Theology of Work in the STEM Professions Week 3


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Dr. Fletcher Tink on Theology of Work

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Theology of Work in the STEM Professions Week 3

  1. 1.  Theology of WorkTheological Foundations of Work
  2. 2. In this session we will learn the following:1. What changed because of the “Fall”?2. Redeeming Work3. The Three Dimensions of Evil4. Acquiring the Christian Worldview5. Understanding the “Missio Dei”6. Defining “Ministry”
  3. 3. According to Genesis 3, the following consequencesare noted:1. There is a curse. But it is not that “work” is cursed,but that it is the ground that is cursed.2. Sometimes work ends in futility Sometimes relationships end in futility2. The Fall caused four major breaks between us and God Ourselves Each Other Our World
  4. 4. The Breaks Have Caused Much Confusion andPain in the World (Gen 11:1-9)1. The loss of purpose to steward God‟screation resulting in . . .Environmental crisesSocial, economic and justiceinequalities
  5. 5. 2. The loss of seeing people as made in God‟simage resulting in . . .Using our power to control others, rather than servethemCreating our self identities based on materialistperceptionsHanging on to transactional social relationships (what weget out of the exchange to satisfy human needs)rather than transformational relationships (thatmutually add values to both parties)Being indifferent and disconnected to God
  6. 6. 3. The Belief that the purpose of STEM professionsis fame, innovation for its own sake, profits andpower. These unrestrained goals haveoccasionally resulted in. . .4.ExploitationUnbridled free-market capitalismGreed, short-term focus, ethical crisesConsumption and consumer societiesThe rise of science as moral arbiterWorld-wide economic inequities, violence,jealously and hate
  7. 7. Where have you seen within your workplace (orare aware of), the STEM professions being usedin perverse or evil ways?Where have you seen relentless ambition, themoney chase, cooking of the books, internalemployee tensions, etc. expressed in peopleand institutions that once upon a time fullyintended to serve the common good?
  8. 8. There is need to recapture a sense of the divinepurpose of Eden, to “rebuild the garden”, ourrelationships (remember that Adam and Eveblamed each other, and lost their nakedinnocence) by reconnecting redemptively to:OurselvesEach OtherOur WorldGod
  9. 9. Has the Cross Made a Difference?Yes!!! It has rectified and reconciled the relationshipsbetween . . .Jew and Greek (ethnic and racial groups)Slave and Free (social and economicstandings)Male and Female (gender differences)Gal 3:27-29
  10. 10. Has the Cross Made a Difference?YES!!! The world is being redeemed from the curseimposed at the Fall (Gal 3:13) From the cursed ground From the futility of work From the troubled relationship between manand woman.
  11. 11. Has the Cross made a Difference? YES!!! When we walk through the cross, we catch aglimpse at the character of the Kingdom as seen inIsaiah 65:17-25 Infants live rather than die People live much longer They own their own houses, and own their own land toplant food, and have sufficient resources to sustainand enjoy themselves
  12. 12.  They will not build only for others, but alsofor themselves They will not work in vain or have childrenthat are sold into captivity The Strong and the Weak will live peacefullytogether People will not work at cross purposes withthe New Creation
  13. 13. In other words, the “shalom” of Eden will berestored, but at a higher, communitarian level,made more elegant and noble because ofhuman effort.In this, the STEM professions potentially cantake the lead in their creative purposes to bringreconciliation, trust justice and fairness,efficiency and health into all aspects of life.
  14. 14. 1. Each person starts as a member of the “Kingdom of thisworld”2. As we confront the cross, we are graciously redeemed,and our motives are purified3. we pass through the cross, we see God‟s Kingdom in anew light, how things in Eden once were, what they wereintended to be, and what they will become.4. We return into the world, knowing that the curse isdisarmed and that we work and live as new creatorsourselves, functioning as “salt” and “light” to the world.
  15. 15. The Fall introduced the active presence of Evilin the world.Evil is expressed in Scripture in threedimensions:It is caricaturized as: The WorldThe FleshThe Devil
  16. 16.  The “World” refers to the human-basedsystems of the world that are corrupted bysin, selfish intent and institutional andcorporate abuse. We call this “Systemic Evil”.
  17. 17.  The “Flesh” refers to personal choices madethat express the human bent to sinning. Thiswe call “Personal Evil”. The Devil refers to the active role of thedemonic, or of Satan himself. This we call“Cosmological Evil”.
