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Spirituality and Work Resources
Title & Author Language Links Tags
Wealth – Blessing, Temptation or a Sacrament? by R. Paul Stevens
Sample

Wealth: A Blessing, Temptation, or a Sacrament?

R. Paul Stevens

Hardly anyone wants to be poor; most would like to be rich.  Wealth brings power, standing in the community, increased leisure, and freedom from worry--so it is thought.  Not surprisingly in the richest part of the world many Christians are preaching a "prosperity gospel"--that faithfulness to Jesus will lead to personal wealth.  Tragically, this distorted message is now taking root in some of the poorest countries of the world.  Is wealth a sign of God's blessing?  Is money the main measure of wealth?  Does the Bible endorse wealth, promote it or exclude it?  How are we to respond in spirit and action?  Our souls hang on our answers to these questions. 

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Day at Work: Faith-Discovering the Soul of Work by R. Paul Stevens
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"And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.  But the   greatest of these is love." 
1 Corinthians 13:13
 
"We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ."    
1 Thessalonians 1:3

FAITH: DISCOVERING THE SOUL OF WORK

LOVE: RECOVERING THE AMATEUR STATUS OF THE CHRISTIAN

HOPE: MAKING OUR MARK ON HEAVEN

FAITH:

DISCOVERING THE SOUL OF WORK

            "There is no work better than another to please God; to pour water, to wash dishes, to be a souter (cobbler), or an apostle, all are one, as touching the deed, to please God."

William Tyndale[i]

            "Do you like your new job?" It was a foolish question, a very Western question to ask a Kenyan.  But Esther had been my student in a rural theological college in East Africa for three years.  She had hoped, like the others, upon graduation to be placed as a pastor of a church.  Instead she was given the enormously demanding task of being matron for three hundred girls in a boarding school.  It was a twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week job with little recognition and limited remuneration.  So I had reason to ask.  But her answer revealed a deep spirituality, one which I covet for Christians in my home country and myself.  She said, "I like it in Jesus."

 


[i]. William Tyndale, "A Parable of the Wicked Mammon," (l527) in Treatises and Portions of Holy Scripture (Cambridge: Parker Society, l848), 98, 104.

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Wealth in the Old Testament by V. Philips Long
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GOOD, BAD, OR INDIFFERENT?
WEALTH ACCORDING TO THE OLD TESTAMENT by V. Philips Long
I.  Introduction

Years ago I heard it said that wealth is a blessing according to the Old Testament but a curse according to the New.  This idea has struck me as insufficiently attentive to the continuity between the testaments.  In what follows I shall explore briefly the subject of wealth according to the OT, in the hope of suggesting a more balanced view of the biblical testimony. 

In this effort, I would like to adopt a two-pronged approach analogous to the procedures of modern archaeologists. One prong is the surface survey; the other is the in-depth excavation of a limited area.  In the former, the archaeologist travels quickly over the terrain simply collecting what can be found on the surface.  In the latter, s/he sinks a trench into a particular piece of ground with the hope of extrapolating from that one sample some general features of the larger site.

We begin with a surface survey of the biblical landscape, noting four prominent features (from among others, of course).  We then shall sink a trench in the area of the OT that offers the most practical personal instruction[1] on our topic—namely, the wisdom book of Proverbs.

 


[1] Issues of corporate social justice are addressed more directly in other places of the OT (e.g., the legal and prophetical materials), although the more individualistic instruction of the wisdom books also carries implications in these spheres.

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Consumerism by Craig M. Gay
Sample
The word consumerism is occasionally used to denote the consumer movement and advocacy on behalf of consumers vis-à-vis the producers of consumer products. The term is also infrequently used to refer to the economic theory that maintains the growth of consumption is always good for an economy. Normally, however, consumerism is lamented as a significant behavioral blemish in modern industrial society...
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Vocational Conversion by R. Paul Stevens
Sample

Vocational Conversion

An Imaginary Puritan – Baby Boomer Dialog

Copyright - R. Paul Stevens 2000.

 It has been said that the sixteenth century Puritans[i] were people who had swallowed gyroscopes.[ii]  They were inwardly directed to the Lord's Kingdom and were not easily swayed by the attractions of the world. Crucial to this orientation was their understanding of the biblical doctrine of calling or vocation,[iii]

the idea that the whole of our life is a response to the summons of God and not merely a matter of self-directed development. William Perkins (1558-1602), while little known, deserves a modern hearing because he is the only Puritan[iv] author to describe calling in a systematic way.[v] Thus sections of his Treatise of the Vocations [vi] written around the turn of the seventeenth century,[vii] are paraphrased in an imaginary conversation between Perkins[viii] and a twentieth-century Baby-Boomer (that demographic population bulge of people born between l946 and l964)[ix] in order to contrast one modern view of vocation with a Biblical view. The endnotes offer a few clarifying comments and corrections of the imbalance of the Puritan view of calling.

 


[i]. In his masterful treatment of work and calling, Paul Marshall follows Basil Hill's definition of Puritan as "restlessly critical and occasionally rebellious members of the Church of England who desired some modifications in church government and worship, but not those who removed themselves from the church. in "Work and Calling: Puritan and Dissenters", Chapter 4 in Callings: Spirituality, Work and Duty in Sixteenth and Seventeenth Century England (unpublished manuscript, Toronto, l991),p.1.

