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Grasping the Language of Human Flourishing

December 6, 2013


Alone among the most influential worldviews in the world, Christianity claims that though we have fallen, God created man to embody his creativity, justice, responsibility, order, and compassion. In short, God made man to flourish.

Despite the shattering effects of the Fall, Christ’s redemption enables us, through the power of the Holy Spirit, to live in a way that brings blessing to the nations (Genesis 3:6-9). “Human flourishing” is a phrase many Christians now use to illustrate this idea. Michael Miller, a research fellow at the Acton Institute and director of PovertyCure, explained in an interview that the actual term human flourishing was coined by Aristotle. Some think it means to chase after happiness. But, just as the U.S.’s founding fathers meant happiness in a particular context when they invoked the phrase “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” Aristotle thought of flourishing as the pursuit of virtue and excellence, not the mere pursuit of personal pleasure.

Christianity teaches us that excellence and virtue are standards set by God. According to Miller, human flourishing is “a life well lived according to our nature made in the image of God; it seeks the good, the true, and the beautiful.”  (Part 3 to follow.)

From Jeff Myers at Summit Ministries

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