Theology and Economics - Lesson 5

Responsible Action

In this lecture, the speaker discusses the concept of responsible action, exploring the role of Christians in the marketplace. He emphasizes the importance of understanding the market and the various economic systems that exist, including capitalism, socialism, and communism. He also emphasizes the need for Christians to act ethically and responsibly in the marketplace, following the principles of justice, love, and compassion.
Greg Forster
Theology and Economics
Lesson 5
Watching Now
Responsible Action

Responsible Action in the Marketplace

I. Introduction

A. Defining Responsible Action

B. The Christian's Role in the Marketplace

C. Biblical Foundation for Responsible Action

II. Understanding the Marketplace

A. The Nature of Business

B. The Global Marketplace

C. The Role of Government in the Marketplace

III. Theology and Economics

A. Theology of Work

B. Theology of Money

C. Economics of the Kingdom

IV. Responsible Action in Practice

A. Ethical Decision Making

B. Corporate Social Responsibility

C. Environmental Stewardship

D. Fair Labor Practices

E. Customer and Supplier Relationships

V. Conclusion

A. The Importance of Responsible Action

B. Encouragement to Action

Class Resources
  • Learn about the intersection of theology and economics and the role of Christians in the marketplace, as this document covers biblical economic principles, resource stewardship, ethical decisions, and faith's impact on business.
  • Discover the biblical concept of stewardship and its relation to human flourishing, exploring the parable of the talents, Genesis creation account, and practical applications for business, government, and personal finance.
  • In this lesson on Work and Value, you will gain insights into the nature of work and its inherent value as explained by the concept of the Imago Dei, the influence of the Protestant Work Ethic on Western culture, the role of technology in shaping the modern workplace, and the idea of vocation and how Christians can find purpose and meaning in their work.
  • In this lesson, you will learn how to live out your faith in the workplace by being a good steward of your resources and striving for excellence in your work. The lesson on productivity and opportunity highlights the importance of diligence, setting goals, and eliminating distractions to increase productivity. Ultimately, the course aims to equip Christians to serve God and others in the marketplace.
  • You will gain insights into the role of Christians in the marketplace and the importance of responsible action, which includes understanding economic systems and acting ethically with justice, love, and compassion.
  • This interview provides valuable insights for Christians seeking to integrate their faith with their professional lives by exploring the intersection of theology and economics in the marketplace. Jon Marks offers practical advice for ethical decision-making, discusses the role of money, wealth, and greed in society, and explains how Christians can resist the temptation to prioritize financial gain over moral principles.
  • Gerry Smith discusses the relationship between theology and economics. He argues that a Christian view of economics should focus on the flourishing of all people, not just profit, and addresses issues such as income inequality and the role of government in regulating the economy.

Why connect theology and economics?

We need to connect these two because lives of Christ followers should manifest the Gospel, making it tangible and visible.  In addition to personal holiness, we need to reach beyond ourselves and have an impact on the world around us.

Christians are called to live out God’s creation purposes and be signposts of the glorious future to come. That includes activities like religious works, charity, and volunteering, but these take up only a small fraction of our lives; discipleship must be a whole-life endeavor. If we want to follow God’s call and live into our true identity as his stewards, we have to integrate our faith with the spheres of life in which we invest most of our time: work and the economy.

This course, taught by Dr. Greg Forster will enable you to think clearly about these two issues, their relationship to each other and to all of life.


