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Conference challenges business community to take faith into workplace

Dr. Richard C. Chewning
Dr. Richard C. Chewning

JACKSON, Tenn.May 12, 2004 – “The world is taken up by what the eye sees and the ear hears, but God looks on the heart,” said Dr. Richard C. Chewning, featured speaker at the Second Annual Business Through the Eyes of Faith Conference hosted by Union University’s McAfee School of Business Administration.

Union President David S. Dockery said, “Dr. Richard Chewning, a brilliant scholar in the world of finance and economics, effectively demonstrated in his address at the business luncheon on the Union University campus that ideas and motivations do impact the way that business is done. His words were powerful for all present, calling for us to examine our work in light of God's overarching design and purpose for life. Regardless of one's vocation or occupation, Dr. Chewning's words were instructive and helpful but particularly so as he applied them to the business world.”

Chewning’s speech, titled “The Heart is at the Heart of Business Ethics,” defined the components of the heart that determine how a person handles ethical decisions

“At the core of every human’s heart is a set of beliefs,” Chewning said. “They are the rail system upon which your life runs. They guide you whether you are in touch with them or not.”

For those whose identity rests in Christ, decisions are made based on biblical truth, but for the post-modernist, feelings rule over knowledge and beliefs.

“When what you know conflicts with what you desire,” Chewning said, “you will rationalize.” According to Chewning, there is no correlation between what you know and what you do; in the post-modern world, desire rules.

Chewning recalled an instance of a student caught cheating in his Christian ethics class. The student rationalized his cheating by his desire for success, measured by grades rather than competency in the course. “We must be governed by truth,” Chewning said, “not by feelings.”

But Chewning also advised humility to those who consider themselves ethical and righteous. “If I compare myself with Christ,” Chewning said, “I cannot consider myself a man of integrity. I have not done something good. I have only done what I ought.

“Christian ethics is not a do-it-yourself process. Stay close to the word of God and seek the face of Christ. I still have to do that in my own life or there is no growth,” Chewning said.

Among other titles, Chewning is the author of the book Business Through the Eyes of Faith, which is used as the text for graduate and undergraduate courses in business ethics at Union. The book also inspired the name of the conference.

Chewning is the distinguished scholar in residence at John Brown University in Siloam Springs, Ark. He has been honored as the Distinguished Educator at Baylor University, School of Business, for his work in business ethics and also at the University of Richmond for his work in finance. The Christian Business Faculty Association’s top award was named the Richard C. Chewning Award to reflect his servant leadership approach displayed through his life and teaching.

Ethical failures exhibited by breaches of trust at HealthSouth, Bristol-Myers, WorldCom, Enron and other leading companies led the McAfee School of Business Administration to host the first Business Through the Eyes of Faith conference in 2003 to equip members of the business community to integrate faith into the workplace.

“We are blessed to be a part of the university that values the integration of faith and learning,” Dr. Kenneth Holt, associate professor of economics and management, said. “Our graduates have the opportunity to make a true difference in the world because we are able to teach business principles through a Christian worldview that stresses excellence and commitment to true values.”

Media contact: Tabitha Frizzell, news@uu.edu, 731-661-5215

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