Hugh Whelchel

Hugh Whelchel was recently the Executive Director of the Institute for Faith, Work & Economics (IFWE) but has since transitioned into the role of Senior Fellow at IFWE due to a long battle with Lou Gehrig’s disease. He graduated from the University of Florida and received his MA in religion from the Reformed Theological Seminary in Washington, DC. Hugh is also currently attending the Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. Praxis Circle interviewed Mr. Whelchel because his Christian worldview is thoughtful and comprehensive and because IFWE is integrating Christianity with work and economics.

How did a family man get into the turnaround business?

Doug Monroe:

How did a family man get into the turnaround business, and what is a turnaround? How would you explain that to the layman?

Hugh Whelchel:

Yeah, good question. Often I ask myself, “How did I get into this?” And I really look at myself as more of a coach. I think that’s what God has given me, the talent to coach people. And I’ve done a lot of coaching over the years, both individually and with teams, and basically, turnaround is coaching the organization to do the right things.

Hugh Whelchel:

Typically, companies fail because they’re not doing the right things. Sometimes they fail because there’s wrong people in the wrong places. But what I found out early on is I had to ability to come in, to be able to look at a company and see the problems that other people didn’t see. And I think that’s really where the secret lies, at least my secret of success in the four or five companies I’ve turned around, and interesting enough, it’s all been in the sales end.

I came out of business as a sales guy. When I first got into it, I was doing engineering sales. Moved up, did some sales management, moved up to running companies. And really, the secret for me has been to come into companies, find out why they’re not selling anything, and then go fix the sales end. Typically, I would hire somebody to run the management piece, to manage the day to day activities, something I’m not really good at and I don’t enjoy it. And then go work creatively on how to turnaround the pieces that are broken. And the piece I think that helps me more than anything else is that unique ability to see things from a different perspective.

I’m not the brightest guy in the room, but sometimes those observations would give me great insights on what to do next and has made us very successful. So I’ve learned how to do this. There’s really no school that you go to. A lot of different styles, and you’re right, some are very strict, authoritarian. That’s not who I am. I fit my personality style into the job and it’s worked very well. The only bad thing about the turnaround guy though is, once you turn the company around, you typically sell it. So once you do your job, you lose your job.

Do we need more turnaround people?

Hugh Whelchel:

I think so. I think there’s a lot of incredibly good resources that have already been marshaled in the right place at the right time. The problem is, people aren’t doing the right things with them. And if you can get that piece working, you can make a company incredibly more effective, and that’s the problem. And part of it too is that a lot of, and I’ll probably get myself in trouble here, but there are a lot of companies that are typically run by operations people. Operations people aren’t very creative. That’s just not what their gift set is. And so, they don’t see the opportunities and typically, that’s been one of the issues. And that’s an issue I find with a lot of companies that I’ve gone into to take a look at.

You turned around Reformed Theological Seminary DC?

Hugh Whelchel:

They probably wouldn’t like to hear it, but I use it all the time. I was running an IT company. In fact, moved up here to run it. Actually moved up here to run one IT company and got up here and the IT bubble burst. That company didn’t make it. But we really liked it up here. And before too long, another opportunity came along. So, we took that. I think it was about five years to get it turned around, sold that company. And so I was looking for something to do, and I had been involved with RTS in Orlando and taking classes down there and knew all those guys. And they had a small campus that was meeting at a church in Bethesda, Maryland, and the church was getting ready to do a building project and they didn’t have room for the seminary.

So we had just done a building project and I had some room. And so I was trying to convince our session into letting us bring them into our church and give them some space and kind of host the seminary there. So there were some interest in that. So I was kind of the point person on doing that. So as we were doing that, they asked me, said, “What are you doing?” I said, “Nothing. I’m kind of looking for a job, blah, blah, blah.”

So out of the blue, they called me up one day and said, “Look, would you be interested in stepping in as the executive director?” And I knew the guy I was dealing with had been kind of interim director and the guy had been there before. I had some issues, and he’d actually stepped out to pastor a church and which was really his calling. He’s done extremely well at that. I said, “Sure, I’ll do it.” And of course in my mind, I’m thinking, “I’ll do this for the next three or four months while I look for a real job.” But in God’s comedy, I did it for the next seven years, almost eight years. And when I first got started, I can remember thinking, “I don’t know anything about higher ed, why do you have me here?” And then the more I got into the market, realized it’s just another turnaround, same exact problems, just a different industry.

The key insight to your amazing RTS success?

Hugh Whelchel:

I’ll never forget, probably the big turnaround point for me. They had me down in Orlando and I was with the recruiting guy and the recruiting guy was telling me, “Now, look, you’re going to have to get on an airplane and fly all over the country. You’re going to have to talk to these different colleges and recruit people.” And I said, “Look, I realize, I don’t know anything about this, but let me show you something.” So I pulled up a map of the DC area and I said, “You know, if you put a pin here in McLean, Virginia, where we are draw a hundred miles, maybe 120 mile circle around that,” I said, “you know how many people are inside that circle?” He said, “No, how many?” I said, “Probably about 12 to 13 million.” I said, “You’ve got Charlottesville. You’ve got Richmond. You’ve got, Atlantic City, not Atlantic City, Atlantic Beach. You’ve got Baltimore, you’ve got all of DC. You got all Northern Virginia.” I said, “If I can’t run the seminary with that many people, I can’t get this thing turned around with that audience, you should fire me right now.”

I said, “I’m never going to get on an airplane.” And he looked at me like I’d shot him with a gun. That concept had never occurred to them but here they’re running all these seminaries. It was just, well… It is just a concept that wasn’t in the typical thinking of the way you run seminaries. So, we ended up doing it that way. Incredibly successful. When I came on board, we were down to about 20 students, had no professors, had really only a master’s degree in religion, was the only degree they offered. So, the time I left, we were over 300 students, three full-time professors, a number of local adjunct professors, and had gotten the masters of divinity accredited through all the accreditation people, which is probably the most difficult thing I’ve ever done any place I’ve been. It’s just so much bureaucracy, but we got it all done.

So, really felt like at that point, I’d done everything that God had brought me there to do and that somebody else could take over that probably is better qualified than I was to take it to the next level. And that’s, what’s happened. The young man that took my place has done an incredible job. And now, RTS is one of the top, the DC one, the top fastest growing seminaries in their network. And I think the other thing that makes me feel good is they started three more campuses. One in New York City, which I helped them start. One in Dallas, and one in Houston, all of which are kind of built on the DC model. So, yeah. So, good stuff, real good stuff.

Doug Monroe:

Fantastic. And most of the ones I know of are in kind of a metro area. You could do that same local strategy, which is kind of the way Christianity works, anyway.

