Applying Human Flourishing to the Big Ideas
Human flourishing is an abstract idea, but it comes to life when we apply it to issues such as economics, vocation, creativity, entrepreneurialism, and the family.
Economics. As opposed to the view that sees humans as mere consumers who need to be kept alive by secular elites, the biblical view sees humans chiefly as producers whose work increases the total economic value in the world, benefiting themselves and others. From a biblical view, work is a good thing, instituted by God before the Fall (Genesis 1:28-30).
So how does this change the way Christians should talk about issues like poverty? Through PovertyCure, the Acton Institute’s Miller seeks to tackle poverty not by merely throwing money at the problem, but by encouraging impoverished communities to produce their own goods and exports so that they can be self-supporting. Miller says the best question to ask when wanting to help those in poverty isn’t, “How do I eradicate poverty?” Rather, the best question to ask is, “How can impoverished people create prosperity?” This Scripturally-faithful approach shows the biblical worldview to be far more robust and pro-human than secular views.
Vocation, Creativity, Entrepreneurialism. Each of us is gifted in specific ways that lend themselves to a vocation we can exercise for God’s glory and in the service of others. Take, for instance, Thomas Newcomen and James Watt. These two men lived in different European countries and in different periods of the Industrial Revolution, but both innovated on previous designs for steam engines in order to make work more efficient. As historian Glenn Sunshine puts it:
…Newcomen and Watt were part of a long line of Christians who produced technological advancements aimed at increasing productivity and eliminating drudgery on the basis of Biblical ideas about work. Those ideas shaped the Western tradition even among those who were at best nominal Christians. No other culture had the commitment to the goodness of this world, to the unique dignity of each person, to the value of work and production, and to making work meaningful, and as a result no other culture developed technologies aimed at improving production and benefiting common workers.3
Family. Also present from the very beginning of creation were the unique institutions of marriage and family. Fundamentally, marriage is the stabilizing force for societies here on earth. Marriage and families are the institutions through which we learn virtues and behaviors critical for life in a larger community. Social science research overwhelmingly shows that communities, individuals, and families fail to flourish when the biblical model of marriage isn’t the norm.4
3. Christians Who Changed Their World: Thomas Newcomen (1664-1729) and James Watts (1736-1819),” Glenn Sunshine, The Christian Worldview Journal, February 13, 2012.
4. Summit has written on this topic numerous other times, but for key social research, see http://www.familyfacts.org.
From Jeff Myers at Summit Ministries