Comparison of the Christian Worldview and Secular Worldview of the Accounting
Worldview is a framework of the perceptions about the history and image of the world and set of beliefs, attitudes and ideas towards the world and philosophy of the life. Different people and civilizations perceive the world differently according to their own decisions, thoughts and actions. Worldview shapes the living style of the people. Everything performed and encountered by a person in his daily life is a reflection of his worldview. Worldview is revealed by the faith, interactions, conflicts and convictions in the lives of the people. The way of spending life, interpretation of the reality of the world and purpose of the existence of the human beings are different aspects of the worldview.
The worldview of a civilization or a group of people is determined from various questions like why are human beings created? What is the purpose of their life? What are the priorities of their life? How do they make decisions in a particular situation? How do they perceive the history of the world and different civilizations? What is the perception of the people about the existence of the God and what faith and beliefs do they exercise in their daily life? How do they perceive spiritual aspects of the life and what is their perception about the death? How do they consider the physical existence of the world? Do they are capable of making a difference between right and wrong things? What is the importance of religion in their life? These questions are helpful for the identification of the diverse worldviews encountered in our daily life. The worldview of a person is influenced by different factors and those factors provide a basis for the formation of the views about the world and its reality. Some of the important factors are characteristics inherited by the people, experiences, habits, beliefs, values, culture, attitudes, education, social and economic condition, historical events, linguistic differences, psychological setup, customs, and artifacts. Worldviews are controlled by those factors and they tend to change those according to their intensity. (Davis, 2015)
As we know that accounting is a critical and most important element of the business world. It is used in different ways to monitor the financial abilities of the business organizations and their performance. Accounting provides the useful financial information related to the performance, position and cash flows of the business activities to the stakeholders of the business so that they would make their decisions on the basis of such financial information. Accounting is used in different forms from the earlier times. Business transactions are summarized in the accounting processes and interpretation of the financial information is also carried out in accounting. Someone called accounting as a “language of the business” as it reflects the financial status of a business or a company. Financial and management accounting are used by the management of the organization to summarize business activities and to interpret their outcomes in the financial terms. Financial accounting is used for the communication of the financial information of the company related to its performance and position to the external stakeholders of the business for the decision making purposes. Whereas, management accounting is used for the internal management decisions of the company. Accounting has always obtained a distinctive position in both secular worldview and Christian worldview. It importance and comparison in both of this worldview are discussed below.
Christian Worldview of the Accounting
Term worldview was first used in early 1970 by Immanuel Kant. Different thinkers started to ponder on the term at the end of the nineteenth century and they started to use this term frequently in their research and theories. At the same time Christian thinkers started to adopt this new term and used it for the depiction of the Christian faith, and view of the world and God. Abraham Kuyper and James Orr were the first Christian theologians who used worldview in their books on the Christian religion. At the end of the twentieth century, Christians tried to integrate their educational system with their religious values and faith. The concept of the worldview was also applied in the churches. So a different perspective was established by the Christians under the concept of the worldview and they tried to visualize and observe different aspects of their life according to the religious beliefs. Intellectual and spiritual unity dominated their daily life events and they evaluated the connection between the happenings and Christ teachings.
The Christian worldview of accounting is based on the beliefs of the Christianity. There are different perceptions adopted by the people to attain Christian worldview of accounting. Belief in Christianity provides a coherent basis for the formation of a mindset that perceives the world and its history of accounting. Biblical knowledge also reveals the importance of the accounting in the life of the organizations. The concept of the advanced accounting systems emerged in the15th century as it was traced by the Pacioli. Accounting concepts were prevailing in the business matters before the birth of the Jesus. These were also directly and indirectly used in different business activities. Different types of the accounting like managerial accounting, financial accounting, and internal controls were used by the business entities and these have a relationship with the biblical knowledge. (Hagerman, 1980)
One of the important type of the accounting that is used in the Christian Worldview since earlier times is the financial accounting. It is used since prehistoric times to examine the level of the performance attained by the organizations. (Newsroom, 2008) This type of accounting is also used in the Church system and in other business activities to monitor any event that causes reporting of the fraudulent financial statements and figures. It helps in evaluating whether shareholders and stakeholders of any business are misstating facts and figures of the financial procedures of the company. Different construction projects related to the building of the temples, churches and other institutions of the state used accounting concepts for the management of the accounts. Financial accounting is also used at different times to ensure the fair dealings in the business operations. Biblical knowledge also has shown that it is necessary to use financial accounting so that the risk of the fraud be eliminated in the business dealings. In ancient times, accounting acted as a control device which was used to analyze the financial position and financial performance of the business entities. Management of the church system was also carried out by using accounting strategies and internal control procedures were also implemented in churches to prevent the risk of any unexpected event like loss or theft of any property from the church. Payment of the tax and reporting of the financial performance are also in use back to the biblical time period.
