Monthly Archives: March 2012

Kindle Release of Eden’s Bridge: The Marketplace in Creation and Mission

Wipf & Stock Publishers have released the Kindle edition of Eden’s Bridge: The Marketplace in Creation and Mission. Now available at Amazon.com for just $9.99!

About Eden’s Bridge: The Marketplace in Creation and Mission and the Author, David Doty

For the last twenty or thirty years, it has become increasingly obvious that God is moving in the marketplace. Many marketplace-related ministries have sprung into action including workplace Bible studies and prayer groups, executive discipleship programs, economic development and skills training programs by missions and urban renewal ministries, and so on. A great deal of literature has been produced, especially on principles-based Christian marketplace ethics, the theologies of work and stewardship, and development work among the poor (both domestically and internationally).

What has been missing is a theological understanding of the marketplace, specifically in Biblical and missional perspectives. According to Victor Claar, economics professor and co-author of Economics in Christian Perspective, my newly published book from Wipf & Stock Publishers, Eden’s Bridge: The Marketplace in Creation and Mission, makes both the theological and practical cases for the marketplace in creation and the mission of God.

The central thesis of Eden’s Bridge is that the marketplace is an institution of God, modeled implicitly in the creation narrative of Genesis 1–2 and vital to God’s mission in the world for the advancement of His Kingdom.

Eden’s Bridge accomplishes three important things:
1)     It articulates the first biblically-based theology of the marketplace, that is, the nature and purpose of economic exchanges;
2)     It validates the careers of Christians in the marketplace as divine calling, liberating Christian workers from the false notion of “secular” vocation;
3)     It challenges each Christian worker to consider how their vocation contributes to advancing God’s Kingdom and glorifies God.

 

Given the imperfection of a fallen world, there are no perfect answers to current issues in the marketplace.. But, Eden’s Bridge aims to challenge the status quo. It asks readers to press more deeply into the Bible and their knowledge of God and His ways to bring about positive change in and through the marketplace as glorifying witness to the goodness of God and to advance the mission of God (the missio Dei) in the world.

 

Outcomes that I envision are 1) the empowerment of marketplace Christians toward a rising witnessing and discipling movement in the marketplace, 2) the opportunity to coordinate intentional advancement of God’s mission through the marketplace with regional, national, and global ministries, and 3) pursuing additional research toward that coordination and the revelation of God’s intentions in the marketplace and in economic justice in our day and looking forward.

 

Re my personal history and the making of Eden’s Bridge: I have held business management and administrative positions in a variety of industries through my thirty year career. Half my career has been as an entrepreneur, starting and owning three small businesses. In the midst of that career, God called me to complete an M.A. in World Mission and Evangelism at Asbury Theological Seminary (2006). I came to write Eden’s Bridge as a convergence of those two paths. The book is the result of eight years’ research and the opportunity to complete it came after Teresa and I shut down our last business in February, 2010, as a result of the recession. I believe God called us to the Atlanta area last fall to facilitate bringing this message to the church globally. We have been excited to connect to the church on many fronts, especially through North Point Community Church in worship, through C3G, and the Men’s Prayer Group.

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Doing the Impossible

And Jesus said to him, “’If You can!’ All things are possible to him who believes.” – Mark 9:23

God has charged me with an impossible task. I will not get into that here and now but rather want to think through wrestling with pursuing an impossible vision. I am but one man and the vision is logistically vast and complex, far beyond my capabilities. But Jesus’ words ring in my ears, as do Paul’s: “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” – Philippians 4:13.

Facing the seemingly impossible, ten of the scouts who went with Joshua (Hoshea) and Caleb into the land of Canaan reported that the people of that land were too strong for the Israelites to overcome (Numbers 13) despite Joshua and Caleb’s faith that Israel could succeed. For the lack of their faith, Israel spent the next forty years wandering in the wilderness. Sadly they had forgotten that God promised to send His angel before them to destroy the inhabitants of Canaan (Exodus 23:23), that He would drive them out Himself (Exodus 34:24). The first key to doing the impossible is the God who calls us to the task. He is able to do all that appears beyond our limitations.

