CVC 406 Session 5 Theological Issues of Work Through Time and Space


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CVC Theology Of Work session 5 focuses on theological issues of work through time and space.

This is a City Vision College class.

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CVC 406 Session 5 Theological Issues of Work Through Time and Space

  1. 1. Theology of Work: An Online Course Outline for City Vision College<br />Offered in six week-long sessions as study notes for the course.<br />Presented by Fletcher L. Tink, Ph.D<br />Professor<br />
  2. 2. Session Five<br />Theology of Work:<br />Theological Issues of Work Through Time and Space<br />
  3. 3. In Biblical Judaism, work and rest were balanced:<br />Rabbis and scholars all learned a trade and supported themselves<br />The festivals were celebrated as a relief from work. These festivals included the festival of weeks, of the Passover, and of the Tabernacles (Deut. 16)<br />The Israelites were told to eat the firstfruits (their tithe) but in the temple.<br />Theology of Work Through Christian History<br />
  4. 4. Post-Biblical Judaism: During this time, the contemplative life was exalted at the expense of physical labor. For instance, in the Talmud: <br />“I thank thee, O Lord, my God, that Thou has given me my lot with those who sit in the house of learning, and not with those who sit at the street-corners; for. . . I am weary to work on the words of the Torah, and they are early to work on the things of no moment. I weary myself . . . And profit thereby, and they weary themselves to no profit. . . I run towards the life of the age to come, and they run towards the pit of destruction.” (Ryken 65-6)<br />TOW through Christian History<br />
  5. 5. In the Greek world, work was considered a curse: <br />Work originated with Eris, goddess of strife, while labor, along with other evils, came from Pandora’s box and was a punishment from Zeus (Ryken, 64).<br />According to Zenophon, “The mechanical arts carry a social stigma and are rightly dishonoured in our cities. For these arts can damage the bodies of those who work at them. . . This physical degradation results also in the deterioration of the soul. Furthermore, the workers at these trades simply have not got the time to perform the offices of friendship or citizenship. Consequently they are look upon as bad friends and bad patriots.” (Ryken, 64)<br />TOW Through Christian History<br />
  6. 6. In the Roman World, tasks were primarily handled by slaves.<br />“One writer Michael Grant stated that the Romans were so dependent on the slave labor that even the simplest task such as getting dressed, holding a towel while going to the bath, and cooking were all done by slaves. Because wealthy owners had slaves working on everything, the lower class could not compete with the freed laborers and were forced out of jobs. So they became dependent on the government to take care of them. The wealthy were forced to pay high taxes on slaves and were expected to help the community at the same time, so they started freeing their slaves” (Mark Nostrum).<br />TOW Through Christian History<br />
  7. 7. “Meanwhile, the &quot;cost of repairing and maintaining public baths, temples became heavy expenditures on the government&quot; ( Ancient Rome Online ). The government spent the majority of its money on the lower class. The lower class was given free grain like bread oil wine and free entertainment. The government also spent money on the maintenance of the city. Because the government spent its funds on the lower class, there was not enough money to support military. As a result, no one enlisted in the army wanted to fight which weakened and finally led to the breakdown of the Republic. Rome’s dependency on slave labor contributed to the decline of the greatest civilization in the history of mankind.” (Nostrum) <br />Roman Attitude Towards Work<br />
  8. 8. Meanwhile, there was an evolving of Church hierarchical positions. The hierarchy of vocations is given a spiritual slant as reflected in the words of Eusebius in the 4th century:<br />“Two ways of life were given by the law of Christ and His Church. The one is above nature, and beyond common human living. . . .Wholly and permanently separate from the common customary life of mankind, it devotes itself to the service of God alone . . . “<br />TOW in Christian History<br />