Dr. Greg Forster
Theology and Economics
Responsible Action
Lesson Transcript

[00:00:04] Hello and welcome back to this class on theology and economics. This is lesson five, which is our final of our four big themes, responsible action. I want to start with just the word action. We'll get to responsible in just a moment. But I want to start with the fact that the church must act. The church should be active. The gospel and our discipleship and our love for our neighbor is a full time way of life. I was emphasizing that in an earlier lesson, and I want to come back to that theme. You remember that idea Dallas Willard gave us that love is not just fuzzy, affectionate feelings for something. Love is taking action for for the good of something. So if we want to practice love, we really need to act. And if we want to be full time followers of Christ and be transformed by the Gospel, we have to be active. And we can't disconnect our church life from our participation in society. We can't keep God in a box over on the side and not have him transform the way we participate in in our social systems every day. It just Christianity simply cannot be what it claims to be if it is not for all of life. So we have to be active. And I've mentioned before in the previous lessons, we should be working as stewards for people's flourishing. If we want to do that, I think we need to have some sort of idea of being cultural, cultural entrepreneurs. Now that's a kind of an unusual phrase, I know, but I think we need to go. First of all, we need to be going out into culture and being members of our culture. We can't go live in a bubble.

[00:01:51] We can't just have Christianity off to one side or in some sort of cultural ghetto. What you end up doing when you when you try to separate Christianity from the mainstream culture is all you do is reproduce all the same problems in the mainstream culture, just in a Christianized form in your little cultural ghetto. And this has happened time and time again. So I think we need to go out into the culture and view our service to God as something that happens in the culture, something that happens in the systems of our civilization, including our work and our buying and selling our participation in the economics system of our culture. And then when I said we should be cultural entrepreneurs, I've been talking about entrepreneurship as something that is beneficial to the economy because it liberates people and it discovers new ways of creating value, discovers new ways of serving people, and of giving people the opportunity to get to work, that it's entrepreneurs who create opportunities for people to work while we, in order to live out our faith, need to be entrepreneurial in our approach to our lives and the culture that we should be active rather than passive. In terms of our participation in the culture. We we should be shaping and framing the the the cultural activity that we participate in rather than just being passive and allowing it to shape and frame us. We we should be active participants, we should be members, and we shouldn't drop out. We or say that there's no good to be done in the culture. But when we go out into the culture, we don't want to just be passive and accept whatever it whatever it gives us. We want to be agents.

[00:03:42] We have some agency. We want to take control of what is legitimately within our sphere of stewardship and transform the way we live, transform the way we participate in these cultural institutions. So in general, I think we want to go out into the culture and work for flourishing and be stewards of our lives in the culture, for flourishing because we love our neighbors and because we want our neighbors to flourish. But in particular, I think the church is especially called to help the poor and the marginalized flourish. This is just all over scripture, and it has been central in the history of the church. You just can't get away from this. In order to be faithful, we've got to be not only generally working for the flourishing of ourselves and our neighbors, but we also have to be particularly working for the flourishing of the poor and the marginalized. And that in particular, require requires us to have an entrepreneurial approach and an entrepreneurial mindset to the way we go out and participate in the economy. Because if we just be passive and go with the flow and allow whoever is powerful and in charge to set the terms and define the meaning of our participation, define what it means to do good work and define what it means to be virtuous. Define what it means to be productive and define what it means to buy and sell rightly, then the poor and the marginalized are not going to be not going to have that opportunity to flourish. The poor and the marginalized are not going to be affirmed in their ability to be stewards and to flourish. We've got to be entrepreneurial and be active and be deliberately transforming the culture we live in and participate in.

[00:05:28] If we want to really have a care for the flourishing of those who are in need or marginalized, and I think this is a particular concern for those of us in the West. In our own time over the last century. If you ask people who is in who is primarily in charge of caring for the flourishing of the poor, who is primarily in charge of seeking the flourishing of the poor, who has stewardship over that? In our culture, we have transitioned away from saying the church is the leader in that area, and the church has the primary responsibility for helping the poor to flourish. And we've allowed the state to usurp that role. We've allowed the state to become the primary place where people turn to seek flourishing for the poor. And I don't want to go out and bash the state for that, because I view that as primarily our abdication. I think what we need to do is focus on getting the church to be more entrepreneurial and active and take the lead in in helping to create a flourishing for the poor rather than simply being passive and laying back and saying, well, we have a welfare state to take care of that. I'm not against the welfare state per say, but we don't want that to become the place where people look for hope and dignity and meaning. And we don't want that to be the place where people say that's who decides what's good for the poor. I think we want the church to be in the lead. And the way that happens is when the church gets off the blocks and gets active, gets emotive, gets it, gets in motion and does things that create flourishing for the poor.

