Rev Thomas Littleton 5/16/ 2019
Since the revelations that “Social Justice ” mantras were echoing down the corridors of learning in many conservative seminaries, everywhere their sound is heard the Kern Family Foundation funding is present. Kern looks to have gone into hiding after a New York Times interview with SEBTS professor Walter Strickland, part of SEBTS /Kern and partnership, revealed that these echoes included the voice of James Cone and his radical “black empowerment ” rhetoric of Black Liberation Theology and “institutionalized racism”. Yes this is all happening on the campus of a Southern Baptist Seminary .
WHAT IS KERN TEACHING IN CONSERVATIVE SEMINARIES?
According to reports in multiple books and articles the present partnership with Kern Family Foundation (KFF) and some 25-30 (or more) seminaries also includes curriculum and speakers ,as well as imbedded “fellows” from Acton Institute which is a Catholic run communitarian think tank.
Here are some examples of their curriculum outlines
“The Economic Wisdom ”
“The Oikonomia Network and the Economic Wisdom Project
We are theological educators committed to the Oikonomia Network vision of integrating faith, work, and economics into a cohesive understanding of Christian discipleship and mission. We are actively participating in ON ventures with our colleagues, students, and ecclesial publics. The Economic Wisdom Project is important – for our churches and
educational organizations, local communities, nation, and the world. We are stewards of fresh and focused thinking that builds on the work of many past and present leaders. We believe these are incisive insights for our moment in history, as we experience profound economic and social changes unparalleled in the past five centuries. This is not the final word on economics and work, nor is it a comprehensive or constructive work of theology. The Economic Wisdom Project is the beginning of a new conversation that we pray will lead to biblically sound and contextually relevant praxis in the 21st century. As a new community of theological educators, we welcome insights that will enhance our mission of integration as we prepare leaders who will equip congregants for robust 24/7 Christian living.”
THE “FLOURISHING GOSPEL “BUZZWORDS ABOUND BUT WHAT DO THEY MEAN?
These ideas sound good – that Christians should see value and purpose in their work. Few would disagree that Christians should do all things wholeheartedly, including work, as unto the Lord. But keep in mind this movement in our seminaries represents a well organized effort toward “Centralized Planning” to promote “the common good ” and “human flourishing ” as pastors are fed these principles in the name of economics and then taught how to apply and teach them to their congregations.
Watch carefully some of the specific elements of what pastors are being taught and the resources provided. Oikonomia Network (ON) is Kern’s oversight and implementation arm on the campuses where KFF funds are invested. Oikonomia means “stewardship”. O.N. offices are located on the TEDS campus where The Gospel Coalition offices are and the two organizations work very closely together with the same goal of influencing young ministers and seminary students.The topic of study for O.N. is Faith And Works programing and training.
It is an Ivy league /liberal Christianity ideal envisioned for and across ecumenical and interfaith lines
“The mission of the Yale Center for Faith and Culture is to critically examine and promote practices of faith which advance authentic human flourishing and the global common good.
We advance this mission through each of our four core initiatives:
- Common Word
- Ethics and Spirituality in the Workplace
- Faith & Globalization
- Reconciliation Project
- Sarah Smith Memorial Conference
Miroslav Volf is a Croatian clergyman who would not be considered a Biblical conservative by many evangelicals. The Yale Center’s focus and rhetoric differs little if at all from what KFF / Oikonomia / Acton are teaching in Southern Baptist seminaries .
Oikonomia- Economic Wisdom Project
“Why connect theology and economics?
Because our lives 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
KFF ROLE IN Economic Wisdom Project
“The Kern Family Foundation (KFF) is
committed to helping pastors and churches
realize the vision of God’s kingdom. We
rejoice in the many ways this is already
taking place through worship, fellowship,
discipleship, service, and evangelism. Yet
the church is often silent when it comes to
an area that often determines how people
steward their God-given talents and resources
as they care for themselves, their families,
and their neighbors both near and distant.
