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Acton Institute Returns for Conference on Human Flourishing

By Amanda Morad | October 10, 2012

Dr. Jordan Ballor

Regent University's College of Arts & Sciences (CAS) welcomed the Acton Institute back to campus on Tuesday, Oct. 9, for the one-day conference, "To Fail or to Flourish: Does My Life and Work Really Matter?" The conference focused on connections between an individual's engagement with the world and what God expects from the life and work of Christians.

Open to CAS students and faculty, the event featured presentations by Dr. Corné Bekker, Chair of the Biblical Studies and Christian Ministry Department in CAS and professor in the School of Business & Leadership (SBL); and Dr. John Mulford, director of SBL's Center for Entrepreneurship, as well as a panel discussion moderated by CAS dean, Dr. Gerson Moreno-Riaño.

"Having such a prestigious organization as the Acton Institute return to Regent University for a second conference is a compliment to our intense liberal arts curriculum and reflects our commitment to informing every facet of life with faith," said Moreno-Riaño. "The presentations and discussions focused on human flourishing to help students make important Biblical and economic connections between their God-given talents, callings, and academic and professional pursuits."

During the lunch session of the conference, Dr. Jordan Ballor, a research fellow at the Acton Institute, addressed attendees with a presentation called "Does Economics Even Matter for Flourishing?"

Ballor began by outlining the "Four 'Ps' of God's Economy": Procreation, fulfilled in the institution of family; Productivity, fulfilled in the institution of work; Proclamation, fulfilled by the church; and Protection, fulfilled by the duty of the government.

"When these four aspects of God's economy are functioning properly and together, they form the basis of all human flourishing," he said.

Focusing primarily on the concept of work, he noted that family and work are two sides of the same coin—two parts of the creative mandate in Genesis 1.

"Family is how we fill the earth; work is how we subdue it," he explained.

Citing theologians from Thomas Aquinas to Blaise Pascal and C.S. Lewis, Ballor noted that America provides a unique opportunity to fulfill the creative mandate through work. "It's a unique system under which human creativity and causality can be activated and flourish," he said.

"Economics can make you a better disciple," he told the audience. "It can do that because it teaches us stewardship."

Ballor also discussed myths about economics that Christians overcome through applying their faith to their work. Among these myths are the ideas that the amount of wealth or goods in the world is fixed, that competition is inherently immoral, that profit is always at the expense of others, and that selfishness and self-interest are one and the same vice.

"Economics is important to human flourishing," he concluded. "It can't save us, but it can help preserve us, and empower discipleship through stewardship."

Ballor serves as executive editor of the Journal of Markets & Morality. He is also a visiting professor at Kuyper College and a doctoral candidate in historical and moral theology at Calvin Theological Seminary.

Learn more about the College of Arts & Sciences.


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