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A Q&A on Stewardship with Craig Blomberg

Categories Theology

After teaching a lesson on Biblical stewardship at GRTS earlier this week, professor Craig Blomberg (author of the ZECNT volume on James among many others) was kind enough to take some time and answer a few questions for me on his upcoming contribution to the Biblical Theology for Life series.

Thanks go out to professor Blomberg for giving us an early look at his work!

-What will be the central message you want to communicate in your volume of the Biblical Theology for Life series?

    Obviously, the importance of generous and sacrificial whole life stewardship.  Beyond that, I don't know yet if some new distinctives will emerge that haven't in my previous work on the topic because I haven't started it yet!


- What can the academy do to help students and the church wrestle with issues of wealth, poverty, and stewardship and prepare them to handle them in a biblical way?


    Teach about it more.  Offer electives on that very topic.  Be sure in core Bible and theology survey classes to raise the issue when the relevant passages come up.  20% of all of Jesus' teaching impinges on money matters, but I bet most profs and most pastors don't spend 20% of their time in preaching or teaching the Gospels on the topic.  


Be sure a major chapter in ethics classes include it.  Be sure you have at least one required ethics class in the curriculum.  In whatever form of field education, internship, mentoring or whatever such programs are called, be sure there are plenty of opportunities for students to work with churches and ministries that have stewardship as a passion, including in urban and rurally depressed contexts, not just in congregations that consistently increase their spending on themselves and on their facilities.  Then model such stewardship in their own budgets and spending.  Always prioritize people over facilities.




-How can the church teach on stewardship in a way that doesn't appear as self-servingly asking the laity to tithe more money to the very institution that is telling them how important it is?

    Churches need to be sure they first of all are modeling the principles they want to inculcate.  If you want your people to give ten percent--or more, for those who can--to the church, then the church had better be giving an equal percentage to missions.  If you want parishioners to consider downsizing rather than going for a larger home, when they consider selling, then the church had better model that also--planting startup congregations or merging with declining ones to revitalize them when they outgrow their facility rather than simply building more and more costly buildings.  


If churches want people to get out of and stay out of debt then they'd better model that too.  Even should it seem like a building project is the only realistic option in a certain context, after all the alternatives have been seriously considered, the church should still not go ahead with it unless they can do so without debt or with only a very modest debt that can be realistically paid off quickly and without jeopardizing their primary ministries.  If they want their people to give to the poor, then they'd better be actively helping the poor.  Etc.


Blombergc

Craig L. Blomberg is distinguished professor of New Testament at Denver Seminary. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland. He is the author, co-author or co-editor of fifteen books and more than eighty articles in journals or multi-author works. A recurring topic of interest in his writings is the historical reliability of the Scriptures. Craig and his wife Fran have two daughters and reside in Centennial, Colorado. 


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