Here is a summary of elements I think are central to a theology of economics based on what has I have addressed so far.
The Vision and Mission of God
Visio Dei (Vision of God) - The triune God existing in prefect shalom with all creation, dwelling in perfect community with His animate eikons as they fill the earth and fulfill their call to be stewards of creation.
Missio Dei (Mission of God) - Reclaim and renew all creation by calling into community broken eikons, filling them with His presence and transforming them into imperfect but compelling exhibits of the visio dei, until shalom is fulfilled at Christ’s return.
Two Great Commandments
Without describing it as such, over the last three posts I have been writing about Jesus’ two great commandments, the ethical heart of the body of Christ.
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” We are individually and corporately to have the mind and heart of God, thinking His thoughts and feeling His emotions, in all we do. We worship God primarily through the conformity of our being and action with His being and action.
“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” By being other-centered within the social structures of our particular contexts, we subvert “the powers” and infuse them with God's love.
The Triune Call
With all of the above in mind, I am ready to introduce another important element to the mix. Borrowing heavily from R. Paul Stevens, I want to suggest that individually and corporately we are called by God in three interrelated ways. (1) A call emanates from each person of the trinity, yet so integrated are they that each may be seen as emanating from all the trinity.
Call to Creation Stewardship - Father
God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth." (Genesis 1:28)
Call to Kingdom Service – Son
And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age." (Matthew 28:18-20)
Call to Exercise Gifts – Holy Spirit
To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses. (1 Corinthians 12:7-11)
Some see an explicit expression of this triune call in 1 Corinthians 12:4-6:
There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. (TNIV)
Spirit – Gifts
Lord – Service
God – Works
I am going to flesh out "Why Economics?" more in my next post, but for now I invite you to consider two things. First, of the three calls God has given us, which came first and which will always remain? The community we call the Church will exist eternally, but after Christ’s return, will there be evangelism? Healing? Funerals? When “the dwelling of God is with humanity” will our relationship to the Spirit and the gifts that are given still be the same? Creation stewardship is the only one of the three that existed prior to the fall of humanity and the only one that continues after Christ's return.
Second, the dictionary definition of economics is “The science that deals with the production, distribution and consumption of goods and services, or the material welfare of humankind.” The word economy comes from the Greek word oikonomia which means “household management.” Paul uses the Greco-Roman household as a powerful image of the Church. Based on the viso Dei I suggested above, and the fact that only the call to creation stewardship preceded the fall, what should we conclude about the importance of economics?
(1) R. Paul Stevens. The Other Six Days: Vocation, Work, and Ministry in Biblcial Perspective. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, and Vancover, BC, Canada: Regent College Publishing, 1999. 118-123.