Since finishing graduate school, I keep finding epistemological themes across my varied reading interests. My latest essay at Anabaptist Perspectives collects these themes.
I love copy and paste. Even for Bible study. I enjoy “phrasing” passages in a word processor to help me visualize the structure of dense text, like that in the epistles.
I’ve compiled a few pointers of my own and several sample passages.
I speak of ‘knowing’ rather than simply “knowledge” to emphasize the active character of knowing. To know is to engage the reality that is known. In my doctoral dissertation, I explore the value of skilled physical work in knowing the world around us.
Craft, here defined as skilled physical work of some scope, forms a rich way of knowing the world around us. Craft’s value as knowledge is, however, obscured by certain tendencies in thinking about knowing and value. These lead to the conclusion that craft’s value as knowledge is minimal. This conclusion is largely based on craft’s physical character (achieving physical results through bodily activity) and on its practical character (aiming at meeting wants or needs, usually in a very specific way). I argue against inadequate views of knowledge which sharply separate knowing from doing and unduly prioritize knowing that. I also argue against inadequate views of the interrelations of values which unduly devalue activities done for the sake of meeting needs. In my positive response, I elaborate an epistemological notion of knowing by “participating-with” the object or aspect of reality which we (would) know. The fullest case of knowing by participating-with comes in the sorts of inter-actions by which we can know other people, but we can also participate-with other realities. Craft involves participating with a wide range of realities in the natural, built, and social worlds in ways that are robustly physical and robustly practical. Physicality and practicality enable distinctive valuable modes of knowing and participating with our world. In craft our bodily agency is engaged with the physical world. Crafts also lets us know aspects of reality through our successes, and our failures, at working with that reality to achieve our aims. The final chapter explores various goods of craft knowing through reflection on specific kinds of craft work. Craft allows participatory knowledge of the natural world, the built world, and the social world in which we live and move and exist. Craft also occasions self-knowledge and the intellectual virtues of attentiveness and creativity.
Is communion bread literally the body of Christ? Is communion simply a memorial of Christ? The Lord’s Supper is a core practice for those of us who take the name of Jesus, but we are not always sure how to understand it. Fortunately Jesus meets us in the supper, whether or not we have a correct understanding. Still, it is worth chewing on what the NT tells us about the Eucharist.
The different names we use, stress different dimensions. “Eucharist,” meaning thanksgiving, reminds us how Jesus gave thanks for food, even when it symbolized his own death. We also should give thanks in all circumstances, for God provides and God works for good. The term “Lord’s Supper” reminds us that Jesus is the host giving himself to us and for us.
“Communion” is a term worth chewing on. It derives from the Greek word koinonia, commonly translated in the New Testament as “fellowship, “participation,” or “sharing.” In 1 Corinthians 10:16-22, Paul describes the supper as a koinonia in the body and blood of Jesus. This, I suggest, helps us understand the metaphysics of communion–provides insight into how it works.
My recent essay for Essays For King Jesus by Anabaptist Perspectives explores the Lord’s supper as fellowship in the context of 1 Corinthians. You can read or listen to the full essay their.
Our daily work should be good service to others. This applies just as much to paid work in a factory or business as it does to a mother taking care of her children. Good service through our work is not limited to teachers or firefighters or to so-called service sector jobs.
Our work accomplishes something genuinely good.
We believe in the value of what we do and represent it fairly to others.
Our work benefits others intentionally and on purpose, not merely because that is the most convenient way to get them to pay us.
Humility and Respect
We treat bosses, co-workers, and customers well, and will sometimes defer to their ideas of what is good.
For a little more detail, view these lecture slides from a Professional Responsibility course I taught at UT-Knoxville.
Christians talk a lot about stewardship. Being stewards is indeed a biblical idea (though “managers” might be a better term, especially if modified by an adjective, e.g. “servant managers,” or “household managers.”) We know that what we are entrusted with is ultimately God’s resources.
What we may miss is that stewardship also describes our social roles in our various communities. We are stewards of God’s resources for the individuals or communities he intends those resources to bless. I explore the biblical meaning of stewardship vocabulary in this essay at Anabaptist Perspectives.
Kyle Stoltzfus and I discuss these ideas on a podcast with Anabaptist Perspectives:
I discuss on a Strength to Strength talk:
I am not talking about how to handle profits gained through business. Of course, if you do own a business that generates large profits, that does result in responsibilities to use that money well, but here I am concerned with a different question: What does it mean to steward business giftings and abilities and to steward business roles and opportunities?
I tackled these questions in a two-part series on the Anabaptist Perspectives blog.
Both of these pieces build from the basic biblical idea that stewardship is not just about what God entrusts us with, but also about who he intends should benefit from what he entrusts to us. We manage God’s creation for his creatures—especially our human neighbors.
An earlier post at Anabaptist Perspectives gives the biblical exposition.
This post from the early days of the 2020 pandemic reflects on stewardship in relation to hard times. It was also recorded in audio.