Ten+ Books on Theology of Work

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Most of us spend the majority of our waking hours at work, paid or unpaid. Losing work is devastating for most people. Why is work such an important part of being human? How are work, rest, and leisure properly related in our lives? And what does God think of our work? From the work of God in creation in Genesis 1 to Revelation 21 where the kings of the earth will carry their splendor into the new Jerusalem, the heavenly city, work runs through scripture. Yet teaching on our work has often been absent from our churches. Yesterday, I reviewed Workplace Discipleship 101 by David W. Gill, an excellent book on work. I’ve included it again here along with others I’ve found helpful.

Keeping the Sabbath Wholly, Marva J. Dawn. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1989. God’s intent for us is not endless work but a rhythm of work and rest. Dawn explores the biblical material on sabbath and practical suggestions for keeping it.

The Common Rule, Justin Whitmel Earley. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2019. Daily and weekly spiritual practices that may be used by people in the workplace, and may become “common” by being practiced in community.

Workplace Discipleship 101David W. Gill. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2020. Focuses very practically on how we may follow Jesus as we prepare for and engage in our work.

The Fabric of this World, Lee Hardy. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1990. One of the early books on this subject, surveying various views of work in classic philosophy and through church history.

Leisure and Spirituality, Paul Heintzman. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2015. Using biblical, historical and contemporary leisure studies to look at the relation of work, rest, and leisure, contending that “leisure reaches its fullest potential when our lives are lived in relationship with God.

The Sabbath, Abraham Joshua Heschel. New York: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 1951. A Jewish rabbi contends that Judaism is a religion of time, not space and that sabbath represents the sanctification of time.

On Human Work, John Paul II. Washington: United States Catholic Conference, 1981. John Paul II’s encyclical on work addressing what it means to work and be human, the conflict between labor and capital, the right of workers, and the spirituality of work.

Work and Worship, Matthew Kaemingk and Cory B. Wilson. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2020. One I’m looking forward to read making the connection between our Sunday worship and our work the other six days.

Every Good Endeavor, Timothy Keller with Katherine Leary Alsdorf. New York: Dutton, 2012. Explores God’s plan for our work, our problems with work and how the gospel transforms work.

After Sunday, Armand Larive. New York: Continuum, 2004. A theology of work grounded in the Trinity.

Kingdom Calling, Amy Sherman. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2011. A theology of vocation, focused on stewarding our faith and work toward righteousness.

Your Work Matters to God, Doug Sherman and William Hendricks. Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1987. One of the early books addressing a theology of work.

From my shelves to yours, a good collection of works on work, rest, leisure, and spiritual practices spanning seventy years. Hopefully they will become good friends to you as they have for me, enriching my understanding of these rhythms of work and rest. Work existed before the Fall and is not the curse. Work reflects something of what it means to reflect the image of God, the God who works. It is well worth exploring works like these to enrich our work and our lives!

One thought on “Ten+ Books on Theology of Work

  1. I think the Lord lays out the rules of the game about work in Genesis when he kicks Adam out of the Garden. However, he gave us the gift of the Shabbat. Still, that clear distinction between secular and holy remains problematic , at least for me.

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