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Evangelism - Myers Mott Maggay Linthicum        

Excerpts from God The Economist

by M. Douglas Meeks, Fortress, 1989

"The oikonomia tou theou - the management of the household of God - could be used to describe not only Paul's responsibility and service to the community (Col 1:25; cf. 1 Cor 9:17; Eph 3:2; 1 Tim 1:4). This action of domestic administration could also be employed to symbolize God's arrangements for the redemption of the world ... (Eph 1:9-10; cr. Eph 3:9-10) ... (p. 34)

One of Israel's children had been a great economist in Pharaoh's household. In the 'land of affliction' Joseph, the lowly Hebrew, is blessed by God and elevated to great heights. As Pharaoh's economist, Joseph manages the food stores so well that he redeems the nation from famine. His economic work leads to his being called 'the lord of the land,' for the Egyptians say, 'You are like Pharaoh himself' (Gen 44:18 ... 45:8 ... 41:57) ... When the brothers are finally confronted by the well-disguised Joseph, he gives a stirring definition of a true economist: "God sent me before you to preserve life. ... And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to deep alive for you many survivors' (Gen 45:5b, 7) The work of an economist is preserving, keeping alive. The biblical traditions treat Joseph as the first great economist, on whom 'all the earth' was dependent and whose economics meant survival. ... (p. 78)

Yahweh's exclusive right to or claim on the household of Israel is based on his liberation of them from the house of bondage (Exod 20:2, Deut 5:6, 7-21). ... Israel's history becomes a history of the destroying and building of the household, according to the righteousness of God (Jer 31:28, 40:7, 42; Amos 9:11). ...The Covenant Code (Exod 20:22-23-33) the Deuteronomic Code (Deut 12-26), and the Holiness Code (Lev 17-26) all protect the endangered livelihood of the weak. they picture what is necessary for all of God's people to have access to the household, to what it takes to live. ... (p. 82, 84)

God the Economist works to build households in what all of God's creatures can find home. Whether all potential members would be included in the predominant political economy of a time has always depended in large part on how it has understood human needs. What we think about needs shapes our beliefs and practices about consumption and about what, how, and to whom the goods of the oikos should be distributed. ... 
Sin is always at work in the way human beings define and satisfy needs. ... When in the same public household some live in luxury while others scrounge for the barest means of survival, a cancerous injustice is planted that will eventually destroy the entire household.  ...
In the past god language and metaphysics provided the framework in which society could articulate valid needs as opposed to destructive needs. But in the market society needs themselves have taken the place of God talk and metaphysics. 
To the church is left the care of emotional and 'spiritual' needs. Many churches also try to meet the needs of starving and homeless people on our city streets or in North African deserts. But they seldom question the meaning of needs in the public discourse of our economy ...
The church's public witness and its contribution to the question of needs in the global household should depend on the peculiar perspective on needs that the Triune God gives us. Needs arise and are met in the context of God's creating and sustaining a just household for God's creatures. Human needs are a dimension of God's righteousness in giving access to livelihood to all creatures we perceive, name, and practice needs in our public household. ... (p. 158-159)

The household of God is meant to be a peculiar sphere of distribution because it has a special meaning of social goods derived from the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Its household rules of distribution are meant to conform to God's own distribution or righteousness. This distribution does not do away with every need, but it sees every need in relation to God's justice. This distribution does not do away with every hunger, but it transfigures every hunger and thirst into the hunger and thirst for God's righteousness." (p. 180)

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