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Maslow, material needs, and the gospel

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“Human beings are created with bodies and souls,” says Jordan Ballor in this week’s Acton Commentary. “We have both material and spiritual needs.”

Earlier this year, Susan Mettes of Christianity Today critiqued the use of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs as a ministry tool. The central idea of the hierarchy, as Mettes puts it, is “that physical needs must be met before people experience spiritual needs.” Mettes argues against such a dualistic perspective, and instead points out that the Bible places a priority on spiritual and eternal realities even as there is a kind of interactive and dynamic relationship between material and spiritual needs. As Mettes writes, “We know that which eating, drinking, and sleeping habits are spiritually damaging often depends on individual consciences and situations. However, there is a first step: to value spiritual life.”

The full text of the essay can be found here. We have both material and spiritual needs.

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Joe Carter Joe Carter is a Senior Editor at the Acton Institute. Joe also serves as an editor at the The Gospel Coalition, a communications specialist for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and as an adjunct professor of journalism at Patrick Henry College. He is the editor of the NIV Lifehacks Bible and co-author of How to Argue like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History's Greatest Communicator (Crossway).

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