  9. 9. “Such then is the perfect form of the Christian life. And the other, more humble, more human, permits men to . . . Have minds for farming, for trace, and the other more secular interests as well as for religion. . . . And a kind of secondary grade of piety is attributed to them”. <br />Therefore, work is painful and humiliating and therefore meritorious as an act of atonement, and instrument of purification. This is reinforced by Thomas Aquinas who preferred the contemplative life over the active life. <br />Eusebius, Cont’d<br />
  10. 10. It was commonly believed that spirituality was incompatible with the world of work. A Lausanne statement describes the two “realms”, both during the Middle Ages and today<br />The Spiritual RealmThe World of Work<br /> Withdrawal Engagement<br /> Solitude Community<br /> Silence Noise<br /> Stillness Movement<br /> Serenity Chaos<br /> Simplicity Complexity<br /> Meditation Multi-tasking<br /> Order Interruption<br /> Centered Scattered<br /> Focused Busyness<br /> Seriousness Humorous<br /> Quietness Raised Voices<br />Spirituality Versus Work<br />
  11. 11. During the Renaissance and the Reformation the dignity of labor was again asserted, with special value being placed on the work of one’s hands. <br />The Protestant Reformation rejected the medieval division of work into sacred and secular, and added the doctrine of “calling/vocation”. <br />Yet these Reformers did not enjoy a healthy<br /> view of leisure. <br />TOW throughout Christian History<br />
  12. 12. By the 17th century, the influence of the Puritans was profound. They codified “leisure” with the following components:<br />Leisure must be. . . <br />Lawful<br />Of the best report<br />Profitable t ourselves and others<br />Tend to the glory of God<br />Be refreshing to bodies and minds<br />Used moderately and sparingly of time and affections (Ryken, 207) see Phil 4:8. <br />TOW throughout Christian History<br />
  13. 13. The period of the “Enlightenment”, that is the 18th and 19th centuries depending on where one is evaluating, saw the Enlightenment secularize the Protestant work ethic into a creed for personal success, with Benjamin Franklin leading the cheerleaders. <br />Adam Smith, in his Wealth of Nations, says: “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner. But from their regard to their own interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love.” (Ryken, 71)<br />TOW throughout Christian History<br />
  14. 14. The Industrial Revolution produced a whole new reality about work: the monotony of tasks, the inability to see work’s results personally, the denial of satisfaction, depersonalization, anonymity in the work process, loss of pride, etc. <br />This produced a contrary reaction as seen in the emergence of Karl Marx: “A class must be formed which . . . Is the dissolution of all classes, a sphere of society which has a universal character because its sufferings are universal. . . This dissolution of society. . . is the proletariat.” <br />TOW throughout Christian History<br />
  15. 15. During the Technological Age of the 20th century, work has often devolved into meaninglessness.<br />The worker is often powerless, isolated and self-estranged. (Ryken, 47)<br />TOW and Christian History <br />
  16. 16. On the other hand, the 20th century has often been labeled, the “Age of Leisure”. <br />Leisure has become secularized.<br />There is a decreasing amount of time for genuine leisure. “The amount of genuine leisure is generally in inverse proportion to the amount of labor-saving machinery it employs.” (E F Schumacher in Ryken 51).<br />TOW in the Christian Era<br />
  17. 17. The intense busyness of the 20th and 21st century worker can be described in the following ways:<br /><ul><li>Full calendars
  18. 18. Professionalization of childhood
  19. 19. Working longer and harder
  20. 20. More things and more encumbrances
  21. 21. Increasing complexity and regulation of corporate life
  22. 22. Guilt feelings when inactive</li></ul>The Problem of Busyness<br />
  23. 23. “Work . . . Is the great narcotic that enables people to suppress many of their anxieties, the place where they can hide themselves from their own inner fears. It is an environment that favours the bureaucracy of work and action, or busyness simply for the sake of being kept busy. It is unreflective of the real issues of the life and death of the soul of man.” <br />“Do the Works of Man Secularize the Service of Christ? Interchange, p. 59.<br />Quotation by James Houston<br />
