Evangelicals, Money and Business

Authored by: Richard Turnbull

The Routledge Research Companion to the History of Evangelicalism

Print publication date:  July  2018
Online publication date:  July  2018

Print ISBN: 9781472438928
eBook ISBN: 9781315613604
Adobe ISBN:


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The relationship between evangelicalism, money and business is as complex as the phenomenon of evangelicalism itself. Indeed, in a number of ways the two are related. The way in which the prevailing intellectual culture has formed and shaped evangelicalism is a widely accepted theme of evangelical studies following David Bebbington’s Evangelicalism in Modern Britain (1989). 1 The application of this thesis to the economy is masterfully expounded by Boyd Hilton in The Age of Atonement (1988). 2 The debate is not straightforward and Hilton, as will be seen, conflates evangelicalism and political economy in a way that obscures rather than explicates some of the nuances. Evangelicalism, however, is also an essentially pragmatic expression of faith. Many evangelicals entered business. In doing so, they faced numerous practical dilemmas. They knew that evangelicals were against sin, but how did this relate to the particular temptations of the market? George Eliot noted that ‘duty’ was an essential element of evangelicalism. 3 This duty, of course, extended from the home to society, from personal behaviour to the market, a point often missed in discussions of evangelical social and economic concern. Indeed, evangelicals regarded the marketplace rather like life, as ‘a school of moral discipline’. 4

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