  18. 18. Ironically, the Christian Church is all too naïve andoperates piecemeal in that various factions seemto identify Evil at only one of these dimension:1. For instance, “evangelicals” tend to focus on“Personal Evil”, with personal conversion beingcentral, and Christian discipleship exercisesfeatured as follow-up activities. Redemptiveservices such as Rescue Missions andRehabilitation Houses and tight personalaccountability are seen as resources to helpindividual overcome their evil tendencies.
  19. 19. 2. On the other hand, members of conciliar (churchesformed out of historical church “Councils”, i.e.Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic) churches, andmainline denominations tend to focus primarily on“Systemic Evil”, believing that institutions, over time,become corrupted and self-serving and that it is theChristian prerogative to confront, challenge and callthem back to Christian values and accountability.This is done through direct and indirect influence,political pressure, advocacy and confrontation, theballot box, and more radical symbolic gesturescritiques like those exhibited by the Old Testamentprophets, i.e. Jer 19, Jer 32, Is 20, Ez 4, Hos 1
  20. 20. 3. The third evil is what we call the “CosmologicalEvil”. This is the active frontal attack of Satan in avery personal and powerful fashion. It is expressedin demonic possession or demonic oppression.Scripture describes Satan as a “roaring lion seekingwho he may devour”.It is evident that Pentecostalism has a clearersense of this “evil” than do other Christiantraditions.The antidote to the power of demonic evil isexorcisms, prayer and fasting, “Joshua” marches,and perhaps even radical suffering or martyrdom.
  21. 21. The Bible expresses all three of thesedimensions in Ephesians 2:1-2:”As for you, you were dead in yourtransgressions and sins [Personal Evil], inwhich you used to live when you followed theways of this world [Systemic Evil] and of theruler of the kingdom of the air [CosmologicalEvil], the spirit who is now at work in thosewho are disobedient.” (NIV)
  22. 22. Therefore the presence of “Evil” within the work environmentis the result of . . .1. Personal decisions that corrupt the quality and nature ofwork, i.e. sloth (laziness), jealous competition, theft, etc.2. Institutional corruption in a dog-eat-dog environment,bottom line profits over people, unjust wages, etc.Examples: The divorce between profit and “valueadded”; the divorce between “value added” and fairdistribution; the divorce between means and ends3. The active presence of Satan expressed in evil people or“people of the lie” (Beelzebub). For a good descriptionof this, see Scott Peck‟s book entitled, “People of theLie”.
  23. 23. Mahandas Gandhi states so well the systemic evilfrom the “Fall” in his short description of the rootsof violence:“Wealth without WorkPleasure without ConscienceKnowledge without CharacterCommerce without MoralityScience without HumanityWorship without SacrificePolitics without Principle”.Christians ought to be the ones who are the antidote,the peace-makers, in the corrupted systems of thisworld.
  24. 24. We live in the “in-between” stage of history, in afallen world still under a long process ofaccountability before God. The Kingdom of Godwhich is here, but “not yet”. Any understandingof “work” that neglects the reality of the curse, isnaïve and romanticized. Yet we are called tohelp redeem “Work” as the anticipation of futureredemption.Scripture Verse: “In putting everything under him,God left nothing that is not subject to him. Yet atpresent we do not see everything subject to him.”Hebrew 2:8b (NIV)
  25. 25. 1. Conflict in the office or laboratory2. Oppressive working conditions3. Employer-employee tensions4. Plagiarism, stolen scientific properties or ideas5. Research projects that serve only the rich few6. Weapons of mass destruction7. Bribery for contracts or financial deals8. Safety compromises9. Corporate greed10. Shoddy materials
  26. 26. Think of five cases of “fallenness” as you haveobserved it in either your work environment orin adjacent relationships (friends, or otherenterprises).Or as you read the newspaper, or internet, orwatch the television, what do you see asevidence of fallenness, especially among “whitecollar” workers?
  27. 27. Good and Evil are tangled together now in verycomplex ways. For example:1. Profit doesn‟t always measure true value2. The distribution of value and wealth isn‟talways fair3. Maintaining fair economic balance is hard toretain4. It is a tough challenge to make what we value equalto what God values in the STEM professions
  28. 28. The Two Mandates Given to Humankind by God1. The Creation Mandate: Gen 1:27-30:Called to steward the earth.2. The Redemption Mandate: The GreatCommission of Matt 28:19-20. Called towitness the saving grace of Christ and towork in His Kingdom.
