Blog author: jcarter
Thursday, October 24, 2013
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Five Encouragements for Everyday Work
Joseph Scheumann, Desiring God

Far and away, those not getting paid to do ministry are collectively doing much more on the frontlines for gospel advance than those getting a paycheck.

Popes on Economics
Michael P. Orsi, First Things

Zieba shows how John Paul II believed that democracy and capitalism were good for the human person.

“Good government pleases God”: Shutdowns, budgets, and the common good
Rick Garnett, Mirror of Justice

Lawmakers have a vocation and they are holders of a trust. Part of that vocation, and one of the things we trust them to do, is to actually make (good) law (and, just as important, not-make bad laws).

Why Economics Is Part of God’s Created Order
Shawn Ritenour, Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics

Certainly, as Christians who are called to love our neighbors as ourselves, we should and do have compassion on our suffering neighbor. Yet some approaches, while well-intended, may in fact lead to more economic hardship and less human flourishing.

Image Credit: BBC

I had the opportunity today to take part in a discussion on the BBC program World Have Your Say, discussing the recent suspension by the Vatican of the Bishop of Limbu, Germany, Franz-Peter Tebartz-van-Elst, known in the German press as the “bishop of bling.” He is under investigation regarding expenditures of 31 million euros (roughly $41 million) for the renovation of the historic building that served, in part, as his residence. This story (which can be read here) served as a springboard for the broader question: Should religious leaders live a modest life?

I have written in the past on Christianity and wealth (here and here), and I think the discussion was quite fruitful and thankfully free of strong contention.

One point I wish had been examined a little more (though it is briefly mentioned at the end) is that of redemption. Much was said of how one needs to handle one’s wealth well, but little was said of what hope there may be for someone who has misused their wealth or even who may simply be overly attached to it. While Christ warned, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God,” he continues to condition this statement by saying, “With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible” (Mark 10:25, 27). As St. Paul writes, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9) — rich in holiness and virtue, heavenly treasures that do not wear out.

Listen to the interview at BBC World Service here.

tomsWhen proposing a solution to an economic problem the first question that should be asked is, “Is the solution likely to fix the problem?”

While that may seem too obvious to mention, it’s surprising how many times that question is not given serious consideration. In the past this has been particularly true of poverty-reduction measures. Too often the solutions were judged mainly on motives and emotions rather than effectiveness. If the solution was proposed in a spirit of goodwill and generosity or if it made both the giver and receiver feel good, then why not try it?

Over the past few years, though, there has a been promising shift within poverty-fighting circles. A prime example is TOMS Shoes rethinking of its ‘buy one, give one’ model of helping the needy. The California-based company’s model of giving a pair of shoes to a child in need for ever pair bought by it’s customers has spawned copy-cats in various industries — from baby goods to solar panels. Yet as PRI notes,
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America’s debt is creating not servants of higher things but slaves to government, says Ray Nothstine in this week’s Acton Commentary.

As our nation’s $17 trillion debt spirals out of control, and spiritual disciplines decline in the West, we need to face the reality of America’s inability to collectively sacrifice. Even the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg seemed to pass this year with scant attention, as if such extreme sacrifice is alien and distant to our way of life today.

Washington’s brokenness is cheered by a majority of the political class, declaring a “crisis averted.” The “crisis” for a majority of the leaders in Washington, however, is not our debt or insatiable appetite to spend, but the notion that it might possibly involve limitations or must end in belt-tightening.

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

While Chrysostom speaks in terms of the morally good use of wealth, says Rev. Gregory Jensen in this week’s Acton Commentary, it is a standard inconceivable apart from private property.

As a pastor, I’ve been struck by the hostility, or at least suspicion, that some Orthodox Christians reveal in their discussions of private property. While there are no doubt many reasons for this disconnect, I think a central factor is a lack of appreciation for the role that private property can, and does, play in fostering human flourishing. It is through the wise and prudent use of our property that we are able to give ourselves over in love to the next generation and so give them the possiblity of likewise transcending a purely material way of life through an act of self-donation.

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

img6While many Americans are struggling to navigate healthcare.gov and some are fighting against the Affordable Care Act’s threat to religious liberty, an estimated 100,000 people are exempt from the legislation as members of a health care sharing ministry (HCSM); these organizations offer the opportunity for individuals with similar beliefs to share their health care costs.

HCSMs are not insurance companies, but nonprofit religious organizations that receive no government funding. Andrea Miller, the medical director for Medi-Share, one HCSM in the U.S., explained in a recent interview with NPR how the ministry works:
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Exodus, Cornelis VonkChristian’s Library Press has now released Exodus, the second primer in its Opening the Scriptures series. Written by Dutch Reformed pastor and preacher Cornelis Vonk, and translated by Theodore Plantinga and Nelson Kloosterman, the volume provides an introduction to the book of Exodus.

Like others in the series, it is neither a technical commentary nor a sermon, but rather an accessible primer for the average churchgoer, walking readers through the “immense building” of Scripture while “tracing the unfolding” of God’s ultimate plan.

Much of this is accomplished through Vonk’s continual highlighting of each book’s unique place in the grand totality of Scripture. How, for example, should the law in Exodus be understood in light of the New Testament?

An excerpt from the first chapter:

From the law we get to know God, our Creator, who out of free grace made a covenant with Abraham the idol worshiper. From the law we get to know Christ and his works as a great picture book that the Lord employed to give his church visual lessons in what he could mean to her. From the law we learn much about the will of our heavenly Father for the life that has been restored in Christ. We must respect the authorities, have mercy on widows and orphans and on the poor and the strangers in our midst, pay the laborer his full wage, not condemn anyone without hearing his story, and so forth. (more…)