Five tools for thinking biblically about faith, work and economics

By Hugh Whelchel
Nov 5, 2013

In a world of differing voices competing for our allegiance, God tells us that we must learn to “think biblically” so we can distinguish good from evil and act accordingly. We must learn to think differently—to think biblically—because what we think shapes who we are.

John MacArthur writes in his book Think Biblically, “A truly Christian worldview begins with the conviction that God himself has spoken in Scripture. As Christians, we are committed to the Bible as the inerrant and authoritative Word of God. Scripture is the standard by which we must test all other truth-claims.”

Thinking biblically requires much more than memorizing a lot of Scripture. It requires learning to think critically and practically about what the Bible has to say. It requires understanding the Bible in its original intent, its contexts and its modern day relevance. It requires being able to combine all of these things in order to make sense of the daily decisions we must make to live out our lives.

Five tools for applying faith, work and economics to your life

One question I am often asked when I speak to groups is, “How do I apply the principles that you are teaching to what I do every day?” In order to answer that question, I want to offer five cognitive tools based on scriptural teaching that can help us simplify and organize the countless inputs we get from the world around us.

As Christians, these tools should shape and support our thinking and decision-making, as well as enable us to build a holistic biblical worldview. By using these tools, we can take biblical principles and apply them to the various contexts we encounter in our daily lives.

1. Personal vision – Understanding who God has created you to be and what he has called you to do.

2. Gifts and talents – Understanding your comparative advantage.

3. Wisdom and knowledge – Understanding that as Christians, we trust the Bible as our only authoritative source for faith and practice.

4. Stewardship – Understanding that we are accountable to God for what we do with everything that he has given us.

5. Biblical self-interest – Understanding that obedience to God’s call on our lives is in our own best interest.

These five cognitive tools are similar to what some have described as “mental models.” Susan Carey’s 1986 journal article, “Cognitive Science and Science Education,” defines a mental model as, “…a person’s thought process for how something works (i.e., a person’s understanding of the surrounding world. Mental models are based on incomplete facts, past experiences, and even intuitive perceptions. They help shape actions and behavior, influence what people pay attention to in complicated situations, and define how people approach and solve problems.”

The problem many of us experience is that the models we use to understand the world around us and make decisions are often based on our experiences and the surrounding culture.

The call to God’s grand story

These five tools, which I’ll be exploring in detail over the next several weeks will help us form a matrix, or framework, through which we can fulfill our calling in a way that glorifies God, serves the common good and furthers his kingdom.

As Michael W. Goheen writes, “The question is not whether the whole of our lives will by shaped by some grand story. The only question is which grand story will shape our lives. For the one who has heard Jesus’ call to follow him, the call comes with a summons to enter the story of which he was the climatic moment – the story narrated in the Bible. It is an invitation to find our place in that story.”

Join me in the coming weeks as we discover how these five tools can help us think biblically about this grand story, and how faith, work and economics fit together within it.

This article originally appeared on the website of the Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics

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