Category: Acton Media

WWCover-204x300If you haven’t yet bought a copy of Abraham Kuyper’s Wisdom and Wonder, you now have no excuse: You can get the Kindle edition from Amazon for free.

As Jordan Ballor explained at the time of publication, this book consists of 10 chapters that the Dutch theologian and statesman Abraham Kuyper had written to be the conclusion of his three-volume study on common grace. But due to a publisher’s oversight, these sections were omitted from the first printing. So they appeared first under separate publication under the title Common Grace in Science and Art, and then were added back in to subsequent printings of the larger set.

These Kindle deals usually don’t last long, so get your free copy today.

2940044212701_p0_v1_s260x420How should Protestant Christians think about faith, work, and economics? To help answer that question, the Acton Institute commissioned a series of primers about political economy and the church from four faith traditions: Baptist, Wesleyan, Pentecostal, and Reformed (forthcoming).

Chad Brand, the author of the Baptist primer, Flourishing Faith, was recently interviewed about the book and asked, “What is a Baptist political economy?”

What political economy describes is the interface between government and whatever economic system prevails in a given nation or culture. The political economy in the Soviet Union in the 1980s was a communist state with a socialist understanding of economics — a controlled-market economy. The United States was basically founded as a republic with a free market economy.

So when we introduce the idea of a Christian, and specifically Baptist, political economy, what we’re asking is, “How does the church rub itself up against a free market republic?” “How does a Baptist understanding of theology and ecclesiology interface with that.”

Because Baptists have long held the idea of religious freedom, political freedom, individual freedom and so on, the place where a Baptist political economy most manifests itself is in a kind of republican or libertarian form of economics. “Laissez faire” isn’t in the Baptist Faith and Message, but if you read and believe its statements on government and anthropology, I think you would come to the same conclusion that the government that governs least, governs best.

The notion of political economy has been around for quite some time — the first professor of political economy was a guy by the name of Thomas Malthus at the University of Oxford in about 1815 — but it hasn’t edged its way into evangelical circles until fairly recently.

Read more of the interview here and a review of Flourishing Faith here.

Back in January, I was interviewed for the podcast Conversations On Orthodoxy. After some wonderful editing, the interview has recently been posted.

In particular, the focus of the interview is mostly on how I went from an American Evangelical upbringing to becoming a convert to the Orthodox Church. However, I wanted to link to it here because it concludes with some thoughts about my work at Acton. In particular, I talk about Acton’s vision for a free and virtuous society, its approach to ecumenism, and where I see my own research as an Orthodox Christian in the context of my work here and elsewhere.

You can listen to the podcast here.

As a small disclaimer, I would like to say that at one point it appears that I attribute dispensational eschatology to my alma mater Kuyper College, a school in the Reformed tradition (and therefore decidedly not dispensationalist). The sound bite in question actually is about my childhood church, but I did not make that clear enough during the interview, contributing to the mix up. Other than that, though, I think it turned out great and extend my thanks to Conversations On Orthodoxy.

Samuel Gregg, Acton’s Director of Research, recently appeared on the Liberty Fund’s Online Library of Law and Liberty podcast to discuss his new book, Becoming Europe: Economic Decline, Culture, and How America Can Avoid a European Future:

Recent events in Cyprus, to say nothing of the economic stasis that envelopes much of Europe, highlight America’s need to think deeply about the current trajectory of our fiscal and entitlements policy, among other weighty matters. Gregg’s book, however, is not merely a rehashing of dire spending problems and bankrupting entitlements and the predictably poorer future this promises, but is a discussion of the social and cultural commitments that are required to make economic freedom a reality in America. The erosion of these norms within Europe has made it much easier for the array of dirigiste economic policies pursued by so many nations on that continent. The good news, Gregg informs, is that we aren’t quite Europe. To avoid its fate America must reexamine the foundations of its own economic success and renew its commitment to them.

Check out the podcast here.

Earlier this month the Acton Institute moved to its new home in downtown Grand Rapids, Mich. David Urban of The Rapidian has an update on the transition:

acton-conference-roomThe 38,000 square foot building features a multi-functional, high-tech conference center and auditorium that can hold events for more than 200 people, a media center, several libraries, and office space for the institute’s staff.  The institute will occupy the basement and first floor of the building.

Acton employees have expressed excitement about how their new location and its resources will help them carry out the institute’s work.

“There’s a lot more capability built into the new building,” said John Couretas, the institute’s director of communications and executive editor of Religion & Liberty, the institute’s quarterly magazine.  “It allows us to more effectively do the work we’ve been doing for 23 years.”

Jordan Ballor, an Acton Institute research fellow and executive editor of Acton’s peer-reviewed Journal of Markets & Morality, anticipates more productive and rewarding opportunities for collaborative efforts.

