The Voice: Fall 2001

The Voice

Visser helps lead seminar for business profs at Reformed Christian Colleges

Sally Jongsma

    What makes business so dominant in society? Where do our ideas about property rights come from and how do they shape business today? What do Christian business professors need to know about hermeneutics to apply biblical principles to business? Under what circumstances are riches of some connected to poverty of others? How can we prepare students to be salt and light in secular corporations? What does virtuous Christian leadership look like?
    These and a host of other such questions were addressed in a seminar on business led by Dordt business professor, Dr. John Visser, and Calvin College business professor, Dr. Shirley Roels. The seminar was held at Calvin.    
    Judging from responses on the evaluations turned in at the end of the seminar titled “The Practice of Business: Reformed Christian Perspectives”—faculty participants from four Reformed Christian institutions were appreciative of the opportunity to meet for two weeks to talk about foundational issues in the field of business. And they were grateful for the leadership of their colleagues, Roels and Visser, who were willing to plan sessions and select readings that helped them delve into their subject area from a Reformed perspective.
    “We wanted to get to a deeper understanding of what a Reformed Christian perspective means for our teaching,” says Visser, who has devoted much time to helping others put a Christian perspective on business into practice. “We wanted to ask how we can help our students catch that vision as they go out into business careers.”
    Seminar sessions focused on different topics each morning and afternoon. Participants were asked to read a wide range of resources, listen to guest presenters, engage in discussion on a group of questions, and respond to case study presentations that came out of the business world. Using these case studies helped make the issues concrete, Visser believes.
    Personally, Visser saw the seminar as an opportunity to contribute to the Christian academic community, but also an opportunity to deepen his own thinking about how his Christian perspective shapes his view of his discipline.
    “I was forced to read things that I’ve been meaning to read for years but couldn’t find the time,” he says. He also welcomed the opportunity to get to know colleagues from sister institutions and to open the door for regular interaction and sharing of ideas.
    Preparation for the seminar has also had some spin-offs for Visser’s classes. Having to carefully think about how different assumptions and beliefs concretely lead to very different results in action, helped him better organize presentations in the senior seminar he leads at Dordt.

    Another lasting result of the conference is the extensive bibliography put together by Visser and Roels. If you would like a copy you can contact Visser at John.Visser@dordt.edu.