Stewardship as a Christian Worldview
B. Miller, Ph.D.
Department of Geology
Kansas State University
note: This page is the notes for a class on stewardship that I taught at our church.
a summary: I view stewardship as a comprehensive
including all aspects of practical living and the life of the mind.
Stewardship as a Worldview
Stewardship of Human Knowledge
Ethics of Technology
Art for the Glory of God
STEWARDSHIP AS A WORLDVIEW
1. What is a worldview?
• "A worldview is never merely a vision of life. It is always a vision for life as well. Indeed, a vision of life, or worldview that does not actually lead a person or a people in a particular way of life is no world view at all. Our world view determines our values. It helps us interpret the world around us. It sorts out what is important from what is not, what is of highest value from what is least." (from The Transforming Vision, pp 31-32)
• A world view is both individual and shared with a community. Our worldview is not the same as our theology or philosophy, and we may not even be consciously aware of it. It determines how we interpret everything around us, even scripture. There are many competing world views in our culture.
2. How do we make our
world view closer to God's view?
• Study scripture and practice the spiritual disciplines.
• Listen to others, particularly to those with whom we disagree.
• Learn to recognize other worldviews, and become aware of our own.
• Seek God and trust that His Holy Spirit will guide us.
• John 15:12-15
3. Biblical basis of stewardship
a) God is the creator, possessor, and ruler of all things.
• Psalm 95:3-7 — The Earth is the Lord's
• Colossians 1:15-20 — All things created by Him and for Him
b) We were created in God's image.
• Genesis 1:26-30 — We have been given commission to rule God's creation as His image bearers.
• Image is representational, relational, and responsive (see Imaging God, by John Douglas Hall)
• What is the God like whom we are to image? Christ is the image of God. (John 1:14-18)
• II Corinthians 3:18 — We are called to be transformed into the image of Christ. Christ's example was that of a self-sacrificing servant.
c) We were created to do good works.
• John 15:9-17
• Ephesians 2:6-10
d) We are called by God to be living sacrifices.
• Romans 12:1-2 — We are to offer our bodies as living sacrifices, be transformed by renewing our minds.
• Mark 12:28-31, Deuteronomy 6:4-9 — God's claim on us is comprehensive: heart, soul, mind, strength.
What we feel — Arts, aesthetics, relationships, worship
What we think — Philosophy, theology, history, science
What we do — Technology, work, finances, social action, spiritual disciplines
All that we feel, think, and do is to give glory to God.
• There is no sacred-secular dichotomy in the Christian life.
All our talents and abilities are to be used for God's glory.
STEWARDSHIP OF HUMAN KNOWLEDGE
1. What do we think about knowledge?
a) How does our culture view knowledge and learning?
• How has this view influenced the Church?
b) Should we value some knowledge over others?
• Is the search for some knowledge prohibited by God?
Philippians 4:8 — Whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent – think about such things.
2. Why should we value human knowledge?
a) God desires us to be wise
• Example of Solomon: I Kings 3:5-12, 4:29-34
God gave Solomon wisdom to rule, and that wisdom included knowledge of the created world as well as artistic creativity.
• Ecclesiates 1:16-18 provides warning of the fruitlessness of knowledge pursued as an end to itself. Importance of motivation in acquiring knowledge. Why are we doing it?
• Consider also Daniel 1:17-20 — God gave Daniel knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning.
b) We cannot be stewards over what we do not know or understand
• God has given us stewardship over all His creation (Psalm 8:3-8)
• Creation is good and offers praise to God (Psalm 148)
3. We need to think "Christianly"
a) It is the way we think, not just what we think, that needs to be Christian.
• A Christian's orthodoxy is often evaluated on his/her position on an issue, not their way of thinking about it.