“It’s going to make working together on various projects and programs much more interesting and dynamic,” he said.

Read more . . .

As Joe noted last week, over at Think Christian, H. David Schuringa highlights the primacy of the church’s ministry to prisoners and their families. He points to efforts both great and small:

Over the last 20 years, prison ministry has finally gotten back on the church’s agenda. There are not only large, national ministries like Bill Glass Champions for Life, Kairos, Prison Fellowship and Crossroad Bible Institute, all dedicated to preparing inmates for reentry, but also thousands of smaller groups and churches going into prisons and jails to bring the Good News.

Chuck Colson, founder of Prison Fellowship, was a long-time friend of the Acton Institute, and his story is featured in a compelling way in our new curriculum, Our Great Exchange.

Jim Liske, the current CEO of Prison Fellowship, hosts the series, which includes a session on “Compassion,” featuring Chuck’s story from political insider to prison insider…and beyond. As Chuck says, “I did everything my way. And it crashed and burned.”

For a preview of the session on compassion, check out the video featuring Chuck, “Like I Am.”

Blog author: jcarter
posted by on Monday, March 4, 2013

At The American Spectator, Jackson Adams reviews Samuel Gregg’s new book, Becoming Europe: Economic Decline, Culture, and How America Can Avoid a European Future:

“Europe” is a concept Europeans are still getting used to. It should not, therefore, be surprising that it took a book written primarily for Americans to determine the sort of morass into which Western European social democracies have stepped.

In his new book, Becoming Europe, Samuel Gregg provides a detailed dissection of Europe’s economic climate and the culture that has created it. The analysis offers few surprises for anyone who has followed European news closely for the last five or so years: European governments, entitlements, and spending are out of control, and politicians cannot create the political will to do anything substantial about it. Here the topic is systematically demonstrated with facts and figures in a manner that is never boring and often insightful.

Read more . . .

Blog author: jcarter
posted by on Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Earlier this week at the Heritage Foundation, Acton Research Director Samuel Gregg argued that if our elected leaders don’t find the courage to reform the economy and government spending soon, the U.S. could find itself in the same terrible economic situation as many European countries do today.

Gregg’s lecture will be broadcast this weekend on CSPAN 2 Book TV at 8:45pm EST on Saturday and at 4:45pm EST on Sunday, February 17.

Today Pope Benedict XVI issued a statement that he was renouncing his ministry as the Bishop of Rome, effectively abdicating as of February 28, 2012. The Acton Institute has created a resource page that will provide news and analysis of this historic event, and the election of a new pope.

You can find the current resources and follow future updates here.

Blog author: kjayabalan
posted by on Monday, February 11, 2013

Shock waves went through Rome at about noon today and the rest of the Catholic, make that the entire, world, as news came that Pope Benedict XVI will resign as Pope on February 28.

We’ll have much more from Rome about this tremendous, unprecedented event (Pope Gregory XII resigned in 1415 in very different circumstances).

Here’s what Pope Benedict had to say about a Pope resigning in the 2010 interview Light of the World:

Q:The great majority of [the sexual abuse] cases took place decades ago. Nevertheless they burden your pontificate now in particular. Have you thought of resigning?

A:When the danger is great one must not run away. For that reason, now [2010] is certainly not the time to resign. Precisely at a time like this one must stand fast and endure the difficult situation. That is my view. One can resign at a peaceful moment or when one simply cannot go on. But one must not run away from the danger and say that someone else should do it.

Q:Is it possible then to imagine a situation in which you consider a resignation by the Pope appropriate?

A:Yes. If a Pope clearly recognizes that he is no longer physically, psychologically, and spiritually capable of handling the duties of his office, then he has the right and, under some circumstances, also an obligation to resign.

And here’s the text of the Pope’s letter explaining his decision to the cardinals who are currently gathered in Rome:

Dear Brothers,

I have convoked you to this Consistory, not only for the three canonizations, but also to communicate to you a decision of great importance for the life of the Church.

After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry. I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering. However, in today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the bark of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me.

For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter, entrusted to me by the Cardinals on 19 April 2005, in such a way, that as from 28 February 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of Saint Peter, will be vacant and a Conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is.

Dear Brothers, I thank you most sincerely for all the love and work with which you have supported me in my ministry and I ask pardon for all my defects. And now, let us entrust the Holy Church to the care of Our Supreme Pastor, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and implore his holy Mother Mary, so that she may assist the Cardinal Fathers with her maternal solicitude, in electing a new Supreme Pontiff.

With regard to myself, I wish to also devotedly serve the Holy Church of God in the future through a life dedicated to prayer.

From the Vatican, 10 February 2013

BENEDICTUS PP XVI