In the ancient times of the Jesus Christ, accounting was used to control the management and its role in the business operations. It also helped in identification of the deferent problems in the management related to the performance of the business and resolved those problems so effectively and efficiently. It was also used for the resolution of the disputes occurring between different parties. Financial information that was provided to the suppliers, debtors and shareholders helped them to analyze the financial position of the company and to make their decisions related to the lending, earning and payments about the business operations. It was strictly mentioned in the teachings of the Bible to maintain strict honesty in business dealings with each other’s. So accounting was also used as a way to achieve this purpose. (Amy L. Doolan, 2013) Maintenance of the various types of the accounts related to the expenses and revenues of the business was also exercised regularly. The perpetual inventory system was also used since ancient times for the maintenance of the correct records of the inventory and for the effective management of the inventory. It also resulted in controlling the chances of the theft and unauthorized access to the inventory of the companies.
Information related to the financial reporting methods is not clearly mentioned and focused in the Bible. Holy book also provided an idea for the resolution of the conflict about the resources of the company by using accounting techniques. In Christianity worldview accounting was considered as an important tool for the decision making by the investors. Bible also laid a great stress on the use of the internal controls in the business environment of the companies and business entities. It considered it necessary to use strong internal controls to prevent the theft and mismanagement of the cash in the organizations. It was also reflected that the access to the liquid assets of the business must be controlled and access controls shall be also implemented at the workplace. Strong internal control system helped kings and other authorities to manage the funds in an effective way. (Goldsmith, 2004
The Christian worldview of the accounting shows that the bible had also provided information related to the concepts of the forecasting and budgeting used in the managerial accounting. Evaluation of the different products and their usefulness can be also determined by using the knowledge of the management accounting in the business operations. Business planning is also highlighted in the Christian worldview of the accounting. Economic logic and cost-benefit analysis are also reflected in the Christian worldview of the accounting.
Secular Worldview of the Accounting
The system of thought in which life of the human beings is dominated by the interests, dignity, evolution, and values is the secular system. The man is the central element of the secularism. In this system creation of life and universe are considered as a mere coincidence. Secular humanists consider human beings as an advanced animal and they believe on the concept that human beings are only a composition of cells. Secularism is based on materialistic and temporal happiness. (Weider, 2011) Spiritual reality and religious aspects are eliminated from the secular worldview. Worldly pleasures are important in this worldview. Eternity is set aside and it is not integrated with the daily life matters. There is no God in the secular worldview. It is thought that religious faiths have no role in the life of people. Secularist worldview is closely connected with the supernatural things.
In the secular worldview, everything is considered as the creation of an accident. There is no space of the spiritual dimensions in the material world of the secularism. There is no concept of the afterlife in the secular worldview. One of the important concepts of the secularization is “life in whole or in part is cut off from God”. American intellectuals used concepts of the secular worldview in 1930. It is also believed in secularism that secular worldview has provided a strong base to solve different problems of the world and truth has not guided scientist. (Chilton, 2013) Revelations of the holy books and scriptures are only considered as a myth the in the secular worldview.
Accounting has a significant part in the secular worldview and it is used for the reflection of the state of the economic activities held in a secular state. Accounting is used in both economic activities and determination of the spiritual values in a society containing secular worldview. Some of the spiritual aspects shown in the accounting concept of the secularism are confidentiality, honesty, responsibility, trust, independence, and accountability. Other parts of the accounting are secularism, capitalism, individualism, and materialism. In a secular state different accounting concepts are used since ages. These are used for the determination of the financial position, financial performance and cash flows from the economic activities of a business. Accounting is used in the different institutions of the secular worldview i.e. from the government departments, educational and welfare institutions to the hospitals etc.