By neglecting to equip people with an
understanding of how faith relates to work
and the broader economic environment
in which they exercise stewardship, the
church is missing an opportunity to help
people more fully serve God and others in
ways congruent with biblical foundations
of human flourishing. Two ways the KFF is
helping pastors reconnect their ministry with
this critical area of life are the Oikonomia
and the Kern Pastors Network (www.
The Economic Wisdom Project (EWP) was
created in 2012 as the KFF greatly increased
its investments in helping pastors connect
faith to work and economics. Although a
large body of theological reflection already
existed on the topic of work, we discovered
little prior development on the topic of
economics. The purpose of this document
is to create a focal point for reflection that
we hope will foster a deeper understanding
of our mission. ”
“STEWARDSHIP AND FLOURISHING
1. We have a stewardship responsibility to flourish in our own
lives, to help our neighbors flourish as fellow stewards, and to
pass on a flourishing economy to future generations.
2. Economies flourish when people have integrity and trust each other.
3. In general, people flourish when they take responsibility for
their own economic success by doing work that serves others
and makes the world better.”
4. Real economic success is about how much value you create, not
how much money you make.
5. A productive economy comes from the value-creating work of
free and virtuous people.
6. Economies generally flourish when policies and practices
reward value creation.”
“PRODUCTIVITY AND OPPORTUNITY
7. Households, businesses, communities, and nations should
support themselves by producing more than they consume.
8. A productive economy lifts people out of poverty and generally
helps people flourish.
9. The most effective way to turn around poverty, economic distress,
and injustice is by expanding opportunity for people to develop and
deploy their God-given productive potential in communities of
exchange, especially through entrepreneurship”
10. Programs aimed at economic problems need a fully rounded
understanding of how people flourish.
11. Economic thinking must account for long-term effects and
12. In general, economies flourish when goodwill is universal and global,
but control is local, and personal knowledge guides decisions.”
WHAT IS HUMAN FLOURISHING, IS IT THE GOSPEL AND WHERE DID THE PHRASE COME FROM?
Human Flourishing is understood to be that which will make for the best outcome for all for the “common good”.It’s origins are found in Greek Philosophy and do NOT find their roots in the Gospel of Christ nor as presented by Yale or by Oikonomia because their cultural applications do not have the eternal souls but rather human “welfare and happiness” as the measure for success. Thriving and Flourishing are popular words in many circles but have only temporal and very limited ,unsustainable impact in light of eternity. Common good and Flourishing as outcome goals and measures is where social justice replaces the Good News that God was in Christ reconciling the World to Himself . Common good reduces everything to the lowest common denominator . The Good News reduces everyone to their eternal need for Redemption and Christ who provides it.
“Eudaimonia (Greek: εὐδαιμονία [eu̯dai̯moníaː]), sometimes anglicized as eudaemonia or eudemonia /juːdɪˈmoʊniə/, is a Greek word commonly translated as happiness or welfare; however, “human flourishing or prosperity“[better source needed] and “blessedness” have been proposed as a more accurate translations.”
“Etymologically, it consists of the words “eu” (“good”) and “daimōn” (“spirit”). It is a central concept in Aristotelian ethics and political philosophy, along with the terms “aretē“, most often translated as “virtue” or “excellence”, and “phronesis“, often translated as “practical or ethical wisdom”. In Aristotle‘s works, eudaimonia (based on older Greek tradition) was used as the term for the highest human good, and so it is the aim of practical philosophy, including ethics and political philosophy, to consider (and also experience) what it really is, and how it can be achieved.”
WHAT JESUS IN LUKE CHAPTER FOUR HAS TO SAY
Jesus fast for 40 days and afterwards is brought in this weakened state into the unthinkable situation for most people of being tempted face to face by the Devil himself. Jesus is tempted to meet his human need (turn these stones into bread) . He refuses and quotes that “man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God”.
