Author Loran Graham shares how Biblically Responsible Investing is good stewardship that honors God—and returns profitable dividends
As one calendar year draws to a close and another is ushered in, it’s natural for Faith Driven Consumers committed to biblical principles of good stewardship of time, talent and treasure to take stock and make plans for the New Year.
Here, the prospect of a fresh start in 2015 offers us the perfect opportunity to revisit our hopes, dreams and goals and make resolutions for lasting changes that will honor God in every arena of life—including how we manage our finances and investments.
Enter author Loran Graham and his timely book on Biblically Responsible Investing (BRI) for Christians, Investing with Integrity. In this warm and inviting guide to walking out the call to worship God throughout our daily lives in all that we say and do (1 Corinthians 10:31), Graham shows that it’s possible to glorify God in, by and through our personal investments and simultaneously deliver a profitable return for the furtherance of His Kingdom-building purposes.
As a licensed CPA and Certified Financial Planner who came to faith in Christ during college and decided to pursue God’s purposes over worldly success, Graham rightly emphasizes key principles of the Christian faith before discussing investments from a biblical viewpoint. In doing so, he uses the analogy of a three-story house to demonstrate the necessary ordering of spiritual elements in the Christian walk before faithful investment can take place.
Here, the foundation of the house (and of faithful investment) is the acknowledgment that God ultimately owns all resources and that He is our provider and protector. Then, the first floor of the house is a commitment to love God and our neighbors with all of our hearts.
Next up, the second floor is the willingness to steward resources with a God-focused lens—including the decision to give generously and from the heart. From here are stairs leading to the third floor, which represents Biblically Responsible Investing. As Graham explains, BRI must flow upward from the joy and thankfulness we experience as Christians knowing that God has saved us and continues to transform us into His image.
To be a biblically responsible investor that honors God through his or her investments, Graham says Christians should pursue gains in the stock market while refusing to compromise biblical values. This has been made easier with the introduction of BRI, which was borne from the concept of Socially Responsible Investing and allows fund managers to screen companies whose business activities or contributions don’t align with biblical morality. BRI services can also find companies that show support for Judeo-Christian values. While still relatively unknown as an investment approach, Graham believes BRI will become increasingly accessible to investors in the future.
One compelling reason for Faith Driven Consumers to consider implementing BRI into their investment portfolios is that Christians often indirectly and unwittingly supporting anti-biblical causes such as abortion, gambling, pornography and homosexuality and transgenderism through their investments. For example, those who invest in companies that donate to Planned Parenthood directly or indirectly assist in the destruction of innocent, preborn human lives. However, investment managers who offer BRI services will screen out companies that engage in or support activities that promote a culture of death.
Another important advantage of implementing BRI is that it could actually change corporate culture over time as the economically powerful Christian market segment becomes aware of its economic heft and begins to pressure companies through its collective investment behavior to think twice before engaging in controversial business activities that run counter to a biblical worldview.
In Investing with Integrity, Graham is a cheerleader for BRI and answers concerns that some raise about these services. For instance, he cites several studies finding that BRI does not hurt financial performance in a statistically meaningful way. And he notes that there are many high-quality BRI managers and funds to choose from today—with several having achieved four- and five-star rankings on Morningstar, surpassing their non-screened peers.
In addition to arguing that BRI does not hurt financial performance, Graham reiterates that the greatest benefit of BRI is the ability to be confident that your investments are not supporting immoral or objectionable activities.
At its core, Investing with Integrity exhorts Faith Driven Consumers like you and me to walk in an abiding integrity demonstrated by living a life wholly in alignment to our values, beliefs and principles. And beyond simply calling Christians to prayerfully consider BRI as a strategy for our personal investments, Investing with Integrity is an encouraging and more broadly applicable resource for Christians seeking to honor God through good stewardship in the marketplace of goods, services and ideas.