Pastor General's Report

(Editor's Note: After Mr. Armstrong's TV taping session in Tucson last Sabbath, Mr. Rader gave some insight into the way Mr. Armstrong has used biblical principles in doing business with the world for the benefit of all parties concerned. Following are excerpts of his talk for your interest.)

Greetings, everyone.... This is the cover of Mr. Armstrong's book holding it up, The Incredible Human Potential, which will be published and which will be offered for the first time at the Feast of Tabernacles in October. It will then be marketed in the United States and abroad through bookstores and will be published by our own publishing house — Everest House. Mr. Armstrong feels, I'm sure, as we all do, that this is the most important book that has been published since the Bible. It certainly is the most important book that has been published in the Twentieth Century.

We intend to back up its publication with a good advertising campaign on radio and television and in various magazines. And so we will be able to bring this very important message to the public in printed form as well as by means of Mr. Armstrong's television programs....

When I first met Mr. Armstrong, he made something very plain to me that I feel is very worthwhile sharing with you today. I was taking notes again today as he was speaking. He was talking about, of course, the question of what is a real Christian. Well, when I first met Mr. Armstrong, we didn't really talk all that much about spiritual things because that wasn't the proper setting. He had called upon me to solve some specific problems and we were pretty much talking about those problems. Maybe now and then spiritual things would find their way into our talks in the proper context, but very soon it became apparent that I would be representing the church in many different ways. And I would always be acting on behalf of the church, for the most part with persons or institutions on the outside of the organization. And he wanted me to be very certain that I understood that there was God's way of doing business and there was the other way of doing business. And he wanted me to be certain at all times to do business God's way.

Now by that he meant that he did not believe it was necessary to get the best of every deal. He didn't believe that it was necessary to use our economic power or leverage, for example, or whatever other advantage we might have as an institution, in order to demand that last drop of blood or sweat from the man or the institution that we were about to do business with. He certainly did not believe in sharp practice, but he was going one step beyond that. He was saying that to do business for God's Work, we must try to make a good bargain with the people that we do business with. We must try to make it a happy situation for them as well as for us. We must not try to grind them into the ground.

Now this was very important because this is what I was also teaching when I was a professor in a law school, without really realizing at that time that I was dealing with a biblical principle. I believed honestly at that time that I was dealing with something that would be, you might say, an enlightened approach to the subject of business contracts based simply on the premise that what is good for both parties is more than likely going to produce a happy business relationship and will lead to both parties fulfilling their promises because, after all, that is what a contract is all about. And if a party has been forced by circumstances into accepting an agreement that is not one that will make him happy — that will not produce for him some benefit that he expects or that he warrants — then we're not going to have the kind of situation that we would wish. In fact, we might have a lawsuit!

So I taught all my law students that if the contract isn't good for both parties, it probably won't be good for one — at least not every time. But I hadn't realized at that time that this principle could be found in the Bible. Essentially we are taught from the Bible that economic power should be used in such a way as to benefit mankind. It should be used for the service of mankind. It should be used for service instead of domination. So when applying that principle for the church on a contract basis, we never had a lawsuit.

Over the years, the church built Ambassador College, including the development of three separate campuses, through many building contracts. And anyone who has had much to do with the business world will tell you that most of the lawsuits in the business world come about as a result of building contracts. It's a very, very common thing. In fact, a great body of law has been developed simply because of the kind of litigation that arises from building contracts. Not only simple misunderstandings between the parties, but because of what I just mentioned — one party driving too hard a bargain, and the other party accepting it. Then in one way or another, the latter tries to get out from under that heavy burden. And if he gets away with it, the other party doesn't get what he expected to get, then a lawsuit ensues.

God's Work never had a lawsuit over business matters. As a matter of fact, in the entire history of the Work, since I have known it, we have never had a lawsuit that had stemmed from a contractual arrangement or a business relationship between the church or the college on one hand, and a businessman or other institution on the other. And yet we always got what we bargained for. It wasn't a question of our turning the other cheek and the other Ěparty getting away with something. But what happened resulted from applying Mr. Armstrong's principles which, of course, are biblically founded.

I was able to convince the other party, not only that we were people that they would like to do business with, but that they should do their very best work for us. So if Mr. Armstrong wanted a building to go up and he wanted it to be the finest building possible for that price and those proportions, we knew that we were not necessarily getting the building at the very, very lowest conceivable cost. We knew that would be more or less illusory because seldom, if ever, would you ever get the lowest possible cost for the best workmanship. And as I said, if the other party became burdened by the contract, he would try to get out from under it.

As a consequence, people doing business with us have cherished their relationship with us because they know that they have been as the servant worthy of his hire. They have been paid what both parties thought would be the fair consideration for their services. And in the process, they have given of themselves something extra — in most cases it has been their very best performance.