Yet human flourishing tells us human hunger for bread alone is a central goal of flourishing and common good. In the same chapter of Luke Jesus warns that many in need were left with those needs unmet even by God’s servants the prophets. “25 But I tell you truly, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a great famine throughout all the land; 26 but to none of them was Elijah sent except to[l]Zarephath, in the region of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow.27 And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.”
Why is Jesus making this statement if His goal and teaching is to assure the human flourishing of all mankind in the context of meeting their temporal need?
ON CHRISTIAN COMPASSION
Christians are some of the most compassionate people on earth. True Christians by nature help those around them in need. Historically Christians have been at the forefront of building hospitals, providing disaster relief, ministering to families in crisis, providing quality education, counseling , opportunity for recovery and building new lives. Christian business owners the world over quietly go about their own private efforts one soul at a time to provide aid and employment to those in need around them.
KFF / Oikonomia / Acton are promoting their way as the Gospel way while it appears it’s inspiration is not found in scripture and minimises emphasis on the greater eternal needs of men in favor of the “common good”. Marvin Olasky’s book “The Tragedy of American Compassion” which was used as the basis for launching the Faith Based Partnerships allowing Churches and ministries to access grants( tax dollars and corporate/ foundation funding) is part of the KKF/ Oikonomia Network /Acton curriculum .This ideology calls the church and ministries to become the third leg of the stool with Government “oversight” and obligation as well as corporate involvement to “partner together” in providing for the poor and becoming agents of the government in delivering social services “building community” or “Community Development”.
The corruption and waste brought on by such policy applied in the church under the Obama administration has done nothing to aid the church in proclaiming the Gospel but instead obligated it to government regulations which include excluding “explicitly religious activity ” in it’s funded compassion programs and forced the adoption of and shaping of ministry priorities to fit those funded by the federal programs.
Also the resources of Tim Keller, Redeemer Church, and John Stott, along with other political commentators provide a window into the progressive political compromise embedded in these Faith and Work ideologies which have a much stronger motivation toward “social justice ” motivation than Gospel calling.Faith and Work seeks to harness the energies of the younger generation into community service and tends to vilify prosperity and individualism as it promotes the collective vision of Common Good. Interestingly many who cast shadows on the values of individualism and the American Dream are themselves celebrity preachers, authors and speakers who are themselves living that DREAM.
CENTRALIZED PLANNING IS WORST WHEN IT IS APPLIED TO THE GOSPEL
In short,true Christians live out compassion every day and do so out of a calling to follow the two great commandments to love God and to love our fellow man as ourselves. Compassion, if heralded, is not true compassion but Jesus encouraged that it be done without fanfare and with the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing. Jesus did not call the apostles in the New Testament or seminaries today to distract preachers of the Word into teaching politically correct ideologically left leaning economics wrapped in clever afterthoughts from Catholic social policy and then to utilize the church facilities to train the people of God to serve in these efforts to “build community” for the common good and human flourishing.
To insist that this is the heart of the Gospel or that Jesus urged such planning and implementation as central to the great commission is simply not an honest approach to the Word of God. It is also very likely that such idealism translated from concept to implementation without the work of the Holy Spirit guiding it and providing the actual wisdom found in the Heart of God and infused by redemption into the heart of man will end in a very poor outcome and loss of the greater calling of those under it’s influence. Mercy ministry is inspired only by those who know mercy -God’s mercy and is sustained only by other worldly inspiration. Otherwise the novelty wears thin very quickly and the inspiration of progressive social policy fades in light of reality among the deeper human need of a lost world filled with lost souls in need a Savior.
Jesus nor Paul nor any of the Apostles called for organizing Christian compassion or for partnering with pagan powers to end or “cure” poverty. Christ called His people out of the world and then sent them as ambassadors into it on the behalf of a Kingdom- His Kingdom that is NOT of this world. The church is not sending it’s young men and women who are called of God into seminaries to learn how to community organize or build community or to learn critical theory or Black Liberation Theology -but how to proclaim the everlasting Gospel and follow the Lamb wherever He goes in the Great Commission.
