Equipping followers of Christ to engage in their everyday work as the work of God, so workplaces are invigorated, communities flourish and culture is renewed to the honor and glory of the Lord.

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Friday, January 21, 2011

One Of The Long-Term Sources Of Switzerland's Prosperity

John Calvin dedicated most of his adult life to rebuilding Geneva from the ground up, on biblical foundations. Thomas Bloomer maintains that "Calvin wasn't always right in the way he saw things, but his noble attempt to rebuild the city on biblical foundations was history-making, and the first outside of Israel."*

One of the three principles upon which Calvin rebuilt Geneva was the practice of regular teaching on how to rightly work within one's "sphere" of responsibility.

While the first principle upon which Calvin and the Reformers rebuilt Geneva (that is, a personal relationship with Christ is necessary) is understood and practiced by most "Bible-believing" churches today, the second principle (that is, teaching how to live, how to govern, and how to work) is only partially practiced today.

I say 'partially practiced' because while serious instruction on how to live in the realms of marriage, parenting, personal finances, general leadership skills, and missions is readily available, serious instruction on how to govern (cities, states, or nations), and how to work (for Boeing, Microsoft or Starbucks) is off the radar.

Not so with Pastor Calvin and his fellow Reformers. They got specific.

"Calvin told the bankers," notes Bloomer, "they couldn't charge high interest rates, as that was the sin of usury in the Bible. He fixed the interest rates at 4 percent so that the bankers could have a fair return on their money, but people could still afford to borrow and invest. The 4 percent interest rate lasted for four centuries in Switzerland, and this practice was one of the long-term sources of Switzerland's prosperity."

Why would the Reformers be concerned about banking practices? Because they believed all work was to be done as "unto the Lord," and any work that violated Scripture was in need of a-d-j-u-s-t-m-e-n-t.

Remarkably, the Protestants of Geneva wanted to adjust. Bloomer notes that people coming to the city-state desired to "live the Reformation," and put the teaching of the Reformers into action.

Calvin's theology of work was a centerpiece. It was where the rubber of the citizens really met the city road.

Imagine: what might happen today if theology of work was on the shortlist of essential topics receiving in-depth attention by the Church and Christian schools?


*Thomas Bloomer, Calvin and Geneva: Nation-Building Missions, in His Kingdom Come (YWAM Publishing).

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