f The Wittenberg Door: The Puritans, Work, and You

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Commenting on Christendom, culture, history, and other oddities of life from an historic Protestant perspective.

Monday, February 24, 2014

The Puritans, Work, and You

It seems easy to fall prey to our culture’s negative attitude towards work. We say that we’re “off to the salt mines,” or we claim to be “working for the weekends.”

The Puritans, however, held a very different view. They believed that work should be kept in high esteem. They believed this because they were theologically committed to an integrated view of life: all was spiritual; all was worship; all was service unto the Lord.

A true believing Christian . . . lives in his vocation by his faith. Not only my spiritual life but even my civil life in this world, and all the life I live, is by the faith of the Son of God; He exempts no life from the agency of his faith.

John Cotton (1584–1652)

Work was also a way for Christians to obey God by fulfilling the Cultural Mandate, which is found in Gen. 1:28. In that passage God tells us, via our first parents, to “be fruitful and multiply” and to subdue the earth. The first is a command to create cultures; the second is a command to build civilizations.

God hath made man a societal creature. We expect benefits from human society. It is but equal that human society should receive benefits from us.

Cotton Mather (1663-1728)

The Cultural Mandate was given prior to the Fall. Man was created to work with joy and with satisfaction. It was only after the Fall that weeds entered the garden, that work became toil.

I believe we modern Christians would do well to recover the Puritan view of work as service unto God, and also as service unto men. This is not only good, but good for us—for great joy is found therein.

The main end of our lives . . . is to serve God in the serving of men in the works of our callings. . . . Some man will say perchance: What, must we not labor in our callings to maintain our families? I answer: this must be done: but his is not the scope and end of our lives. The true end of our lives is to do service to God in serving of man.

William Perkins (1558-1602)

--The Catechizer

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