Home Improvement Meets the Gospel
How two co-founders of the home-supply store TreeHouse infuse their business with environmentally sound faith.
Austin, Texas—with its "Keep Austin Weird" motto emblazoned on locals' t-shirts and bumper stickers—is ground zero for a green-building revolution, due in no small part to nearby University of Texas, hipster culture, and ...
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To buy from sweat shops and businesses that place no value on environmental destruction, is to value sweat shops and environmental destruction. Jesus clearly states that we are to seek the kingdom of God first- work is to incarnate love and service, to meet material needs, and not to 'maximize material gain'. The material is to be subservient to the 'spiritual'. In what I can see of your view, man's actions are not free choices, but dictated by 'economic law'. That is not a 'Christian' view of man." (New comment)We are called to stop sinning, to stop from acting from greed; to act in mindful, consciously loving ways: to love the creation that God gives to sustain us though minimizing pollution and non-sustainable economic activity; loving our fellow man through providing work with adequate wages, safe workplaces- and not to depend on the abstraction that is 'the marketplace' to do it. We are responsible for the choices we make.
"Roger: you seem to continually view the world through the narrow lens of your own discipline-economics- without considering the broader context in which 'economics' rests. It is the 'biosphere' that provides for man's material well-being; but that same biosphere also supports our biological life. Trees don't just provide board feet of lumber for man's 'use'-they also anchor the soil, provide habitat for other forms of life, and convert CO2 to 02 in the closed system of the earth. None of those last gifts of trees is now currently adequately figured in the 'market price' for lumber. Man's material use (economics) also does not exist apart from human psychology and choice; 'the marketplace' is nothing but an abstract term for the result of many individual choices. What individuals value is reflected in their choices. 'The marketplace' reflects no values, other than what people place in it. (cont.)
"God so loved the world;" trashing the world as the result of sin, is contrary to the gospel. Greed is contrary to the gospel. "Business as usual" is contrary to the gospel. Believing that private charity alone- in lieu of multinational, billion dollar corporations- is enough to care for the poor- is unrealistic. Stating that free market capitalism is 'Biblical' and of the Gospel, while creation care and environmental stewardship is not- is wrong. There is no direct mention of ‘free market capitalism’ anywhere in the Bible (and aren’t you a Bible kind of guy, Rick?). I post here what I have posted in an earlier blog that was not responded to.
I really enjoyed seeing that this article was posted, and funny enough, I'd heard about Treehouse last year from a friend and she was raving about it. I wanted to point to a (very) side issue, though, when Bret wrote, "The culturally liberal enclave in a vast red state might not be the first city that comes to mind when you imagine the future of Christianity." While my comment is not a criticism per se of the writer, I wanted to point out that his statement betrays something many of us take for granted, and do so erroneously, in my opinion. I almost skated past it myself. Historically, it wasn't just that Christianity had an unlikely spread in places that exhibited loose morals. Christianity sprouted up surprisingly in the places that were "establishment," and/or affluent. After all, Constantine probably turned a few heads claiming Christ, as did Nicodemus before him. Christianity is counter to all human cultures.
Ray, the planet and all societies are under the curse of the fall until Christ returns. Christians cannot undo that curse. Only Christ at his coming has that power. Until then, Christians can do no more than alleviate some of the suffering that the curse inflicts on rebels against God. In fact, Christians will continue to suffer from that curse when we experience natural disasters and illnesses. The only part of the curse we don't suffer from along side the rebels is that which comes from our own sinfulness. Rebels will continue to inflict themselves with greater suffering because of their sin and nothing short of conversion will change that.
Ray, the Democrat talking points I referred to are the constant repetition of “the common good” which has been incorporated into most state Democratic party platforms since 2005 and has been repeated endlessly in Sojourners and in this City section. The church for the first 100 years took care of the poor OF THE CHURCH. Not the poor of the entire Roman Empire. And it was means tested. “A widow who is put on the list for support must be a woman who is at least sixty years old and was faithful to her husband. She must be well respected by everyone because of the good she has done. Has she brought up her children well? Has she been kind to strangers and served other believers humbly? Has she helped those who are in trouble? Has she always been ready to do good?” 1 Tim. 5. Those are the biblical principals. How about we apply that to welfare today? We've NEVER been called to alleviate global poverty. We were called to heal the sick through the laying on of hands as it says in the gospels.
Rick, Thanks. I guess I interpreted your observation that these young Christian men were living out "Democratic talking points" as a political inference. I agree this is irrelevant to the Gospel and share your antipathy toward the recent Christian initiatives to leverage political power rather than the power of God's Spirit. But I think you may misunderstand what the Gospel is by limiting it to devoting our attentions to "introducing people to the Savior." The Gospel certainly is that . . . but far more. The Christian church grew as it lived the Gospel as well as proclaimed it. They cared for the sick when the plague struck the Roman empire; they loved their enemies even when they were being killed; they met the needs of the poor rather than ignored and marginalized them. Christ came to restore the creation and that is a part of what these young men are doing. They are Christians in a business that seeks the good of the city and the people around them even as Jeremiah advised.
I don't get what makes the business more Christian than Lowe's or any lumber yard. Businesses are "Christian" if they deal honestly with their stake holders. Whole Foods is not more Christian than Walmart because of what it sells. It merely appeals to rich people with guilty consciences and ignores the poor. Walmart appeals to the poor. "Sustainability" is not sustainable if only the rich can afford it. And it has nothing to do with Christianity or stewardship. The reason homes use more energy is their size. The average size of homes has doubled in the past generation as Americans have become wealthier. But there is no scientific reason to think that is unsustainable.
Of course I have good intentions Ray, as I presume you do too. Why are you introducing politics, Republican/Democrat dynamics? I fear you are trying to build the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. That Dominionist fantasy is what produced the Holy Roman Empire. No matter how well intentioned our utopias they all become dystopias. The author of Hebrews says, “Here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come.” We, like Abraham, are “looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.” In the meantime we live the best lives possible but devote our attentions to introducing people to the Savior. “According to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.” As Jesus said, the fields are white unto harvest, but the laborers are few. “No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier.” Ray, do what the 12 the 70 and the 120 did.
Rick, I think you have good intentions but perhaps ought to consider the gospel that Christ proclaimed--the coming of the Kingdom was what he announced. From Genesis 3 onward, God has been working to restore his creation from people to every square inch that has been contaminated by sin. The implication of redemption is far wider and more generous and restoring health, stewarding what we were given to be stewards of, AND preaching Christ crucified and resurrected and sitting at God's right hand is all of a whole cloth. Why read out certain Christians who do ALL of this like these good men, Jim Wallis, and Democrats. The task God gave Adam to do is echoed by the task Jesus gave his disciples to do--to go and make disciples and to do all he taught which, as the Word, is the sum of the whole counsel of God. Don't make our God too small or our ranks too limited to a Republican view or any other view that is less gracious than God Himself.
Again, this is not the gospel. These are Anglican social gospel crusaders who mistake green building and sustainability for the gospel. Progressivism, sustainability, organic, radical ecology, low VOC paints, Democrat talking points IS NOT THE GOSPEL. This isn't Home Improvement Meets The Gospel. The gospel means something specific and Paul said “If we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!” This is a huge distraction from the real gospel. And again you have to drive home the politicaly progressive slogan, “But that is the nature of Common Grace for Common Good.” Can you not (common good) stop saying (common good) that socialist, non biblical (common good) slogan? I hear it from Jim Wallis (his new book has Common Good in the title), Huffington Post, the Daily Kos, etc.