Tag Archives: Acton Institute

Scott Rae on business for the common good

Image[The following is reposted from the Acton Institute’s blog:]

In a lecture at Acton University titled “Business and the Common Good,” Dr. Scott Rae of Biola University examined the role of business in serving the common good.

Rae began by examining some of the common criticisms lobbed against business, namely, that it promotes greed, inequality, and consumerism. As Michael Miller often notes, these are human vices, not economic ones, and thus business, properly understood, is not immoral in and of itself.

On the contrary, business has great potential for serving and contributing to the common good. Though some believe profit-seeking enterprises are only valuable insofar as they can “give something back” out of what’s leftover, Rae emphasized how business advances the common good right from the get-go.

Rae offers four primary ways this occurs:

  • By peaceably providing needed goods and services that allow human beings to flourish and enhance their well being
  • By providing meaningful work that allows human beings to flourish and enhances their well being
  • By facilitating wealth creation and economic growth
  • By enabling the poor to lift themselves out of poverty

By leveraging business, we not only yield profits that can be used for the glory of God outside of business, we can serve our neighbors in the here and now. “God is not just redeeming individuals,” Rae concluded. “He is redeeming all of creation. He is redeeming the marketplace.”


To listen to Rae’s lecture, you can purchase “Business and the Common Good” here.

Purchase Rae’s book, Business for the Common Good: A Christian Vision for the Marketplace

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A conversation on Wesley and economics: Holiness matters in this sphere too!

SPU CIB April 2013 conference

Economics and Theology in Creative Partnership: 
toward a thriving society
Folks, in April I’ll be in Seattle doing this. Come join me!

The Center for Integrity in Business (CIB) and the Center for Biblical and Theological Education (CBTE) are pleased to co-host a conversation in partnership with the Acton Institute on the intersection of business, economics, and Wesleyan theology. This April 10-12, 2013, series of seminars will examine how Wesley’s theology, with its focus on the complete and practical integration of life and faith in holiness, can speak to marketplace and church leaders alike about building a flourishing workplace.

Speakers include Bob Doll, chief equity strategist for Nuveen Asset Management; Sondra Wheeler, professor of Christian ethics at Wesley Theological Seminary and author of Wealth as Peril and Obligation: Possessions in the New Testament; David Wright, provost at Indiana Wesleyan; Stephen Grabill, research scholar in theology at Acton Institute; and Chris Armstrong, professor of church history at Bethel Seminary.

Check the CIB website or contact Stacey O’Farrell (ofarrells@spu.edu or 206-378-5415) or Tom Lane (tlane@spu.edu or 206-281-2054) for more details and registration information.

Pietism, Calvinism, and vocation – reflections from Bethel’s Chris Gehrz

Chris GehrzPlease, talk among yourselves as we at Bethel University engage in a little love-fest.

My colleague in the College of Arts and Sciences, historian Chris Gehrz, always provides lively insights on his Pietist Schoolman blog. Today, triggered by my post here on the divine value of secular vocation, Chris said some nice things about me on that blog. Then he mused a bit on Pietist (lack of?) contribution to thought about vocation, and some of his favorite sources on the same topic, which happen to be Reformed.

I’m skipping the encomiums (but thanks, Chris!) and moving to the latter part of his post:

Where I talk with students about vocation, I have to admit that I’m drawing chiefly on the Reformed tradition: from the section of John Calvin’s Institutes (on being faithful to one’s divine calling) that is my favorite thing to teach to the first-year students in our Christianity and Western Culture course to theFrederick Buechner sermon on calling that I discuss with our department’s seniors at the end of their capstone seminar. It’s no surprise that, when I started talking about vocation in my initial tenure interview, our then-provost (now-president) chuckled, “For a Pietist, you sure sound like a Calvinist.” Continue reading

Wine to grape juice: Why? And what else was involved in that decision?

David Ligare, Still Life with Grape Juice and ...

David Ligare, Still Life with Grape Juice and Sandwiches (Xenia), 1989

OK folks, here’s my review of (the first half of) my friend Jennifer Woodruff Tait’s University of Alabama Press book, The Poisoned Chalice: Eucharistic Grape Juice and Common-Sense Realism in Victorian Methodism (2011). Dr. Woodruff Tait  is (I say it frequently) the best writer I know, hands-down. She has 18th-century clarity and 19th-century passion for her topic.