• Attributes of a Christian mind: supernatural/eternal perspective, awareness of evil, concern for truth, recognition of God's authority, concern for humanity, affirmation of life. (from The Christian Mind by Harry Blamires)
b) How much of our thinking is influenced, if not determined by, our culture?
c) We need to think about stewardship of our minds as well as stewardship of knowledge.
• Stewardship of the mind is personal and equally important for every believer.
• Stewardship of knowledge is more an act of community.
4. The treasure of past
wisdom: the history of ideas
a) Does the evangelical Church in America value history?
b) History is our teacher
• God is the God of history and reveals Himself in history.
• God repeatedly calls His people to remember.
• Knowledge of ideas guards against being deceived by false philosophy.
• There is a great wealth of recorded human experience both good and bad for us to learn from.
c) What was the historical origin of the ideas now prominent in our culture?
• Recognize cultural influences on Christian thinking.
• Why do I think about an issue the way I do?
d) How has an issue been dealt with in the past?
• We may find answers to our own questions and direction in our own circumstances through the thoughts, questions, struggles and failures of those before us.
e) How has scripture been understood and interpreted in the past?
• Provides keys to the transcultural truth of scripture. Helps us to recognize where our worldview may not be God's view.
5. Science as a way of
a) The Christian worldview provided the mental environment for the development of modern science (see Religion and the Rise of Modern Science by Hooykaas).
• De-deification of nature — Creator vs. Creation
• Unity of heavenly and earthly realms
• Comprehensibility of creation — As God's image-bearers we can "think God's thoughts after Him."
• Creation governed by laws — Regularity of creation reflects God's character.
• Ministry of healing and restoration — The incarnation emphasized God's concern for His creation.
b) The metaphor of warfare between science and religion is historically false.
• Why are science and theology still viewed by many as enemies?
c) How should science and theology relate to each other?
• Can theology be read from nature?
• God's power and divine nature can be seen in creation. Romans 1:18-25
Is natural revelation only compelling to the believer?
Issue of human freewill and God's providence involved.
Nature can, and has, also be used to support virtually any religious or philosophical belief.
• Scripture uses nature as metaphors for revealing God's character and will.
Matthew 6:25-30,13:1 — ff John 15:1-8
• A knowledge of creation enlarges our concept of God.
Magnifies God's power and wisdom as well as His grace.
• Can nature be understood through scripture?
Proper use of scripture — II Timothy 1:14-15, 3:16
Great danger in wedding scripture to a particular scientific theory.
• What can be known about nature from scripture?
Its value to God — God's care and provision for His creation.
Psalm 104, Job 38-41
All creation offers praise to God — Psalm 148
Its relationship to God and to us His image-bearers.
The meaning of stewardship and divine rulership.
• Can scientific knowledge provide a corrective to bad theology? How?
• Can theology provide a corrective to bad science? How?
1. Biblical basis of environmental stewardship
a) God cares for His creation
• God declares all that He has made very good — Genesis 1:31
God is revealed in the present creation — Job 38-41
God takes pleasure in creation for its own sake independently of any utilitarian value to humans. Wild nature glorifies God.
The Earth is the Lord's possession — Psalm 95:1-5
All creation praises God — Psalm 148
• God sustains and provides for His creation
God is active in the world, providing for the needs of its creatures.
God is continually creating. His creative power is continually at work.
God cares for the sparrow and lily. Matthew 6:25-30
In Christ all things hold together. Colossians 1:15-20
b) All creation is part of God's redemptive plan
God so loved the cosmos that He became incarnate. John 3:16-17
The creator took upon Himself creation. The word became flesh. John 1:1-18
Creation groans in anticipation of our redemption. Romans 8:18-22
Creation rejoices at the promise of God's judgement. Psalm 96:11-13
c) We are given stewardship responsibility over creation
• As God's image bearers we are give commission to rule, subdue, serve and care for creation. Genesis 1:26-28, 2:15
• Our example of godly rule is that of sacrificial service.
The responsibility of the kings of Israel was to serve the poor, widow, orphan, and oppressed.