Hugh Whelchel:

It is.

Why is Christianity and work an issue?

Hugh Whelchel:

Yeah, it’s a good question. And it’s one of the things I’ve struggled with for years, really had an issue around my faith around this whole idea of the workplace. Because I said to myself, this is probably the mid-90s, I was down in RTS taking some classes down there. And realized they didn’t have a clue about a workforce ministry or anything like that. And really there wasn’t a lot being written about it. There wasn’t the big movement then.

But I really asked myself why does God not care about what I do from eight o’clock in the morning to five o’clock at night, every day, five days a week, sometimes longer? Why is there no connection there? And I went to my pastor to talk to him about it. He said, “Well, God’s just given you the ability to make money so you can bring it to the church so we can do good things with it.” I walked out thinking that can’t be right. It’s got to be more to than that.

And so started reading and started taking some classes, seminary. They were useless. Although, I have to admit, at seminary, I got introduced to some of the reformers like Calvin, Martin Luther. When Martin Luther says, “The work of the milkmaid is just as important to God as the work of the priest,” that was heresy in his day. It’s still heresy in a lot of churches today if you say that. And I really began to realize that the scripture talks a lot about work, and that we had just not been told that.

And it took me about four or five years working through these issues, and I actually ended up doing my master’s dissertation at RTS on faith and work, and really, it’s just walking through the things I didn’t understand for this whole thing to make sense to me.

So I think it’s a huge problem still. We’ve done some research that probably only 10% of evangelical Christians have any understanding at all about the connection between their faith and their work. And yet I would argue that work is why we’re here. God put us here to work. Says he put him in the garden to work it and take care of it. The purpose of our existence on this planet is really not to evangelize. It’s not to build churches, not to do all these things we think. It’s to work. And I’m sure we’ll talk more about that.

What about the term worldview?

Hugh Whelchel:

I use it all the time, and I think for the same reason you’re saying. It adequately describes what you’re talking about because everyone has a worldview. And it’s funny, particularly that people are so quick to call out your worldview, don’t realize they have one too. It’s interesting that most of us have not thought through the implications of a worldview very much. And I think that’s the key here is that we need to understand what it is and what the implications are. And then really, we need to step back and say, “Okay, what should it be?” I mean, is there a right worldview and a wrong view of the world? Or just everybody has one and it’s just everyone’s to design their own the way they want to. And unfortunately, that’s what the culture is telling us now.

It’s much like at the end of the book of Kings when it says there was no king in Israel and everyone did what was right in their own mind. I mean, that’s kind of where we are today and it’s unfortunate because I’m going to suggest before we finish, there is one moral view that’s right. And unless you get on board with that, you’re going to have problems.

Can worldview thinking obscure the Gospel?

Hugh Whelchel:

Yeah, I’m going to make trouble here because I don’t think it should get in the way. I think one of the problems today is we’ve taken the Gospel, and I typically talk about the Gospel in four chapters, Creation, Fall, Redemption, Restoration.

Creation shows the way things were. The Fall is just the way things are. Redemption shows the way things could be. And Restoration shows the way things are going to be.

So you have those four chapters and one of the problems with the Church today is we’ve taken that four chaptered Gospel, we’ve truncated it down to two chapters. And all we talk about is the Fall and Redemption. So therefore we leave out the whole first chapter. So we don’t know what we were created to do. We don’t know what our purpose was. And then we leave off the last chapter, which shows up where we’re going to end up.

So not only do we not know what we were designed to do, we don’t know where we’re supposed to end up and where we’re supposed to be when it’s all said and done. And the result is we’ve distorted the true Gospel. And the Gospel becomes about, it’s all about me.

As one scholar says, it’s the Gospel of self-management, our sin management. We’re regulating our own sin. And that’s not what the scripture teaches at all. So one of the things we have to do, is begin to go back to the scripture and say, within the framework of these four chapters, let’s go back to the first chapter. What does it really say that we were put here to do?

How do Genesis and the Gospel fit together?

Hugh Whelchel:

And I would argue that the Gospel, it’s a lost call. It’s a call to a lost and forfeited. It’s a call to loss and forfeit calling to fill the world with images and subdue the earth. We read in Genesis 2, the second chapter of Genesis 2:28 says, “God, blessed him.” And said to do two things. He came down and said, “Look, let me tell you what your job description is. I want you to do two things. First thing I want you to do, I want you to fill the earth with my images. The second thing I want you to do is to subdue the earth.”

Now we have to change the first one a little bit today because of the Fall. So the first one today, we have to say our job is to fill the earth with redeemed images. Now, that’s salvation. That’s church planting. That’s all, what typically, we do in the church. But we leave out completely the second half, to subdue the earth. The word subdue there is the Hebrew word “kabash.” And it literally means, in that context, to make the earth an incredible place for human beings to flourish.

So see, the Gospel, it’s not about just saving people to get them to go to heaven. The Gospel is about saving people, having them redeemed, filled with a Holy Spirit, so they can actually do what they were originally intended to do on the face of the earth between now and when they go to heaven. So this idea that the Gospel’s all about us, and we get our bus ticket to heaven. And we’re sitting around waiting for the bus to come, and it doesn’t really matter what we do here. None of that’s true. But yet, that’s the message that you hear in most churches today.

So what we have to do is begin to understand this broader understanding of what we’re originally intended to do, and how it’s the Gospel what brings us back to that place. And it’s through the redemption given to us by the Son, the power of being inspired by the Holy Spirit, to go do what we’re originally created to do.

From Genesis: What does “subdue the earth” or work mean?

Hugh Whelchel:

And once again, it gets back to this idea. It talks about actually, in the next chapter, chapter 2 of Genesis, God says he put Adam in the garden to work it and to take care of it. There’s a balance there. There’s a balance with the way we deal with creation. So when we subdue the earth, we’re to bring out the good parts in it. We’re to make the earth an incredible place for human beings to flourish. But by reaching that balance of understanding that we have to use the earth, I mean, Adam was a gardener. He had to cut down some trees, right? He wasn’t a forest ranger. He didn’t keep it the way it was. It’s okay to change things. Right? In fact, I would argue that one of the best definitions of work I’ve ever heard is the idea that work is the rearranging of the physical resources that we’ve been given to God in order to bring about flourishing for God’s creation, particularly the creation, the part of the creation, that you’ve been called to serve.

So, that’s what work is about. So we are to be out rearranging these things, using our creativity, using all the gifts that God’s given us to bring about more flourishing. See, it’s all about more flourishing, and that’s an important concept that’s really been lost by the church today.