[00:07:11] And when we talk about the church, the church can have different meanings. It can mean all believers in everything they do. The church can also mean the church as an institution which has appointed officers, the pastors who are in charge of the institution of the church and who have a special role. And those both need to be given their due weight. Pastors have a unique and indispensable role to play in the in the Kingdom of God, but the laity are also equally empowered by the Spirit and equally called to be active and doing things in their own vocations and their own lives and their own stewardship in the culture. And since we've been talking about our callings in the culture outside the church, I want to stop and take a moment and talk particularly about the calling of the pastor and how that relates to this, to this mission. Pastors are called to equip the Saints for works of service, and this is really central to the idea of what it means to be a pastor now that the pastor is here to equip all of us to live Christian lives. And when when we say pastors should equip the saints for works of service, works of service does not mean some small special subset of activities that take place inside the church building or in some special program. Works of service is what we do all day long. We are performing works of service in the home whenever we work in the home to do anything that meets our needs. We're performing works of service in the workplace, in our jobs and in marketplaces that that meet human needs were performing works of service in our neighborhoods and communities in civic associations. Works of service takes place in all areas of life.

[00:09:03] Equipping the saints for works of service means helping Christians to live Christian lives in all these areas, and therefore to do their work for flourishing in all these areas. This is this is really central to a right understanding of what it means to be a good pastor. And particularly it's central to the Reformation. The Reformation idea of the church really reoriented our thinking away from the pastor or the priest in that medieval mode whose job is to get people into the building, get people into the church program, and get them doing their religious works, because that's what's going to get them ready for heaven and make them good people. Instead, the Protestant Reformation reoriented our thinking and said, Pastors are sending people out of the building, sending people out into the culture, equipped and ready to live lives that that are works of service, that are that are. Creating that good well-being that their they and their neighbors need and that the world needs now in order to do this. Pastors have got to speak to the personal meaning of our work for each one of us. Pastors have to help individual people understand their work in the home, in the workplace, in the neighborhood, as service to neighbor and a calling from God and something we do to shape ourselves. But pastors also have to speak to the public meaning of work, not just the personal meaning of work, but the public meaning of work. Because as I've been emphasizing over and over again, human beings are cultural creatures. We are social creatures in addition to being individual creatures who all matter individually, we are part of our humanity is to be members of a culture. So work in addition to having a personal meaning for every individual work has a public meaning.

[00:11:02] The culture speaks to what our work is. So pastors have got to help people see what their culture is saying to them about their work and affirm it when it's good and challenge it when it's bad. And that means not only the culture in some broad, abstract, airy sense, but it means all the particular things that cultures do, including business and economic systems. Pastors have got to look at what businesses do, and pastors have got to look at economic systems, both local economic systems and national economic systems. Pastors have got to look at neighborhoods and communities and civic associations, all those levels. Pastors have to be able to talk about the meaning of our work in a way that takes account of how our our work is shaped by those public assumptions, by cultural assumptions that are shaped by all those systems. Now, whenever I talk about this, there's always lots of nervousness and hand-wringing about it because people don't want pastors to become participants in political disputes. Pastors people don't want pastors to become involved in elections. People don't want pastors to be captive to an ideological perspective from some party or faction. And that's all valid concern. And it is not the calling of the pastor to take sides with a political party or to take sides with an ideological faction. That's not the pastor's role, and I think that's important to affirm. But pastors must help us bear witness for justice in the public square. Pastors have to help us to speak to our social order and not just speak to our individual lives. Because, you know, the gospel depends on an understanding of righteousness. The gospel depends on an understanding of justice. If we can't say what justice requires, how can we ever say what the gospel is? So we've got to the church both in its in its manifestation, as all Christians, in all walks of life and in its manifestation institutionally with the pastor and the church building.

