One of the ministries of Redeemer PCA in NYC is the Center for Faith and Work:
Redeemer’s Center for Faith & Work (CFW) is the cultural renewal arm of the Redeemer movement, founded to equip, connect, and mobilize our church community in their professional and industry spheres toward gospel-centered transformation for the common good.
This year, CFW is having a series of lectures on Gospel and Culture:
A series to prepare our community for effective engagement with the culture of NYC, and part of Redeemer’s Gospel in the World focus for the 2010-2011 year. The lectures will be held one Sunday afternoon per month at Hunter College, and will culminate in our first weekend-long Faith & Work conference in Fall 2011.
The lecturers who have been selected to be part of this series have all become thought-leaders through their writing, teaching, and work in the world focused on this area of gospel & culture engagement.
Each month features a renowned speaker who will help us understand:
- Why our work matters, in light of the gospel,
- Why theology is critical to our work,
- Why community is necessary for keeping our vision and perspective, and
- How the motivations of our heart affect our service.
Our hope is that through these events the church will be awakened to the critical role of work in redemption, broadening our understanding of the gospel beyond the walls of the church.
This month, James K.A. Smith will be speaking on, “Culture as Liturgy.” One of his articles, “Redemption,” is featured in the most recent CFW Ministry Update newsletter. Here is an excerpt from the article. It seems to me that he says: we are co-redeemers, rotating crops is a good example of redemptive work, and that redemptive work is not just done by Christians:
In an equally scandalous way, we are now commissioned as co-redeemers. Redemption is the re-orientation and re-direction of our culture-making capacities. It is we who have invented the twisted cultural systems that deface and despoil this good world; restoring creation to its lush plenitude and fecundity will not happen by divine fiat or magic—it will require the hard, patient, Spirit-inspired work of building wellordered systems, creation-caring institutions and life-giving habits. While not quite a matter of “save the cheerleader, save the world,” the scandalous economy of redemption does seem to suggest, “save humanity, save the world.”
I can think of no better picture of this than the sort of health-giving practices that Wendell Berry notices and celebrates in his recent collection, Bringing It To The Table: On Farming and Food. Consider, for example, his praise of Amish farmers in northeastern Indiana who are “working to restore farmed-out soils.” That is a compact rendition of our redemptive calling. Systems, institutions and practices have grown up that fail to care for the soil (and the animals who live from it); they leech it and steal from it without restoring it. The error—yea, sin—of such ill-gotten gain will show itself soon enough because such systems and practices run against the grain of the universe. Creation itself tells us what we’re doing wrong. Redemption, in this case, is tangible and concrete: it is rotating crops, spreading manure and being attuned to what the soil is telling us. Working to restore farmed-out soil is situated within a way of life—indeed, it is a way of life.
Thanks be to God, such redeeming, health-giving, cultural labour is not the special province of Christians. While the church is that people who have been regenerated and empowered by the Spirit to do the good work of culture-making, foretastes of the coming kingdom are not confined to the church. The Spirit is profligate in spreading seeds of hope. So we gobble up foretastes of the kingdom wherever we can find them. The creating, redeeming God of Scripture takes delight in Jewish literature that taps the deep recesses of language’s potential, in Muslim commerce that runs with the grain of the universe, and in the well-ordered marriages of agnostics and atheists. We, too, can follow God’s lead and celebrate the same.
This just seems odd to me. Does it strike you as odd? What do you think?