The stories of Moses present several more keys. Two instances in Moses’ response to God’s calling serve as perfect illustrations of how God wants us to respond to His directives when they seem more than we can do. In the first case, Moses cries out to God about his own limitations (or even perhaps out of his reluctance to be the leader of Israel). In the second, having taken charge of his calling, he works himself into a corner and godly counsel finally shows him the way out.

When God called Moses to speak to and lead Israel, Moses complained of his lack of oratory skills, being “slow of speech and tongue” (Exodus 4:10). God was upset with Moses for his lack of faith that God could and would equip him for the job but offered him an out, his brother Aaron, which cut off any further reluctance on Moses’ part. Moses would supply the message and Aaron would speak to the congregation. God gave Moses a co-worker more skilled in one particular aspect of his calling. In business, two working together have proven substantially more likely to succeed, as the cooperative and collaborative efforts of two minds are more effective than someone flying solo. The encouragement of a partner to carry on when one is feeling depressed or defeated increases exponentially the likelihood of endurance and success. The second key to doing the impossible is finding the complementary skills in others that empower the endeavor at its fundamental level. Few if any successful leaders believe they can handle every aspect of leadership.

The second case came later in Moses’ administration as he sat as Israel’s judge. He was, so to speak, the Supreme Court, for a nation that likely numbered at least three million men, women, and children. The caseload was beyond taxing as the people came to Moses “from morning to evening” (Exodus 18:13) to decide their legal cases.

Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro, was a wise man. He had several advantages when looking at what Moses was up against. First, he had more life experience. He was the priest of Midian (Exodus 3:1), so he had some particular experience as a community leader. He also had the advantage of not being buried in the work that Moses was doing. He could stand aside from the situation and see that Moses’ approach was killing him (wearing him out – Exodus 18:18). Jethro had the advantage of objective distance and detachment from the frenzy of the work. The third key to doing the impossible is to seek and listen to godly, objective counsel. Find those who have experience in the things you are pursuing and engage them in the conversation. Then be humble enough to submit to changing your ways. The fourth key, though subtle, is to take care of physical and mental health. Don’t wear yourself out. If you do you are no longer any good to anyone. The fifth key: recognize your own limitations. Be humble enough to recognize to do the things you are best at or are essential to your role, and find others to do the rest.

The last above, recognizing your role and the roles of others, were illustrated in Jethro’s advice. His counsel contained three specific nuggets of wisdom (Exodus 18:20–22). First, he advised Moses to teach the people the statutes and laws so that all would have an understanding. There are two elements to this. The first is that Moses was to create a literate society. The second is that expectations were to be clearly stated. There would follow no real excuse for not knowing how things were supposed to operate going forward.

The second nugget in Jethro’s advice was his “hiring principles.” Those chosen were to be equipped, which gives place to ensuring they have the requisite skills and training, and they were to be humble (god-fearing, truth-seeking, and not ambitious in worldly things). This is all about seeking out those of the right intellect, education, and character.

Jethro went on to advise Moses to create an organizational chart, dividing the tasks to be carried out and installing the lesser judges according to their skills. Moses created a hierarchy of those to oversee thousands (vice presidents), hundreds (executive directors), fifties (directors), and tens (supervisors). Much like our current hierarchic system of courts, issues that arose would have many points of responsibility to pass through before they reached Moses’ desk.

Such order of dividing the tasks and responsibilities of Israel’s organization then made it possible that only the most important, big issues came before Moses. His workload was cut dramatically and he could give due diligence to the heavyweight decisions rather than being distracted by the inconsequential. His tasks were in accord with his position. There is an extra element in bringing such order to any organization. Moses bore the responsibility for overseeing the whole of Israel but he could rest, having chosen lower level leaders prudently and knowing he could trust them to handle issues of less importance without troubling him. Empowering an organization requires empowering everyone down the hierarchy to not fear making decisions pursuant to their level of responsibility. Surely some made mistakes but that is why the stations higher up the hierarchy were there, to ensure consistency and help oversee any corrective measures that needed to be made before these issues found their way to Moses.

