Theology of Work in the STEM Professions Week 2


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Dr. Fletcher Tink on Theology of Work

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Theology of Work in the STEM Professions Week 2

  1. 1. “Theological Foundations of Work”
  2. 2. This week we will learn about:1. God‟s creative nature as revealed in Genesis2. How we mirror the Triune Godhead in ourvarious vocations3. The “Creative” and “Redemptive” Mandates4. Our motivations in doing what we do
  3. 3. Last session, we learned that God loves tocreate. It is part of the nature of God.Humankind was created in the “image of God”(“Imago dei”). “So God created human beingsin His own image, in the image of God hecreated them male and female” (Gen 1:17)This is a spiritual “image” not physical.Humans were created with the samepropensities to create and manage that Godexpresses.
  4. 4. Part of that creation was expressed in the divine“breath of life” where “man” becomes a livingsoul“Then the Lord God had formed a man from thedust of the ground and breathed into his nostrilsthe breath of life, and the man became a livingbeing.” (Gen 2:7)As a metaphor, God‟s breath teaches us that whatanimates Him, animates all of us.
  5. 5. The entire Bible is a narrative of God‟s work expressed inthree major ways:1. Creative Work (Primarily described in the role of God, theFather)2. Redemptive Work (Primarily expressed in the figure ofJesus, the Son)3. Sustaining Work (Primarily seen through the ongoingactivity of the Holy Spirit)However, we cannot separate cleanly the functions of theGodhead as all are engaged at all levels seamlessly.
  6. 6. Those engaged in the STEM professionsperhaps draw their identities more from thespirit of God as “Creator”, imagining that whichdoes not currently exist.On the other hand, many in the STEMprofessions are committed to repairing thatwhich has deteriorated, or broken down, in aneffort to upgrade or rehabilitate, even makingbetter that which already exists
  7. 7. In your own engagement in your professions,either current or anticipated, yours or thosearound you, how would you describe themirror-image of God in the work?As primarily “creative”?As primarily “rehabilitative”?As primarily “sustaining”?
  8. 8. 1. We have been made in the image of God (our basicDNA)a. We desire to create, just as God rejoiced in the act ofcreation, “It is good!”b. We are made for community, just as God Himself formscommunity and “is” in his wholeness, “community”.c. We desire to give, just as God enjoyed giving life and theearth to usd. We reach our intended design when we are filled with theHoly Spirit and have the “mind of Christ in us”
  9. 9. 2. We were Created to Work as Stewards on the Earth, or toFashion Things for God‟s Glorya. God is the landlord; He owns everything (Ps. 8:3-6;24:1)b. As God‟s stewards, we do not own anything, but haveassigned responsibilitiesc. As steward, we cannot be exploiters, but caretakersd. Whatever our calling (or talent), we all work for Hispleasure.
  10. 10. e. Some stewards are given moreresponsibility than others (Matt 25:15-18)f. We were created to do significant thingsg. As stewards we are called to work withinfour God-given institutions: Before theFall---work and family; After the Fall---government and church. All are equallyimportant.
  11. 11. The Three Principles in Genesis 3:1. Adam and Eve were designed by God (in His image). i.e.„yatsar‟ = formed” or “fashioned” for beauty, utility andfunction. Our design is our giftedness (enables us toadd value to the world), the thing we most love to do,instinctively do, born to do. (Gen 2:7, Ps 139: 13-16,Eph. 2:102. Adam and Eve used their gifts in the garden (Gen. 2:4-25). God brought the animals to Adam for naming(naming = an act of subduing and having dominion).3. Adam and Eve saw their gifts as purposeful for God
  12. 12. 1. Work (group work is business) To work with and care for the earth and all life forms To be creative like our God To do great things in partnership with God To have joy.2. Family To be headed by the union of a man and a woman whobecome one body To procreate To pass on values and faith from generation to generation To have joy
  13. 13. 3. Government To organize initiatives for the well-being and safety of people To set limits and standards (laws) for people to live and work To maintain justice and extract revenge by punishingwrong-doers4. Church To spread the good news of the Gospel To serve as the presence of God‟s rule on earth To be a light to the world To act as an agent for reconciliation between God and humans To make disciples, resourcing and commissioning to ministrythose who are called to work in the other God-ordainedinstitutions
