The Talbot School of Theology at Biola University has had success connecting our education to work, the economy and flourishing through a series of intentional but organic approaches. We’ve created a unit focused on vocation in the spiritual formation track that’s required for all students, hosted events (including a “Preaching 9 to 5” homiletic series) and more.
However, one of the most successful things we’ve done is our faculty reading groups. We’ve found that is the best way for us to move the integration of theology and economics forward at our school. We’ve found it’s especially important to ensuring we broaden the discussion from an individual focus on work and vocation to include the social dimension of economics.
We do a reading group every spring. Our current group includes faculty from a variety of disciplines, ranging from Old Testament to Christian education. Part of the assignment for each member of the group is to post several blog posts on our school’s “Good Book Blog” site. One wrote a series of posts on spiritual practices in business. Another series that got a significant response was from our Old Testament professor, who wrote on economics and mission trips.
Here’s the group’s reading list for this semester:
- Cleveland, Drew and Greg Forster, eds., The Pastor’s Guide to Fruitful Work and Economic Wisdom. (Made to Flourish, 2014), 128pp
- Corbett, Steve and Brian Fikkert, When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty without Hurting the Poor . . . And Yourself, expanded ed. (Chicago: Moody, 2012), 274pp.
- Cosden, Darrell, The Heavenly Good of Earthly Work (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2006) 149pp
- de Soto, Herando, The Mystery of Capitalism: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else(NY: Basic, 2000) 275pp
- Waters, Brent, Just Capitalism: A Christian Ethic of Economic Globalization(Louisville: Westminster/John Knox, 2016), 352pp
And to show how fruitful this experience has been, here are some of the blog posts from the 2016 reading group:
- “Reflections about Money and Contentment” March 2, 2017
- “Thoughts on the Spring Break Missions Trip … Do they help or hurt?” April 5, 2016
- “Underutilized Resources” June 20, 2016
- “The Marvel of Acton University” January 23, 2017
- “Triggers for Change in Economics and Sanctification” July 11, 2016
- “More than a Carpenter” April 14, 2016
- “Working the Story: Theology of Work Meets Eschatology” January 18, 2017
- “Is God a Respecter of Businesses? No, and Yes” December 6, 2017
- “Worshipping at Work” April 20, 2016
- “Whatever You Do: Stewardship the Purpose of Life” January 20, 2017
- “The Call to Love They Neighbor: Promoting True Human Flourishing in a Consumer Society” July 18, 2017
- “How Do We Truly Help Those in Need?” May 5, 2016
- “Christian Millennials and the Lure of Socialism, Part Two: How Biblical Concern for the Poor Can Turn to an Unbiblical Understanding of People” December 26, 2016
- “Christian Millennials and the Lure of Socialism, Part One: How Biblical Concern for the Poor Can Turn to an Unbiblical Understanding of People” December 21, 2016
This has been a consistently good experience for faculty – and for some, a very fruitful introduction to the integration of theology and economics.