Perhaps because I teach college students who frequently bring up what they will do for work when they leave college, perhaps because of some of my Anabaptist convictions, or perhaps because I love what “work” I do — and probably for each of these and more — a recent publication by Darrell Cosden, The Heavenly Good of Earthly Work, grabbed my attention. So, I want to do a series on this book and hope we can have a good conversation about a Christian theory of work.
Questions like whether or not our work really matters may at times haunt each of us. Clearly Cosden, though, isn’t going to argue in this book that by turning our work into “missional” work we come to a Christian understanding of work. So, what will he discuss?
“The heavenly good of earthly work refers to the idea that our ordinary work affects and in some ways actually adds to (thought it does not cause, determine or bring about) the ultimate shape of eternity — the new creation” (2). Those of you who read Tom Wright’s recent book, Surprised by Hope, will hear some resonating themes in this definition by Cosden.
There are some critiques of “work” today: does it infringe on salvation by faith (by emphasizing works)? Does it devalue heaven for earth? Isn’t work meaningless? Isn’t work destroying the eco-system of this world?
Pope John Paul II: “human work is a key, probably the essential key,” to most of the social questions we face. Cosden: “It could be that work-related questions are actually the main spiritual challenges facing us” (6).
Question for our day: What good resources have you seen on building a Christian theory of work?