the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

Flourishing Faith: A Baptist Primer on Work, Economics, and Civic Stewardship

Aaron Cline Hanbury

July 8, 2013

(Christian’s Library Press 2013, $10), Chad Brand

Many people commonly assume that the world of work, business and politics and the world of faith do not intersect. Politics, they might say, belongs in public life, public discus- sion and discourse. Faith, on the other hand, is a private matter, something left out of business and day-to-day life. Something for Sundays. However, what a person believes dramatically shapes his or her view of both the weekend and the weekday. And a new book by Chad Brand lays out the Baptist perspective of work and of political economy, the relationship between politics and economics.

Brand is professor of Christian theology at Southern Seminary and associate dean of the seminary’s Boyce College. In his book, Flourishing Faith: A Baptist Primer on Work, Economics, and Civic Stewardship, Brand examines what he considers the “five key issues related to political economy”: work, wealth, government, government taxation and implications and how governmental philosophy relates to economic structure.

First, Brand contends that the Bible presents work positively.

Considering wealth, Brand says that in a fallen world, Christians must live “disciplined and circumspect lives to ensure that they are using the wealth God has given to them in ways that honor him.”

Then, on the issue of government, the Baptist doctrine of sin makes limited government the “biblical ideal,” according to Flourishing Faith.

Brand also argues that heavy taxation by governments “solves nothing.” Brand asserts this based on his survey of the history of governments’ use of “other people’s money.”

He concludes: “Governments that confiscate from one class of society for their own purposes only create moral and fiscal problems.”

Finally, then, Brand writes that political systems exert intrinsic influence on economic systems. He analyzes this influence by looking at the “three major competing ” economic systems in history: free-markets, socialism and government-managed economies.

Flourishing Faith presents a historically descriptive introduction to a Baptist perspective of work and wealth, and of politics and its relationship to economics. Baptists of all stripes would do well to read this book and to thus better understand the holistic nature of the Baptist faith.

 

Excerpts from the book:

  1. “The Scriptures elevate human labor of all kinds to a laudable, fulfilling, and God-honoring calling. Although the church has not always seen work as occupying an important place in life, the Reformers and Puritans in keeping with Scripture made it clear that all people have a calling and that all believers are priests unto the Lord.”
  2. “The Scripture teaches that God is the one to whom we owe ultimate allegiance, but that selfsame God has also instituted governments to keep order in the world. All of those governments are fallen, since we live in a fallen world, and those states might well stand for injustice rather than justice.”
  3. “Most [Baptists] have been committed to limited government, to religious liberty, and
    to the relative autonomy of local congregations. We have generally stood for the rights of people to make their own way in life and to flourish in broad and various ways. ... Those principles have marked out the ‘Baptist Way’ for over four hundred years.”

Read also an interview with Dr. Brand about his book here.

 

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That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.