The Church and Work: A Study of the Ecclesiological Grounding of Good Work
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This dissertation proposes an ecclesiological grounding for ‘good work’. In light of the limited attention ecclesiology has received in theologies of work, I argue that the church can be understood as generative for both the theology and practice of good work. This needed ecclesiological development takes seriously the role of context in the ongoing discernment of good work and it specifically explores how ecclesial life and practice shape and inform good work. It reviews prominent theological proposals, appraises them as far too abstract from context, and argues that Christian understandings of good work are inconceivable without the church. The church is not simply the recipient and a dispenser of a theology of work, but the locus of its development. The dissertation begins by introducing the conversation about theology and work and mapping potential ecclesiological and practical theological contributions. It continues with a survey of dominant motifs of work in Christian history and in modernity. Turning specifically to the contemporary conversation about theology and work, an analysis of four prominent theological proposals for good work highlights the ancillary role the church plays in each. The dissertation then argues for ways practical moral reasoning and critical attention to context require the church as a starting point for discerning good work and argues that all Christian ethics, including the ethics of good work, are the result of communal hermeneutical processes. This is further demonstrated through an exploration of the formative power of liturgy for good work, and in particular the ecclesial practices of Sabbath and eucharist. Finally, the study develops the ecclesiological claim that the church is itself a kind of ‘public’ (as an alternative society) and suggests implications of that claim for grounding good work in the church’s calling to be a public witness in the world to the true ends of creation.
PLEASE NOTE: This dissertation is under a publication contract. The author and publisher have requested a five-year embargo.