Doug Monroe:

Absolutely has been lost. And isn’t it funny, Patrick, he talkED about this and here we are in this house in the middle of a river swamp, and all that. And he’s kind of living it, I think, if you know what I mean.

The Institute of Faith Work & Economics (IFWE)

Hugh Whelchel:

Yeah. One of the things, I think, that I began to realize fairly seriously when I was working for RTS is that there was faith work movement out there. A fledgling movement, I would say, at that time. This is probably in the 2011, 2012. But nevertheless, it WAS growing momentum, there were books being written. But there seemed to be something significant missing. And the more we begin to talk about it, I really think this idea of economics, although it’s fairly abstract, is what’s missing in that whole idea. Because once you understand the faith and work piece, you have to understand why. Why do we do this? And that’s why you have to bring the economics piece and understand this idea.

The idea of flourishing cannot really be fleshed out without understanding the economics piece. How we use the gifts, how do we use the wealth that God lets us create to bring about more flourishing. Those are all very important economic issues. And it’s incredible how much the Bible talks about economics. And I think that’s one of the things that we wanted to bring out. Now, in nine years, there’re more, more people talking about this. The flourishing thing, the economics, more, more people talking about that. Is it front and center yet? No. We still have a lot of work to do. But I think we’re headed in the right, definitely in the right direction.

Your IFWE colleagues?

Hugh Whelchel:

So I thought, “Okay, if I’m going to talk about faith, work, and economics, I’ve got to have some internal people that are experts.”

So Art Lindsley, who is an expert theologian, written a lot about faith and work over the years, friend of mine, so I brought him on as a kind of a PhD in the faith and work space.

And then Anne Bradley, who I met, who is a PhD economist, really understands the economics piece, and probably was a little weaker on the theology part. And so we began to teach her theology and now she’s probably one of the top experts and goes all over, and actually all over the world, speaks on faith, work and economics and has become quite a superstar in that. So she was kind of the other cornerstone.

So really the three of us were the ones pretty much at the core of starting the organization and instilling, to this day, do most of the outside speaking and writing.

And your hook, “How Should We Work”?

Hugh Whelchel:

So what we did, yeah, as we got started, we realized that we needed something out there right away. So I had my notes from my dissertation that I’d done, so basically I took that research and I wrote “How Then Should We Work?” And interestingly enough, it’s just faith and work. We didn’t have much about economics, and that was very intentional. Because one of the things I began to think and see, as I look around at some of the other organizations, is I think there’s an incredible missed opportunity with a lot of small nonprofits, and that basically they’re preaching to the choir. Everything they’re saying, everything they’re doing is being pushed out, people who already believe like they believe. Now, that’s not completely bad. The choir needs to be fed and they need to be encouraged, and they need to be educated, but they’re really not making their audience any bigger.

So we talked a lot about that, and the idea of economics is not an easy thing to sell to people. So what we decided to do was to start with the idea of faith and work, because everybody wants to know that their work is important to God. It doesn’t matter if you’re a liberal or you’re conservative, or where you are on that scale. They want to know that, so I wanted to reach all these people. So we launched that book first, we started a bunch of blogs, and then what we started doing is slowly bringing the economic stuff in, a little by little, kind of drip, drip, drip in the background. Because we didn’t want to run anybody off, and interestingly enough, we didn’t. We would do something on economics that I guarantee you so many people would disagree with. But yeah, we wouldn’t have a lot of people drop by the blog.

What about IWFE’s audience?

Hugh Whelchel:

And so fast forward a couple years ago, we actually did some statistical research to see what kind of audience we’ve created. We probably have about 100,000 people on database. We ran those against the database that some friends of ours have. And we were really surprised because, and they were surprised to the point that they ran the statistics. Thought they’d made a mistake, went back and ran it again. Because what it shows is that people reading our stuff are spread across the whole evangelical landscape. There are people reading our stuff that are against abortion. There are people reading our stuff that are for abortion.

Any social issue you can take, either side people are reading our stuff. So we’ve collected an odd assortment of bed fellows if you will. And that the people that kind of respond to what we’re doing spread across a wide political range, which is what we hoped to do to begin with. But we weren’t for sure that we could achieve that. And we have. So I think that’s been one of the biggest accomplishments that we’ve done is we’ve built a massive audience and really begin to drive some of these ideas about faith work and particularly economics into this core audience and very successfully in my head.

It is tough to apply Biblical theory to practice?

Hugh Whelchel:

Yeah. I think that’s basically right. I think that, step back, one of the things we’ve tried to do is not get into policy debates, because that’s very loggerhead, and you can really go down a rabbit hole in a hurry. What we’ve tried to do is stay ahead of the policy debates and talk about theory, talk about how do you think about these sorts of issues from a biblical perspective?

One of the things we’ve been very fixated almost on, is making sure that we tie everything back to what the scripture says. We have no authority in this. All the authority comes from the scripture. We want to make sure all of our stuff is based on a theological understanding, strong theological underpinning, of what the scripture says. One of the real problems we have, particularly once you get into a field where you got people who aren’t necessarily theologians writing about this stuff, is they just find a Bible verse that they like, paste it completely out of context alongside something else.

That’s something you got to be very careful about. There’s a lot of that being done. I think you have to go back, what’s the verse that you’re talking about, contextually, how does that fit into what the scripture’s saying? How does it fit into his overarching understanding? Because what we believe is that when God created the heavens and the earth, he took these principles and wove them into the very fabric of creation. These principles are like gravity. They work if you believe in them or not, right?

Let me give you an example, “Thou shall not steal.” That implies what? It implies property rights. Well, property rights is a principle that God’s woven into the very fabric of creation. And there’s a reason there’s never been a civilization that lasted very long and flourished for very long without a strong property rights. Why? It’s the way God made things. Right? And so, it behooves us to understand what those bigger pieces are and embrace them, and use them, and when we build our business.

Failure to apply the Bible correctly to economics?

Hugh Whelchel:

Well, part of it, they didn’t understand. They didn’t have a frame of reference to be able to understand how the economics piece fit in. So one of the things we’ve learned through this is that not only do you have to have the frame of reference around scripture, then you have to bring a frame of reference around economics so that they understand how it fits in. And really, it’s not a scientific way of looking at it, but much more practical way of looking. How does these things affect you particularly in the way that you spend your money, the way that you build your business. Those are sort of things that are important. Economics is not something that’s done in a vacuum. It’s something that’s done by people every day. I think that’s the piece that has not been taught very well in our schools, and it’s something the Bible talks about all the time.

Doug Monroe:

Well, of course, you don’t even get accounting or economics at all in almost any school until you get to your first or second year in college. And that’s only if you opt for it. And that’s probably the most important thing.

