Last week we examined the horrifying reasons why the "Moravian experiment" among American Indians was short-lived. But not all Moravian settlements were wiped out by paranoid neighbors. Most deterrents to lasting achievement are internal.
18th Century Moravians were characterized by an unusual "spirit," when it came to business. Specifically, they possessed an uncommon attitude toward profits. Otto Uttendörfer described it as "the spirit of sacrifice and of being content with little for oneself while devoting much to the Lord's cause."
The Moravian purpose for profit-making was not individualistic. Personal prosperity was not the aim. Their focus was on the Kingdom of God and/for the common good. The well-being of the community as a whole, both spiritually and economically, was the goal (as in oikonomia). This necessitated not only preaching the Gospel and discipling believers, but creating worthy employment for the whole community, believers or not.
But an altruistic approach to profit-making cannot be imposed by law. Nor can it be generationally passed on by fiat. As more communities experienced the blessings of profit, more individuals came into those communities not sharing the Moravian "spirit of profit-making." Consequently, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, today, is not the Bethlehem it once was.
William Danker, in Profit For the Lord, says the "General Economy" of early Bethlehem "died not of failure, but of success." He writes: "With rising prosperity, individual instincts to have, to hold, and to spend according to one's own desire reasserted themselves," and notes: "Religion became segregated from the realm of economics." [This is the sacred-secular divide Hobby-Lobby is challenging today.]
Danker quotes John Wesley with respect to the "curious inverse relation" between Christian faith and wealth: "For religion must of necessity produce both industry and frugality, and these cannot but produce riches. But as riches increase, so will pride, anger, and love of the world in all its branches."
Count Zinzendorf was not a "controller," out to establish "Zinzendorf-towns," or to build "The Kingdom of the Moravian Church." Zinzendorf was of a mind to have Moravians absorbed by other churches, and cooperating with other Christian groups for common Kingdom-of-God causes. This may account for the fact that the number of Moravian congregations is relatively small today. The largest concentration of congregations is in Tanzania, Africa.
For information about Moravian-rooted businesses in Antigua, Aruba, Curacao and Suriname (including Kersten, the oldest trading company in the Western Hemisphere), click here and here.
|This is a screenshot of the home page for MCF Business Enterprises, B.V., headquartered in The Netherlands. It is the parent organization for Moravian-rooted business enterprises in Antigua, Aruba, Curacao, and Suriname today. MCF was established to maintain "a harmonious unity between Church and business." Link: here.|
|This screenshot is the homepage of Kersten, a diversified conglomerate of companies in Suriname and oldest trading company in the Western Hemisphere, founded in 1768 by Moravians. The 12 operating companies in this conglomerate today are all limited liability enterprises, with a total of 648 employees, as of the latest information provided by MCF above. Link: here.|