MORE ON HIS TEMPTATION
Jesus is offered the world if He will simply bow the knee to the god of this world and yet Jesus refuses. “5 [d]Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. 6 And the devil said to Him, “All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. 7 Therefore, if You will worship before me, all will be Yours.”
Jesus clearly cast the two opposites against each other .He is not seeking the world nor its goods nor the good of it (flourishing ) He is seeking the good and the Worship of the Living God and to make His worship possible for human kind ” in Spirit and in Truth ” (as he revealed to the woman at the well in John 4).
The advocates of Human Flourishing are seeking to help the church gain the world – to focus “Globally ” in a time when the human landscape appears to be resembling far more the kingdom of antichrist than Christ Kingdom. The advocacy of KFF / Oikonomia / Acton to promote value and economics and common good are totally missing from Jesus presentation of His purpose and Divine nature and power to achieve them .
“16 So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. 17 And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written:
18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me [i]to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are [j]oppressed;
19 To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”
20 Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. 21 And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” 22 So all bore witness to Him, and marveled at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth. And they said, “Is this not Joseph’s son?”
Those who heard Jesus read from Isaiah 61 and declare Himself the promised Messiah that day in Nazareth were mindful of their need and of human concerns just like the common good focus and flourishing ideas of today. They missed their own Saviour by savoring earthly concerns and ultimately were blind to the eternal because of temporal expectations and desires.Jesus was ushering in a salvation that encompassed eternity and the power to break the chains of sin and death while those who watched Him wanted an earthly king and freedom from Roman oppression . Little differs in these errors which are thriving today.
THE ULTIMATE TEMPTATION IS TO TEMPT GOD
“9 Then he brought Him to Jerusalem, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here. 10 For it is written:
‘He shall give His angels charge over you,
To keep you,’
11 and, ‘In their hands they shall bear you up,
Lest you dash your foot against a stone.’ ”
12 And Jesus answered and said to him, “It has been said, ‘You shall not[g]tempt the Lord your God.’ ”
The subtle effort to prove God is true by some forced intervention into human crisis is missing the point of the Gospel entirely . The Truth is not human centered but God centered. The need that is met by the Gospel is an eternal one and is brought about by the satisfaction of God’s heart not man’s need. It is not God being forced to intervene but man being confronted by the certainty of death and the reality of God who holds life and death and the power of it. Jesus is telling us NOT to tempt God by “putting Him to the test” to prove Himself to man.
The flourishing gospel is false because God is not supreme in it . It suggest that Christians can prove God in them merely by meeting human need and usher in God’s presence and kingdom by doing so.
WHAT IS MISSING IN THIS MESSAGE?
The main ingredient missing is FAITH. It is the primary forgotten element without which it is impossible to please God and by it the fathers obtained a good report and overcame the world and the trials in it.There is no faith in the “flourishing gospel”. Works- human efforts are highlighted and are actually THE most common obstacle to faith. Works and the self righteousness that often arise from them are likely the greatest barrier to saving faith for many .
THE GRACE ECONOMY
God’s economy is driven by GRACE alone – not human effort and not the ideology of leftist Catholic social justice or Greek Philosophy. It is not the product of human wisdom of think tanks with political and economic gain as inspiration . Jesus Kingdom is not of this world- not of this origin nor of its systems nor to its ends . Jesus came to save sinners not produce a basis for twisting His words to capture human energies of believers for a collectivist / communitarian vision. The church which is in the world and not of it – is not here for the goals of seeing progressive socio – economic development realized.
This flourishing gospel is false because it is simply missing the real elements that would help the hurting around us in the world. It is missing God as its center- missing Faith – the only action needed to find God’s provision and it is missing eternity -which if it could feed every hungry belly on the globe but leave them hopeless and Saviorless -it has done far more harm than good .It has reduced the Gospel of Christ to soup kitchens and indoctrinated pastors indoctrinating congregants into finding meaning from meeting human need while neglecting the awful realities of eternity in the hands of the Living God- even while flourishing their way to the judgement seat.