The accounting in secular worldview plays a vital role in the evaluation of the viability of a business and its operations. It helps companies to attain a competitive edge in the industry by continuously analyzing their performance and using budgeting and forecasting methods. Accounting system in the secularism is more developed and advanced as compared to the accounting worldview of the Christianity. International accounting standards and accounting bodies are used for the determination of the rules related to the accounting and their implementation in different spheres of the life. Financial statements are prepared according to the pre-determined standards and these are used for delivering information about the financial state of the company to the internal and external stakeholders of the business.
Different types of the accounting like managerial and financial accounting, and a set of the internal controls to increase the efficiency of the business are also used in the secular worldview of the accounting. According to the secular worldview of the accounting, a set of the financial statements is prepared by the management of the business entity that is used for the evaluation of the financial position and performance of the business. Such a type of the financial information is useful for the stakeholders to make different decisions related to their interest in the business. Another type of the accounting called as managerial accounting is also used in the secular worldview of the accounting. This type of accounting is used for the internal management of the business, and also for its budgeting and forecasting matters. Secular activities revolve around the concept of the accounting and computing.
Monetary systems and economics systems of the secularism are dependent on the use of the knowledge of accounting in its daily activities. Accounting knowledge is also used in the secular system since the pre historic times and it is devised according to the changes in the accounting requirements of the business from time to time. Accounting behavior plays an important role in the economy of the secular world. Wealth maximization is a basic aim of the secularism so accounting is strongly connected with it for its enhancement. Spending’s and revenues of the business activities are also managed by using innovative accounting strategies in a secular system. Increasing profitability and productivity of the business are also ensured by using various accounting concepts emerged in the secular worldview.
It is concluded from the above study that accounting has a significant importance in both of the worldviews i.e. Christian worldview and secular worldview. Both of these are using different accounting concepts since ages to achieve stable economic and financial conditions in the business. Millennium years ago, accounting concept was used in the Christianity for the analysis of the performance of the different business activities. Different internal control procedures and concept of the managerial accounting are also prevailing in both worldviews. The concept of the budgeting is also used in earlier secular systems and beyond the biblical time.
Accounting has played the same role in the maximization of the profits in the Christian worldview and secular worldview. Different accounting concepts are used in the different institutions of the both systems since pre historic times. So we can say that accounting has got an equal status in secular worldview and Christian worldview. Payment of the tax, use of the internal control procedures and analysis of the performance of the business activities is ensured by using accounting and its concepts in both of these worldviews.
Amy L. Doolan, D. M. (2013). Ethical Issues In Accounting: A Teaching Guide. American Journal Of Business Education, 6(1), 129-140.
Chilton, P. B. (2013, 4 26). Worldview Analysis of Secular Humanism. Retrieved 4 22, 2016, from http://bellatorchristi.com: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:http://bellatorchristi.com/2013/04/26/worldview-analysis-of-secular-humanism/
Davis, F. (2015, 3 21). DECISION MAKING AND THE CHRISTIAN WORLDVIEW. Retrieved 4 22, 2016, from http://www.marketfaith.org/: http://www.marketfaith.org/2015/03/decision-making-and-the-christian-worldview/
Goldsmith, D. G. (2004). ACCOUNTING’S FOUNDATION: Should the Philosophical Foundation of Accounting Be Postmodernism or Christianity? Retrieved 4 22, 2016, from http://www.cbfa.org/Goldsmith.pdf
Hagerman, R. L. (1980). Accounting in the Bible. Accounting Historians Journal, 7(2).
Newsroom, S. T. (2008). What Does Faith Have to Do With Accounting? Retrieved 4 22, 2016, from http://www.stthomas.edu/news/what-does-faith-have-to-do-with-accounting/
Weider, L. &. (2011, 7 13). Secular Humanism vs. Christianity. Retrieved 4 22, 2016, from http://www.modernchristianissues.org/: http://www.modernchristianissues.org/secular-humanism-vs-christianity/
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