Work to the glory of God, Mohler says in Commonweal Project lecture
Economics and work exist to glorify God, according to R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, in a lecture for the school’s Commonweal Project, Sept. 3.
“All of the Scriptures speak to the worldview and the understanding of life and the understanding of humanity and the pattern of God's glory revealed in human flourishing,” he said. “We have to live as gospel people, under the authority of the entirety of Scripture, understanding that not only the Bible but biblical theology must guide our considerations.”
In the first of a series of Commonweal lecture luncheons this fall, Mohler provided an overview of economics and the importance of understanding it from a biblical worldview. The Commonweal Project on Faith, Work, and Human Flourishing, funded by the Kern family, is an academic initiative at the seminary to foster a theology of work and economics.
“Most Americans, and this would include most American Christians, know abysmally little about economics — have very little idea of how matters of economics intersect with matters biblically and operate out of a Christian worldview,” he said.
Like every other area of the Christian life, economics needs to come under the authority of Scripture, Mohler said, because it is meant to glorify God.
Speaking from Genesis 1:28 and Genesis 3, Mohler explained how labor and work point to and fulfill God’s creation mandate. Labor brings about plentitude from poverty, he said, and Christians work to supply life-giving resources. Humans are to work, knowing that only God, though, creates perfectly and gives abundantly and infinitely. So Christians are to labor knowing that “our wealth is for kingdom expansion,” Mohler said.
Referencing the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25:14-30, Mohler offered 12 principles of a Christian understanding of economics. “A proper, biblical economic system will first aim to glorify God,” he said. It will therefore respect human dignity and property; understand the power of sin; uphold and reward righteousness; reward initiative, industry, investment and thrift; uphold the family as a basic economic unit; respect community as a society of families; reward generosity and expect stewardship; respect the economy of the church; and focus on the eschatological promise and judgement.
Mohler stressed that the family is the original economic unit, which is important in a Christian worldview of economics.
“Where you have a functioning family, you actually don’t need much government because that functioning family is the economic unit of provision, it is the economic unit of protection, it is the contextual unit of education, it is the unit that provides for the raising of the young,” he said.
Economics and labor for Christians, Mohler noted, need to come under the authority of God’s design for creation and human flourishing.