Let’s rehash the relevant points (and add a couple more) for Doing the Impossible:

1)     Rejoice, pray, and give thanks. Rejoicing, praying, and giving God thanks are “God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” – (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). Begin and end all that you do in the will of God. This is living and walking by the Spirit (Galatians 5:25) as children of God’s light (Ephesians 5:8). Rejoice in all that God has done and is doing. Pray listening. Be thankful for God’s blessing, even those found in promises not yet fulfilled in your sight.

2)     Walk uprightly. To know how to walk uprightly, it is best to be in fervent relationship with God, His Church, and the Bible. The bottom line is that God requires that we “do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God” – Micah 6:8. We need to understand God’s perspective on justice, kindness, and humility. With that knowledge in hand, root out any behavior that undermines them in any area of life. When we live with integrity, we are “vessels for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work” –2 Timothy 2:21.

3)     Have faith. First in God, that He is able to see the task through (with or without us), then that He equips those He calls. We may have some of the skills necessary to complete the task and God typically will not call the utterly inept to a task far outside their expertise, but we must remember, it is God’s mission and He is able. He will provide a way to overcome any shortcomings we have.

4)     Listen to godly, objective counsel. Those with enough detachment to look over the situation and see what we cannot are not under the burden of putting out all the fires we may be battling. Seldom will you find the Fire Chief manning a hose or entering the burning building to rescue those inside. He can stand aside, see the bigger picture, and advise the Captain without distraction.

5)     Set boundaries. The demands of leadership can quickly become overtaxing. There are always more things that could be done than can get done. If we go to our own well too often, one day we will find it has run dry. God’s admonishments are toward rest on regular intervals. If the work is important enough, God will provide for others to help.

6)     Recognize your limitations. We all tend toward having big egos. We also tend to think we know more than we do and take on tasks which are better left to others. God gave Adam a helpmate because He knew Adam could not prosper adequately by doing everything himself. This applies to time management (see Set boundaries above) and humility in recognizing your own lack of particular expertise.

7)     Create a literate and expert culture. Make sure everyone on board has the appropriate knowledge and training for the tasks at hand. In every game, there are rules. In every business there are best practices. Insist that everyone in the organization knows the rules and is always pursuing continuing education.

8)     Be clear about expectations. Nothing undermines organizational achievement more than a lack of well-defined purpose, clear direction, and systematized effort. Make every effort to know that every player in the game knows the game and their part in it. Without these, no endeavor accomplishes anything more than a light bulb in bright sun light. It may expend a great deal of energy but will be of no value to anyone. And it will produce substantial waste.

9)     Hire character. In Christian businesses or not-for-profits, hire those who have already begun the journey of faith in Christ. For one, we are not to be unequally yoked (2 Corinthians 6:14). Be wary of the overly ambitious. Money and career advancement can become gods unto themselves. These folk are at cross purposes with the organization as they place their own ends ahead of the enterprise.

10) Organize and divide the work. One of the best exercises I have ever seen is to design an organization as if it is already all that it is hoped to become. Divide the ultimate work loads into appropriate departments, then create the employee positions suited to the specific kinds of work. Hire the abilities (and character) of the workers who will fill them. This prevents re-inventing the organization, avoiding many unforeseen needs and unplanned hirings, along the way.

God is the God of our well-ordered universe. The design of creation shows that everything produces after its own kind, whether plant, animal, or human. If we want good results, we need good inputs, especially of faith, obedience, and diligence. Ultimately, God is God and only He can do the impossible. Fortunately, He sometimes lets us take part.

