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8 thoughts on “The Heavenly Good of Earthly Work

  1. says:

    There are some sections that are overdone but it's a good overview of a basic theology of work that is easy to read and comprehend That being said it's probably the worst PRINTED book I've read in five years Baker Academic seriously the formatting is atrocious Almost downgraded it to 3 starts because it was so distracting It looks like it was printed on a 90s home printer


  2. says:

    The main subject of the book is that our “everyday workactually matters and make a difference – not just in the here and now but also for eternity” It is written with mainly a Christian audience in mind The book sets itself apart from arguments that work has spiritual value only in as much it serves as a “platform for ministry and mission” The well chosen title closely mirrors the book’s purpose which is to argue that “from a Christian point of view all human work and not just “religious work” has eternal meaning and value” The book’s secondary aims are to point out that “our theology often inadvertently contributes to the problems” and that the answers do not lie “outside of our Christian beliefs” The book is presented in three main parts Part I chapters 1 and 2 examines the underlying belief structures that often hinders our modern view of work Chapter 1 exposes the foundational assumption in many churches that vocational ministry has a higher status than ordinary work in the marketplace or at home It is argued that this underlying spirit material dualism is deeply ingrained in western Christianity both in Roman Catholic and Lutheran theologies The author points out that Pope John Paul did not denunciate earthly work as such but that he saw the important uestion as the meaning of work for our souls Chapter 2 further examines whether this idea of “not eternal not valuable” is legitimate mainly with reference to Luther The argument is that much of evangelical piety is shaped by Luther’s interpretation that “all things in life including so called religious works and ordinary human work must be judged and find their “place” first and foremost with reference to salvation or justification appropriated by faith” The Lutheran theology on work led to the demise of the medieval theological hierarchy of calling and work but replaced it with the idea that ordinary work is an “appropriate obedient earthly response to God’s saving grace and general providence” that does not “co operate with this grace to heavenly end” and “has no direct value in the light of eternity” Despite Luther’s progress the crises and frustration of most “ordinary” workers remain The “spiritual” vocations such as ministry and evangelism still push itself forward as being better correlated to eternity Part II chapters 3 and 4 proceeds with biblical clues on the uestion whether earthly work will have any heavenly future Chapter 3 reflects on how eternity looks and what place human work occupies in it Starting with the uestion what the final destiny of the whole of creation looks like the author suggest that contrary to the popular idea of “immaterial souls going to heaven when we die” “salvation is not simply for our souls but also for our bodies and the wider non human creation as well – including within it our work” To substantiate his argument the author calls in biblical support on the physicality of the resurrection of Jesus and Jesus being the embodiment of salvation a prototype of how our own and creation’s transformation would look like Everything the humanmaterial and the divinespiritual are brought under the Lordship of Christ so that God may be all in all 1 Cor 1528 NIV The whole of creation eagerly expect salvation and will be brought into ultimate glorification of God Rom 818 19 in a new heaven and earth where the presence of Christ makes everything new Rev 21 22 Redeemed and transformed God’s own creation as well as what we have done and worked finds a home in the new creation Chapter 4 unpacks the biblical account of human identity and work with Genesis pointing towards unity between the ordinary and the spiritual Human beings are created for God’s glory and our chief end includes enjoying God forever Created in God’s image Adam and Eve are placed together in the garden for the purpose of working it but they and their descendents distort God’s image by trying to achieve destiny in their own ways Despite the fall into sin God has and is always working with humans to fulfill the good purposes he has in stock for us although it comes with toil and frustration in a world already but not yet redeemed as evident by both wonderful human achievements and destruction of the planet Part III chapters 5 and 6 further unpacks how work spirituality and mission go together by being heavenly minded and of earthly good In chapter 5 a spirituality of work is proposed that is liberating for Christians at work; embracing the traditional idea of obedience to God and our status as co workers with God with the purpose of exploring how ordinary working believers “can live “first class” Christian lives full of both meaning and purpose” One key distinction is that our work will be saved along with us; we do not have to justify ourselves to anyone or to God with our work or our unceasing productivity to confirm our calling Once liberated from such “workaholic spirituality” and geared towards our real destiny good works can be produced Eph 28 10 that is to be God’s “growing and ever skillful co workers” Then our work truly finds spiritual justification and through the freedom in Christ work becomes earthly useful In the same vein human ingenuity and hard work will not bring heaven to earth and will not save us either but has rather created heavy burdens in the form of overwork and the ecological crises to name a few Instead Sabbath rest comes to characterize the limits of our work while future judgment is seen as a purging of sin and death rather then complete annihilation Spiritual motivation in ordinary work includes obedience but this does not exclude wise and discerning judgment on meaning in our own lives Our relationship to God is open and personal as we are adopted as his children Rom 813 17 Chapter 6 explains how such an understanding of work transforms missions and offers a “way forward for the whole people of God” “Real” mission is not to leave work and become a missionary but to see human work in itself as a Christian missionary activity as our work “is at the core of God’s purpose for our existence and our salvation” My first observation is that this book is very relevant to modern economic culture and will find an appeal in Christian audiences One recent report on the global workplace reported that only 13% of workers worldwide are classified as being “engaged” at work Christians are part of these statistics and have little to offer if not able to find meaning in their own ordinary work This book is certainly not the first or only one making this point but its strengths lay in a frank open and accessible style making it a useful book for Christians across all walks of life The book in one respect therefore succeeded in its goal to demonstrate the eternal value of earthly work The author not only presents biblical material but also traces the historical theological reinforcement of a dualism between earth and heaven between the material and the spiritual to both Catholic and Lutheran theologies My second and extensive observation is that the book rightly points in the direction of obedience Sabbath rest and wise discernment in humanity’s co working with God but in my opinion does not clarify how a work affirming Christian spirituality would look like and why it is possible in the first place Within a Christ ordered spirituality earthly work in God’s creation can have meaning but without a resurrected and ascended Christ seated in heaven in relation to whom we find our true humanity any theological reclamation of the eternal value of earthly work remains vulnerable to the affirmation of modern “ordinary” work and culture as it is Correctly the book points towards the importance of human relations in meaningful work but does not clearly unpack its position in critical discussion with other theologians in this field for example with Alexander Schmemann when he states that the world in which we partake is given as “communion with God” Nor with John Calvin’s comment that the goal and means of a Christian life is “participatory communion with Christ” In a similar line of argument Stevens commented that God primarily “calls us to himself and leads us in particular expressions of service” through and in Jesus Christ indeed “our ordinary work are taken up into the new order of things under Christ” Goossen and Stevens further observe that the real contrast is not between body and soul but between a humanistic and Christian spirituality with the latter infiltrating “ordinary life with kingdom justice and holiness” italics added John Calvin reminds us that the source of Christian spirituality is from God himself and it is in Him we participate with outstretched arms following Christ’s calling It is the work of the Spirit in us that calls to repentance; a dying of ourselves in Christ and being clothed in virtuous fruits such as compassion and humility Col 3 – such a new life in Christ is what really shapes “work in the Spirit that is mission” Christian living including our work flows from such a participation in Christ Such Christian spirituality is the reality that gives meaning and eternal value to ordinary work a central Christological point that was not well developed in this bookIn summary this book can be read fruitfully as an antidote to a variety of Christian spiritualism that focuses on so called Kingdom work limited to ministry and evangelism It is an argument that needs to be made to which this book provides a well accessible and enriching introduction It is advised to engage with a broader spectrum of Protestant thought in Christology and theological anthropology before reaching conclusions on a coherent biblical theology of work


