspersons – are sinners, condemned to the wrath of God?
As a divinely-proclaimed sinner, with what self-respect can I teach you all in class?
He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned (Mark 16.16). Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved (Acts 4.12). Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day (St John 6.54) For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed (St John 6.55) He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him (St John 6.56).
Who shall not fear thee, O Lord…for thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee (Rev 15.4).
To him [Christ] be glory and dominion for ever and ever (Rev 1.6). The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever (Rev 10.15) a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron (Rev 12.5).
Reading the above, recall the religious justification of the colonial enterprise.
...he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one (Luke 22.36) For I say unto you, that this that is written must yet be accomplished in me (Luke 22.37). He that is not with me is against me (Luke 11.23, Matt 12.30). But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me (Luke 19.27). I am come to send fire on the earth (Luke 19.49). Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division (Luke 12.51). For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three (Luke 12.52). The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother in law against her daughter in law, and the daughter in law against her mother in law (Luke 12.53). Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword (Matt 10.34) For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law (Matt 10.35) And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household (Matt 10.36).
This is Jesus in His own words. What entrepreneurial guidelines am I to enunciate from this to my class? It is a statement of leadership, certainly. It is communication, yes. But team spirit? And, most importantly, trust?
He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God (St John 3.18). He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him (St John 3.36). Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation (St John 5.24). I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins (St John 8.24). Of sin, because they believe not on me (St John 8.9).
I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with your father (St John 8.38). Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him…he is a liar (St John 8.44).
To what extent is business cooperation possible cross-culturally if the nonbeliever businessperson is perceived to be the devil’s son? How can that businessperson be trusted who will do the devil’s lusts?
No, these are not rhetorical questions. Entire human communities were wiped out because they were perceived to be subhuman by believers.In business transactions, there was a time when a believer repudiating a business debt to or a business transaction with a Jew (or an American or Australian indigene) and a believer repudiating a business debt to or a business transaction with a fellow-believer were treated very differently.
And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power (Rev 9.3). And it was commanded them that they should…hurt…only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads (Rev 9.4).
If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark on his forehead, or in his hand (Rev 14.9). The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God…and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lord (Rev 14.10) And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever; and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whomever receiveth the mark of his name (Rev 14.11).
Go your ways, and pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the earth (Rev 16.1). And the first went, and poured out his vial upon the earth; and there fell a noisome and grievous sore upon the men which had the mark of the beast, and upon them which worshipped his image (Rev 16.2). And the beast was taken…and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone (Rev 19.20). And the remnant were slain with the sword (Rev 19.21). And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire (Rev 20.15).
…the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerors, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone (Rev 21.8). And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, ormaketh a lie; but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life (Rev 21.27). Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city (Rev 22.14) For without are dogs, and sorcerors, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie (Rev 22.15).
How do I teach infidel MBA students that we should follow Jesus CEO even though Jesus Himself condemns us?
How do I teach infidel MBA students that Jesus CEO is a role-model communicator when Jesus Himself communicates that we are the spawn of the devil?
How do I teach infidel MBA students that Jesus CEO is a role-model team-player when by definition Jesus Himself excludes us from His team?
How do I teach infidel MBA students that Jesus CEO is a role-model leader, when Jesus Himself commands His believers to slay us?
Laura Jones has written for believers. That is the starting-point and underpinning of her book. She does not write for ‘dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie’ as the NT so picturesquely describes infidels.
I’m really grateful, Andrew, for your bringing the Laura Jones book to my notice, but I still need your advice.
We have a worldview the basis of which is ‘THINK’. We have a worldview the starting-point of which is ‘BELIEVE’. One is grounded in reason, the other in faith.
As an atheist, how can I teach convincingly from the holy book of any Abrahamic monotheism if I am not its believer?
Recall the sentence at the end of my email of 18/2 to the class – ‘Of course, there is the contrary view as expressed in the class by one of your Sec B colleagues – that all this is `S-H-I-T’ – and the casework can be used to present the contrary view too!’
This contrary view was expressed by this student over my rational explanation of why our indigenous culture deifies knowledge. His choice of word illustrated, right there in the class, a cultural mindset that I had described earlier in the lecture when explaining one mindset that deifies food as Annapurna and knowledge as Saraswati and another, as exemplified by this student, that reduces them to ‘shit’.
Tell me, Andrew, would such freedom of thought and expression be possible in connection with an Abrahamic divinity or cult figure?
Do I want my head to be separated from my neck?
Your initial suggestion to me you had made in class. Would it be okay with you that this consequent discussion be shared with the class too – perhaps someone may come up with a fruitful suggestion?
In any case, should you wish to discuss this further, I will be happy to do so.
He never responded.
A similar case can be made for the Koran, to illustrate a basic point. We cannot teach from an Abrahamic text because its essence (as per its defining text) draws a faith-based distinction between its followers and non-followers. The dharmic texts teach no such faith-based distinction. Yet, in our Macaulayan system, we can teach the dharmic lessons only superficially, because to do so otherwise will offend ‘secularism’ and its votaries in our country – but we have no hesitation in approving news space for the Gelsingers of this world to peddle their vengeful god to us.
- ‘The God Delusion’ by Richard Dawkins makes a logical comparison of Darwinian evolution and ‘intelligent design’ (today’s word for ‘creationism’).
- The class had been told there is no indigenous concept of ‘sin’ – that ‘punya’ and ‘paap’ have nothing to do with ‘god’ or the commandments of any god but are to do with human social behaviour. That we are accustomed to translating ‘paap’ as ’sin’ is another instance of macaulayanism.
- ‘It has been said of the missionaries that when they arrived they had only the Book and we had the land; now we have the Book and they have the land…..When the missionaries arrived they fell on their knees and prayed. Then they got up, fell on the Indians, and preyed’ – Vine Deloria, ‘Custer Died For Your Sins’, University of Oklahoma Press, 1988:101.
- ‘They came with the Bible in one hand and the gun in the other. First they stole gold. Then they stole the land. Then they stole souls’ – Ginger Hills, http://www.indigenouspeople.net/navajo.htm).
- Even that popular singer Pat Boone in what became a bestseller sang of Revelations as ‘A Wonderful Time Up There’!
- This is reported in ‘The Idea of India’- http://satyameva-jayate.org/2008/11/16/the-idea-of-india/ .