[00:13:20] The church has got to be able to say, what is justice? What does justice require? If we can't say that we've got no gospel so the church can and must be political in the sense of speaking to the social order, speaking to the public assumptions of our culture, rather than being political in the sense of taking sides with the political party. I think that can be done, and I think it must be done if the church is going to be the church and not be captive to someone else's idea of what justice is and what justice requires. Now, I said that I was going to start with action and then move on to responsible action. So we want to have this entrepreneurial drive to be active and to be shaping the culture through the way we live and the way we participate in our culture. And particularly that the pastor and the institutional church have a role in addition to every Christian having a role in all of life. But this call to action can sometimes be very subjective. It can simply be reduced to meaning. Well, that we want to go out and do things that are rightly motivated. Do things that come out of a good heart and an intention to help people. Well, you know, being rightly motivated is important, but good intentions are not enough. It's not enough just to mean well, it's not enough to have your heart in the right place. C.S. Lewis once said, The fact that you give to charity does not relieve you of the obligation to find out whether the charity is a cheat or a fraud. Then, in fact, if you don't care if the charity is a fraud, then giving to the charity is not virtuous because you're you're writing a check.

[00:15:14] I'm interpreting what he said. What he means by that is you're writing a check to get rid of your your responsibility to help others. If you don't care if the charity is a fraud, then you don't really care whether people are being helped. So so good intentions are not enough. If we are stewards, if that stewardship mandate is the basis of everything we're talking about, then we have a responsibility for results. You know, we write a check to charity, but do we care whether it's actually helping people or we have a ministry, we have a program in our church or a ministry, and we do it year after year after year? Is it actually benefiting people? You know, we may go out to some community and do something in the community that's intended to help. Well, is it helping? Have we seen change in that community? Have we seen the lives transformed? Have we seen people who used to be living in poverty, walking up out of that poverty and becoming self-sustained and dignified? Or are we simply throwing money and effort into something year after year after year that is not actually doing any good? What about voting? You know, this danger that the church will simply anoint a political party. The reason that's dangerous is, again, it absolves us of responsibility. Pastors in some cases will say you should you should take responsibility for these issues by voting for the correct party. But but how do we then make sure things actually get better? Changing the people in charge in Washington has not necessarily brought any change at all in the system or in the way people live. So, again, all of these things, whether it's writing a check to a charity or having a program in your church or voting in a certain way.

[00:17:02] These are all I mean, they're good things. You know, it's good to give and it's good to work at a program that's that's going to help people and it's good to participate in the political system. These are legitimate, valid things, but we don't want them ever to become a substitute for actually helping people, for actually taking responsibility for results. Is it working? Is it is it benefiting people? Once again, we come back to this point that I've that I've borrowed from Dallas Willard. Love means goodwill in action. So we should care whether the people we're trying to help are actually being helped. This is this is difficult because the economy is a complex and dynamic system. It's not simple and it doesn't stand still. It's made up of human action. The economy is not a machine with levers and buttons and dials that we can just you know, if we just pull this lever and push that button, then we'll get the result that we want from the economy. The economy is human beings in relationship with one another. So it's complex. It's culturally contingent and it's constantly in motion and changing. So simple solutions are not going to cut it. Simple solutions generally don't work because the system is just too complex for that. And while all of these principles apply in general to all of our economic systems and our businesses and our neighborhoods and our households, I particularly want to point out that many of our programs to help people who are in poverty do more harm than good. Very often, and I don't even need to speak to this from my own perspective, because there has recently been just a slew of books and ministries growing up around this idea that the way we're helping the poor typically is not helping and in many cases is actually damaging people rather than helping.

