(This post is the Introduction to Eden’s Bridge: The Marketplace in Creation and Mission. The book is now available via Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Edens-Bridge-Marketplace-Creation-Mission/dp/1610978242/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1329750051&sr=1-1 or from the author on ebay at http://www.ebay.com/itm/Edens-Bridge-Marketplace-Creation-and-Mission-/190624511684?pt=US_Nonfiction_Book&hash=item2c621b36c4.)
Missiologists and mission practitioners have embraced the marketplace as a vital component in wholistic(i) evangelism, as it ministers to the needs of the whole person in mind, body, and soul. Jesus ministered through preaching, healing, deliverance, and feeding the people of His surrounding culture as they came to Him in their real world needs. He spoke of the hope of economic justice to the poor, that the covenantal system was being re-established in the world. As indictment that they would be held to account for perpetrating selfish injustices, Jesus called the rich and ruling classes to repentance.
This book proposes that the marketplace was intentional in God’s original design. Due to the scope of the subject, time and space dictate presenting broad themes in a globalistic way.(ii) The global view looks across disciplinary divides. Practice in the marketplace, politics, the arts, medicine, education and so on, move along a trajectory toward increasing specialization. Such narrowing disciplinary foci create blinders to the interconnectedness of diverse interests.
The treatment of specific material here is necessarily brief. Scholarly considerations of even one component could fill volumes and launch decades of legitimate discussion and development. The intent here is only to open the door a bit wider on a theoretical level and invite others to carry the conversation forward.
I came to this manuscript as a convergence of thirty years business management and administrative experience (fourteen as an entrepreneur starting and co-owning three small businesses) and eighteen years pursuing Christ, both spiritually and intellectually. It is also the culminating point of eight years’ research and reflection begun in 2003 while pursuing my Master’s degree at Asbury Theological Seminary. The early research was undertaken at the suggestion of my professor, mentor, and friend, Dr. Michael Rynkiewich, an anthropological missiologist.
Chapter 1—Proposing a Biblical Marketplace Theology is a brief statement (one page) of seven propositions supporting the central thesis of Eden’s Bridge—that the marketplace is an institution of God. Those propositions involve content of the creation narrative, filtering the biblical text through economic language and theory, the nature and character of God, Eve’s pivotal role, good and evil in commerce, and the missional function of business.
Chapter 2—An Economic Walk in the Garden is a reflective reading of the first three chapters of Genesis, the narrative of the creation and the Fall. This review is intentional in applying economic terminology to the narrative to illuminate the economic foundations in creation and the juxtaposition of the inherent goodness over against the moral corruption of the marketplace.
Chapter 3—Economic Models and Theological Concerns addresses relevant issues in theological and biblical perspective related to these propositions including economic models, God’s mission in the world (the missio Dei, iii), eschatology (the last things), teleology (the end, as goal or outcome), soteriology (salvation), and ecclesiology (the church).
Chapter 4—Engaging Relevant Modern and Ancient Terminology examines terms which, when understood in biblical and historic perspective and logically defined, help toward acquiring a Kingdom perspective of the marketplace. These include economic verbiage, definitions of business and the marketplace, and key biblical terms from the original Old and New Testament languages.
Chapter 5—Redeeming the Marketplace considers marketplace-related issues in God’s mission of redemption including the godhead and consecration (sacredness), and how these relate to scarcity, stewardship and debt, collaboration, competition and capitalism, eschatological vision, and the redemption of worldly wealth.
Chapter 6—Market and Mission reflects on a variety of Christian marketplace initiatives and socio-cultural concerns, the marketplace and evangelism, and possible pitfalls in current mission pursuits as the church explores reformative theories of commerce.
(i) The specific spelling wholism is adapted as a linguistic means to distinguish Christian application of the term holistic from its general uses, especially in medicine and pagan religious appropriations. In Christian mission, wholism (or holism) has been predominantly used in two ways. The first references the whole ministry of the church, determining that evangelism and social action are inherently inseparable. The second recognizes that persons are whole in being, more than spiritual or temporal beings in isolation, and that Christian ministry should address all aspects of the person, including their temporal (psychological, emotional, intellectual, social, etc.) and spiritual needs in toto, as it seeks to make disciples.
(ii) Globalist was the term used by Thomas Friedman in The Lexus and the Olive Tree (2000, 23–28) to describe one practicing information arbitrage to span vast and divergent topics to reveal the “bigger picture” and the ecology between diverse parts.
(iii) Missio Dei is the Latin phrase for the mission of God, the redemption and restoration of all creation.