An accidental blog

"If God is sovereign, then his lordship must extend over all of life, and it cannot be restricted to the walls of the church or within the Christian orbit." Abraham Kuyper Common Grace 1.1.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

British evangelicals and the problem of work Stuart Weir EvQ 83(2) (2011)

The recent issue of Evangelical Quarterly 83 (2) (2011) contains an interesting article by Stuart Weir, a PhD student at Edinburgh, on 'British evangelicals and the problem of work'. In it updates John Stott's reasons for the withdrawal of evangelicals from social involvement. But what is intriguing about this paper is what he promises to look at in his PhD:

What is required ... is a theological account that shows how all works which co-operate with the agency of the Spirit, regardless of an agent's faith, will be redeemed for the new creation. Any work performed in cooperation with the Spirit is one that will be eschatologically redeemed by virtue of its divine empowerment. Because of the divinity of the Holy Spirit, pneumatology should indeed take theological primacy in such discussions about human work. [Footnote: My forthcoming doctoral research aims to provide an account of this claim.] (p. 146)
Sounds like a worthwhile project! His final section goes on to say:

In light of the gradual reconciliation between British evangelical theology and the value of everyday work, Stott wishes to reinvigorate serious reflection on human works with a focus upon the doctrine of God, theological anthropology, christology, soteriology and ecclesiology. Striking by their absence in this list of theological repairs are pneumatology and eschatology.

But the provision of a pneumatology of works is essential. Such an account would open the door to discuss how some of the world's works which might be included in the new creation. God himself will bring the new creation into being through a transformation of this world. Such a hope for this world stems from what Jesus taught his followers to pray: 'Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven' (Matt. 6.10). The kingdom will not be a distinct place from the world, but will eventually spread throughout this world like yeast does in bread. Finally, through the purifying fires of Christ's judgement, a transformation of this creation will emerge.

An account which shows that the agency of the Spirit in cooperation with human works should, and must, take primacy in discussing the world's work if common grace theologies are accepted. This pneumatological emphasis must draw eschatology into play because pneumatology is automatically an eschatological matter. Not only does the Spirit presently encourage and empower eschatological anticipations of the new creation (Rom. 8.18-25), but he is also the one who will bring the fulness of the new creation into being at Christ's second coming. If the world can periodically work 'in the Spirit', then particular works might be caught up in the purposes of God for ultimate redemption.
His doctoral dissertation is entitled: 'Non-Christian’ Work and the Holy Spirit: The Empowerment of Good Work and the New Creation.

1 comment:

Owlb said...

Steve — another good work! Letting us know about this trend of thawt in Scotland and England. Yrs, Owlb