Book Review: Every Good Thing An Introduction to the Material World and the Common Good for Christians

The first book in the Cultural Engagement Bundle from Lexham press deals with the Christian’s interaction with Culture in general. The second book addresses vocation and work. The final book continues the logical progression and addresses how Christians should think about the material world. Dr. David W. Jones addresses the subject of work from a different perspective than Drs Strickland and Quinn in the second text. Jones deals with work as it relates to goals—i.e. what is the purpose of work and how do Christians work appropriately.

Jones begins by laying some groundwork on the relationship between the material and spiritual worlds. Jones’ definition of “material world” is important because he emphasizes not only the “material” in the materialistic sense (i.e. the “stuff” in the world), but also the social, economic, and moral aspects of our interaction with other people on the planet (Loc. 89-90). This is an important aspect to understand because it connects the material and spiritual worlds. However, this connection is not linear. Jones rightly argues that to understand a direct relationship between material success and spiritual success is incorrect. He cites the example of Jesus as a perfect way to show that this kind of thinking is flawed.

From here, Jones provides both a biblical theology of work and of rest. Here again, he connects the material and the spiritual. Both work and rest were created by God and were good prior to the Fall. In the fall, both were corrupted. Work became tedious and mankind became resentful. Rest became sloth. Both of these corruptions led to an incorrect understanding of wealth and poverty.

The primary argument Jones alludes to is that Christians are to be good stewards of what we have been given by God. He writes that God does not seem to be concerned with how much we have, but with how it is used (Loc. 925-926). Thus, wealth and poverty are, again, not necessarily linearly associated with one’s spiritual well-being. Christians are called to be good stewards of the position we are in. There may be many factors that lead to our being wealthy or being poor and most relate to stewardship.

Stewardship is also key to the Christian’s understanding of how we are to care for creation. Jones rightly argues that too often Christians ignore the mandate to steward the planet on which we live—I would argue this is especially true for politically conservative Christians, myself included. Jones lays out a biblical basis for caring for the Earth since we can show how much God cares for His creation and we can know more about who God is from creation (Loc. 1258, 1267). Jones rightly argues that Christians can engage their culture by looking at the worldview behind their desire to care for the world. Materialism and panentheism do not provide sufficient reasons for stewarding creation. Only the biblical worldview can do this since God has given this mandate to humanity.

The purpose of each book in the Cultural Engagement Bundle is to get people talking. Every Good Thing mirrors the previous two in that it also provides a brief summary and action points for further thought at the end of each chapter. Those who read these books would do well to take out a pen and paper (if you’re not reading a hard copy of the book) and actually answer these questions. The questions asked are important questions for Christians to answer about how we think about—and then engage with—the culture around us.

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One comment on “Book Review: Every Good Thing An Introduction to the Material World and the Common Good for Christians

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