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The Importance of Bearing Fruit at Work

Too often, we get into a fundamentally unhealthy divide in our thinking about faith and life.  We abstract our faith, putting it in the “spiritual” box, and consider our labor as separate.  It goes in the “actual real life” box.

I’m thankful for a new book called Fruit at Work: Mixing Christian Virtues with Business (Lanphier, 2012) by Chris Evans.  Evans is a talented entrepreneur who works with the cool-sounding Blackstone Entrepreneur Network.  He’s also been involved with The Trinity Forum, associated with Os Guinness and others.  I’ve enjoyed Fruit at Work, which draws off of Tim Keller and others to ground our daily labor in the gospel and in biblical virtue.

The text is readable and filled with personal reflection from Evans’s life.  Here’s an example from his chapter on humility, a quality that not every leader–or Christian leader–has an easy time embodying:

A big way that I changed is that I feel I have a capacity for gentleness that just wasn’t there before I was broken.  Having been deeply humbled, I can have compassion for others in tough situations.  While part of me still wants to feel powerful and give orders, the Christ in me cares more about the people I’m relating to than my image (136).

Read this helpful book, which will help you to approach work first from the perspective of godly virtue, rather than primarily as a means to accomplishment, achievement, or as Charlie Sheen would say, “winning.”

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Who Should You Vote For? How About…Babies?

Over at Patheos, I just blogged on who I’m voting for this presidential election season.  This topic afforded me the chance to talk more broadly about how abortion is not simply a position, one among many that we could choose.  It is instead a holistic theology.  It is, specifically, a theology of death.

Read the whole thing over at ThoughtLife.

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Can Barack Obama Save Liberal Protestantism?

In my first piece over at ThoughtLife, I tackle this question.  As I did on Thursday, I urge you to, in the words of Tina Fey, “go to there.”  Subscribe to ThoughtLife, sign up for it in your RSS feed, and generally patronize this new blog, which is now the home of my “content blogging.”

Here’s a snippet:

Here’s what caught my attention in this segment, though: can anyone reasonably expect to “resurrect” liberal Protestantism?  Forget the political issues involved here and the rather soft journalism at play in this piece.  This is one of the more interesting questions one encounters in the study of modern American Christianity.  Richard Wightman Fox, progressive Christian and author of a classic biography on Reinhold Niebuhr, once mused out loud in a fascinating essay that the dynamic of liberal Protestantism–specifically, its shaping by the culture–set it on a collision course with enlightened secular thought.

In other words, the liberal Protestants were so shaped by cultural mores that their project was essentially destined to merge with the culture.  This is a brilliant insight, and it tells a great deal of the story of liberal Protestantism in the last 100 years.

Read the whole thing (please).

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Peter Greer of HOPE on “Broken Aid” & the Gospel

My friend Josh Good over at AEI’s fantastic Values & Capitalism project just sent around an interview with Peter Greer.  According to Values & Cap, Peter is President and CEO of HOPE International, a global non-profit organization focused on alleviating both physical and spiritual poverty through Christ-centered microfinance in some of the most challenging places around the world, including Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo and Haiti.

If you like thinking about responsible, church-friendly, gospel-driven social justice work that is friendly to entrepreneurship and aware of the power of the market to affect health for individuals, this will be like catnip to you.  I found Greer’s answers manifestly biblical and helpful.  Here’s a snatch from the broader interview (and see these helpful thoughts on the D’Souza scandal):

What are the economic realities that shape the way that HOPE International conducts its work across the globe?

Aid is broken. Economist Bill Easterly writes that despite a massive increase in aid to Africa over the last 40 years—$568 billion—most African countries are not better off. In fact, many growth rates have plummeted.

We have sufficient data to know that the only way for an economy to grow is through the private sector.

The Brookings Institution reports that since 2005, 70 million people each year are escaping poverty. According to the 58: campaign, between 1981 and 2005, extreme global poverty was cut in half, from 52 to 26 percent. This progress is largely the result of investments and job creation.

Consider China. Thirty years ago, China had more people, percentagewise, living in poverty than every country except four. Today—through economic growth—poverty has been reduced from 84 to 16 percent, according to the World Bank.

Today even Africa is poised for change. Private investments have generated more than 1.7 million jobs (from 2003 to 2010)—bypassing the effect of aid, according to the 2011 report published by Business Action for Africa and Ernst & Young

Job creation and investments, not aid, is what will cause Africa to experience growth, development and a much brighter future.

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Family Policy Lecture at Family Research Council

Next Wednesday at 12:30pm, one week from today, I’ll be giving the Family Policy Lecture at the Family Research Council in Washington, D. C.  My lecture is entitled “The Sacrificial Witness of the Christian Moral Tradition” and will span history, theology, ethics and public policy.  I will engage the liberal Protestant tradition and its understanding of public square involvement in the course of the lecture.

I am honored to give this lecture, which has featured speakers like Os Guinness, Eric Metaxas, and Ross Douthat, but I am excited to speak on this topic at a thinktank that is doing a great deal to contend for the faith in the public square.

Here are the details from FRC:

The Christian influence in Western society has played a vital role in shaping our nation and the world. Many, such as the great British abolitionist William Wilberforce, have used their Christian faith to inform and drive moral policies. To divorce the Christianity of these men and women from their political action would do a disservice both to them and to history itself.

In today’s world Christianity is often seen as a religious relic of the past. Dr. Owen Strachan issues a clarion call to the next generation of Christians to realize the times demand a strong biblically-grounded, moral witness. Born out of a spirit of sacrifice and humility Christians, must speak out for godliness and righteousness in our public sphere. Dr. Strachan will explain what must be done if the great Christian witness of the past is to once again influence our culture and its government.

You can register for the live-stream here.  You are of course welcome to fly to DC to hear this lecture–consider yourself invited, in fact.  But the live-stream might just work better for some.

By the way, FRC is currently leading the charge for Dr. Angela McCaskill, who was suspended from her post at Gallaudet  University for supporting traditional marriage by signing a petition.  You can show support for McCaskill by going here.  I would encourage you to do so.

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