Hugh Whelchel:

Well, it surprised us. We did a homeschool curriculum on faith, work, and economics. And it’s approved for Economics 101 in a homeschool. And basically we tested on and ran it at a couple colleges with freshman in college. And when we released it, we were told it’s been one of the best selling things we’ve got, that no one else had done a curriculum for economics, for homeschooling based on scripture and free market economics. There wasn’t one out there, which is just almost impossible to believe, but apparently, it’s true.

Coach John Wooden & Jesus’ 3 Most Important Parables about Work

Hugh Whelchel:

I think the three that are together, they’re really in one story, in one chapter. And I’ll take those three, because I think they hang together. But I think there are a lot of other important ones as well. And interesting aside, we are doing a project now where we’ve actually gone through the entire Bible and there are over 2000 passages, not versus, passages that had to do with faith, work and economics. And we’re in the process of categorizing those and writing commentaries for all those, a big project we’re working on. But it’s fascinating how much there is in the Bible about this subject.

Back to your question. One of the things that really I struggled with, I guess, as a business person and a church goer and a leader in my church, I would go sit through a sermon. The pastor would say, “Well, you need learn how to be content with what you’ve got.” And do the whole sermon on contentment.

Then when I walked out, I would say, “Okay, pastor, does that mean Monday when I go out to work, I don’t try to go win that new job and bring in new people and be able to hire more people and expand my business?” He’d go, “Oh no, that’s okay.” But I said, “Well, I just spent 30 minutes hearing about I need to be content.” “No, that’s just in spiritual things.” It’s something else.

And so I had this really distorted view of what does success look like for a business person, particularly a Christian business person. And really struggled with that. Then I got some insight from, there’s a guy named John Wooden who was a basketball coach. Coached UCLA in the 1960’s and 1970’s. And during that period, he in 11 years won nine national championships in college basketball, a feet that’ll never be repeated. He was truly the best in the world. He was just beyond good.

And he was asked one time, what was his definition of success? And I’d read all his books. I was very interested when he was asked that question. And he basically said, this, I’m paraphrasing. But he said, “Basically it’s taking the gifts you’ve got and going out and doing the absolute best you can with them.” And he went on to say that there were times when his teams lost, literally not very many, but there were a few times that he was perfectly okay with it because they played as good as they could. They just played a better team that night. But he said there are a lot of times when they blew teams out. He was furious with them because they did not play up to their potential. Even though they won, he could tell that they were … This idea of success.

And a lot of people don’t realize that John Wooden is a very committed Christian. And so I started thinking, I wonder where he got that definition. And as I began to poke around and look at things, I think I’ve come up with the answer. And I never was able to ask him. He’s with the Lord now. But I would like to ask him if I could. But there’s a parable we’re very familiar with. It’s called the Parable of Talents. And interestingly enough, it’s given in a chapter with two other parables, one about the foolish virgins, wise and foolish virgins. And then the other one is really about faithfulness. It’s a short parable about faithfulness. And if you look at those three together, they’re situated in such a way that there’s a section about three chapters in Matthew called the Olivet Discourse.

The Olivet Discourse’s Parable of the Talents

Hugh Whelchel:

And what it is, it’s after Jesus’ last day, this is the last week of Jesus’ earthly ministry, probably on a Wednesday night, he was preaching in the Temple and had a big blow up with them, gets run out of the Temple, and then has this encounter with his disciples on the Mount of Olives. And they talk a lot about the end of the world, and what’s going to happen, and Jesus basically gives them three parables, and really the three parables track with three things Jesus is trying to make them understand. That while they wait on the return of the king because the king’s going to leave and they have to wait for him to return, they need to be doing three things. The first thing is they need to be, they need to be ready. They need to be ready for the king.

The second thing, they need to be watching for the king, they need to understand the times. And the last one is this parable of talents. It says they need to be working while they were waiting for the king. And so I think, you can look at the other two, but the most important one is this last one, because it’s about these three men that are working for a master. The master goes off on a journey and each one of the men are given a certain amount of money. One’s given one talent, one’s given two talents, one’s given five talents. Now the fascinating thing about this is, I got wondering one day what’s a talent worth, because I always felt like the guy got one crummy talent. He really got kind of cheated, right? I mean, what can you do with one crummy little talent, right? One talent in today’s dollars’ worth is somewhere between a million, two million dollars. So the guy that got one talent, took a million dollars at least, and buried it in his backyard. No wonder the master is furious with him, right? It shouldn’t have been.

It’s just a fascinating story because what we hear, when we hear people preach on this, is usually they talk about that guy. The only thing you need to know about the guy that buried his talent, is you don’t want to be that guy. You want to be one of the other two guys. Right? And I think the really interesting part of that parable, that really points to this idea of success, is found in a short passage that as we’re reading it, we almost gloss over, and it says he gave one, two and one, five, each according to his own ability. And now you couldn’t do that today. Right? Today you’d have to give each one, I’m not a math guy, so what, three and a half? Whatever it boils down to when you divide them all up. You’d have to give everybody the same amount or people would just say, it’s not fair, but that’s not what the master did because he understood the abilities of the different servants.

And so he gave them different amounts based on each ability. Now here’s the fascinating thing. The first guy comes back, gives the master back the whole five talents. What does the master say? What’s his reward? Well done, my good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of the master. The second guy comes back, takes his two talents makes two more talents, gives them to the master. What’s his reward? It’s the same as the first guy. Wait a minute, what’s wrong with this picture? Shouldn’t it be greater or less? I mean, in today’s society, what would we do? The guy did the five and made five more. I mean, we were talking, he took five million dollars, maybe 10 million dollars, went out in the marketplace, made 10 more million. You know, even in their day, that’s pretty impressive. I mean, he was like a Bill Gates, or a Jobs, or I mean from Apple, I mean this guy was a superstar.

So who do we hold up on a pedestal? That guy, he’d be doing the late night talk shows on TV, he’s the guy that’s going to be the superstar, but in God’s coming, it’s not the way it is. Both got to the same reward. And you have to ask yourself, why is that? Because obviously we’re not doing the way things God does things. And the reason is this, it’s pretty simple but it’s very profound, it’s the heart of this parable. The one that got two talents, how hard did he have to work to make two more? He had to work hard as he could. The guy that took five talents, how hard did he have to work to get five more? As hard as he could. See God measures, not results, but measures what we do with what he’s given us.

And once we realize that, we have to say, okay, what has God given me? Am I maximizing the return that he has put on me, am I giving back to the master everything I can? Right? And if the answer is, yes, you are prepared to hear well done my good and faithful servant. If the answer is no, you better rethink this thing, because you don’t want to be this other guy. Right? So I think it’s a very interesting piece and I won’t go into that too, but I think that one, of all the parables, I think that one is probably more important than the rest and that’s because there’s so much about this idea of the importance of work, and how God looks at it very differently than the way our current culture looks at it.

