Religion & Liberty Online

Christian action in God’s world

This week’s Acton Commentary is adapted from a foreword to a new volume by Acton research fellow Anthony B. Bradley, Faith in Society: 13 Profiles of Christians Adding Value to the Modern World.

The focus of this book is on Christians who are working out of their faith convictions in the world, not only in the context of secular institutions and environments, but especially in institutions that are animated by Christian values and identity.

In this Abraham Kuyper stands as a kind of inspirational figure. Kuyper emphasized the need for Christian action in God’s world, as participants in what I call in the piece “God’s reclamation project.” But he also emphasized the need to organize this Christian action in institutions that explicitly recognize the lordship of Jesus Christ, within the context of a diverse and plural world and alongside the organization of others who work out of different faith convictions.

The Free University was originally just this kind of venture: an institution of higher learning organized around Reformed principles. In Kuyper’s time there were (and are in many places still) also Christian labor organizations and political movements, Christian youth clubs, Christian schools, charities, and other organizations of civil society.

I hope that Faith and Society can help broaden the imaginations of those who are looking for ways to act faithfully in God’s world. As Bradley puts it in the context of business, for example

The world of business of one of the greatest experiences of God’s goodness to society and Christians working in the world of business, with explicitly Christian worldviews and presuppositions, is a admirable goal and should be encouraged. It is perfectly honorable and celebratory to want to work within a Christian business environment to bring about God’s blessing to the world. Yes, you don’t have to work in the secular business space in order to honor God in the world of business.

The same is true for art and science, politics and education, and all of the other arenas of development in God’s creation.

Jordan J. Ballor

Jordan J. Ballor (Dr. theol., University of Zurich; Ph.D., Calvin Theological Seminary) is director of research at the Center for Religion, Culture & Democracy, an initiative of the First Liberty Institute. He has previously held research positions at the Acton Institute and Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, and has authored multiple books, including a forthcoming introduction to the public theology of Abraham Kuyper. Working with Lexham Press, he served as a general editor for the 12 volume Abraham Kuyper Collected Works in Public Theology series, and his research can be found in publications including Journal of Markets & Morality, Journal of Religion, Scottish Journal of Theology, Reformation & Renaissance Review, Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Faith & Economics, and Calvin Theological Journal. He is also associate director of the Junius Institute for Digital Reformation Research at Calvin Theological Seminary and the Henry Institute for the Study of Christianity & Politics at Calvin University.