  24. 24. The term “leisure” comes from “licere”, to be permitted:<br />The problems of “leisure are these:<br />Compartmentalization: It cuts generationally, i.e. youth is all study; mid age, all work, retirement, all play.<br />Ambivalence: Within the Christian community, leisure and play are uncomfortably accepted while workaholism is considered a religious virtue.<br />A Discussion about “Leisure”<br />
  25. 25. Additional Problems with Leisure:<br />Because both parents work outside of the home, often genuine leisure is squelched.<br />There is the loss of a sense of vocation that appropriate might include leisure and play.<br />Leisure has become so commercialized that one has to work hard to finance play.<br />Discussion on Leisure, cont’d<br />
  26. 26. G. K. Chesterton suggests that healthy non-work, or leisure opens the door to freedom:<br />Freedom to do something, i.e. hobbies and recreation.<br />Freedom to do anything, i.e. the automobile originally was more of a plaything.<br />Freedom to do nothing. This opens the door to creative “brooding”, meditation, alternate realities. <br />Defining Non-Work<br />
  27. 27. Leisure, appropriately expressed should. . . <br /><ul><li>Provide Diversion
  28. 28. Provide Relaxation and Rest
  29. 29. Personally Restore Oneself
  30. 30. Be Transformative</li></ul>The Value of Leisure<br />
  31. 31. A Biblical Theology espouses a proper understanding of Leisure:<br />It gives a mandate to enjoy God’s creation (Gen 1:31).<br />It offers us grace, in that it reminds us to not take ourselves too seriously.<br />It remind us that “time” is not a commodity but rather, a gift. Therefore, we avoid the compulsiveness of our personalities. We learn to “savor” time, rather than let time govern us.<br />Theology of Leisure<br />
  32. 32. Gen. 3:6 reminds us that there are temptations in leisure at three levels:<br /><ul><li>Godless sensuality (“good for food”), to nurture oneself in inappropriate ways.
  33. 33. Godless aesthetic (“delight to the eyes”), to delight in those things that contaminate the spirit.
  34. 34. Godless experience (“desired to make one wise”), to experience that which was not intended for us.</li></ul>The Temptations of Leisure<br />
  35. 35. A quotation by St Augustine reminds us of the boundaries of leisure:<br />“. . . No one ought to be so leisured as to take not thought for the interest of his neighbor, nor so active as to feel no need for the contemplation of God.” Meilander, 132.<br />A Condition of Leisure<br />
  36. 36. Here are some practical suggestions in programming appropriate leisure in your life:<br />Understand your own leisure style and needs (are you compulsive? Passive?)<br />Choose free time over more pay<br />Embrace both leisure and the Sabbath<br />Choose edifying leisure over debilitating pleasures<br />Choose leisure that expresses family values<br />Discover solitary leisure that is personally restorative <br />Practical Suggestions for Leisure<br />
  37. 37. &quot;And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.&quot; (Col. 3:17)<br />All work matters to God! That work will either honor God or dishonor Him. <br />There is no “neutral” work! One works either with God or against God. Work which is merely “putting in the time”, is work that “works” against God and His purposes. <br />Whose Work Matters to God?<br />
  38. 38. As said earlier, “Vocation” is a Calling. And who is doing the “calling”. Is it your own . . . <br /> intuition?<br /> desires?<br /> understanding of others’ expectations?<br /> means to a wealthy and comfortable end?<br /> easiest option?<br /> aptitude or skill?<br />Calling and Vocation<br />
  39. 39. Or is it God who calls, but may be confirmed by aptitude, desire, skills, or available options?<br />For there to be a “callee”, there must be a CALLER<br />Before we are called to do something, we are called to SOMEONE <br />The “Calling” of God is COMPREHENSIVE, and involves the whole of life<br />Calling and Vocation<br />
  40. 40. ALL OF GOD’S PEOPLE ARE CALLED under the New Covenant, not just prophets, priests and princes.<br />There is not a single instance in the New Testament of a person being called to a societal occupation, rather to “follow me” without any sense of the implications of that.<br />There is not a single instance of a person being called to be a “religious professional”. The criteria for church leadership is not a “secret call” but rather the qualification of character (1 Tim 3; Tit 1)<br />Vocation = Calling<br />