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The Redemptive Logic of Subjectivity

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself.” – Philippians 2:3

As I continue research and press forward toward launching the marketplace ministry I believe God has called me to, I find a broad range of views and concerns within the Church expressed along many different lines. Conversations on the theological level, thankfully, in the marketplace arena have not diverged too deeply into the differences of various Christian traditions but there are some interesting conversations that do arise. One twist is the concern over the division of the Church into its various traditions (Eastern, Roman, Protestant) and denominations (now numbering something like 30,000 among Protestants). I am an ecumenist and I believe the greatest opportunity for the unity of the Church may reside in the marketplace where how we go about ministry can easily transcend the particular flavors of faith in which we find ourselves. We even find ourselves thrown together in the marketplace and recognize the shared foundations of our faith without overt concern about how we might differ. Rather, I am encouraged by the focus I continue to find directly toward worshipping God in the overwhelming commonalities of our faith, especially the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

As I awoke this morning, the phrase “the logic of subjectivity” was drifting about in the fog of emerging from sleep. I wondered how that applied to the Christian faith and especially to the marketplace of God’s blessing and ministry to His Church and the world.

I am sure I will get no argument along the line of recognizing my own limitations. I am like everyone else, painfully aware of my own finitude. I have had some great Bible teachers in my life and have sought to study it extensively on my own. But if I have learned anything it is to hang on very loosely to much of what I think I know. I have had the opportunity to meet many gifted Bible scholars. For the most part, these are women and men who will quickly concede, ultimately, they do not know all that much.

I think the idea comes to light if we consider our limitations in light of the unlimited nature of God. That is why we all now see as through a glass darkly (1 Corinthians 13:12), simply due to our complete inability to truly grasp God. He makes Himself known to us in a great many ways but no one of us, or even all of us together, can know Him even remotely as He truly is.

Unfortunately our egos too often get in the way, crowding out true humility as we seek to know God in the context of our relationships with His people and the rest of His creation. We do not care for the tension between our limitations and God’s infinity, so we tend toward pride in establishing all that we think we know, rather more than the foundations we all likely share, as chiseled in stone. Our relentless grasp of various doctrines and beliefs not only chokes our own ability to grow in the Spirit but serves to cut others off from that same grace.

Why would God allow such things? It certainly is not His plan or desire. Jesus prayed for our unity (John 17:11). How can we be unified when we hold so many different positions and opinions?

There is but one path that will “take us home.” The diversity of the Church holds a subtle key to God’s redemptive stroke in overcoming our pride, the pride that divides us. That key is humility. How do we reconcile our differences? By standing on our commanilities. Jesus Christ is Lord, He was crucified, and He arose from the dead. Those facts should astonish us enough.

I consider it nothing other than a demonstration of God’s redemptive genius that by the Holy Spirit He leads us into relationships where differences must always occur. We each live according to our beliefs born out of our unique experiences and knowledge. Not two of us have identical histories. Our views of life and the world on most topics are therefore necessarily subjective, our individual interpretations of reality no matter how closely we align ourselves with a particular sect or teacher.

The genius lies amidst those relationships for, as we encounter the views and beliefs of others (again, within the Christian faith), we are confronted, if we are open and honest, with our own limitations. Hence the opportunity to walk in the humility that is due our created nature. God is God and we are not. His knowledge is perfect. Ours is constrained by our limits and tainted by our broken, sinful flesh.

God’s redemptive logic in allowing us to be so limited in this particular allows us the opportunity to see ourselves honestly. He grants us the opportunity to grow in grace and humility. The kaleidoscopic nature of the Church…of every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation (Revelation 5:9)…gives us a view and an opportunity to behold some of the beautiful glory of God. If we cannot step away from our egos, our vision is limited and we will miss it.

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Evidence of Salvation

“For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well” – James 3:2 (emphasis mine).

We sometimes hear someone recite the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22) as evidence of our salvation, that our character has been transformed both inwardly and outwardly.

But James’ assertion aligns with first Beatitude: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” – Matthew 5:3. In James’ ability to recognize our continuing shortcomings (falling short, Romans 3:23) there is also evidence of our salvation. Though our spirit is alive in the righteousness of Christ, our body is dead because of sin (Romans 8:10), as it is sold into bondage to sin (Romans 7:14). There should be no assumed excuse for sin but the Bible reminds us to praise God that His mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23). Begin again.

