Weekly Thought – July 30, 2019
Fred highly regarded the work ethic. He “took a dim view” (as he liked to say) of the wish ethic. As a teenager he met an evangelist who preached in his pastor father’s pulpit for a revival. After getting to know him, the man gave Fred a paraphrase of Proverbs 18:16 which became a life verse. “Take the gift that God has given you, AND USE IT, and you will stand before great men.”
When our BWFLI team members receive messages from students about ways they are using what they gained in conversations, they feel like they are using the gifts God has given them. We are grateful for all who stand with us year by year. Men and women are being touched by the wisdom and care of team members who want to leave students with “words to live by.”
The Puritans and Ethics
The Puritans felt it was our duty to be responsible citizens. I speak at a great many Chamber of Commerce meetings throughout the country and often hear them praise the free enterprise system. As worthy as our economic philosophy is, it is not the only reason for success. Our sense of personal responsibility aligned with our political freedom created our standard of living. This came out of our Puritan tradition. Freedom is the environment in which responsibility flourishes. The American experience is the first time the two came together. I think we should call it “responsible enterprise.”
The Puritans also believed that every man had a gift and was to contribute to the common good – they referred to this as their “calling.” We have relegated this word to the clergy. I am convinced the revival of the concept of general calling would be helpful.
Another critical tenet of Puritan thought was that every man was responsible to God for his actions and one day would stand before Him and give account. I have thought a great deal about the problems we are facing in our society. I don’t think more laws, even more law enforcement, or bigger jails would be as effective as a return to God-consciousness. In America we have largely lost the individual’s responsibility before God. We have lost the impact of believing in the afterlife and accountability.
It is neurotic to think of nothing but heaven, but it is naïve to totally avoid thinking about it.
I am amazed how often I will do things as if God did not exist. We may still be theist in word, but are atheist in action. I see people doing things they would no more do, nor even consider, if they believed in the eventual and inevitable judgment of God. We are teaching our young people to believe in the “you only go around once” and “grab the gusto” philosophies. Tragic.
Under the Puritan ethic the Bible was the moral dictionary. It wasn’t a matter of whether or not you had a “Christian experience,” but rather it was the Christian tradition to accept the Bible as the moral standard. It is difficult for people using different definitions and standards to talk well together and make effective moral decisions.
Personally, I am convinced that the watershed of all human thinking is the perfectibility of man. It is the fulcrum on which the conservative/liberal thought turns. If man is perfectible, then the liberal are correct in theology, politics, philosophy, and all other areas of human endeavor. If he is not perfectible, then the Puritan position of restraint is correct. If man is his own authority, relativism rules. If we believe man is sinful with the great hope of His redemption responsibility to God and each other reigns.
This week think about: 1) What is my opinion of personal responsibility? 2) How do I demonstrate my philosophical or theological framework in my decision making? 3) Who is a good example of ethical living?
Words of Wisdom: “It is neurotic to think of nothing but heaven, but it is naïve to totally avoid thinking about it.”
Wisdom from the Word: “There is nothing better for people than to eat and drink, and to find enjoyment in their work. I also perceived that this ability to find enjoyment comes from God.” (Ecclesiastes 2:24 NET Bible)