[ii]. Os Guiness, "Vocation and Calling", an audiotape produced by The London Institute of Contemporary Christianity, London, U.K., June 5-9, l989.

[iii]. These two words mean substantially the same thing, though in modern usage "vocation" has been identified with career, and "calling" with religious service or the work of a professional minister.

[iv].Ian Breward notes that "Perkins himself showed little sign that he thought of himself as anything other than a normal and loyal member of the Church of England. He repudiated the label of 'puritan' except for those who believed that it was possible to live without sin in this life, and felt that it was possible to live without sin in this life." Ian Breward, ed. The Work of William Perkins (Appleford, England: The Sutton Courtenay Press, l969), p. 15.

[v]. Marshall, op. cit., p. 8. Earlier Protestant writers had used the concept of vocation to reflect critically on the medieval idea that vocation had little to do with ordinary life in this world. Perkins used the doctrine of vocation to expound the Calvinist distinction between general and particular calling and to provide a firm link between justification and sanctification. He had the further interest of providing in the Gospel a firm foundation for social stability and societal responsibility. Breward, op. cit., p.443.

[vi]. William Perkins, "A treatise of the Vocations, or Callings of Men, with the sorts and kinds of them and the right use thereof," in The Workes of that Famous and Worthy Minister of Christ in the University of Cambridge, Mr. William Perkins. London: John Legatt, 1626. This has been reprinted, with some portions deleted, in modern English in Ian Breward, op. cit.

[vii]. No precise date can be assigned to the Treatise.

[viii]. I have five reasons for making Perkins' thoughts available: First, Perkins is thoroughly biblical as he defends his views by biblical principle and text. Second, Perkins provides vocational counselling as he is concerned with how vocational decisions are made. Third, his Treatise is practical, concerned with real issues of living in the world. Fourth, Perkins is lay-oriented as he makes no distinction in dignity in the calling of the non-clergy laity and the clergy. Finally, Perkins is oriented to the heart and is concerned to evoke a deep personal spirituality that will result in the transformation of character.

[ix].Paul C. Light, Baby Boomers. New York: W.W. Norton Company, l988.

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Calling and Social Transformation by Jon Escoto
Sample

These are my “bridge thoughts” on these two important topics.   I have two reflections.  Part I and Part II.  They are not totally related to each other.

Part I (On Machiavelli and Teresa of Avila)

Social Transformation, or simply put, “change”, is largely dependent on two very vital assumptions of the change agents, or on a larger scale, the “society changers”.  They are their accurate:  (1) diagnosis of the problem, and, (2) vision of what and where society should be. 

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Virtues by Iain Benson
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Virtue is a term that is being recovered from Greek philosophy to become part of contemporary discussions on ethics. There is good reason for this: both in ancient literature and in the Bible, virtue is a fundamental dimension of ethical living and moral character development. While the concept of virtue predates Christianity, it has been greatly influenced and deepened by the Christian faith. It is also true to say that the thinking of Christians, especially in the Western church, has been influenced by these Greek sources.

Few would deny that moral education is a pressing need today. Unfortunately the concept of virtue has, over the years, deteriorated and, like a host of other terms (tradition, heritage or even right and wrong) has lost its vibrancy. More commonly we now tend to speak of personal “values” rather than virtues. And we create our own “values” rather than conforming ourselves to “virtues” as the categorical “given” aspects of an overall (therefore shared) goodness. So the questions of what virtue is and how we can and why we should become virtuous are crucial considerations for everyday life.

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Treatise on Callings by William Perkins
Summary

William Perkins – Treatise on Callings: A Puritan Approach to the Doctrine of Vocation

Its value:

  1. It is Biblical.
  2. It is vocational counseling - concerned with how people are to live and make choices concerning their vocation.
  3. It is practical – concerned with the realities of life in this world as Christians – it is the context of everyday life and work that our true spirituality is expressed.
  4. It is lay-oriented – he makes no distinction between the experience of the ordinary Christian of the “call of God” and the person who serves as a minister of the Gospel.
  5. It is heart-directed – concerned to evoke a deep personal spirituality that results in Christian character (so he deals with such things as covetousness, envy and impatience).

(All references to pages in The Works of That Famous Minister of Christ in the University of Cambridge by William Perkins (London: John Legatt, 1626).

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Business as a Calling and Profession Part B by Gordon Preece
Sample:

Having surveyed the relatively positive biblical view of material work and clarified the difference between status wealth then and now and productive wealth, it is important to examine some of the Greek philosophical and historical factors disparaging work and business, against which Protestant notions of vocation subsequently reacted.

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Toward a Theology of Profit by Don Flow
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TOWARD A THEOLOGY OF PROFIT by Don Flow

Profit, as defined by the accounting profession, is the excess of total revenues over total costs. Economists define “pure profit” as the amount of money remaining after making all payments for productive services and raw materials after the going rate of payments for the capital invested has been deducted. Profit is the estimated claim on wealth that can be used as capital for new efforts to create wealth. A Christian perspective on profit requires a correct understanding of what profit actually is, how it is created, who has a just claim on it, and what role it plays in a business, all in the context of a biblical understanding of human nature, stewardship, justice, and community.

Understanding Profit

Profit in an organization must be understood in the context of the productivity of capital. In the long term, the return on invested capital must exceed the cost of capital to the organization. If the firm fails to do so, it is technically a destroyer of all kinds of wealth in society -- finances, intellect, and humanity.

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