Paul committed the entirety of Romans 7 to the conflict we endure as we wrestle with the guilt and shame of our sin. The Law is good but we are no longer condemned by it. We live under the merciful grace of Christ’s atoning sacrifice.

We must continue the battle but the knowledge itself of the battle reveals that we have been included in God’s salvation. Those who are not deeply convicted and conflicted by their unholy behavior are blind. Jesus repeatedly labeled the scribes and Pharisees as blind (Matthew 23:16-26), not seeing their own sins as they accused others of being sinners.

Your eyes are open to the war between your flesh and spirit. Strive on to overcome but know the conflict itself is evidence that you belong to God.

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When Life Gives You Limens (not a misspelling)

A limen is simply a threshold, a point of crossing so to speak as in a cultural shift or a change of employment, income, social class, or any other kind of movement from one status to another. Right now, the world is at a liminal moment. We are moving, full speed ahead, into the information age which is dramatically affecting how we “do business” as an ever increasingly integrated world.

Since most new “products” are information based – data, software programs, digital images or other recordings of sound and video – and the Internet dropping the time and relative cost of moving these products to nearly nothing, how information is shared, bought, or sold is already radically different than it was just twenty years ago. The printing press was such a revolutionary device that created a “new” world by the cheap proliferation of information. The Internet is the printing press on steroids, third generation mutation, then zapped with radioactivity. It is like comparing a student’s backpack for cartage to a shiny new oil supertanker.

So what does this liminal moment mean for the integration of faith and economics, for the spread of religious doctrine, for influencing history toward the aims of God’s mission in the world?

Robert Wright, in his book Non-Zero: The Logic of Human Destiny, makes the point that the speedier the access to sharing information, the more broadly folk interested in similar things can coalesce and increase their effectiveness in getting things done. The business world is already moving very, very fast on this new frontier and has already developed means the Church can appropriate for mission.

There are various communications technologies that churches and mission organizations are already using—multimedia, virtual meetings software, Internet broadcasting. How can we, especially ecumenically and globally, use new technology to advance God’s Kingdom? I am very interested in hearing from as diverse a range of voices on this as possible. Let me know what you think.

I will say this. Businesses, driven by a profit motive alone (the vast majority), are at the forefront of pushing further development of technology and trying to optimize existing technologies to gain productive efficiencies and market share. Does the church not have, ultimately, a more important message and a higher motivation?

As I said before, we are not just at any old threshold in cultural evolution. We are standing on the precipice of epoch level changes in how the world operates. Where do we take this conversation to help answer Jesus’ prayer that the people of God would be one as Jesus and His heavenly Father are one, that we might be salt and light to the world, our works glorifying God?

New technologies, changing economies, thought development…transglobal communications unprecedented in human history. Surely God sees opportunities for us to step up to the next level. My Google search on the phrase “technology in Christian mission” returned disappointing results. Why is the church so sadly behind the rest of the world? I guarantee Greenpeace and the environmental movement in general is way ahead of us on connecting the movement globally.

I would make a special note to mention David Miller of Crosscape Networks in Werrington, New South Wales, Australia (http://www.crosscape.com.au/site/index.php) for creating MissionTechWiki (http://www.missiontech.info/wiki/Main_Page). From there you can jump to the International Conference on Computing and Mission (http://www.iccm.org/).

How many of us have even heard of this organization? We are looking face on at perhaps the greatest opportunity for the advancement of global Christianity yet we seem to be lagging behind. Folk, we have a lot of catching up to do!

Stay tuned…

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Hidden Treasures

The following is not a sound approach to biblical interpretation, but was a “reading” that revealed a powerful reminder. I like to confuse people by telling them that Nehemiah 10:12 is one of my favorite verses in the Bible. I see confusion on their faces as they look back at me and typically ask, “Are you sure?”