  41. 41. God guides one into vocation in a variety of ways:<br />By His Word---Scripture tells us how to live (Prov. 1:5)<br />By His providential ordering of our lives<br />By endowing us with gifts and talents<br />By enabling us to exercise sound judgment and wisdom (Acts 15:38; 6:3; 15:36; 20:16; Rom 1:10-13; 1 Cor 16:4-9; 2 Cor 1:5-2:4)<br />By motivating us uniquely, giving us passion<br />By the direct leading of the Spirit<br />Finding One’s Vocation<br />
  42. 42. Vocational Discernment is one of the most neglected ministries of the Church. <br />It is never merely individual self-assessment (introspection) but involves corporate affirmation (the Biblical suggestion of two or three witnesses)<br />It involves self-knowledge, listening to the voice of God, discerning the leading of the Spirit<br />It is a process that lasts a lifetime<br />Vocational Discernment<br />
  43. 43. Vocational Discernment necessarily involved. . . <br />Motivation<br />Talents and Gifts<br />Personality<br />Constraints<br />Blocks/Dysfunctionalities<br />Direct Leading of the Lord<br />Vocational Discernment<br />
  44. 44. Tom Bassford of “Significant Matters” has presented to us a visual way of looking at what he calls, the “sweet spot”. This is found in the Materials section. Examine it carefully.<br />It shows the convergence of three circles: <br />My Passion<br />My Significant Matter<br />My Skills and Experience<br />Finding Your “Sweet Spot”<br />
  45. 45. One’s “Passion” includes not necessarily the items Bassford suggests. Rather, the passion is born of the reality of need, and the burning desire to make a contribution, to change things, to be a transformational agent. <br />Passion comes from both the leadership of God, and the awareness of need around<br />Vocation and “Passion”<br />
  46. 46. “My Significant Matter” is where I find affirmation, self-realization, a comfort level of meaning and purpose, a sense of “this is what I was made for”.<br />This is discovered by engagement in a variety of situations that a person willing puts himself or herself into. <br />Vocation and “My Significant Matter”<br />
  47. 47. John Perkins interpretation of the Lord’s Prayer:<br />“Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”.<br />The Will of God is that we identify with the Kingdom that is coming, rather than wait around to be zapped by some mystical divine revelation. <br />My Significant Matter<br />
  48. 48. God has implanted in us certain native aptitudes that experience can develop and mature. It is important to give God the broadest range of experiences to release latent aptitudes and skills. To limit or fail to experiment, may suppress gifts that God has given so that they never develop. <br />Vocation and “My Skills and Experience”<br />
  49. 49. “Up to the age of 30, or beyond it, poetry of many kinds gave me great pleasure. I have also said that formerly pictures gave me considerable, and music very great, delight. But now for many years I cannot endure to read a line of poetry. I have also almost lost my taste for picture or music. My mind seems to have become a kind of machine for grinding general laws out of large collections of facts.” <br />Quotation by Charles Darwin<br />
  50. 50. One may find his or her personal calling or “sweet spot” through the following:<br />Pray continually to be in constant communion with God<br />Gather information about yourself, your passions, your interests, your central motivations, possible occupations through reading, inventories, interviews, personal meditation, journal-keeping<br />How to Discern Your Personal Calling<br />
  51. 51. Engage selected believers who know you well in the process of discernment.<br />Clarify your own general and particular calling, its comprehensiveness and the sense of “oughtness” or “I was made for this” in a particular direction, or more likely in more than one possible direction.<br />Consider the negatives and positives, those who would be advantaged or disadvantaged by this decision, as well as constraints (finances, health, family responsibilities)<br />How to Discern Your Personal Calling, cont’d<br />
