Q: I’m handling my finances according to biblical principals, tithing, giving, avoiding debt, and saving for the future. How is BRI any different?
A: BRI is one part of handling finances biblically. BRI specifically addresses the investment piece of your finances. When you’re squared away on personal finance basics and ready to invest, BRI allows you to invest in stocks, bonds, and mutual funds that align with your values and biblical principles.
Q: Couldn’t I do BRI on my own?
A: Of course, you could. You could also cut your hair, do your dental work, defend yourself in court, replace your roof. OK, make me stop. You get the idea. Most of us don’t have the time or inclination to do these things. Our time is better spent doing what we’re already good at, what God has blessed us to do, and hire others in their field of expertise to handle the things God has blessed them to do for us. Hmm...kind of sounds like capitalism.
Q: When I buy a stock I’m just trading shares and the company doesn’t get my money. How am I violating biblical principles doing that?
A: You’re right. Unless you're buying shares of an Initial Public Offering (IPO), the company doesn’t get your money. But you are an owner of that company now. As the company profits, so will you as the share price rises and any dividends are paid. Do you want to explain to God why you profited from a company that didn’t pass moral muster?
Q: Will I sacrifice performance if I use a BRI portfolio?
A: Maybe…or not. Even after screening out the BRI offenders, the universe of acceptable investments is big enough to construct a properly diversified portfolio. Of course, a BRI portfolio is not guaranteed to perform any better than a comparable secular portfolio. Even if a BRI portfolio lagged a relative benchmark, remembering why you’re using BRI puts performance in a proper perspective.
What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?
Q: I like to have a few beers just hanging out with friends or a glass of wine with a medium-rare filet mignon. If my BRI portfolio filters out beer and spirits companies, how does this jibe with my consumption of alcohol? Does drinking mean I’m a hypocrite? Didn’t Jesus toss back a few glasses of wine?
A: Yes, Jesus did turn water into wine. (John 2: 1-11). And 1 Timothy 5:23 says, "Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses." But Proverbs 20:1 says this about alcohol; "Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise."
When it comes to BRI investing, it helps to make a distinction between consumer and owner. If you’re having a frosty Sam Adams, you’re a consumer. You bought a beer from the Boston Beer Company. You’re not profiting from that transaction.
If you hold shares of Boston Beer Company, you’re a part-owner of that company. You’re profiting from the company’s success. You’ll participate in share price appreciation as the company’s profits grow and benefit from any dividends paid to shareholders.
At first blush, it seems harmless owning shares of a well run, profitable, tasty beer-making company. But an excessive amount of its customers and customers of any beer or liquor company struggle with alcohol. Do you want to profit from companies that produce products that in too many cases end up destroying health, wealth, and families?
Q: Do I have to be a Christian to do Biblically Responsible Investing?
A: Not necessarily. Industry colleagues tell me they have BRI clients that believe in Christian investing values, yet they’re not Christian. I believe BRI is for everybody...everybody just doesn't know it yet.