Blog - Grasping Vocation

Relating the Gospel to Work-World Cultures

Thursday, December 22, 2011

How are believers in very different cultures to authentically live out the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ in their workplaces? First, they need a biblical theology of work. That is, they must grasp what God has revealed about everyday human work. For example, how did work originate? What are God’s purposes in our daily work? Is non-church work second-best?

Second, this biblical theology of work needs to be "contextualized” so that it speaks clearly within a given culture. In that culture, what does the gospel confront and correct? What does it affirm? What cultural characteristics can be used as "bridges” for the gospel?

These are some of the issues I have been dealing with as I just completed a directed study in contextualizing the theology of work for cultures around the globe. At the end of September, I sent a questionnaire to several who have been teaching this subject in seminaries and universities in various countries. Four responses came back from Africa, two from China (Asia), one from the UK, and one from New Zealand.

I just posted the compiled results of this survey. It includes 25 questions, each followed by the responses from the theology-of-work instructors. Here, for example, are five examples of the questions asked:

For me, one of the benefits of this study was the ways in which it has prompted me to examine these issues within my own culture here in the United States. As the culture of the work world here drifts further and further from any biblical anchors, it becomes increasingly important for us as believers to know how to evaluate it in light of what God has revealed.

Here’s a challenge: try asking the questions of the work-world culture in America. For example, what does having a job mean? What does it—in actual practice—mean to most Christ-followers? What should it mean?

To read the survey results, click here.

Comments (3)

Larry Peabody (12/23/2011 2:02:39 PM)
Lynn, for the most part those responding to the survey are professors in seminaries and theological schools in their respective areas. A few teach courses for the Bakke Graduate University. I would very much like to continue gathering results like these. For the next several months, however, I will be concentrating on completing my DMin, with a concentration on the theology of work.
Lynn (12/23/2011 6:33:53 AM)
Larry, this is fascinating work. I'm curious to know who the responders are. Not names but context...are they seminary teachers, parachurch ministry, Bakke TOW teachers, etc. Also, do you plan to continue gleaning this information? Thanks for sharing this!
Angel (4/11/2012 2:54:26 PM)
Good to see you back blogging again, vwateher your reasons are. I've been so buried in my own life and keeping such strange hours that I feel like I had lost track of you when you quit writing. I'll have to try and get back in touch soon, but at the moment I'm glad to just have an asynchronous pipe to try and at least get life-packets from you.

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