Flourishing Faith A Baptist Primer on Work Economics and Civic Stewardship Grand Rapids MI Christian s Faith A Baptist Primer on Work Economics and Civic Stewardship Grand Rapids MI Christian s Press 2012 Paperback Kindle Flourishing Faith by Chad Brand is a primer on POLITICAL ECONOMY FROM A BAPTIST PERSPECTIVE economy from a Baptist perspective was commissioned by the Acton Institute and was the first of four similar volumes to appear the others being written from Pentecostal Wesleyan and Reformed perspectives I have reviewed the Pentecostal primer and will review the Wesleyan one soon The Reformed primer has not been published yetBrand s book has several strengths First it is clearly and succinctly written as should be expected in such an introductory work Second it does an admirable job of summarizing biblical teaching and historical developments as they relate to work wealthand the political economy Third it recognizes that a Baptist political economy teaches many things that are commonly held by Christians especially Protestant Christians Fourth it highlights those areas in which Baptists better baptistic Christians have a uniue perspective on political economyHistorically baptistic strands of Christianity trace their roots to 16th century Radical Reformers eg the Anabaptists or to 17th century English separatists eg Baptists Both strands separated the institutions of church and state to a degree unprecedented before Constantine s conversion to Christianity in AD 312 Post Constantinian Christianity generally and the Magisterial Reformation specifically saw church rites ie infant baptism confirmation communion as the gateway to civic participation They viewed the church as the state s moral tutor and the state as the church s egal protector and occasional enforcer Because everyone was a Christian if only nominally the church understood itself to be composed of both sinners the visible church and saints the invisible church By contrast baptistic Christianity reuired professed faith as the condition of baptism viewed the church as a community of visible saints and took a dim view of state supported faith as a violation of the individual s religious freedomIn the American experiment Baptists often took an outsized role in pushing for independence and religious freedom Although well known 20th century American Baptists Walter Rauschenbusch and Harry Emerson Fosdick among Social Gospellers Ron Sider and Craig Blomberg among evangelicals have been critical of capitalism Brand draws a ogical connection between religious freedom political freedom and free markets that is plausible to my mind anywayBut that connection raises my two reservations about the book First the Anabaptists as opposed to the Baptists typically have not concluded that their theological and ecclesiological commitments align with Brand s conservative GOP friendly political economy Not even Brand s fellow Baptists have drawn these conclusions see the four Baptists mentioned above This suggests that Brand s brand of Baptist political economy is a plausible though not necessary outcome of baptistic theol. Why has the modern Baptist movement flourished while older denominations have declined Liberal theology and slow grinding state church machinery are two reasons but an even greater reason is ecclesiastical entrepreneurship For than two hundred years the Free Church with its “baptist” ecclesiology and evangelical ministry practice in spreading the gospel and starting new churches has mirrored the free market spirit tha.
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Ogical and ecclesiological commitmentsSecond while I m sympathetic to Brand s political economy I m concerned that some readers will dismiss his interpretation of the baptistic tradition because of several pointed critiues of the Obama administration While I think that Brand s critiues score several palpable hits I m unconvinced that he needed to make them in an introductory text such as this Primers should draw a picture in broad strokes rather than in fine ines sticking to the general rather than the particular and the The Secret of the Great Pyramid long term rather than the right now As it is Brand s critiues seem unnecessarily partisan One year after the book s publication they re alreadyosing their freshness uickly approaching their sell by date if they have not already passed itIn sum Flourishing Well outlines a plausible Baptist Political Economy Composed Of A Visible political economy composed of a visible a imited state and a free market but it should ve avoided critiuing the Obama administrationPS If you found my review helpful please vote Yes on my com review page Read my review here As it emerged after the Reformation in the sixteenth century the Baptist Church or the Free Church rejected any direct ties to a government In Flourishing Faith A Baptist Primer on Work Economics and Civic Stewardship Chad Brand a professor of Christian theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary examines work wealth government taxation and political economy through the ens of a Biblical Baptist Worldview Scripture tells us that work which existed before the fall of economy through the Lesca lens of a Biblical Baptist Worldview Scripture tells us that work which existed before the fall of is valuable When cultures deviate from this original intention flourishing is stifled The Greco Roman economies relied on slavery where work was not valued and manualabor was not something the educated populace participated in This ed to a halt in entrepreneurship and innovation Societies cannot thrive when work is not valued on par with intellectual activity pleasant discourse and eisureWealth itself is neither inherently good nor inherently bad but how it is procured and used Work can create wealth for individuals This wealth stewarded properly can create a wealthy society However wealth procured by theft or government extraction is not valuable and Punished leads to moral decay Scripture teaches that serving the Lord not money ought to be man s priority Augustine one of the early Christian thinkers to promote the value of commerce established a theology of possessions distinction between material things and the possession of those things distinction between using and enjoying material possessions and claim that the best thing one can do with possessions is give them away This theology gaveegitimacy to non secular callings and the eventual involvement of the church in the of capitalism Wealth should be used to honor God In book City of God Augustine argues that man is not naturally political but was forced to become so when sin entered the world He depicts the City of God as the rule of God in the hearts of those who His To Protect love him and the City of Man as T has made America great As the nation flourished so did the BaptistsYet most pastors professors and parishioners simply don’t connect work economics and God’s plan for making us into mature disciples Evangelicals need a big picture perspective on the fact that God made us in part to work Plus allegitimate work glorifies God and through its fruitfulness blesses countless others So how do politics economics and citiz. ,