Theology 101

Understanding the Big Picture: Grace & the Authority of Scripture

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Editor’s note: Hugh Whelchel was previously featured in an interview with Praxis Circle. Below are a few highlights of that conversation, which you can watch in full here.

How Much of Our Lives Does God Want from Us?

My answer to that question is easy. 110%. Everything.

And I can show you that over and over again in scripture. One of my favorite Bible parables is about the man who is digging in a field and comes across a treasure. What did he do? At the time, the legal law was that if you owned that property, you owned everything. Whatever was there, it was yours. There was treasure in the field. The man goes out and sells everything he has to get the field.

We don’t think about the gospel that way; we just don’t. What that parable is really saying is “put in everything you’ve got and then some.” And why would you even think twice about it or not make the sacrifices needed to be able to achieve that goal?

So, to me, the first question isn’t hard. But it is for a lot of people. We have divided interests, and I think there’s a reason for that.

(Watch this part of the interview here.)

What is Unmerited Grace?

We have to be careful because there are other types of grace out there, but if we’re talking about unmerited grace, this is what it is. This grace based on the gospel is unmerited favor by a loving God to someone who doesn’t really deserve it. It’s a reward for something I didn’t do. I should have gotten one thing, but I got something else in return. That’s what the gospel is all about. The reward for my life should be an eternity of misery—it should be that. But thanks to the grace of Jesus Christ, it won’t be.

(Watch this part of the interview here.)

Is it Tough to Apply Biblical Theory to Practice?

One of the things we’ve tried to avoid here at IFWE is getting into policy debates. What we’ve tried to do is stay ahead of these debates and talk about theory and how to explore issues from a biblical perspective.

We’ve been very fixated on making sure that we tie everything back to scripture. We have no authority in this. All authority comes from scripture. We want all our content to be based on a strong theological understanding of what the Bible teaches.

A very real problem (particularly once you get into certain fields) occurs when people who aren’t necessarily theologians are writing and incorrectly using scripture. Some just find a bible verse they like and use it alongside something else in a way that’s completely out of context, biblically speaking. There’s a lot of this being done; it’s something we try to be very careful about.

To avoid this, I believe you have to go back to the verse and examine it contextually. You need to ask, “how does it fit into the overarching understanding of scripture?”

What we believe is that when God created the heavens and the earth, he took these principles and wove them into the very fabric of creation. These principles are like gravity; they work whether you believe in them or not.

Let me give you an example. “Thou shall not steal.” That implies what? It implies property rights. Property rights is a principle that God has woven into the very fabric of creation. And there’s a reason why there’s never been a civilization that lasted or flourished for exceptionally long without strong property rights. Why? It’s the way God made things. So it behooves us to understand what those bigger pieces are, to embrace them, and use them in the way we build our business.

(Watch this part of the interview here.)

Further readings on Theology 101

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Editor’s note: Hugh Whelchel, IFWE founder and long-time executive director, passed away on Good Friday after a four-year battle with…

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  • Theology 101

Hugh Whelchel, the founder and long-time executive director of the Institute for Faith, Work & Economics, often described heaven as…