  29. 29. Work after the Fall and after the Cross suggeststhe following: We are a group of redeemed people We who were once “nothing”, are something, a “royalpriesthood” a “light to the world”. We aretransformed and transformative agents of change.The Creation Mandate is still in place and is reaffirmed asour missionRemember that the Creation Mandate was given again toNoah, the building engineer, after the Fall
  30. 30.  We work in a spirit of praise and worship We are stewards of all of God‟s creation We are given the Great Commission(Redemption Mandate) We have been given all the resources we needto fulfill both mandates: the CreationMandate and the Redemption Mandate
  31. 31. We Need a New Worldview that Drives our Behavior, incontrast to the World Culture that Drives Our BehaviorThis Worldview needs to be central out of whichvalues, behavior and culture radiate.This Christian Worldview comes from the Holy Spiritwho gives us the power to put on the “Mind of Christ”In contrast, a Worldview fashioned by the culture issubjectively created by our individual immediateenvironment and our limited experiences.
  32. 32. The Christian worldview should be “taking on themind of Christ”, not some politically popular“churchish” worldview.We acquire the “mind of Christ” through thefollowing:1. Listening to what Jesus tells us in words andstories, and living them out, and having themdirect our actions, i.e. the Sermon on theMount, the Olivet Discourse, the Parables, thePost-resurrection instructions to his disciples
  33. 33.  Looking at how Jesus and the Father did theirwork and emulating them in our actions andbehavior; for example, seeing how Jesus andGod gave their power away to empowerothers, in a spirit of humility, loving andforgiving, always desiring reconciliation,providing for their needs and resources withgifts and talents, trusting of others, allowingthem to fail, etc.
  34. 34. As Christians, we not only follow Christ but we put onthe “mind of Christ” This means for us to:1. Love the Father2. Love and think of others first andbuild them up3. Faithfully be stewards of the Father‟scalling for our lives4. Be compassionate5. Seek justice
  35. 35. 6. Be kind7. Be merciful8. Be pure in heart: honest, responsible, ofhighest integrity, vulnerable andaccountable to others9. Be a peacemaker10. Be joyful in the Lord, knowing that He loves us,knows us by name and cares for us, as we do withthose with whom we work
  36. 36. It is important to understand that our work reallyisn‟t our own. The concept of the missio dei(Latin for “Mission of God”) suggests that God isdoing the mission and invites us to workalongside of him.In other words . . .Our work should never be seen as our own but rather,His. It is His creation and we are invited to delve into it,for His glory and for the human good.We are never working alone. He is our partner.
  37. 37. Our work should characterize God‟s values, not justthe company‟s or the culture‟s or our own value,but those of God Himself.We are, ultimately “servant-leaders”, serving God,but also leading in the sense that we recognize thatGod has placed us in this professional context to be“light”, to be “salt”, to be “change agents” bothwithin the work setting and to the larger communityit touches.
  38. 38. Therefore, every Christian is called to be a minister, amember of the “priesthood of all believers” (MartinLuther).Ministry can be defined in three ways:“It is the active engagement of Christians as co-regentswith God in the life of the community, for thepurpose of identifying, introducing, exhibiting andcelebrating the Kingdom of God in all manner ofspirit-enhancing forms. These forms include thoseof specific evangelistic intent (the Redemptivemandate), both individual and corporate. Forexample:
  39. 39. 1. Those of “Remedial Intent”: that is, repairingthat which is broken: i.e. providing care for theneedy, restoring the damaged, reconciling theshattered, recycling the discarded, in short,fulfilling the mission of Jesus as expressed inLuke 4:18-19 and of Christians in Matt 25:35-39.2.This expresses primarily the RedemptiveMandate, though the STEM professionsthemselves may also need “fixing up” or healingas suggested here.
  40. 40. 2. Those of Creative Intent: that is, thecreation of healthy communities andinstitutions that seek to improve the qualityof life for all, or add value to it byembellishing (beautifying) it.This would be primarily fulfilling the“Creation Mandate”.
  41. 41. 3. Those of Confrontational Intent: that isdiscerning the evil forces at work andconfronting and countering them withspiritual engagement, confrontation,advocacy, intercessory prayer and fasting,spiritual warfare (manifest in „signs andwonders‟) and incarnational suffering.This too would primarily clear the wayfor the full expression of the “CreationMandate”
  42. 42. Do you see your profession as “ministry” in the sense of“service”?Who are you serving?How is your service improving the quality of life forthose it touches?How would you change it, if you had a magic wand sothat it would better fulfill the Divine or humanpurposes for which it was created?Do you sense that God is your collaborator in yourwork and that it is “His” mission as well as yours?
  43. 43. Feel free in insert below your questions andfeedback on what you have learned in this PowerPoint:
  44. 44. This is the end of Session Three