The Auditorium is a very good example of that because almost everything conceivable could have gone wrong in building an edifice of that size and to those specifications because it is truly the most beautiful building of i ts kind in the world. And it is the most expensive (if you want to use that word) per seat, per cubic foot, and per square foot of any building of its kind. It's recognized throughout the world as the finest. When you try to undertake a project of that nature, invariably there is going to be a serious problem somewhere along the line. But each craftsman was given an opportunity within his field to make a profit, so that he was a servant worthy of his hire, and each contractor delivered on time or ahead of time. As it turned out, our acoustics were not bad. They were outstanding: And everything about the building turned out just as Mr. Armstrong hoped it would.

So again, that gives you an idea of what Mr. Armstrong insisted on from the very beginning, bringing it to my immediate attention, because after all, I had come to him from the carnal business world where you're always dealing with another party in an adversary setting even if it doesn't look like an adversary setting.

The spirit of competition and conflict is present at all times, even if it is sometimes concealed just below the surface. And the more grand the business (in scope or in size), the more capable the people are in concealing all of these things which can be summed up in terms of conflict and competition. It truly is an adversary setting and may the "best man" win. They are trained to have an iron fist within the velvet glove.

Now that doesn't mean we're softies at the Worldwide Church of God headquarters or Ambassador College — not at all. Sometimes Mr. Armstrong has said, "If you believe in God and people know it, people think you're soft and weak." Well, that isn't the case after they have been dealing with us. They know that we're not. They just simply know that we are different in the right way, and as a consequence they do more for us. We can walk away with pride and a sense of accomplishment in seeing to it that each person who has worked for us, in whatever capacity, has walked away knowing that he has received the benefit of his bargain and consequently has done his best work on that particular occasion.

So this approach was a very valuable thing for Mr. Armstrong to impart to me very early in our relationship. Otherwise, if he hadn't said it, I would probably, in the process of representing the Work, have gone about quietly but firmly doing what everyone else in business was doing. That is, trying to maximize on every single occasion the benefits for the church to the disadvantage of the other side. And now I don't feel that that would have been what the Work needed. Of course, Mr. Armstrong didn't either. I don't think we would have built the kind of community relationships that we have nor the kind of worldwide relationships that we have....

Now that same principle could be applied to solve most of the problems which you read about when you pick up the newspapers or you turn on your television set and watch your evening news. There doesn't seem to be, for example, any way to halt rising prices. There doesn't seem to be any way to halt inflation. There doesn't seem to be any way to stop the unions from grabbing more or to stop the employers from raising prices. The unions blame the people who own the big businesses, the big businesses blame the unions, and they both blame the government and the government blames each of them. We know that. And yet I'm positive that if Mr. Armstrong's approach, which comes right from the Bible, were to be applied by President Carter and by the George Meanys of this world, and the Henry Fords, then we would have an amicable and fair solution for all.

Naturally the Bible doesn't give us any detailed, specific information as to how these problems would be solved. It doesn't tell us exactly how full employment, economic growth, price stability, favorable trade balances can all be simultaneously achieved. So it would appear to the uninformed that supply and demand and foreign markets, foreign money markets; all of these various economic principles seem to have a life and a force of their own. But if people for a moment would not follow the carnal principle that I talked about before where each and every person enters into the struggle — which is simply a struggle for power — trying to exploit others as far as possible to his own advantage; if they would only leave that behind them for a while, we know that much could be accomplished using biblical principles, although the Bible is not an economics textbook with the details outlined for us.

If people would do that, when these conflicts between the various interests come about, it wouldn't be a disgrace for the industrialists not to pass on the increased cost to the consumer. It wouldn't be a disgrace if he didn't pass it on just to keep his profits up, or even to enhance them. And it really wouldn't be a disgrace either for the union leader to not ask for a wage increase, even though his members expected or have demanded it. It wouldn't be a disgrace for him to give ground.

In brief, despite all the tough discussions that would take place in that setting of conflict, it wouldn't be a disgrace for some of those to think in a larger sense about society for a moment and to not always try to use the power that they have for their own advantage. Rather, in certain situations they ought to be prepared to use that power for the benefit of others. And being ready one use that power for the benefit of others, to give way, to give a little ground, wouldn't be a disgrace and maybe for once they would really be giving someone else their coat.

The basic principles are there in the Bible. But you can see that it's not easy to teach others to practice what we know is going to be the way in the World Tomorrow. If all the businesses and all the other various institutions which have to interact one with the other were to just simply follow what Mr. Armstrong spelled out to me very clearly when we first met, I think you can all visualize that things would be a little bit different even today. And the same principle, of course, would apply to neighbor nations working out their border problems. The results would lead to peace rather than armed conflict. The Arabs and the Isarelis could settle their differences on this same basis where each would try to give the other something, where each would give ground just a little bit so that each would benefit from the bargain — where each would be able to return from the "peace table" with a little bit more than the other ordinarily would be willing to give.

Well, I didn't intend to preach to you, but Mr. Armstrong's comments did ring that particular bell for me and I hope that you will think about it a bit....

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Pastor General's ReportAugust 21, 1978Vol 2 No. 32