  3. says:

    I enjoy this book not least because it is one among several thoughtful contributions that have taken the scholarly works of NT Wright and Richard Middleton to the streets on the Resurrection of Christ and the Creation of human beings as God's image bearers respectively It strongly repudiates the escapist concept of the gospel that has our heads almost exclusively buried in another world that is to be too heavenly minded to be of any earthly good It exposes the bankruptcy of the truncated idea of Christian mission as one that is simply interested in getting people ready for heaven and casting a disdainful eye on what one does in his daily life In Corsden's view the dichotomy between spiritual and secular arena is a false one All of life is spiritual and missional if it is oriented towards the kingdom of God So is the dichotomy between clergy and laity as if the work of the laity is second fiddle to the work of 'evangelistic ministry' and 'overseas mission' important as they are No the clergy's main task is to euip and join in with the whole church in doing the work of God Whether we are preachers homemakers educators office workers buildersor cleaners and so on we are out on a mission for Christ'We are not saved by works but our works are saved along with us' as he puts it Our work will survive into eternity if it stands the test of God's judgement Our work redeemed confirms us as God's image bearers and there is no extinction of that holy rejuvenating and life affirming work in the new heaven and new earth It is paradoxically bound up with the shalom of our final eternal restOn another front it is a wake up call to the humanists who presume that we can build heaven here on earth without God The disasters of the Enlightenment project eg the holocaust atomic bomb ecological disasters are a sober reminder not to repeat the ancient error of building the tower of Babel The Sabbatic nature of Christian work which leaves much living space for God's mighty work keeps our daily work from devolving into this promethean mindsetCorsden's theology of work is not new but a timely recovery of the missional nature of our daily work as participating in God's work in renewing and restoring the good earth he made Hence we find here a short and highly readable exposition of what Christian work ought to be and how understanding it is foundational to our view of mission and calling as God's people recruited to do good works everyday not just when we are in church to the praise of his glory This book gets even better near the end where he spells out how this practical piece of theology gets to work