Nehemiah 10:12 simply lists three names: Zaccur, Sherebiah, Shebaniah. The verse is in the list of leaders agreed with Nehemiah to follow God’s law. But that is beside my point.

As I read the list of names one night, I wondered, more or less asking God halfheartedly, “What’s of these names here? Why am I reading them?” There was instantly a response in my mind, “Look them up.”

Zaccur means mindful or remember.

Sherebiah means Jehovah has scorched.

Shebaniah means Jehovah has increased.

Remember, God scorches, God increases. I was somewhat taken aback that there seemed to be a statement here . . . God is like the refiner’s fire (Malachi 3:2). Remember the refiner’s fire.

“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” – James 1:2–4

The refining fire of God’s discipline, which we would all just as soon avoid, is for our cleansing, purification, and our perfection. The refiner makes the gold pure . . . it is not destroyed, like the burning bush (Exodus 3:2) was not consumed.

My other efforts to find hidden treasures in the Scripture this way have failed. But I can trust in the Lord that the Bible often speaks to my heart in far more ways than I might know.

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From Eden’s Bridge: And Then the End Shall Come (Teleology)

(This essay is a close adaptation excerpted from the book Eden’s Bridge: The Marketplace in Creation and Mission, © David B. Doty, 2011, available from the author or from Wipf & Stock Publishers. This essay should be read with the thesis of Eden’s Bridge—the marketplace is an institution of God, implicit in the creation narrative of Genesis 1–2 and vital to God’s mission in the world—in full view.)

There is on our day a great deal of confusion concerning the end times and such. Teleology, the study of design or purpose, has a great deal to say concerning the future as prophesied in the Bible.

Jesus said, “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world for a witness to all the nations, and then the end shall come” (Matthew 24:14). The “coming end” occurs at a point in time but time is not the focus of the statement. Rather, this end concerns a particular conclu­sion, in the sense of the adage “the ends justify the means.” The end of which Jesus spoke is the achievement of a new (renewed) status of social and political reality, the end of worldly affairs as they now stand under the corruption of sin. Jesus was speaking of the fulfillment of God’s ob­jectives in human individual and socio-cultural reformation.

Under consideration is the Greek term telos, from which the word teleology is derived, the study of the ultimate purpose or design of things. A telos may correspond to a particular point in time but refers more specifically to a change of status. It is in this sense that “Christ is the end [telos] of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes” (Romans 10:4). To better understand the end of which Jesus spoke, in contrast to a date, consider the use of telos when the angel spoke to Mary of the son she would bear. She was told that Jesus’ kingdom “will have no telos” (Luke 1:33). In other words, the reign of Christ will endure forever unchanged. The Kingdom of God is the end, the culmination of God’s redemptive intention, recovering God’s people and creation from the current corruption of sin.

Different approaches have been tried to bring about Kingdom te­los, such as social engineering, progressive politics, and even scientific development. If not inspired and led of God, attempts at political and social innovation will only improve conditions temporarily. The telos we look forward to is the ultimate reign of Christ in human hearts and social institutions. Where Christ rules (now only in part), the future culmination of the Kingdom begins to come into view.

In the church, the telos of God has been hindered by shallow the­ology, false doctrine, and misguided isolation from the world. Certain theological claims of the past two centuries have unconsciously reverted to a form of Platonic dualism which puts temporal and spiritual reali­ties in opposition. These claims can result in doctrines of escapism and expectations that the earth will meet a cataclysmic end to be replaced by an entirely different planet. The latter, in turn, can undermine creation care as part of the tending the Garden mandate.

The church has also been guilty of devaluing good that comes from secular activities simply because it was carried out by those who deny or ignore Christ, or who do not know of Him at all. If all good things come from God (James 1:17), then the positive impact of humanistic efforts by environmental groups or secular humanitarian agencies, for example, can be attributed to God. They are still dead works however and impute no righteousness to the participants. Opportunities to glorify God and witness to the world are missed when Christians refuse to come along side non-Christians to do good. God is advancing His mission in some cases in spite of the church, such as environmental efforts by secular organizations like Greenpeace, and social advancement activities like the poverty alleviating efforts of the United Nations and other non-government agencies, no matter how misguided or marginally successful either may be.