We are to image Christ in His humility — Philippians 2:6-8
The greatest will be the least — Matthew 10:1-5, 20:25-28
• Old Testament law protected the land and animals
Sabbath rest included animals. Deuteronomy 5:12-15
Sabbatical year command to let land rest. Leviticus 25:1-7
The captivity of God people was in part a result of failure to obey this command. Leviticus 26:32-36, II Chronicles 36:20-21
The good and the prosperity of the land and people were intimately connected.
• Parable of the talents, Matthew 25:14-30
We have been given of God's resources as trustworthy stewards. Are we deserving of His trust?
2. How can we rule creation in sacrificial love recognizing
that all life has intrinsic value to God?
• Get to know God's creation
Adam's first task was to name what God had made.
Over what has God given us stewardship?
• Think holistically
How can we act for the good of all creation, not just the perceived good of humanity?
Consider cost to environment of economic decisions.
• Think sacrificially
What can we sacrifice for the sake of the rest of creation?
• Conserve what is renewable
Manage resources for future sustainability.
Preserve what is irreplaceable
Seek replacements for non-renewable resources.
Wild pristine environments and ecosystems are irreplaceable.
ETHICS OF TECHNOLOGY
1. Biblical guidelines
• We are all individually created by God — Psalm 139:14-16
All persons are made in God's image.
God's image has been corrupted but not lost as a result of the fall.
• God's desire is for the poor, hungry, and oppressed
Isaiah 58:5-7, Jeremiah 22:3, Zechariah 7:9-10
Christ's ministry was to the afflicted — Luke 4:16-21 (Isaiah 61:1-3)
Our ministry is to those in need.
Command to love our neighbor as ourselves
Illustrated by parable of the Samaritan — Luke 10:26-37
"Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it for me." Matthew 25:31-46
We are to look to the interests of others — Philippians 2:1-11
2. What is technology?
a) Definition: "A distinct human cultural activity in which human beings exercise freedom and responsibility in response to God by forming and transforming the natural creation, with the aid of tools and procedures, for practical ends or purposes." (from Responsible Technology edited by Stephen Monsma)
• Technology is the application of our knowledge of creation for the good of humanity.
b) Humans given rule (authority) over creation — Psalm 8:3-8; Genesis 1:28-30.
• The use and manipulation of creation associated with technology is within the creation mandate.
However, as stewards our technology must be used in a way consistent with God's purposes and desires.
3. Questions to ask of technology in a specific
Does it empower people or control them?
Does it broaden the gap between the poor and rich or narrow it?
Does it meet needs or generate wants?
Does it value life or demean it?
Does it respect people's dignity as God's image-bearers?
Does it heal or endanger health?
What is its potential for evil?
Does it appropriately use resources?
4. Ethical dimensions of technology
• Product safety and quality.
• Impact of technology on societal values.
What do we value, and what goals do we pursue?
• Impact of technology on economic and political systems.
Control over technology (including development, manufacture, distribution, and application) and control over information determines centers of power.
• Rationing of limited resources.
Who gets access to resources and who, or what decides?
• Conflict between the potential good of different parties, or the balancing of potential for good and evil. The answers to most ethical dilemmas are not black and white.
• Technology involves a multitude of levels and components. There is usually no clear responsibility for ultimate outcomes.
Others before self
Need before want or comfort
Poverty before wealth
Oppressed and weak before the powerful
2. Responsibility for the poor, orphan
a) Old Testament law
Tithe for Levite, stranger, orphan and widow — Deuteronomy 26:12
Gleanings of field for poor and stranger — Leviticus 19:10
Sabbatical Year Deuteronomy — 15:1-11
Debt cancelled every 7 years – prevented absolute poverty and permanent indebtedness.
Year of Jubilee — Leviticus 25:8-24
Hereditary land and property restored to original family. Land could not be sold permanently. Discouraged excessive accumulation of wealth and property (see Isaiah 5:8).