Doug Monroe:

Yes, and your discussion there actually touched on, I think, most of the social unrest we have. People have different visions about how that parable should be and how we should handle it in our society today and how we should look at these things. So it’s just a great, it’s a great parable.

Hugh Whelchel:

And most of them would change, most of them would change what God wants to do with what they want to do.

IFWE’s 3 Edited Books – The Vision

Hugh Whelchel:

We talked about this really from the very get go, about producing two different levels, an academic series, and then a more series aimed at larger audience. So the larger audience, we’ve cranked those out one every couple months and they’re more pamphlets, because we found that that’s what people like to read. They don’t want to read a long book. The academic press books, really designed more for college textbooks, college reading books. They’ve been very successful. For example, “Counting the Cost” is still being used in about 60 different seminaries and Christian in colleges right now as a textbook or as additional reading. So, I’ve been very pleased with how that’s come up and the other two are still doing extremely well. So we sat down and thought, okay, our first book really ought to wrestle with the idea of poverty and the importance of free markets and economics, faith, and work. What does that have this say to poverty? Because that’s a critical piece.

So that was really, we thought, where we needed to start. Then we needed to do something on capitalism and then we wanted to do a trilogy. We wanted to do one on religious liberty, one on political… Well, religious liberty, political freedom and economic freedom. And so what you see with “Set Free” is the first in a trilogy, we’ll do two more, one on political freedom, one on religious… I mean one on economic freedom. And probably do the economic freedom next. So that’s the one we’re gearing up to do next.

So yeah, so that’s pretty much… They were designed that way. Then we sat down, and for “Set Free” we actually had a conference. Actually, I think we did for “Counting the Cost” as well. We were invited to about 30 or 40 of the top evangelical scholars from around the world to sit down and for two days talk about some of these issues. And at the end of that, I said, “Look, we’re going to write a book. If you are interested in submitting some chapters, here’s the topics we’re interested in.” And so we got 20, 30 different submissions and withered them down to do 13 chapters. So that’s pretty much how we put the books together.

Dialogue about Michael Novak’s Three Legged Stool

Doug Monroe:

You talk about the Three Legged Stool, so to speak, in I think “Set Free,” and I think you mentioned it also in “Counting the Cost.” So, you have two more books to come? You’ve done religion, you’re going to do economics and political. So, you got two more to come. Wow, that’s interesting, I didn’t know that.

Hugh Whelchel:

Yeah. We think that the Three Legged Stool concept is very important and that it’s something that we want to keep working on.

Doug Monroe:

Did that come from, by any chance, Michael Novak, or?

Hugh Whelchel:

Yeah, it’s a quote from Michael Novak. In fact, it’s in “The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism” book that he wrote.

Doug Monroe:

You know, you’ve heard me say that I was searching the net and yeah. I see you’ve got “Human Diversity” there, I finished that one too.

Hugh Whelchel:

Did you? What’d you think of that?

Doug Monroe:

That’s…

Hugh Whelchel:

Charles Murray.

Doug Monroe:

How you would-

Hugh Whelchel:

I feel sorry for him. He’s still trying to justify the bell curve. I love the bell curve, because I think it’s right.

Doug Monroe:

All he’s doing is summarizing what’s out there, and the amount of research he does is unbelievable. That’s kind of his gift, I think.

Hugh Whelchel:

The boys are just too happy.

Doug Monroe:

So you were talking about, and I was saying that I came upon your website and then looked into your library because you had digitized some of it. And there was Novak sitting there and I must have read three or four different essays and I thought, well, this is exactly what I’m looking for, fantastic. But, tell me when you stumbled on Novak as, sort of, a big picture-

Dialogue about Michael Novak: “The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism” and Think Tanks

Hugh Whelchel:

Well, actually, I had read his book, “The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism,” years ago and knew of him. He’s good friends with Art Lindsley, and so kind of was introduced to him by Art. And we began to talk to him about doing something for us.

And so he wrote the first chapter in “Counting the Cost.” Really turned out incredibly because basically he said, “Look, I wrote Spirit of Democrat Capitalism 30 years ago. What’s changed?” And that’s really the essence of the chapter. And it’s quite a tale. I think it opens up the book, puts it on a stage that what we intended. So we’re really happy and then probably the last thing he wrote before he died, so we actually dedicated the book to him.

Doug Monroe:

He co-authored a book on social justice that’s pretty thick and good, but I got a feeling he probably didn’t write most of that, but what was I going to ask you about that? Oh, the other thing, and this is not in the question series here, but there’s just so much intellectual capital in Washington. And most of the really new thinking is happening not in the universities, from what I can see, in a lot of these important areas. It’s the various think tanks in Washington because they’re not tied down to some politically correct, for lack of a better term.

Hugh Whelchel:

There’s no tenure in people there to think outside the box. It’s very true. It’s really why think tanks were created back 20 years ago, is that they could really be like universities without students, and they’ve done a lot of good work.

“For the Least of These”

Doug Monroe:

All right. Well, let’s tick down the three books, just a few sentences on each one. So I can do that for “The Least of These?”

Hugh Whelchel:

“For The Least of These” is really, I think, an important work in that it really shows this idea of the importance of flourishing. And we’re going to probably talk about this later, but the biblical word for flourishing, particularly in the Old Testament is a word called shalom. And I think we interpret that word shalom as peace. It’s a terrible translation, way too weak.

Shalom literally means flourishing. Just as God intended, at every level, psychologically, physically, and spiritually. And one of the things I think it’s important for us to understand is that just because someone’s not experiencing shalom physically doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t experiencing it spiritually.

We had a young man come back to our church a year or two ago that had been to Cuba. We were doing some work in Cuba, out in a very rural area of Cuba. And he was just blown away. He said, “Here the people just dirt poor, just nothing.” And he went to worship service with them in a dirt floor mud hut. And he said he heard worship like you’ve never heard it before. And of course, see they’re experiencing shalom in a spiritual sense. And what we wanted to talk about, and that is how do you bring shalom to people, particularly in the financial areas, in some of these areas where it doesn’t exist, right? And how do you use free markets to do that?

There have been a couple of other things done. At the time we didn’t feel there was anything quite as clear. So that’s what we did.

So we got some people writing on the Old Testament, people writing on the New Testament. Some people saying kind of what’s been done and how well did it work? And then some practitioners at the end really talking about what’s the cutting edge right now?

So we feel like they did extremely well. It got very good reviews and still it’s used quite often by people.

