At Work & Economics 101 & Public Square & Theology 101

What Principles Are Important for Human Flourishing?

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If properly understood, our vocations can help Christians impact our communities, our cities, and our world by helping restore the culture to the glory of God. 

Hugh Whelchel, How Then Should We Work?

Restoring the culture to the glory of God: it’s the reason we at IFWE are working to inspire Christians to live out a theology that integrates faith, work, and economics. If Christians do this, together we can bring about human flourishing.

Our internal beliefs have very external effects on what happens to our culture. The biblical doctrine of work teaches us that our faith is not meant to be a mere internal exercise. Everything from the Cultural Mandate to the Great Commission calls us to live out our faith for the good of the world.

We need a set of mutually reinforcing principles, along with guidance on how to apply them in the real world, if we are to pursue human flourishing.

Political theorists and economists have discovered this truth, that principles are essential to a healthy, functioning, and free society.

When America’s Founders went about setting up our government, they faced a dilemma. How could a free people maintain a system of self-government? Daniel Dreisbach, a professor at American University, explained in a previous post how the Founders dealt with this question:

The challenge the Founders confronted was how to nurture personal responsibility and social order in a system of self-government. In response to this challenge, the Founders looked to religion and morality informed by religious faith to provide the internal moral compass that would prompt citizens to behave in a disciplined manner and thereby promote social order and responsibility.

Scholars also recognize the importance of values in human flourishing. In exploring the relationship between free enterprise and human well-being, Paul J. Zak, editor of the volume Moral Markets: The Critical Role of Values In the Economy, writes,

Most economic exchange relies on character values such as honesty, trust, reliability, and fairness…Research has shown that the values that create social capital are a potent stimulus for economic development.

Zak concludes,

Modern market exchange is inconceivable without values. 

The tie between free enterprise, free societies, and morality is especially interesting. The principles that uphold these institutions don’t segregate themselves into moral and economic baskets. An economic issue is rarely just about economics, and values aren’t limited to the topics of abortion and marriage. In fact, social and economic issues often hang on the same principles.

So what are these principles?

I’d like to open up a discussion about what they might be – and I’d love to hear your thoughts on the question, too.

In my book Indivisible, I proposed ten principles I thought were essential to a flourishing society. Here is a handful of them:

1. Every human being has equal value and dignity.

2. We are inherently and specifically social.

3. We’re all sinners.

4. We are meant to be free and responsible.

5. When we’re free, we can create wealth.

Most importantly, what biblical principles contribute to human flourishing? How might these propositions be looked at from a biblical perspective? I’d love to hear what you have to say about the matter.

What principles do you think are necessary for human flourishing? Leave your comments here

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