Stemming from my 2013 ETS paper on “Blessedness and Wholeness” in Scripture I received a grant to do further work on the language and idea of human flourishing throughout the Bible. I wrote a rather technical paper on this. This led to another invitation to write a book chapter stemming from these same ideas. The video of the lecture I gave here comes from this chapter. I took that material, with some slight modifications (particularly the references to John Piper’s Desiring God), and read it at an invited luncheon for the Commonweal Project at my seminary, Southern.
Here is the video via YouTube:
Enjoy especially the occasional “jazz hands” and my accidental reference to the “urinization” of the world when I meant to say “eireneization.”
Here is the lecture outline handout that was distributed at the luncheon:
What Do All Humans Want?
The Great Question (and Answer) of Ancient Philosophy
eudaimonia = flourishing
The Great Question (and Answer) of Ancient Religion
Like all philosophies and religions, biblical Christianity offers a vision for and promise of human flourishing.
Human Flourishing According to the Bible
Human Flourishing in the Old Testament
Wolterstorff – The Bible has a clear vision of what God wants for his creatures, “a vision of what constitutes human flourishing and of our appointed destiny. The vision is not that of disembodied individual contemplation of God . . . it is the vision of shalom.” (Educating for Shalom: Essays on Christian Higher Education, 22-23)
Human Flourishing in the New Testament
eirēnē, makarios, teleios/telos
Christian Human Flourishing
This orientation to God means that (1) full flourishing can only be experienced when one is in relationship to and communion with God; (2) full flourishing will only be experienced in the eschaton when God establishes fully his rule and reign (the kingdom of God); (3) flourishing directs all glory ultimately to God as the source of our glory; and (4) flourishing is missional, priestly, and outward focused, spreading God’s glory throughout the earth.
Implications and Conclusions
Some Helpful Resources:
- Ellen Charry, God and the Art of Happiness (Eerdmans, 2010)
- Brent Strawn, ed., The Bible and the Pursuit of Happiness: What the Old and New Testaments Teach Us About the Good Life (Oxford University Press, 2012)
- Nicholas Wolterstorff, Justice: Rights and Wrongs (Princeton University Press, 2008)
- Wolterstorff, Educating for Shalom: Essays on Christian Higher Education (Eerdmans, 2004)
- Martha Nussbaum, The Therapy of Desire: Theory and Practice in Hellenistic Ethics (Princeton University Press, 1994)
- Servais Pinckaers, Morality: The Roman Catholic View (St. Augustine Press, 2003)
- Paul J. Wadell, Happiness and the Christian Moral Life (2nd ed.; Rowman & Littlefield, 2012)
- Eleonore Stump, Wandering in Darkness: Narrative and the Problem of Suffering (Oxford University Press, 2012)
- NT Wright, After You Believe: Why Christian Character Matters (Harper Collins, 2010)
- Tobias Haffman, Jörn Müller, and Matthias Perkams, eds., Aquinas and the Nichomachean Ethics (Cambridge University Press, 2013