[00:18:56] If you just look at the titles of the books. There's a book called When Helping Hurts that has become very successful and is now being assigned in seminaries and reading groups. There's another book called Toxic Charity. That's a that's a title that speaks volumes. Just a few years ago, there was a new edition of a classic book called The Tragedy of American Compassion. Just look at these book titles. What is it? What are they? What is this speaking to? What it's saying is we have we have allowed this this passive approach to grow where we think we've done what we need to do when we give money. And the problem with that is it's creating dependency. It's encouraging people to allow us to become stewards of their lives, for them to take care of their needs for them, instead of helping people to find the dignity and the meaningfulness of taking stewardship over their own lives by working to support themselves. So even to do the ministry of a local church without destroying people's lives, we need to understand economics and learn how to be responsible actors, not just to take action, but to take action responsibly. We need to understand some basic ideas about how people's work fits together in the economy. Just if you want to be a pastor or do a local church ministry in a way that's constructive rather than destructive. So what is this What are some some takeaways from from from the lessons that we've been looking at that can help us to see what would be responsible action? Some of this will be review, but I really want to just reiterate some points and bring it bring it into focus. I think the first and most critical thing, whether it's churches or businesses or households or economic systems, all of these things should treat human beings at every level as stewards, not as dependents or clients who can be controlled and have others take care of their lives for them.

[00:21:13] We want human beings in every economic situation, human beings at every level of society, from the bottom to the top, to all be seen as stewards and to be seen as stewards together. Fellow stewards who all work together by all of us contributing through our work and through our economic exchange to flourishing by creating the things that are good for people. That means, whether it's in our own personal lives or in the lives of people in our households or in the in the lives of our local communities or in our in our local and national public life. We need to stand against anything that privileges the powerful because they are powerful. Anything that puts people in a situation of economic control over others, because of their station, because of their position, because of their access to power, because of their access to relationships with the elite, because of their their social position and standing. And that can be everything from politicians in Washington to crony capitalist in New York, to the pastor of a local church who may or the or the head of a diagonal ministry in a local church who may end up, unfortunately becoming in control of other people's lives through their through their ministry of Compassion, because they've created that long term dependency instead of rewarding people for being powerful. We want to reward people for being productive. We want to reward people who make a contribution. We want to affirm people and create dignity and meaning for people whenever they are contributing to others. And that should be equally applied at all levels and in all parts of our lives and in all spheres, from the local to the national, that anyone who is pulling his own weight by contributing to the good of others and cooperating as part of the economy needs to be affirmed so that people can see them, the dignity and the meaning of that and develop that those moral virtues that only come when we have that sense of stewardship, when we have that sense that we are responsible and people are counting on us to do good work, that that creates that flourishing for people, we should be against anything that doesn't play fair.

[00:23:40] We should be against anything where people are seeking to take advantage of each other by lying, cheating or stealing, obviously. And anything that denies people access to work and systems of exchange, whenever people are shut out from that system of exchange, whether it's because of their social position or because of their their and where they live or what their background is or what type of profession they're in. When we exclude people from our systems of exchange or when we try to control what people are allowed to work on, that's something that we should be against wherever we find it. And again, it happens in households, it happens in communities, it happens in neighborhoods, it happens in churches, unfortunately, and it happens in our civic life. And all these things need to be challenged because their systems of power, control and hierarchy that don't serve human flourishing, they don't love people. And that's what we need to come back to. We need to affirm what loves people and and is productive of good. And this brings me really to my second point, that of value creation that we want people to be working and exchanging in order to create value for each other through cooperation and interdependence, where we are voluntarily serving one another instead of trying to get our hands on money and stuff by taking from each other, either by exploiting and tricking, manipulating people, or by seizing it by force or or by creating a cultural assumption that that some people just don't have a contribution to make so that we can keep them in a system of of control. We want to help. People understand that they can make a contribution, that they are able to to work productively, that they are able to create value for people.