MORE FROM THE KERN/OIKONOMIA/ ACTON PARTNERS.
Think about these studies and you are likely to understand why your pastor may not even know how to preach the Gospel if he has been under these influences in the seminary in recent years.
“God created human beings to be good stewards of this
world. We carry out that stewardship when we do
work that helps God’s world flourish. In the beginning,
God put Adam and Eve in the garden “to work it and keep
it” (Genesis 2:15) and appointed them as stewards over
creation (Genesis 1:28). The Fall has infected our work
with toil and frustration, but our “to-do list” remains the
same: do work that serves others, and cultivate blessings
out of the raw materials God provides. This restores God’s
creation purposes in the world, and provides a foretaste
of future glory. As God redeems us, he empowers us to
reorient the world toward him. God is a worker (John 5:17)
and we were made in his image, so we were made for work.
Through the Holy Spirit, God has equipped us for work
and called us to it; work takes up most of life because it
serves God’s purposes. Work is also essential to character
and spiritual formation. How we work shapes us, steadily
leading us either toward or away from God. The economic
institutions that define the cultural meaning of our work
provide the essential background for that journey.”
COMPARE TO THE WORDS OF JESUS
John 6:28 “Then they said to Him, “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?”
29 Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.”
He goes on in this chapter again to rebuke those who are seeking mere earthly fulfillment and the meeting of human need after seekers from the feeding of the 5000 are demanding more bread for hungry bellies . Jesus has greater things to serve in a meal at His table of Communion and the real passover. Jesus is offering Himself as the Living and TRUE BREAD .Again the earthly minded men in this crowd are missing the real Gospel even at the mouth of the Lord Himself . So much for Human need driving the Gospel .
MORE KERN AND MORE EVIDENCE OF THE TIM KELLER /GOSPEL COALITION INFLUENCE IN THESE PROGRAMS
• Stewardship Study Bible
• Darrell Cosden, A Theology of Work
• Tom Nelson, Work Matters
• Timothy Keller with Katherine Leary Alsdorf,
Every Good Endeavor
• Charlie Self, Flourishing Churches and Communities
• Gene Edward Veith, God at Work
• Michael Wittmer, Heaven is a Place on Earth”
WHAT COMMON GOOD MEANS
“4. Real economic success
is about how much value
you create, not how
much money you make.
5. A productive economy
comes from the valuecreating work of free and
6. Economies generally
flourish when policies
and practices reward
Productivity and Opportunity
“7. Households, businesses,
communities, and nations
should support themselves
by producing more than
8. A productive economy
lifts people out of
poverty and generally
helps people flourish.
9. The most effective way
to turn around poverty,
economic distress, and
injustice is by expanding
opportunity for people to
develop and deploy their
potential in communities
of exchange, especially
PASTOR TAKE THIS BACK TO YOUR CHURCH AND HELP US SELL IT
“SO WHAT does THIS have TO DO
What do pastors have to do with the
economy? In Ephesians 4, Paul calls
upon the church to be a place where people
learn to “put on the new self, created after
the likeness of God in true righteousness
and holiness” (4:24) in contrast to a world
where people “have become callous and
have given themselves up to sensuality,
greedy to practice every kind of impurity”
(4:19). When he lists some of the key
ingredients for living into the likeness of God,
he emphasizes that “doing honest work” is
how we support our households and provide
for human needs more broadly (4:28). And
why did God give us the apostles, prophets,
evangelists, shepherds, and teachers? Paul’s
answer begins: “To equip his people for works
of service” (4:12). ”
“If we explore the reasons why work is
central to the pastoral task of helping
people live into “the likeness of God,”
we discover that the way pastors describe
economic systems is a critical part of
that task. This can be explained in four
steps. Work is central to the pastoral
task because in the Bible, “the likeness of
God” refers primarily to how we behave
as responsible agents who can order the
raw materials God gives us in creation.