Comments on Poverty

Doug Monroe:

There are a couple of basic insights I might get you to comment on. One is that poverty is, and this is perhaps even the main theme in the Bible, spiritual poverty is the problem. And the second thing is the poor really has to do it themselves, you can’t do it for them.

Hugh Whelchel:

That’s right, that’s right. That’s really true, that’s really true on both levels. I mean, the physical poverty is probably something that’s easier to fix than the spiritual poverty. And I would argue that we can’t fix spiritual, only Jesus can do that, right? But we can show the people where the cure is, and so I think that’s what you have to do. But I think it’s also important to show them this idea of the potential of coming out of the physical poverty, that they’re not condemned to that for eternity, just because they were born in central Africa, that there are things that they can do to repel themselves out of that and that’s possible. That’s really what the book’s a lot about.

“Counting the Cost”

Hugh Whelchel:

“Counting the Cost” was interesting. We were brainstorming how to get up at this. And we said, “Look, what if we went to some of our friends in the Christian left?” And that’s what we did and said, “What do you hate about capitalism?” And they gave us a long, very detailed list. And so what we did is, took that list and went down through it and picked 14 or 15 subjects, and then went and found scholars that we thought could answer and push back and really give an account for what we believe and how what they believe just doesn’t match. And so it worked out really well. We were very quite pleased.

Like I said, the first chapter is by Novak. The second chapter is by a guy who is over with Al Mohler, in Louisville, at the Baptist Seminary over there. And his name is Pennington, Jonathan Pennington, upcoming new guy. He writes on this idea of Shalom and the idea of blessing. And interesting enough, he’s a New Testament scholar, but he’s been studying the Beatitudes and Sermon on the Mount. And to understand those, he had to go back into the Old Testament and really began to understand this blessing language.

And so it’s a fascinating, fascinating chapter. It really helped us a lot. And he’d written some other things for us too, on this idea of Shalom and blessing, because we believe that’s so important. And we actually have a small book on Shalom coming out next month for the others. And not for the academic side, but for the other side of the house, that really kind of pulls together a lot of this stuff. And really, written in more of a layman’s vernacular, if you will.

Dialogue about Professional Silos

Doug Monroe:

One of the things you did there. It was beautiful. And I didn’t know that until after I read it, but you listened well. You sought to understand before being understood. So you go to in effect, “the enemy,” if you want to look at them that way. “Why do you hate this?” And you come up with a beautiful response in each case, which I think expresses what a lot of businessmen feel, Christian businessmen feel, and they just can’t express it, or they, they can’t get, they can’t get it all succinctly together, or they don’t have the platform to be able to say these things. I think personally that it’s not class warfare that’s going on, it’s really more professional. Because we spend our lives Monday through Friday in different silos, and we really don’t understand each other because we have totally different backgrounds.

Hugh Whelchel:

Right. That’s right.

Doug Monroe:

20 years later, you’re trained a certain way that’s different than the other folks. It was just a great piece of work. Last-

Hugh Whelchel:

We had great authors. There’s one guy, in “Counting the Cost” who he won the Nobel Prize for economics and wrote a chapter for us. I mean, you know, you just can’t touch that.

“Set Free”

Hugh Whelchel:

“Set Free” was the first in its trilogy. And the idea is we’ve been doing some studying, Anne Bradley, our economist, on trying to see what the correlation between the three legs, the Three Legged Stool, right. And it’s pretty easy to find the political freedom and economic freedom pieces. The piece that’s hard to find is the religious freedom because is measured differently in different countries and some countries not measured at all. So that’s where you really get in trouble trying to compare countries back and forth.

Although, they’ve done some of that and it looks like there’s a fairly strong connection between religious freedom and particularly economic freedom, which is what we would’ve guessed would’ve been true anyway. So that’s proved out to be true. And so we wanted a platform to kind of provide some of that evidence to kind show people where we are on that as well as kind of fill in some other things. So we basically start out there’s several chapters kind of historical chapters, and then it moves to some more current legal issues, and then kind of ends up with a number of chapters that kind of end up, okay, what can you go do now? What are some things that you can do to get involved in this fight?

Religious Liberty: “How To” the Public Square?

Hugh Whelchel:

Because it’s scary, at least to me, that so few people understand the importance of religious liberty, and the fact that we’re about to lose it. It’s one of the… Probably a blog I wrote when I first really started getting interested in this during the Obama administration, they were suing a company who would not provide their women with contraceptives or something.

Basically, the argument was this. They said, “Okay, when you go into a secular job, secular worldview takes over, and your religious view doesn’t count anymore. It’s the government that’s going to dictate what that secular view is going to be. If you’re going to be in the public square and being operating, you’re going to have to adhere to that worldview or you won’t be allowed to operate in the public square.” That goes against everything believers believe about faith and work, right, that we can’t leave our faith at home. We’re bound to bring it with us and have it help us to make decisions on how we work.

For a Christian, that’s just a non-starter. They literally argued that before the Second Circuit Court. Now, they didn’t want to lose because another opinion came out, so they just ended up dropping it. But it’s scary. But it shows you where this debate’s headed, and it’s going to get back there in a hurry. The current President has kind of put a stop on it. But if we change presidents, we’ll be right back to the same place in a matter of months.

Doug Monroe:

Well, it’s the First Amendment for a reason, you know.

Hugh Whelchel:

That’s right.

Global Interest in Work and IFWE

Hugh Whelchel:

You know, it’s been surprising for the first couple years, we really resisted doing anything international, and I guess about the third or fourth year, we got some opportunities. We thought, “Well, almost have to go do this.” We had one group called me from Jakarta, Indonesia, and they said, “We’re in a little seminary here and we’ve got a copy of ‘How Then Should We Work’ and this is really what Christians need in Indonesia. Would you let us translate it and publish over here?”

I said, “Sure, I’ll be glad to do that.”

They said, “We’ll write up a thing for you.”

I said, “Don’t worry about that.” I said, “I don’t need any commissions or anything. Just whatever money you make just dump back in the seminary,” because I’m thinking they’re going to print, maybe sell 500 books. So I said, “Just send me a copy of it,” they send me a copy of it.

So, didn’t hear anything from them for a couple years. So then they called me back and said, “Look, your book’s been very popular.”

I said, “Really? Good.”

They said, “They have a conference over here every year and they’d like you to come and speak at the conference.”

I said, “Really?”

Said, “Yeah, they had a college with different subjects and this will be the fourth year they’ve done it and since you book’s so popular, they’d like you to come to it and I’ll pay for it.”

I’m thinking Indonesia’s long way on air plane and so I’m trying to politely think of how I could get out of it. I said, “Well, how many people?”

They said, “Well, the room only holds 5,000, so there’ll only be 5,000.”

