A Generative Stance Towards Economics

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I have been increasingly thankful for the resource of David Bahnsen that we tap into at WORLD. For any who do not know him, David heads the wealth management firm The Bahnsen Group and serves as financial analyst and advisor, teaching on money, markets, and the economy. What a mind! David has recently released a free course with a purpose to shape an economic posture and practice intent on human flourishing. I highly recommend his course as an excellent resource for both adults and teens: the beauty of a Christian worldview brought from abstract concepts into practical application. Bahnsen’s understanding of the human condition, the human calling, and the very human process (we are creatures who learn and grow and act upon the world in an incremental sense) refresh the listener. He deeply understands the theological tension of living in the “already-but-not-yet” and applies it graciously to all he says and seeks to accomplish in a material sense.

I want to tie what I’m saying of Bahnsen’s work to some of the ideas we’ve been exploring in this blog. His work is what one might call generative in nature. In The World and Everything in It from Monday, October 24th Bahnsen discusses Christian investment and the influence believers can have in companies. I quote him here at length to capture a sense of his thinking in response to a question on the ethics of investing:

“This is what I think the Apostle Paul meant by we’re in the world and not of the world. There is inevitability of commercial touch with sin on this side of glory. And after the fall and before the second coming, this is unavoidable. The question is, what within Christian conscience and a Christian intentional desire to advance the kingdom is the right way to approach it? I believe that when you’re talking about companies that are pursuing growth, they are pursuing the creation mandate, God asked us to cultivate the earth to grow. And then our task in creation is to extract the potential out of what God made. And so that company’s doing things by providing goods and services that meet the needs of humanity, this is, in fact, even if one has no Christian epistemology, that they are effectively doing what God created mankind to do, and us supporting that commercially in the marketplace, I think is a good thing. But then when a company in the task of doing such begins getting distracted, supporting bad behavior, you have a better chance of influencing that behavior as a shareholder than you do as a non-shareholder.”

Bahnsen’s theology of economic engagement is nothing short of generative in nature. Generative (in the sense we use it as adopted from Makoto Fujimura in his book Culture Care) signifies cultural contribution which “recognizes, produces, or catalyzes more beauty, goodness, and flourishing.” (pg. 24) We’ve recently touched on that word in our discussion of culture and culture making. The above serves as a pristine example: moving in to engage the things of the world (the things of culture) to shape them and to express godly human dominion.

For our touch points in discipleship today, beyond encouraging you to listen and study David’s excellent material, I want to highlight the need for us to take in with our kids and students the economic news in our world and reflect on what we see through sanctified lenses. The Father is concerned with the material things of His creation and human relationship to those “earthly” things. Perhaps we might ask these questions: Lord, how might we cultivate material things with a view in mind towards the flourishing of others? Father, how can we “extract the potential” out of what you have made to help “provid[e] goods and services that meet the needs of humanity?” How can we be as generous with what we own (recognizing it came at your hands) as you have been with us? Please, multiply our efforts, our investments, and our influence for your glory and the good of those around us.

Lord, how might we cultivate material things with a view in mind towards the flourishing of others?

Often in my own life, application has looked like two steps forward and one step back as I learn to increasingly trust the Father, taking tentative baby steps towards greater obedience in the area of finances and of generosity. It impacts my posture towards my kids, my husband, my community. When I’m supplied by a sense of His generosity, I’m set free to love lavishly, to express liberal hospitality, to spend even myself with greater joy and abandon.

We wish to foster a godly attitude towards money, work, and the economy in our kids and students. They’re never too young to start thinking about how managing money is a privilege and a calling, in need of examination and wisdom. With that goal in mind, GWN offers four news stories in our KaChing topic section in every issue of WORLDteen. These stories help young minds begin to learn and discern how economic efforts and principals work in practice and contribute toward human flourishing. Find out more here: https://teen.wng.org/worldteen-kaching

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I would love to read your stories of how the Lord’s generosity has fueled your perspective and inspired your own generative acts in the world.  Share with me here: kreed@gwpub.com —I’m listening!
Kelsey Reed

Kelsey Reed