We were given stewardship over the world
with a mission to make it flourish for God’s
glory (stewardship and flourishing).”
WORST OF ALL WRAPPING CENTRALIZED PLANNING IN A “CHRISTIAN ” THEOLOGY
Centralized Planning in economics -“History tells us that central planning is the true harbinger of chaos.”
KFF /Oikonomia / Acton would tell us they are simply advocating for free market economy promoted by the pastors of Christian Churches including philanthropy, entrepreneurship, and Christians seeing purpose in their work while . Yet they are partnering to promote and have your pastor promote their centralized planned vision – of how these things should be accomplished . The elements of Collectivism / Shared Resources / Justice all reek of the same old Socialist ideologies that have left much of the world emerging from communist /socialist economics in THE very poverty these programs are informing us how to end.
“Every major element of Christian
theology has profound application
to work and the economy. In the Trinity,
three persons work together. They do so by
choice, out of loving goodwill, rather than
out of coercion or utilitarian necessity. Yet
the persons do not lose their individual
identity or integrity; their acts of free
cooperation make each distinct personality
stand out more, not less.
In a similar way, we who are made in
the image of this triune God cooperate
through our work. We are made to act
together out of loving goodwill. We do
so freely; this is what distinguishes the
economic sphere of life from the political
sphere, which is based on the power of the
sword. The harmony we create through
the cooperation of our work produces
the social unity of civilization. Yet in this
weaving together of the social fabric, no
individual loses his identity or integrity.
Precisely because the cooperation is free,
it expresses the dignity of the human
person as God’s creature, rather than a
mere subordination of the individual to
the collective. ”
“The world is going through an
unprecedented economic realignment,
and pastors must prepare for the care
needs this transition will create. Economic
insecurity and uncertainty are here to stay.
The need for comfort and compassion, as well
as for wise counsel, is only going to grow.
In 1970, the vast majority of the world’s
population was living in primitive, traditionbased economies. Since then, virtually the
entire world has joined the modern economy.
The immediate impact has been enormously
beneficial to millions around the world, but
the transition is creating disruptive challenges
for advanced economies like ours.
Pastors need to know that the economic crisis
is primarily a crisis of moral character. During
the second half of the 20th century, America
came to trust in its dominant world position
for its security. We neglected the real source of
economic flourishing: sound moral character,
put into action by both individuals and society
at large. In general, when people manifest love,
joy, honesty, diligence, self-control, and other
virtues in work and business, and when the
economy as a whole is understood as a moral
system that exists to nurture such work, both
individuals and the nation will flourish. ”
THE FLOURISHING GOSPEL IS CERTAINLY FLOURISHING AT YOUR SEMINARIES
More resources and organizations helping promote Faith Adn Work
Campus Crusade / aka CRU
Tim Keller/ Redeemer City Church
Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
The Commonweal Project
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
Intersect Project -Discussed in the article linked after the first paragraph of this writing.
And so on and so on and so …..on You get the idea. There is a Central Plan and it is wrapped in a theology but not founded in the teaching of Christ unless you believe Jesus was more social justice warrior and simply dishonest about His real mission and the Divine and supernatural way by which He was called to fulfill it.
IS THERE A PLAN ?IS IT CENTRALIZED ? IS IT ORGANIZED AND INTRODUCED INTO OUR SEMINAIRES BY A CONTROLLING SOURCE?
“Theory of Central Planning
Centrally planned economies assume that the market does not work in the best interest of the people and that a central authority needs to make decisions to meet social and national objectives. These justifications are often made on the grounds of egalitarianism, environmentalism, anti-corruption or anti-consumerism, which proponents of central planning do not consider that the free market adequately addresses.”
The goal just beyond these programs is the harvesting of Christians and their churches resources for the global vision of an unsustainable utopia. More on that at another time.