By Greg Forster
As the school year begins, our mission to equip pastors to cultivate fruitful work and economic wisdom enters its next chapter. This summer brought continued growth and new opportunities to the Oikonomia Network (ON), and we’re looking forward to what the Lord has in store for us this fall.
We’re growing in numbers, as two new schools (Beeson Divinity School and Grand Rapids Theological Seminary) received major grants for on-campus and off-campus activities. That brings the ON to a total of 16 evangelical seminaries. And we’re growing in terms of activities, as the reports you sent us in June clearly attest. Both the number of classes and extracurricular activities impacted by the ON reached all-time highs this past spring.
We’re growing in educational resources as well, with the new edition of the Economic Wisdom Project’s (EWP) vision document – “A Christian Vision for Flourishing Communities” – released in this newsletter. As you’ll see, the basic ideas are the same, but this version is much more user-friendly. We’ve also made changes based on continuing faculty feedback, most notably changing the 12 “maxims” into “elements” of economic wisdom. Faculty consistently told us that the word “maxims” created some confusion, so we found an alternative.
We’ve released a number of other resources in the summer edition of this newsletter. In case you missed them: We shared a slate of 17 sample syllabi from schools all around our network, representing classes ranging from Bible scholarship and social ethics, to church leadership and spiritual formation. We also highlighted great ideas on how to integrate work and economics into every discipline of theological education. If you’re really ready to dive in, all the notes from our curricular integration workshop at Acton University are available as well (just follow the links from the workshop page).
We have new resources already in the pipeline. I’m excited that we will soon release a set of research notes to help you discover connections to the 12 EWP elements of economic wisdom in relevant resources from systematic theology, biblical studies, Christian history, and more. We had student researchers comb through classic texts like Herman Bavinck’s systematic theology and William Placher’s “Callings,” as well as more recent works – including some written by our faculty leaders! – to glean the most relevant connection points. It’s a starting place for a new direction in scholarship that I expect our faculty will take the lead on in the next few years.
Speaking of which, you may also have noticed a big change to the newsletter this month – most of it is written by you, not us! We’re expanding our coverage of what’s going “ON” at network schools, so you can see the innovative ideas your peers are bringing to theological education. And we’re inviting network faculty to become contributors to the newsletter beyond just the program updates, to further the exploration of ideas and issues that are central to our mission.
I’m looking forward to another semester of helping you shine the light of the Gospel into the cultural sphere that takes up most of our lives!