[00:25:38] It provides so much dignity and meaning for people when we do that, help people to take satisfaction in the contribution they make rather than people taking satisfaction in what they can consume, what they can get their hands on. And finally, I think the culture that came out of that economic that economic revolution we looked at last time, the culture of enterprise and entrepreneurship, that culture that affirms publicly that people are value creators and that people should be productive and have opportunity to work and opportunity to to to create an opportunity to start new things and find new ways of of working and doing business, all of which is grounded in the equal dignity of all human beings because we're all value creators. This culture needs to be affirmed because people need it. It's important to people materially because it's it's the most effective way to provide for human needs. And we should love people and want those needs provided. It's also people need it spiritually. This kind of culture is the only culture that gets people building their character and building their virtue and building their lives and seeing their lives are spiritual all day long in everything they do. Without this culture of enterprise and entrepreneurship, this culture of productivity and opportunity, people fall back into that dualism where they say, There's my work which moves stuff around, and then there's some special activities I do that help me become a good person. And whenever we fall into that dualism, most of our life becomes morally irrelevant and we spend only a tiny part of our lives becoming good people. We want to keep people, becoming good people all the time. So that that that culture of enterprise and entrepreneurship is something we should stand up for.

[00:27:36] Now, it also needs to be corrected and improved. You know, it's a fallen world and no cultural system is ever perfect. No cultural system can ever be identified as the Christian system. No economic system can ever be identified as the Christian economic system because it's a fallen world. And the church is in a community where not everybody believes what we believe. And this is the situation we're in. So we never want to say to any culture, that's the Christian culture, that's the Christian way to go. It doesn't require improvement, it doesn't require correction. We do need to be active in standing against everything. Anything and everything that is that is ungodly, that is against God, that is against moral goodness. And yet, at the same time, we don't want to only negate, we don't want to only condemn when we always begin with condemnation, when we always are. Opening move is your system's terrible and unjust all the way down to its roots. First of all, it's not true. This culture of entrepreneurship and enterprise has brought so much dignity and so much moral and spiritual good to so many people. It's just false to begin by saying it's all bad. But not only is it false, it's destructive, because when we begin from that position, we can never really get out of that position. We can never get into a position of love, of membership in the culture, of participating in the culture of service and community with other people. We want to be engaged in a culture where we are good neighbors, with people who don't share our beliefs. We want to love the people who don't share our beliefs. If we begin by simply saying all of your cultural structures are evil, we'll never be in that position.

[00:29:28] We've got to begin by finding what's good and affirming it. And I think we can do that in good conscience. I don't think we're compromising our beliefs or compromising our moral integrity to start from that position of affirmation. And once we start from that position, will be able to then say, and here's what still needs to be fixed, here's where things are going wrong. Here are the things that are dysfunctional. And really everybody would be better off if we tried something else. It's a much better it's a much better approach. And I want to close this lesson by saying something particularly about our our approach to helping those in need are programs in our approach when we help the poor, because as I said, this is so central to Christian life. It's so central to the church being the church. And first and foremost, whenever anyone is in immediate short term need, when people are hungry, when people are naked. When people are homeless, when people are in distress, we should provide relief. We should provide relief for those short term needs. And we should do it unconditionally. We're not looking to only help those who deserve it. That is, these principles are just bedrock in there all over the Bible, and they are all over Christian history and they're just non-negotiable if we're going to be the church. But that having been said, once, we have relieved short term needs. We don't want people to become dependent on that relief in the long term because then they're not stewards, they're not producers, they're not part of this great system of exchange that God has given us, where we can all be stewards together. Relief should transition to development wherever it's possible so that the poor become stewards with us, stewards who can produce an exchange just like we do, so that the poor can walk up out of their poverty and have the dignity of joining us in this great system of stewardship and exchange.