  52. 52. Take time. If the decision must be made immediately, it may be only a stop-gap fill-in.<br />If you are married, seek God’s leading and discuss and pray until you have unity, as both are affected by your decision. God’s goal is not to “get the job done as quickly as possible” but to create unity. “If it is not God’s will for both of us, it is probably not God’s will, no matter how much one spouse believes he or she has God’s guidance.<br />How to Discern Personal Calling, Cont’d<br />
  53. 53. Be open to supernatural guidance through prophetic words, visions, dreams, definite transcendental messages from God. But do not demand this for decision-making.<br />When you have decided, do not look back. If you have made a mistake, God will show you this and may either redeem the mistake, incorporating it into his revised plan for you, or move you forward. <br />How to Discern Personal Calling, Cont’d<br />
  54. 54. “The kind of work God usually calls you to, is the kind of work that you most need to do and the world most needs to have done. . . Thus, the place God calls you is the place your deep gladness and the world deep hunger meet.”<br />Quotation by Frederick Buechner<br />
  55. 55. Listen Carefully as the Professor Narrates it<br />A Case Study: The Dream Job<br />
  56. 56. Respond as you remember the case-study just narrated:<br />What are the broad issues?<br />What are the core issues<br />What are the Biblical perspectives that inform this case study?<br />What are the options?<br />What are the resources?<br />What ought then to be the action involved?<br />Processing the Case Study<br />
  57. 57. For this course, we will discuss only briefly two major issues for Christians engaged in the workplace. They are:<br /> 1. Globalization<br /> 2. Ethics<br />Issues Faced by Workplace Christians<br />
  58. 58. “Globalization can . . . be defined as the intensification of worldwide social relations which link distant localities in such a way that local happenings are shaped by events occurring many miles away and visa versa.” (Don Lewis).<br />Examples of these are: <br /><ul><li> International Development philosophies formed by such organizations as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund
  59. 59. Weaponry and war technology
  60. 60. Informational technology, the internet, cable TV
  61. 61. International pop culture, i.e. MTV, commercial products</li></ul>Definition of Globalization<br />
  62. 62. More and more, urban societies are becoming homogenized into a generic world culture aided by . . . <br /><ul><li> travel from everywhere to everywhere
  63. 63. urbanization, and its homogenization
  64. 64. global economy
  65. 65. international job transfer
  66. 66. freedom and access of information
  67. 67. English as the trade/scientific language
  68. 68. the globalization of violence</li></ul>Living in One World<br />
  69. 69. The effects of Economic Globalization are felt in various ways:<br />The global dominance of the market economy rather that state economies<br />The global interchange of goods and services<br />The phenomenon of doing business multinationally<br />The global spread of capitalism<br />Economic Globalization<br />
  70. 70. How would you grade it? Is it . . .<br />Salvic?<br /> Helpful?<br /> Neutral?<br /> Damaging?<br /> Demonic?<br />So, Is Globalization Bad or Good?<br />
  71. 71. There are some benefits in increased international trade:<br />Greater productivity<br />Cheaper consumer products<br />Greater employment<br />Increased economic welfare<br />Benefits of Globalization<br />
  72. 72. On the other hand, there are adverse effects of increased international trade:<br />Loss of employment in both industrialized and less industrialized countries.<br />Damage to the biosphere<br />Loss of community<br />Labor concerns, poor conditions and terms of work<br />Cultural identity issues<br />The Downside of Globalization<br />
  73. 73. “The decisive question for the West is its capacity to direct and discipline capitalism with an ethic strong enough to do so. I myself don’t believe the West can do it.” (Singapore economist)<br />“Originally the menace of unrestrained economic impulse was held in check by the Protestant ethic---people worked in response to their calling. But now, with this ethic dissolved, including its moral attitudes toward hard work and saving, only hedonism remains.” (The Call, 134-5)<br />Quotations by Os Guinesson Capitalism<br />