• How might we apply the principles behind these commands today?
b) New Testament commands
• Honor the poor. James 2:1-7
How can we show honor to the poor in our community?
Give to the poor
Give to those who cannot repay. Luke 14:12-14
Give to those who ask. Matthew 5:42
Pure religion is to look after orphans and widows. James 1:27
Story of the rich young man — Matthew 19:16-22
• Is this to be normative for the believer? If not, what does Christ want of us?
c) Example from the early church
Early church held all things in common. Acts 2:44-47; 4:32-37
Gift collected for Jerusalem believers. II Corinthians 8:1-15
Distribution of food to widows. Acts 6:1-6 (Restrictions on provision for widows — II Timothy 5:1-16)
How can we as a church body fulfill our responsibility to the poor and needy. If the early church model is not relevant, what is?
for the sick
a) Healing was significant part of Christ's ministry
• Healing part of message of kingdom of God
Matthew 4:23-25; 8:16-17
Matthew 10:7-8 — Disciples sent out to preach the message of the kingdom and heal the sick.
• Jesus ministered to those whose sickness made them social outcasts
Healing of lepers — Mark 1:40-42, Healing of blind — John 9
Healing combined with meeting spiritual needs
Healing of paralytic — Mark 2:1-12
b) Ministry of healing
• Ministry of prayer — James 5:13-16
• Ministry to social, emotional and spiritual needs of sick.
Lepers of Christ's day viewed similarly to AIDS sufferers today.
Critical need for the Church to reach out in love to those afflicted with AIDS.
4. Responsibility for the oppressed
a) Jesus ministered to the ostracized, marginalized, and despised in the culture (women, children, Samaritans and foreigners, tax collectors and "sinners," as well as the poor and sick)
Children — Matthew 18:1-6; 19:13-15
Samaritan women — John 4:4-42
Tax collectors and "sinners" — Luke 19:1-10 (Zacchaeus), Matthew 9:10-13 (dinner with tax collectors), John 8:1-11 (women caught in adultery), Luke 7:36-50 (prostitute)
b) Ministry to today's oppressed
Who are the oppressed people in our culture/world?
How can we as God's people and the Body of Christ show compassion to those rejected by society?
ART FOR THE GLORY OF GOD
1. Artistic talent is God-given
• Human skills and crafts are God-given — Exodus 35:25-35
• Writing and poetic gifts are God-given:
Proverbs and songs of Solomon — I Kings 4:29-34
Understanding of literature and learning — Daniel 1:17-20
• Examples of use of arts in scripture:
Building of tabernacle and temple involved much decorative as well as engineering skill.
Music in celebration and worship. Music had major part in religious festivals.
Dance as part of worship and celebration.
Drama and theater used by prophets to proclaim their message.
See Ezekiel chapters 4-5 as an example of prophetic theater.
2. What is the
purpose of art?
• To glorify and praise God — to reflect the beauty of God's creation.
• To express ourselves to God and others in ways not possible in mere statement of propositional truth. Expression of the full range of human emotion.
• To communicate truth.
• For the joy and cost of creating — participating in God's creativity.
• For the enrichment of others' lives and the meeting of aesthetic needs.
3. The Trinitarian nature of creativity
• from The Mind of the Maker by Dorothy Sayers:
The Creative Activity — bringing the idea into existence
The Creative Power — the ability of the created work to impact others
can we support artistic gifts and steward artistic talent within the Church?
• Financially support artists within the congregation.
Singers and musicians serving the temple were paid from the temple tithe.
I Chronicles 6:31-32, 9:33 and Nehemiah 12:46-47
• Commission works — Restore the place of the Church as a patron of the arts.
Give individuals time and freedom to be creative and do their best work.
• Encourage the development of artistic talent by providing mentors and training.
• Utilize a wider range of artistic expression in worship.
• Utilize artistic talent within the congregation in the design and decoration of the Church building.
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