Work in the Spirit 3

imgresWork takes place within an economic system.  Hence, as a preliminary matter to developing a theology of work, Miroslav Volf sees the need to articulate three “normative principles” by which to judge an economic system in Work in the Spirit.  Appropriately, just as his theology of work is set in an eschatological framework, he derives these principles eschatologically — i.e., “from the notion of ‘new creation.’”

First, an economic system ought to be judged on how well it “guard[s] the individual dignity” as implied by “the concept of new creation.”  “In economic life the individual is…not to be treated as a thing but as a free and responsible agent.”  (I see that this is implied by the concept creation.  I’m not sure why we necessarily need to rely on the concept of “new” creation to derive this principle.)

Second, the new creation implies “practicing solidarity” in community since “everyone is called to be an heir with Christ in the community of God’s people.”  This means, in economic life, we should be “mobilize[d] to work for the fulfillment of everyone’s basic needs.”

Finally, the new creation implies “the responsibility of preserving the integrity of nature.”  Nature “is not a mere thing…but suffers under corruptibility and will participate in the freedom of the children of God” (Rom. 8:20-21).  Hence, in economic life, “protection of nature from irreparable damage must accompany any work on or in nature.”

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