Sunday, 30 March 2008

Thinking about disciplines and jobs

Yesterday I spoke at an Interweave event about study and Christian worldview. It was a chance to try to be concrete about how a Christian worldview can help us think, and work, in different areas. Here is some of what I come up with.

 The framework of Creation-Fall-Redemption-New Creation is a great way to think about a Christian worldview.

 A Christian worldview will recognise that creation is valuable, purposeful and structured. So a Christian should think about how their discipline or vocation values creation and looks at and responds to the purpose and structure of creation.

 A Christian worldview will value people and recognise that we are image bearers, and are covenantal and cultural. So we can look at our disciplines and vocations and ask how they are part of how we live out our calling to be covenantal, cultural creatures and how they help others to do the same.

 A Christian worldview will be realistic about sin and the disorder, distortion and decay that it brings. All work and study are affected by sin, so we need to think about how our fields are affected. It is possible that a job may be so corrupted that Christians decide that we can’t be part of it, or that we have to stage a strategic withdrawal from some area. We won’t always agree on these decisions but they are important to ask about.

 A Christian worldview will celebrate redemption in Christ by the Spirit. So we will think about how our study and work can share in God’s redemptive work. One area of this will be how we are part of evangelism and discipleship. Another way that we share in God’s redemption is to be part of responding to the effects of sin in the field we are working in, as well as responding to what is wrong with the world.


John Davies said...

That’s a helpful summary, John. The contemporary Church has a tendency to undervalue the faithful Christian efforts to advance God’s design for his world being carried on by our bridge builders, our sanitary workers, our teachers, our personal carers, and many many others.

It is incumbent on us as Christian leaders to help all Christian workers understand their valued place in God’s purposes and how their faith can make a difference to the way they conduct their professional life. How many of our churches pray regularly for the faithful, creative and reflectively Christian contribution of those whose jobs aren’t generally considered “ministry”? Just like people in the media seem to think that only those who work in the media count, so I have observed similar attitudes among clergy and missionaries.

The role of groups like Interweave is to be commended and encouraged.

byron smith said...

Your post discusses Creation, Fall and Redemption. What do you see as the implications of New Creation?

John McClean said...

My thinking at present in that the promise of a new creation (which is a renewal and glorification of this creation) anchors and directs our thinking and efforts. Unless we grasp God’s work as redeeming his world we will never understand Bible or God’s work or his world and we will underestimate the importance of creation.

New Creation does not inform the details of how we work and study now because its form is hidden from us (1 John 3:2). We are called to understand and participate in the created order and to keep it and serve others as we live out the image of God. As we do that we trust that in God’s faithfulness, our faithfulness will have its part in God’s purposes for the new creation, though we do not know how that will all work out. So there are no specific questions from new creation which go beyond those raised by ‘redemption’, the new creation assures us that redemption will be completed.

Under the idea of new creation I would also talk about the tension of living in broken anticipation, and being hopeful without being triumphalist.

Can you specific questions we could ask about our study and work in the light of new creation?