We wrote recently about the implications of wisdom in human life as an attribute from the creation. Wisdom is the framework for humans to flourish as God intended.
It’s not hard to see wisdom vs. folly played out in simple economics. By wisdom wealth can be created, and used to bless families and societies. On the other hand, when we see wealth destroyed or stolen we are seeing the fruits of folly.
Wisdom allows individuals and nations to create wealth. Those nations in which some measure of wisdom has taken root have succeeded in building wealth, have provided for its people to rise above poverty.
Folly, on the other hand, influences individuals and nations to misuse wealth. Sometimes this presents as stealing. Others waste wealth with prodigal living. Some destroy wealth by irresponsible behavior or even anarchy.
Too often, wealth is destroyed through corrupt practices, including government policies that destroy initiative. I recently visited Cuba. It was stunning how foolish the government has been. Cuba is a paradise, with incredible agricultural potential, and an imaginative and innovative people. But government policies have stifled the potential of her citizens and impoverished her people. All these foolish behaviors have consequences. When we violate God’s order by crippling human potential for enterprise or by actually destroying wealth through personal, corporate, or government foolishness and/or malfeasance, we are causing others (and ourselves) to flounder rather than flourish.
People who work in the world of finance talk a lot about “capital.” We generally think of capital as money or stock used in business.
But just as not all wealth or poverty is material, not all capital is material. As our colleague, Dwight Vogt, observed some time ago, every human being possesses an inherent metaphysical capital. Created in the God’s image, humans have the ability to develop new ideas, dream new dreams, imagine new worlds.
Look around you. Whatever you see beyond the natural world has come from this God-given inner capital of a human. Every book ever written, every building ever constructed, every song ever composed, every technology ever invented, every sculpture ever formed, every garden ever cultivated … all of these came to fruition because of the metaphysical capital of the human mind.
Wisdom calls us to steward this internal capital, as well as the external capital of creation, to mimic God’s creative activity by producing culture that glorifies God.
Man, made in the image of God, is the secondary creator. Man discovers truth which God has placed in the creation. Man discovers through three “books” from God: “the book of revelation known through the Scriptures, the book of nature known inductively through the senses, and the book of the mind—which was logic.”
Man discovers and then imitates the creator. God creates out of nothing; man creates by starting from the raw materials in the primary creation and producing art, technology, systems, ideas. Man creates to the glory of God. He manifests the Primary Creator and the primary creation through his creative activity.
The Landfill Harmonic is an example of the secondary creation: beauty discovered in the garbage dump! Children are playing beautiful and inspiring music on instruments crafted from transformed garbage.
Models of Flourishing
We have written before about the multiple dimensions in the growth of the Messiah: growth in wisdom, as well as in the physical, social and spiritual dimensions.
Jun Vencer is Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Alliance Graduate School, Philippines. Dr. Vencer is one of the world’s leading thinkers on wholistic development. He has encapsulated the concept of flourishing on a national level as follows:
- Individual and national righteousness
- Economic sufficiency for all
- Lasting social peace
- Lasting public justice, even for the poorest of the poor
Poverty is the Result of a Counterfeit Order
The opposite of order is disorder. God built order into the creation. Among other things, this means that, generally, human flourishing comes from following the order built into the creation. By the same token, abandoning order—pursuing disorder, results in human withering. God’s creation order affirms the sacredness of human life, the sacredness of one-man-one-woman marriage, the dignity of work. When these creation principles are twisted or abandoned, disorder and poverty follow.
In August 2013, Fox News aired a special report, “The Great Food Stamp Binge.” The gist of the story was a poll conducted by Fox indicating that 74 percent believed that “Americans rely too much on the government and not enough on themselves.” The ultimate example was a 29-year-old man named Jason Greenslate. In the report, Greenslate told the interviewer about his life as a California beach bum happily living on welfare, partying and eating lobster bought with government-issued food stamps. Why not? he asked.
Greenslate’s question effectively captures the issue. If Darwin is correct, if the universe is the product of chance played out over innumerable years of evolution, if there is no Creator who fashioned and sustains the world around us, if there is no metaphysical reality … why should anyone attempt to live according to any order?
But the evidence suggests otherwise.
– Adapted from a forthcoming book
 We have written elsewhere about the characteristics of nations that encourage wealth development. See Rethinking Social Justice: Redeeming Biblical Compassion. (last chapter, look for Hernando Desoto story).
 Ibid. This “three book” paradigm was originated by seventeenth century Czech Moravian educational reformer John Comenius.
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