Anyway, long story short, I said, “Okay, I’ll come do it.” I said, “What kind of sales have you had on the book?”

“Oh, we’ve sold over 20,000 copies,” at that time that’s almost as many as we sold here.

I went. Not only did I speak to 5,000 people, they live streamed it to 10,000 more people in two other locations. Four hours, four lectures with 10 minute breaks between. These people just … It’s not like us, that we couldn’t get people to sit still that long in the United States. Phenomenal.

But over there you share the Gospel outside the walls of your church, you go to prison. There is no religious freedom. What they have found is that they can really share the gospel, share their faith, through their work very effectively and they’ve got plans to do that. Some things I can’t even tell you about that kind, so super secret, but it was just phenomenal to see some of the things they’re doing. We’ve seen that reflected in other places. Anne’s doing a bunch of work down in Brazil, Art’s doing a lot of work in South Korea, and we’re getting some of our stuff published. Right now, it’s got some of their stuff published in five or six different languages. It’s kind of exciting.

Matthew 28: The Great Commission and Shalom

Hugh Whelchel:

Yeah, I do think about it a lot. One of the things I think is where we get mixed up is that we think the Great Commission is different from the Cultural Mandate. The Cultural Mandate we already alluded to a little bit. Genesis 1:28. God comes and blesses them and says, fill the Earth with images, subdue the Earth.

One of my professors at seminary, a guy named John Frame, said that there is no difference between the Great Commission and the Cultural Mandate. All you have is Jesus restating the Cultural Mandate in light of his life, death, and resurrection and the fact that, as the second Adam, he’d been given authority to do these things.

Now, here’s the fascinating thing. The first Adam failed his responsibility of subduing the Earth and filling it with images. The first Adam was given a helper to help him fulfill that and he still failed. Who was that helper? It was Eve, his wife. The second Adam, Jesus Christ, has succeeded in fulfilling the Earth with images and subduing the Earth. And he’s been given a helper as well. Who is that helper? It’s the church. It’s you and I.

And so that’s why we’ve stepped in now as his bride to help bring about these two things, to help fill the earth with images, redeemed images, to help subdue the earth, to help bring flourishing to people in such a way that they see it and it gives them example of the way things could be, in fact, this whole idea of Shalom.

And I would go on to argue that the purpose of our work is summed up is to bring Shalom to God’s creation and really to bring it to the communities that he has called us to work with. So if I look at someone and say, “God’s called you to this work and this place and this time,” really what that work’s all about is bringing Shalom to that community. Because that’s your calling. Our calling is to go make Shalom.

Here’s the fascinating thing. Adam’s in the garden, the perfect Shalom. What does God tell him to do? Go make more Shalom. That’s just really amazing, right? But that’s the way… Because the more Shalom is made, the more God’s glorified. And that’s what we’re here to do to begin with. I mean, that’s the purpose of our existence here is to glorify God, serve him. And we do that by creating more Shalom. And so Shalom’s a very important concept that we really haven’t thought through very much.

Christian Worldview in a Nutshell

Hugh Whelchel:

That’s a good question. When I think about that, I think of a story that’s at the end of… Actually it’s a scene from a story… At the end of Lord of the Rings and it’s after…. And actually it’s a scene they cut from the movie. It wasn’t in the movie… Frodo and Sam had been rescued by the giant eagles brought back to the home of the elves and being taken care of and Sam wakes up for the first time and Gandalf is at the front of his bed. He looks at him, he goes “Gandalf” he says, “I thought you were dead.” Then he looks at himself. He says, “Well, I thought I was dead.” And he looks at him and asked him a very interesting question. He said, “Is everything bad going to come untrue? Is everything bad going to come untrue?

And Gandalf nods his head and says, “Yes.” And that’s at the very core of our Christian worldview is that this idea of Creation, Fall, Redemption, Restoration, that God is putting everything back to the way it was supposed to be that there’s this process taking place, right? And that we could be part and parcel of that process.

One of the things that concerns me sometimes is that when we truncate that fourth chapter, God spoke to [inaudible 00:01:30] we put the focus on man. And you hear people say, “If you were the only person alive, God would’ve, he would’ve still died for you.” Well, yeah, maybe, but it’s about more than that. He didn’t just come here just to die for you. He died to return the entire creation back the way it’s supposed be. You’re an important part of that.

You may be the cornerstone, I don’t know the chair on top of creation, but the purpose is to put the whole creation back to rights, right? This is why Paul talks about the whole creation groans in expectation of what God’s going to do because they were punished. The whole creation has been punished because of what Adam and… Because of their sin, unjustly, maybe, but they were punished nonetheless. And so there’s a sense that everything is going to be put… That has to be at the very center of any understanding of worldview that there’s this process going through. This is where we’re going. As Sam says, “All bad things are going to be turned untrue, right?” It’s going to be reversed. And I think that’s the piece that’s thing we miss sometimes. We jump straight into our theology and we fight about these little pieces.

Had an interesting conversation with someone the other day who called me and said… I just want you to hear the story. He said, “I’ve been working through…” We have a little book on the Four-Chapter Gospel called, “All Things New” and there’s some question in the back. A lot of people use it for a Bible study so this is out of college.

So he’s got about 10, 15 kids who are going through his Bible study. And one of the girls was so excited about it, she said… “I’m just so excited about the new heaven and new…” and that she’d never been explained to this way. So she was going to a class and she started talking to another friend about this. And this girl said, “What are you talking about?” She said, “I’ve been in church all my life I’ve never heard anything like this.” And she started explaining it to her. And she said, “Well, this makes all the difference.” And they went and spent about two hours together and she gave her a life to Christ because she could see where something’s going on, where something’s changing, where something’s happening. And I think that’s really a critical piece in any discussion you have. And I don’t hear that piece being talked about very much.

Does Christian worldview change?

Doug Monroe:

Well, a lot of what you hear is stereotypes, where you have the old man, God, who all we have is commandments, where we have to do this and freeze up. And then you have a God who murdered his son. And then, what else, where he demanded that and as compensation for all our sins. And it’s just, I think that, not that there aren’t aspects of some of that that don’t have some theological being, but it’s a hit job in my opinion. So, my next question is, I think you answered it very well already. Does Christian worldview evolve, adapt, change, reinvent itself?

Hugh Whelchel:

That’s a tough question, because it really means you have to go back and say, the Bible doesn’t change, theology doesn’t change. There’s right, there’s understand the way it’s supposed to be, we can misinterpret it. But the scripture, what it says, doesn’t change.