We are invited to take part in the Kingdom of God now. Evangelism opens the door to personal and social salvation. It is right that preaching “Christ and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2) hold the preeminent position in the ministry of the church to the world. But the Great Commission is to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19). Discipleship empowers the reformation of the human social condition, infusing godly wisdom and power into systemic institutions through the disciples He calls to influential roles within them.

The telos of God’s coming Kingdom is modeled in the Garden nar­rative. It is to that model of fellowship with God and abundant provision that the world is being returned. In the interim, the powers (social and economic) and principalities (political) against which we contend are largely the corrupted formal (legal) and informal (cultural) institutions of this world. The Kingdom telos will overcome ungodly cultural norms, the greed of economic injustice, the biases of marginalization (racism, for instance), and the towers of corrupt governance.

In the Kingdom telos, overarching human institutions (i) —family, ideology, education, media, the arts and entertainment, commerce, and governance—will be renewed by the power of Christ’s love, to the glory of God and the restoration of Edenic shalom.

Jesus taught a quite a lot about economics, possibly more so than on any other topic, in relating temporal life to the Kingdom of God. The condemnations of Israel by the prophets were largely focused on the disobedience of God’s will in the economic and political oppression of the masses by the wealthy, priestly, and monarchical authorities. An important focus in the Kingdom telos is distributive justice. God gave a redemptive model of human economics in the statements on His provi­sion for Israel in the promised land of Canaan in Deuteronomy 8. He promised that the land would provide for the people in abundance (vv. 7–8) and that they would lack nothing (v. 9), that it would be a place without miskenuth (scarcity or poverty).

In economic studies, scarcity refers to the fact that finite limitations of material and non-material resources preclude fulfilling all human wants. A lecturer once made a logical point: land is not able to produce beyond its natural limitations. That is to say that material scarcity, in some sense or the other, remains. The requirement for Israel to over­come material shortfall (chaser, to lack or need—Deuteronomy 8:9), however, was adherence to God’s commands (v. 6). The eradication of poverty (lack or indigence) hinges on distributive justice founded in the love of God. Jeffrey Sachs, in The End of Poverty, implies that we have the eco­nomic ability to eliminate abject poverty in this generation. (ii) But we lack the political will to do so. That is a condition of the heart, not the mind, nor the limitation of the land to produce. While we have the ability to provide for all, deprivation is propagated by political failure motivated by selfishness, i.e., sin.

The end (telos) will look a great deal like the beginning, the shalom of Eden restored. God provided for and orchestrated the division of the land of Canaan (Numbers 26:52–27:11; 34:1–3:34; Joshua 13:1–21:45) such that all would have access to the primary means of production for their perpetual provision. God also commanded the jubilee law that would restore any sold land to the original owners (Leviticus 25:9–55) every fifty years (v. 28). No one was precluded from retaining the wealth they may have accumulated other than real estate.

It is not unreasonable to consider that inordinate concentrations of wealth are outside the will of God, specifically if poverty reigns amongst the masses and over multiple generations. The word-picture of the New Jerusalem, with its foundations made of precious stones and the city of gold, in Revelation 21:18 and 21 is poignant. It shows that when the wealth of the world is appropriated according to God’s will and distrib­uted righteously, it will overflow all need, and that the measures, sym­bols, and means of accumulated wealth will be moot.

When the end comes, the date will be of little importance. What will be important is the fulfillment of a new (renewed) social and politi­cal reality, and the just distribution of wealth.

i. Hillman, Os. Reclaiming the Seven Mountains, 2011. No pages. Online: http://www.reclaim7mountains.com. I have adapted and modified the list of cultural pillars, substituting ideology for religion.

ii. Sachs, Jeffrey D. “Introduction” to The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time, 1–4. New York: Penguin Books, 2005.

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