True confession: This blog tour has hit me at an extraordinarily busy time. I did read Jenn’s dissertation all the way through several years ago—and not just because she cited my dissertation several times in her first chapter. I was fascinated by the story she tells. I can say that this time around, I read 69 of her 129 pages, and I remembered why I appreciate her historical scholarship so much, and why I hope she will research and write again, to our edification.

Without further ado, then: Continue reading

Supper at Acton with Metropolitan Jonah

Metropolitan Jonah in the Valaam monastery. It...

Metropolitan Jonah


One of the great things about Acton University is the variety of people you get to meet and talk with over dinner. For me, the first night it was key figures in that hive of workplace theology activity, Seattle’s Bakke Graduate University, including the engaging Dr. Gwendolyn J. Dewey. Second night: that ubiquitous evangelical ecumenist, Act 3‘s John Armstrong. And tonight, Metropolitan Jonah of the Orthodox Church in America.

I had the pleasure and benefit of sitting at dinner tonight with a couple of the Orthodox Church in America’s priests and their Metropolitan Jonah, who was the dinnertime speaker last night.

Metropolitan Jonah is clearly a man dedicated both to the church and to Christ. A pleasure to hear last night, and a pleasure to converse with tonight. We talked about Evagrius of Pontus, the materialism of modern America, and the importance of the doctrines of Creation and Incarnation in a society bouncing between rank materialism (the secularists) and dangerous gnosticism (some evangelicals).

Of the division of the church that so scars the American Christian landscape, he had only two words: “Jesus weeps.” Of the occasional non-Orthodox 20-something who comes to his monastery on the West Coast: “They are searching for a personal encounter with God.” And a fair number of them find Him, and get baptized there at the monastery. Of Creation: it shimmers with God’s presence. May God bless you, Metropolitan Jonah.

What does Wall Street have to do with the Gospel? An Acton University reflection on economics in the New Testament

Cover of "Rediscovering the Natural Law i...

Cover via Amazon

Greetings from Acton University 2011. The Acton Institute is an ecumenical think-tank dedicated to the study of free-market economics informed by religious faith and moral absolutes. This is my second summer attending their “Acton University” seminars in Grand Rapids, MI.

One of my favorite presenters last year was Dr. Stephen Grabill, director of programs and research scholar in theology at the Acton Institute. A careful scholar with a Reformed background and a unique knowledge of both economics and theology, Grabill edited the NIV Stewardship Study Bible (2009) and authored Rediscovering the Natural Law in Reformed Theological Ethics and edited the Sourcebook of Late Scholastic Monetary Theory. Here are my notes on his excellent, if basic, presentation on the social and economic context of the New Testament:

Tertullian famously asked “What does Athens have to do with Jerusalem?” Meaning, what does the thought world of the Greek philosophers have to do with the Gospel? Why should Christians bother with the culture of the empire when they should be living according to their Scriptures?

We could ask: What does Wall Street have to do with Jerusalem; or economic practice with the seemingly unrelated world of the New Testament? Continue reading

Social justice, early-church style

Giotto's Franciscan allegory of poverty: Poverty is a winged gaunt woman dressed only in rags, at whom children throw stones or brandish sticks. Christ himself marries this woman to St Francis. Numerous angels, as well as the personifications of Hope and Chastity, are present as witnesses. As offerings, two angels carry worldly goods heavenwards. The reactions of the world are depicted at either side: on the left a young man imitates Francis, and on the right the rich express ridicule.

The most recent issue of neoconservative Acton Institute‘s organ, Religion & Liberty, brings an interesting interview with “paleoorthodox” pundit Thomas C. Oden. Actually it is an excerpt of the interview; other bits of interview, dealing with Marxist liberation theology and the current condition of Oden’s United Methodist Church, can be found here.

The excerpt printed in Religion & Liberty ranges from early Christian treatment of the poor to global South missionaries coming to the West. Here are some of Oden’s comments on the value of patristic exegesis for today’s Christians–in particular where such exegesis was applied to social issues:

Why do you think many evangelicals, in their searching, are drawn to patristic thought and commentary? What can churches do to encourage those that are searching?

They’re drawn to patristic thought because it is wise. They are hungry for wisdom. They are looking for reliable Christian teaching and, in many cases, evangelicals have not been exposed to these documents because they have been focused on Christian doctrine since the Reformation. Continue reading