  4. says:

    I read this book not knowing who the author was or his theological persuasion prior to the book but while reading through the work I gather the guy spent time in the United States was once a missionary to the former Eastern Bloc after the Cold War was over and at the time of the writing of the book was a professor who resided in the United Kingdom The book raises the issue of whether or not every work and vocation has eternal significance even those that are not “full time” ministry missionaries pastors evangelistists etc In attempting to “save” our work and effort in our vocation the author attempts to construct a theology that would be able to impart “heavenly” value unto earthly work A big motive for the author’s project is his desire to rescue a Christian view of work that often ends up in dualism of a two class Christianity those working in full time ministry who are “important” while everybody else ends up in a second class Christianity doing less important things that don’t matter as much for eternity However I think the author’s attempt to reconstruct a theology that can give heavenly significance towards “regular work” ends up having theological problems than it does solving existing difficulties And the problem that arises in this book is uite serious But to the end that the book raises concern about the “two class Christianity” when it comes to a theology of work I find this book helpful The best part of this work on work a pun that I can’t help to play on is the author’s discussion about the nature of eternity where he tackles head on the Christo platonic vision that is popularly held in Western Christianity he instead proposes the new creation model in understanding eschatology and rightfully argue from the Biblical data that eternity for the Christian after death will be wonderfully physical and that there is nothing intrinsically sinful with the physical realm An excellent presupposition is laid here for the endeavor to give meaning to our work and vocation some of which are physical in nature This at least demonstrate that Christians cannot rule out the heavenly good of earthly work on the basis of a dualism that says anything physical is bad or meaningless Minor complaints that I have of this work is his criticism of Luther’s view of calling as being unable to avoid the two class Christian distinction when it comes to work I wished he could have interacted with others who are proponents of Luther’s view and perhaps interact with the primary source of Luther himself There was also a significant portion of the book that discussed about the implications of Genesis 1 11 towards the heavenly good of earthly work and I do not believe the author was able to really draw much here for his view Part of the problem is that in proving the “heavenly good” of earthly work Genesis 1 11 does not talk much about the heavenly good of earthly work But I have to say the most problematic portion of this book is found in the final chapter Here he discusses how the implication of his theology of work would shape what missions ought to look like I must note that of all the six chapters in the book this part of the book has the least amount of Scripture—and I think it is telling of how little Scriptural girding is for his view here What I see as most problematic is his inclusivistic tendencies The problem begins when he failed to define missions or how he understands the meaning of that term This might seem like a rather trivial point if it was not for the fact that he states on page 139 that missions is something non Christians and Christians can do What kind of work is it that can be called missions when non Christians can consciously participate in? One has to wonder if he is referring to the work of spreading the Gospel that man’s sin separates us from God and is therefore guilty—but God has sent His Son Jesus to die for our sins so that we can forgiven of them Then on page 140 the author openly state that he does not like the “us” versus “them” mentality of the current state of Christianity when it comes to doing the work of God even giving an example of how “tragic” it is a music choir director failed to have two talented nonbelievers living together unmarried be a part of leading in worship on Sundays and turning them away from God However the Bible does set an important standard for those who lead spiritually—including in the area of music as the Old Testament models for us Unbelief and willful disobedience to God on the part of spiritual leaders be it in songs pastoral ministry etc is not something God approves of Similar to many who have inclusivisticpluralistic tendencies in their theology their theological argument draws heavily from a defective pneumatology that assumes the Holy Spirit is working through non believers the same way the Holy Spirit does through the church and our author here does the same thing For the sake of time I recommend readers to get the best theological critiue of the pneumatology behind inclusivism in Todd Miles’ book “A God of Many Understandings?” In addition the author makes missions to be about being a hard working Christian in the work place—which certainly begins there but goes beyond it as well The author sees difficulties with the idea of sending out “missionaries” to the field that is financially supported—he sees it sets up a two class Christianity of work which is what the author wishes to get rid of He further sees that we are all missionaries and that the traditional idea of sending out missionaries supported by others financially is driven from the presuppositions of a fading era of “Christendom” and the economic conditions of the Western world being able to give out of their economic abundance I do not think that the “traditional” model of missionaries is the result of Captialism and Christendom—because the Word of God does allow for this model Here I am thinking about the book of Acts and the various epistles which gives us window into the missionary world of the first century I see the New Testament model of missions allowing for financial support of missionaries sent afar though missionaries should be willing to work with other vocations as well if the need arise I find 3 John to be uite relevant to this discussion of supporting missionaries—for John commends other Christians to support the work of those going out to spread the Gospel in terms of their physical needs hospitality and beyond Missions in the book of Acts is heavily about church planting—something that is missing in the author’s paradigm of missions—in fact his idea of missions is bigger than the church under the guise of “the kingdom of God is bigger than the church” Given that the book ends up making problems than it solves I do not recommend this book to the general Christian audience