  74. 74. “Capitalism, having defeated all challenges, such as socialism, now faces its greatest challenge----itself, because it devours the very virtues it needs to thrive.” (The Call, 135)<br />Os Guiness, cont’d<br />
  75. 75. Reviewing what has been learned thus far, and applying it to globalization, we can say. . . <br />The mission starts with God himself<br />God is on a “global” mission<br />God invites humankind to cooperate with Him in the transformation of the world. We become “world-makers”<br />Being on the mission involves two characteristics---relinquishment (giving up securities), and movement (out of comfort zones)<br />God’s global mission is not the homogenization of the world, but rather, the blessings of all nations. <br />The Biblical Corrective on Globalization<br />
  76. 76. God’s mission is global, but not homogenization into a single world culture, or economy or language.<br />The danger of globalization is that it relives the Tower of Babel in homogenous arrogant autonomy. The alternative is found in Pentecost in its unity in diversity also expressed in the New Jerusalem in international, inter-racial community<br />The Biblical Corrective on Globalization, cont’d<br />
  77. 77. Capitalism and Globalization are “powers”.<br />Originally created good by Christ (Col 1:15ff), good structures and spiritual realities were formed to provide an order cosmos for us to live. However, they have taken on a life of their own and have become corrupted, fallen.<br />Christ disarmed the powers and showed their puny strength by his death on the cross (Col 2:13-15).<br />We grapple with the powers according to their reality, critique them against the Word and call them to accountability before God. <br />Theological Reflection on the “Powers”<br />
  78. 78. Is God in Globalization? Yes and No. <br />In some sense, those nations most profoundly influenced by Christianity have led the way into Globalization based on some fundamental Christian theological ethics.<br />Globalization may be part of the apocalyptic vision of Christ in providing the means by which all peoples hear the Gospel<br />However, Globalization is not the coming of the Kingdom of God, nor does it produce it.<br />Is God in Globalization?<br />
  79. 79. However, Globalization is an opportunity to work and serve towards the vision of the New Jerusalem through fellowship, prophetic discernment, in proclamation.<br />“Christ is bringing these principalities, authorities and dominions under the laws of God for the purposes of God as part of the mercy of God, and . . . All believers are called to be agents of this reconciliation process for the glory of God (John Stackhouse)<br />Is God in Globalization? cont’d<br />
  80. 80. Why do we work?<br />For survival: provision for one’s needs<br />For identity and meaning: expression of gifts and talents<br />For love: towards family, dependents, and others in need<br />For service: contributing to neighbors, serving the Kingdom of God<br />For growth: for spiritual formation and sanctification<br />For the Kingdom: that will last forever<br />For God<br />Second Issue Christians Face in the Workplace<br />
  81. 81. These ten foundational business practices are given in greater detail in your Materials section: Business. . . <br />Strives to be profitable and sustainable in the long run.<br />Strives for excellence, operates with integrity and has a system of accountability.<br />Has a kingdom motivation, purpose and plan that is shared and embraced with the senior management and owners.<br />Ethics: Foundational Business Practices<br />
  82. 82. Aims at holistic transformation of individuals and communities.<br />Seeks the holistic welfare of employees<br />Seeks to maximize the kingdom impact of its financial and non-financial resources<br />Models Christ-like servant leadership, and develops it is others,<br />Intentionally implements ethical Christ-honoring practice that does not conflict with the gospel.<br />Ethics: Foundational Business Practices, cont’d<br />
  83. 83. Is pro-active in intercession and seeks the prayer support of others.<br />Seeks to harness the power of networking with like-minded organizations. <br />In your work context, how many of these practices are conscientiously followed as ethical principles? <br />Ethics: Foundational Business Practices, cont’d<br />
  84. 84. This concludes Session Five<br />