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, December 15, 2017

Viewing Their Work As "Imitators Of God"

George Swinnock, a Puritan pastor (1627-1673) declared, "The pious tradesman will know that his shop as well as his chapel is holy ground." How? Why? When?

Revolutionary approaches to education were developed in the 17th century on the heels of the Reformation, through such early "Noah Websters" as John Comenius (the "Father of Modern Education"), John Alstead, William Ames and Alexander Richardson, who stood on the shoulders of Luther and Calvin. These 17th century schoolmasters wedded the reformational idea of "calling" (or "vocation") with schooling, and changed the course of history. But their revolutionary ideas have now fallen on hard times.  

The wedding of calling with schooling can be seen in the Puritan Circle of Knowledge, as summarized here:

Step #1: God, the Prime Creator, initiates through His creation of all things.

Step #2: Humans discover what God has initiated. This discovery is a big part of what education is about.

Step #3: Humans imitate God by making "secondary creations" out of God's primary creation. This imitation is based upon their discovery and understanding of "the book of God's works," as well as "the book of God's Word." 

Step #4: God is glorified through the imitation of Him in occupations of all kinds, from shoe-making to carpentry.

Imagine employees at The Boeing Company viewing their work as "imitators of God," making beautiful and functional “secondary creations” [airplanes] out of God’s primary creations [metals, carbon, electricity, etc.], for the purpose of engaging with God's laws of "lift," so people may be transported safely from point A to point B. The secondary creations [airplanes] serve the needs of people, and glorify the Prime Creatorbringing glory full circle from God back to God. And in the process, these biblically-minded employees are professing their faith by their work, in "imitating God" through the making of airplanes. It is their profession. 

Have I lost my mind? No. I think I've found it!

Imagine a banker, a lawyer and a businessman all glorifying God by "imitating Him" through serving the financial needs of people, maintaining justice in the world, and providing needed goods and services for the community. The legitimate needs of people are met, God is glorified, and these biblically-minded workers go to the office each day fulfilling the First Commission (Gen. 1:26-28) in professing their faith by their work. They are professionals, in the best sense of the word professional.  

If this isn't culture-transforming, I don't know what is. And if this doesn't bring meaning to education, nothing will. The Circle of Knowledge begs to be be revived. 

Dr. David Scott notes: “The emphasis on use [in the Circle of Knowledge] fit in nicely with the practicality of the Puritan mind, providing a philosophical foundation for the working vocations…The human being as an artisan can follow in the footsteps of the Divine Artist. Through this circular pattern of the created order, humanity can fulfill its cultural mandate (Gen. 1:26-28) and returns glory back to God.”

Read David Scott's full essay, "A Vision of Veritas: What Christian Scholarship Can Learn from the Puritan's 'Technology' of Integrating Truth"  here.