  5. says:

    I really enjoyed reading this book It is one of the top five books on this subject I highly recommend it The premise of Darrell Cosden’s work is that our 'everyday work whether paid or unpaid actually matters and makes a difference – not just in the here and now but also for eternity' His approach to this subject is consistently methodical focused biblical and sensitive He is a very good teacher He adeuately addressed the topic of sacred vs secular work which I appreciated He painted a very clear picture of the spiritual dilemma that most Christians struggle with as they are faced with the appearance that we who are not doing the work of 'eternal things' directly on a full time basis are second class Christians Cosden carefully lays out the ramifications of Jesus’ resurrection Paul’s comments on Jesus as the second Adam in Romans and what he says in 1 Cor 15 plus the descriptions of the heavenly city on earth in Rev 21 and 22 to show what we should expect to see at the consummation His conclusion is that much of our earthly work will be manifested in the New Jerusalem He offers 'Our sanctified imaginations can only suggest what we think God’s promise to make all things new might mean' He adds 'There will be no doubt some specific products of our work that through judgment will be transformed and incorporated into the ‘new physics’ of the new creation I am uite hoping that Handel’s Messiah will be regularly in concert in the New Jerusalem'


  6. says:

    This book does a great job of revealing the evidence for all our earthly work having eternal significancevalue Dr Cosden points out that the church has tended to intentionally or not rank vocations spiritual ones as being of value than earthly ones However this would suggest that God puts the majority of His people in from a perspective of eternity worthless jobs and that would seem to be contrary to His character as revealed in scripture Instead of that this book proposes and scripturally supports that God values and plans to redeem of creation than just humanity we have been put here to tend keepimprove creation from the beginning and that is still part of our purpose on earth According to his argument eternal value exists in the work itself not solely the human impact we have while working


  7. says:

    Does your work on earth matter in the God's kingdom or should you work so that you can support God's kingdom Cosden works to dispel the myth that your daily secular work does not matter Cosden does a good job reviewing New and Old Testament passages yielding the fruit of what work should be in our daily lives He also works through the historical church positions In closing Cosden applies this to real life today


  8. says:

    In overcoming both Catholic and Protestant dualism Cosden offers a compelling portrait of God's salvific activity extending beyond merely the human soul toward the body creation as a whole and the shaping of that creation through one's work Our ordinary and mundane work then as Cosden shows can indeed shape and be transformed in the new creation


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The Heavenly Good of Earthly Work

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People can participate in God's mission to make all things new? What is the heavenly good of earthly work? In this book Darrell Cosden takes us on a spiritual and theological journey of discovery exploring these uestions Cre I read this book Good to Eat: Riddles of Food and Culture in God's mission to make all things new? What My Life as a Honolulu Prostitute is the heavenly good of earthly work? In this book Darrell Cosden takes us on a spiritual and theological journey of discovery exploring these uestions Cre I read this book

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Does a person's day to day work have any ultimate value from the perspective of Eternity? Should our work be seen as a discipline through which we connect spiritually with God and others? Is ordinary work the primary way that The main subject

Darrell Cosden Õ 7 Free read

Atively constructively and sometimes provocatively he shows us that the heavenly good of earthly work really makes the gospel good news for ordinary people by offering the possibility of a genuinely purpose full Christian lif This book does a