Borrowing from Jurgen Moltmann, Darrell Cosden says “human rule as a concept necessarily implies some sort of active project; that is, it includes purposeful working” in A Theology of Work. This means, “to be in God’s image through Christ include…work.” In other words, “work is not simply an instrumental activity associated with survival or even spiritual progress.” It is “a fundamental condition of human created existence. It is ontological.
Furthermore, in the new creation, human purpose, while “transformed and freed from sin, mortality, suffering and grief,” will “still be the same human purpose that we currently experience.” Therefore, “the ontology of work is not a limited ontology in the sense that it is only an ontological reality in the present creation.” “Rather, the ontology of work is ontological because it is also a fundamental condition of being human in the new creation” (emphasis mine).
Jurgen Moltmann suggested that “work in the Kingdom of God in some way closely relates to God’s renewing of heaven and earth,” thus giving “a transcendent meaning and value to work itself,” apart from its instrumental and relational value according to Darrell Cosden in A Theology of Work.
Cosden’s strategy in constructing his theology of work that highlights the ontological value of work, then, is “to develop the two interconnected and multifaceted doctrines of theological anthropology and a theology of nature, and to do so teleologically (building upon protological, eschatological and Christological foundations).
Theology. Ontology. Anthropology. Teleology. Protology. Eschatology. Christology.
Phew. That’s a mouthful.
What doctrines does Jurgen Moltmann appeal to for his understanding of work?
According to Darrel Cosdon in A Theology of Work, the first is the doctrine of creation because “God is a worker” and “human work can and should ‘correspond’ to the creative activity of God.”
The second is the doctrine of Sabbath because “when human work truly corresponds to God’s, that is when it is actively creative but also seasoned with Sabbath, [and then] it becomes truly meaningful.”
The third is the doctrine of “the work of redemption.” “The idea is that God is not simply the effortless creator (initial creation) but that he also is engaged in hard and painful work,” the work of redemption. This work by Jesus, a servant of God, is “wearisome work” according to Isaiah 43:24 and 53. Thus, “imitation of Christ’s servanthood should be the theological basis for work.”