  14. 14. We are all familiar with the “Redemption” Mandate, that is, to “gointo all the world and to preach the Gospel to every creature”.But sadly, we ignore the “Creation” Mandate (sometimes called, the“Cultural” Mandate) to:Tend the garden (our earth) Gen 2:15Name the animals (subdue it for our goodand God‟s glory) Gen 2:20Proliferate (fill it with beautiful andcreative life) Gen 1:28In other words, we help God embellish the creation (to give “addedvalue” to it). This is precisely what the STEM professions arecalled to do!
  15. 15. Conclusions:1. People are essentially built by God to create “value”2. People are intended to work in and for community incollaboration with God and other people (“it is not goodfor man to be alone”—Gen 2:18-19)3. Work becomes the sphere of activity dedicated to valuecreation and thus it is fundamentally a spiritual activityor at least should be.The Westminster Shorter Catechism says: “Man‟s chief end isto glorify God and enjoy Him forever”. This is expressedin all areas of life.
  16. 16. The Creation Mandate preceded the Redemption Mandate inthe following ways:1. Your work matters to God (“it was very good”). He wantsus, in his image to do “good work”2. Work is the fundamental human activity along withcommunity, love, sex, family.1. Work predates worship. Worship is not a separateactivity. Indeed work is a way of expressing worship.2. The word, liturgy, comes from “liturgia”---the totality ofthe “work of the people”. Our work is sacred “liturgy”when understood in the correct way.
  17. 17. In the Garden of Eden, the task was . . .1. To create, to add value to God‟s creation.2. To never devalue life or resources. There wasno negative creation, no violation of properlimits.3. To enjoy the perfect harmony between creationand distribution. No imbalance.4. To enjoy the balance of work and rest which areboth integral aspects of adding value.
  18. 18. Let us imagine life in the Garden of Eden:I. A Place of Creative Harmony (shalom) foundwithin . . .1. Work and Play2. Labor and Rest3. Nurturing and Creating4. Separating and Filling5. Community and Individuality
  19. 19. II. A Place of Joy: “A deep, abiding inner peace that nocircumstances can take away , because we are doingGod‟s will and aware of God‟s presence”A. Found in “Stewardship” taking personaland corporate responsibility for whathappens in and to this world, and thepeople in it.B. Found in “Human Dignity” as bearers ofGod‟s image in becoming “decision-making” creaturesC. Found in the “Joy” of being stewards in ourpart of God‟s creation in a relationship withHim, characterized by trust, understanding andlove.
  20. 20. My problem might be in the . . .1. “What”: Could it be that I am not doing the“good works” that God has prepared for me inadvance to do? (Eph. 2:10)2. “How”: Could it be that my attitude toward mywork, my employer, my co-workers, is notappropriate (Phil. 2)3. “Why”: Could it be that I don‟t see any ultimatepurpose and meaning in the work that I amdoing? (Jer 1;5, Rom 8:28)
  21. 21. 1. For my personal gain?2. For my family and their future?3. For my superiors?4. For my contract or fellowship?5. For my publications?6. For my funding sources?7. For my review board?8. For the Lord? (Col. 3:23)
  22. 22. Just as the Godhead, that is, the Father, Sonand Holy Spirit, live in joyful harmony withtheir merged roles of “creator, redeemer, andsustainer”, humans mirror the same giftingor functionality.Some people are gifted and called to primarilya “creator” role. Others to the “redemptive”tasks of “fixing things” that have gone wrong.While others find their role in “sustaining,nurturing, creatively maintaining”.
  23. 23. The Garden of Eden featured first and foremost the“Creation” role.Only after the Fall, was there a need for the“Redemptive” role, fulfilled in Jesus Christ andextended through the “Body of Christ” and,Only after the Fall, was there the need for the“Sustainer” role, in that the Fall introduced theprinciple of “atrophy” or entropy (2nd Law ofThermodynamics) that energy and matter weardown or disperse over time. The same principleoccurs within a moral paradigm.
  24. 24. 1. How would you describe your assignment, orwork position? Is it tilted towards the“creative”, the “redemptive” or the “sustainer”purpose?2. What really motivates you in your job?3. Have you seen your profession as part of the“Creation Mandate”, fulfilling the basicpurposes of God as co-laborer with Him in thebetterment of life here on earth?
  25. 25. Feel free in insert below your questions andfeedback on what you have learned in thisPowerPoint:
  26. 26. This is the End of the PowerPoint forSession #2