Category: Bible and Theology

Blog author: jsunde
Tuesday, August 2, 2016
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Pieter_bruegel_il_giovane,_estate_02In recent years, Christian leaders, teachers, and pastors have put renewed focus on the importance of integrating faith and work, recognizing the eternal significance of economic activity.

Yet despite the array of resources and solid teaching on the subject, many Christians continue to struggle with feelings of apathy or ambivalence when it comes to their work. In my own discussions, it’s the most common response I encounter:

“I understand that God is glorified through my work,” they’ll say. “I understand that he’s gifted me and called me and sent me to do something important. But it sure doesn’t feel like it.”

Indeed, it’s one thing when we feel like our gifts are aligned with our callings, when we enjoy our jobs and careers, and when we believe that we’re doing something transformational in the broader economic order. But it’s quite another when we feel underutilized and unrecognized, when the work is unglamorous and unsatisfying, and when we have a sense, even a spiritual sense, that “surely their must be more.”

In a post at The Green Room, a new blog on faith, work, and vocation, Greg Forster reflects on such situations, asking what the Gospel might say to those struggling to find purpose and meaning. (more…)

Michael Thigpen had a successful job at a bank, rising through the ranks of the company to a management position. Yet he had originally planned to be a teacher or a pastor, and after finally graduating from seminary and struggling to find a position in either role, he became frustrated with his banking career.

Now a theology professor at Biola University, Thigpen realizes that his frustrations had to do with an inaccurate vision of vocation and the human person as redeemed by Christ.

“Why had I been so frustrated when an unplanned career was successful?” he now asks. “And why was my sense of identity so tied to the source of my income? …My occupational angst was rooted in a misunderstanding of my identity,” he says.

In a talk for the Oikonomia Network, Thigpen explains the importance of grasping precisely this, arguing that properly understanding our vocation begins with uniting our understanding of economic activity with the “grammar of creation.”

Thigpen reminds us of three distinct truths: (1) economic activity flows directly out of our identity, (2) economic activity is worship, and (3) God intended a flourishing society, not just flourishing individuals. (more…)

almsDavid Schelhaas, Professor Emeritus of English at Dordt College, recently published an article titled “What Does Social Democrat Mean?” Schelhaas suggests that “Christians should seriously consider the merits of social democracy.” Schelhaas is quick to point out that he does not advocate socialism, with state control and management of the means of production, coupled with the redistribution of wealth. Instead, he advocates for the lighter “social democracy.”

Schelhaas goes on to outline his vision of social democracy, including the state’s role in “creating a good and just society” and “using taxes to pay for…other social changes they desire.” His chief concern is wealth inequality, and claims it is the underlying cause of “virtually all social problems that plague a society, things like infant mortality, life expectancy, criminality, mental illness, etc.”

(more…)

Blog author: CRoberts
Wednesday, July 13, 2016
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Working comprises the bulk of most people’s adult lives. Unfortunately, many people find their work unfulfilling and dread Monday mornings. How can we find meaning and a sense of vocation in even the most mundane work environments?

In a recent article published in The Atlantic, Uri Friedman presents seven helpful pieces of advice given by David Brooks (New York Times columnist) and Arthur Brooks (president of the American Enterprise Institute) in order to shed light on how people can better view their job and find purpose. The difference between attitudes of boredom and laziness versus those of enthusiasm and productivity boils down to one’s motivation to work. Do you work for the paycheck alone? Or do you view your work as contributing to the service of others?

Construction WorkerI found one point especially helpful. Friedman narrates a story:

Arthur Brooks set out on a career as a French horn player. But then he came across Johann Sebastian Bach’s answer to why he’d become a composer: “The aim and final end of all music is nothing less than the glorification of God and the enjoyment of man.” Brooks gradually decided that he could better serve such aims as an economist, with a focus on improving the lives of the poor, than as a musician.

“The happiest people feel like they’re needed,” Brooks said. “The greatest engine of misery in our society is a sense of social and economic superfluousness”—a sense, he added, that is contributing to the anger on display in U.S. politics today.

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There’s been a lot of discussion leading up to the planned Pan-Orthodox Council in Crete this month. As is typical of councils in the history of the Church, so far it’s a mess, and it hasn’t even happened yet.

In what has been described as an act of self-marginalization by Bulgarian Orthodox scholar Smilen Markov, it looks like the Bulgarian Patriarchate has already backed out.

Antioch has a laundry list of grievances.

The OCA, which might not even technically be invited in the first place, has issued a statement.

And further statements from the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Georgian Patriarchate, and others can be found.

No need to review the contents as the point is simply to note that, once again, the council is already a mess.

Officially, I should be calling it the “Great and Holy” council, but I’m not holding my breath on that one. That’s not out of cynicism (well, not entirely) but due to the record of history and the science of economics. (more…)

Evangelicals are known for referring to America as a “Christian nation,” sometimes as a nod to its basic demographic disposition, but more often as a deeper theological statement about the country’s founding and spiritual status.

Whether viewed through the mundane misapplications of Old Testament scripture or the more highly entrenched revisionism of Christian “historians” like David Barton, there is a popular view among evangelicals that America has access to a sort of pre-New Testament covenant. Given such a mindset, we shouldn’t be surprised when our political activity aligns accordingly, pursuing the common good far too often from the (political) top down.

In a new video from The Gospel Coalition, Russell Moore explains the theological error that underlies such thinking, pointing the way toward a proper Gospel understanding.

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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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