Category: Acton Commentary

Blog author: jballor
Tuesday, April 26, 2016
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Post harvest cultivation - geograph.org.uk - 1223870A distinctive of neo-Calvinism, that movement associated with a late-nineteenth century Dutch revival of Reformational Christianity in the Netherlands, is its focus in emphasis if not also in substance not only on individuals but also on institutions. As Richard Mouw puts it, “At the heart of the neo-Calvinist perspective on cultural multiformity is an insistence that the redemption accomplished by Christ is not only about the salvation of individuals—it is the reclaiming of the whole creation.”

This holistic perspective has led to a variety of speculations and opinions about the (dis)continuity between the redemptive-historical transitions from creation, fall, redemption, and consummation. In last week’s Acton Commentary, a section out of Abraham Kuyper’s Common Grace captures one of Kuyper’s key insights that the “fruit of common grace” has significance not only for this world but for the next as well.
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1600px-Tulip_00126-27“The temporal achievements of science, technology, inventions and the like also have a divine significance,” writes Abraham Kuyper in this week’s Acton Commentary, an excerpt from Common Grace: God’s Gifts for a Fallen World.

With the destruction of this present form of the world, will the fruit of common grace be destroyed forever, or will that rich and multiform development for which common grace has equipped and will yet equip our human race also bear fruit for the kingdom of glory as that will one day exist as the new earth, under the new heaven, overflowing with righteousness?

As everyone immediately realizes, this question is not without importance. If nothing of all that developed in this temporal life passes over into eternity, then this temporal existence leaves us cold and indifferent. Everyone without an appetite for eternal life will then advance in terms of that existence, but everyone seeking a better fatherland will be unable to feel any affinity for it. After all, one day everything will be gone, unlike the caterpillar that is wrapped like a chrysalis in order later to appear in more exquisite form as a butterfly, but instead like a stage on which a series of performances were exhibited but after which nothing remains but an empty floor and unsightly walls.

The full text of the essay can be found here. Subscribe to the free, weekly Acton News & Commentary and other publications here.

Blog author: jcarter
Wednesday, April 13, 2016
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acton-commentary-blogimageIn medieval Europe merchants would often write Deus enim et proficuum (“For God and Profit”) in the upper corners of their accounting ledgers or A nome di Dio e guadangnio (“In the Name of God and Profit”) on partnership contracts. These words reflected their authors’ conviction that banking and finance were economically useful endeavors, says Samuel Gregg in this week’s Acton Commentary.

Luis Molina and the many other Christians who explored these areas throughout history were not searching for greater marketplace effi­ciencies. Their concern was moral. They analyzed the decisions that people made in finance to see which actions were morally upright and which fell short of the demands of Christian truth.

As important side effects, such studies helped to identify key fea­tures of money, clarified how interest worked as a means of calibrating risk, and increased knowledge of the true nature of capital, exploring how it could be used to generate wealth. Nonetheless, Christians were — and must continue to be — primarily concerned with the morality of dif­ferent choices in finance.

The full text of the essay can be found here. This is an excerpt from Gregg’s latest book, For God and Profit: How Banking and Finance Can Serve the Common Good.

Subscribe to the free, weekly Acton News & Commentary and other publications here.

Blog author: jcarter
Wednesday, April 6, 2016
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acton-commentary-blogimage“Since the end of the World War II, American politicians of the left and right agreed that it was in the country’s and indeed the world’s interest to promote the lowering of trade barriers,” says Kishore Jayabalan in this week’s Acton Commentary. But are American populists now presaging a turn against economic globalization?

It may not be surprising that avowed socialist Bernie Sanders is opposed to free trade, but who could have imagined that the wife of “new Democrat” President Clinton who signed the North American Free Trade Agreement would turn against economic globalization? Or that a Republican like Ted Cruz who grew up idolizing Ronald Reagan would follow suit? Only someone who foresaw the rise of the global businessman/American nationalist known as Donald Trump and the populist movements he and Sanders are currently leading.

The full text of the essay can be found here. Subscribe to the free, weekly Acton News & Commentary and other publications here.

acton-commentary-blogimage“For Martin Luther, vocation is nothing less than the locus of the Christian life,” says Gene Edward Veith in this week’s Acton Commentary. “God works in and through vocation, but he does so by calling human beings to work in their vocations.”

In Jesus Christ, who bore our sins and gives us new life in his resurrection, God saves us for eternal life. But in the meantime he places us in our temporal life where we grow in faith and holiness. In our various callings—as spouse, parent, church member, citizen, and worker—we are to live out our faith.

So what does it mean to live out our faith in our callings? The Bible is clear: faith bears fruit in love (Gal. 5:6; 1 Tim. 1:5). Here we come to justification by faith and its relationship to good works, and we also encounter the ethical implications of vocation. According to Luther’s doctrine of vocation, the purpose of every vocation is to love and serve our neighbors.

The full text of the essay can be found here. Subscribe to the free, weekly Acton News & Commentary and other publications here.

“Americans’ instinctively refuse to recognize as legitimate any international organization, law or treaty that claims any authority over Americans above the U.S. Constitution,” says Todd Huizinga in this week’s Acton Commentary, “particularly if that organization, law or treaty contradicts the Constitution or violates Americans’ constitutional rights.”

In the American system, it is because sovereignty rests in the people that the U.S. government does not have a right to transfer sovereignty to any other organization, government or group of governments. But in the EU, the member states have been ceding ever more sovereignty to “Europe” since the establishment of the European Coal and Steel Community in 1952. Sovereign power is exactly what the European Union exercises over the national governments of the EU member states. And again, for EU elites it is not just about Europe. Their vision of supranational governance is a global one, and that is why a political and moral clash between the American idea of democratic sovereignty and the EU’s agenda is unavoidable.

The full text of the essay can be found here. Subscribe to the free, weekly Acton News & Commentary and other publications here.

Blog author: jcarter
Wednesday, March 16, 2016
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acton-commentary-blogimage“Do voters have a ‘commitment problem’ with Bernie Sanders?” asks Dylan Pahman in this week’s Acton Commentary.

So why would someone who seems really to want to be President (unlike candidates who appear to be using their campaigns to promote a book, for example) tell Americans he’s a socialist when half the country says they wouldn’t vote for one? How does that serve his interest? Shouldn’t it hurt his electability?

The full text of the essay can be found here. Subscribe to the free, weekly Acton News & Commentary and other publications here.