[00:31:39] If you look at the books and hear the testimony of all the people who work with the poor, you'll see consistently they say the poor want to work. The poor want to become self-sufficient. The poor want to contribute rather than simply being consumers of what other others provide. So what are the obstacles? Well, unfortunately, very often one of the most important obstacles is our programs to help them, because we've we've created that dependency. We've removed all the drive for them to to become self-sufficient. And if you look at those books I mentioned earlier, you'll see all kinds of stories of ministries that have taken a different path, that have replaced one way, giving with programs that relieve short term needs, but do it in a way that develops people, helps them grow, leads them into growth so that they can, over time, no longer need our help, so that they become producers. And as one one person who's found in such a ministry said to me once, he said, there is dignity in the process of exchange. He said, We used to have a clothing, clothing giveaway and a food pantry giveaway, and we had to when people came in, we had to be on our guard because we had to make sure that nobody took more than the share that was allotted to them. So when people came in, we were always on our guard against them and we treated them as people that we had to control and be on our guard against. But then they transitioned those ministries so that the the Clothing giveaway ministry became a clothing store that people could purchase clothing at at deeply discounted prices. And they actually started to employ people in that ministry who had previously been unemployed.

[00:33:32] And Bob Lupton, the person who did this, he said instead of when people came in the door, we didn't see them as as people that we had to guard against. We saw them as customers. We wanted to serve. They had dignity because we were no longer just one way giving. We were exchanging with them. They're paying us. And we're and we're providing a product in exchange. That exchange creates dignity and an equal status between the parties who are involved. So that transition is really essential for for people to make. And this means helping people to fix broken habits, helping people to learn to work, to learn to save money instead of spending it as soon as they get it, and all sorts of other habits of economic functioning, basic economic functioning that people need to form. And I think the church can be so essential. Who else is going to help provide this leadership? And there are actually quite a lot of large ministries that do this in local churches. I just think they're not large enough. I think we need to name this problem and have it and have this need to teach people to help people develop. Those habits become really central to our witness as a church, to our culture. We need to help mend broken relationships. We need to start understanding that the breakdown of the household is not simply about sexual mores. The breakdown of the household is also a breakdown of economic relationships. We need to help people heal those economic relationships because it's essential to their flourishing. You can just excuse me. You can just keep throwing money at these things forever. But if people aren't forming those functional household relationships where they're helping each other every day, serving each other every day, where if you have a need, you have people around you, family and friends and people in your neighborhood that you can turn to.

[00:35:29] Who for your needs. Then people will be self-sufficient because they have those networks of interdependence to rely on. And there's been, again, lots of good work in local churches on helping mend relationships. We just have to name that and really take it to scale nationally in the church so that mending relationships becomes a critical part of our witness to justice in our culture. And finally, there are social systems that are broken that can prevent the poor from becoming stewards. Hernando de Soto, an economist, has sent graduate students around the world to document in the poorest neighborhoods around the world how economic systems are set up to take things away from people so that if the poor ever actually do work and grow and become self-sufficient, the system can come in and seize that from them and take it away from them. And in those places, that's a major cause of why people remain dependent, because there's a social system that's there ready to seize whatever they build. So we need to bear witness against that. That's just that's a manifest injustice. It's wrong and we should stand against it. And it's not just a problem in the developing world, which was De Soto's focus. There are systems in every society that take things away from people so that it disempowers them, prevents them from building their own lives. Those social systems have got to be challenged because they're just wrong, They're unfair, and we don't have a witness for righteousness if we're not standing against them. Now, what I've produced, what I've presented to you in this lesson and what I prevent presented to you in the previous lessons is a lot of very big ideas. And this is a huge challenge for the church.

[00:37:15] And I'm under no illusions that we're just going to snap our fingers and have this done tomorrow. Like I said, big, complex, dynamic social system. We are not going to have all this done in a day. But I think that's all the more reason for us to get to work. There's that imperative to action. We've got to roll up our sleeves and start becoming the kind of church that can do this. And in the following lessons, we're going to be talking to some practitioners to explore what would it look like for us to become the kind of church that can take on a mission this big.

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