Do the times change? I think they do. So, as the times change, do you need new tools, different tools? One of the things people ask me all the time, they say, “We never hear you talk about dominion, it says in the Genesis, have dominion, you never talk about that.” I said, “No, I don’t.” I said, “It’s there, it’s important, but dominion’s a tough word.” Particularly for 20, 30-somethings today, college kids.

I said, “I don’t want to go have that fight. I don’t need to have that fight. I can talk about subduing, because that gets to the source of what’s going on. And so, why go fight that thing with dominion?”

And so, I think there needs to be some thinking through about issues like that. How can we make the conversation as important as it needs to be and yet not make it adversarial. And I think that’s an important thing. And I hear some people starting to do that and there’s some great new ways of sharing the Gospel, particularly using this Four Chapter Gospel model, our framework, that are very good. And so I think that’s people working on it, but I think the Gospel doesn’t change, but our situations change and we need to be adaptable.

Here’s one thing I heard a woman say one time, is that Christianity is the only religion in the world that can contextualize to any situation. And, I think it’s very interesting and the illustration they gave, they say, look at Islam, you go in a Mosque in Mecca and you go into a Mosque in Fairfax, Virginia, it’s exactly alike.

You go into a church in Fairfax, Virginia, where they’re preaching the Gospel, and you go to a church in the middle of Africa, it’s completely different, but it’s the same Gospel. And, really, the ultimate contextualization was incarnation. God became man, that’s the ultimate in contextualization.

So, I think that’s a piece we have to understand. And contextualization, in some places is a dirty word, but I think it shouldn’t be. We need to understand what the limits are, but I think it’s a very important piece that we need to think more about, particularly as we talk about worldview.

The great authors of Christian worldview since 1517?

Hugh Whelchel:

Well, obviously, Luther’s work, Calvin’s work. Many of the early reformers. Fast forward, even to some of the people in the Dutch reformation movement, even in the early-1900s. Kuyper probably is the classic example of that movement, or others. But Kuyper’s definitely the ultimate example.

Those are people I had the most impact on me. Some of the contemporary pastors, people like Keller, Tim Keller at Redeemer in New York City. And I think what I like about what Tim has done, is Tim realized early on he had to contextualize the Gospel in a different way to reach the people in his church. And so I really like some of the stuff he’s done in that area. But I think there are other contemporary guys I’ve done some really good stuff as well.

I think that there also is a danger getting swept up in what’s working, and using it just because that works. Right? Keller had a reason to contextualize. He didn’t do it because everybody else was doing it. He was doing it because he needed to do it in this specific incident. And so I think you got to be careful about that.

But I cannot tell you what an influence, probably, Kuyper, a huge influence on me. And really, Kuyper talks about his lectures on Calvinism. They were called the Stone Lectures, that he did at Princeton. You can find them. They’re online. It’s phenomenal, absolutely phenomenal. Because it shows how that, and really, Calvinism is a worldview in itself, how that worldview is still applicable to what we’re doing today. And that was 100 years ago, and it’s even more so than when he said it.

So, to me, that a that’s a monumental piece.

Doug Monroe:

Have you just, I’m curious, have you read much Francis Schaeffer?

Hugh Whelchel:

Oh yeah, yeah. Francis Schaeffer is great. I think Schaeffer, I love his stuff. He’s not quite as structured as some of the other guys. It’s hard to nail him down in some areas, but very creative, once again. And very much solid on the Gospel. He’s not drifting, and that’s what we have to be. You can’t drift.

The Key to Christian Living Now: Shalom

Hugh Whelchel:

Let me talk a little bit about the Shalom thing, because I think that’s one of the most important ones. Once again, we’ve interpreted Shalom as peace and that’s just too weak a translation. And I think as you begin to look across the Bible, hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of times Shalom was repeated. And then of course the New Testament is written in Greek. So you won’t learn the word Shalom, but there is a Greek word there that when the authors wrote it down, they were thinking Shalom. And it’s the Greek word, “Eirene,” which is where we get the woman’s name Irene. So if you look at those two words across the whole context of scripture, you begin to see a completely different meaning than what we’ve taken for granted. Let me just give you some examples.

We often talk about the passage of Isaiah versus Jesus was the Prince of Peace, right? Well, that’s wrong, right? See, Jesus is not the prince of peace. He’s not a prince that’s going to come back and stop everybody from fighting. What is he? He’s the prince of Shalom who’s going to come back and make everything back the way it was supposed to be. Big difference, right? Look at another example, New Testament, the attitudes says blessed are the peacekeepers where they should become all the sons of God. Literally, when we read that, we typically think blessed are those people who do reconciliation or something like that. I mean, we don’t really know exactly peacekeeper. That’s not what that means at all.

What it’s literally saying is blessed are those people who go out and weave Shalom in whatever profession they’ve been called to do it in, and in some small way, put things back the way they were supposed to be, because that’s an example to people, the way things could be and the way things are going to be. And that’s why this idea of Shalom is so important. It stands as a marker, a way station almost to direct people in the right direction.

How much of our lives does God want from us?

Hugh Whelchel:

That’s easy, easy. 110%, everything. And I can show you what’s … It’s over and over and over again in the scriptures. So, one of my favorite parables, digging in the field, he comes across a treasure. What does he do? The legal law was that if you own that property, he owned everything, rights, whatever’s there, it was yours. The treasure in the field, he goes out and sells everything he has to get the field. Now, we don’t think about the Gospel that way. We just don’t. What if that parable is saying it’s worth everything you’ve got and then some. And why would you even think twice about not making the sacrifices needed to be able to achieve it? Yeah so, to me, that’s not a hard question. It is for a lot of people because we had divided interest and I think there’s a reason for that.

What is Grace?

Hugh Whelchel:

Unmerited grace, grace of the Gospel is a reward for something I didn’t do. In fact, it almost stands in complete difference; it’s like, “I should have gotten this, but I got something else in return.”

And that’s what the Gospel is all about; where the reward for my life should be an eternity of misery, should be death, but thanks to the grace of Jesus Christ, it won’t be. And so it’s unmerited favor by a loving God, to someone who doesn’t really deserve it.

So to me, that’s what, that’s what unmerited grace is. You have to be careful because there are other types of grace out there, but we’re talking about unmerited grace. That’s what it is.

How important is family to God’s 110% Christian calling?

Hugh Whelchel:

That’s a really good, important piece. It’s one I find there’s much misunderstanding about. And I’ll give you a model that I got from Os Guinness that really helped me. And it really helps everyone I tell it to, because we don’t think about it this way. What Os says is that, “Our primary calling as Christians is to become disciples of Christ.” That’s our primary calling. We all share that together. But he says, “Out of that primary calling, four secondary callings.” And these secondary callings are the way that these primary callings works itself out in the real world. It’s how the rubber meets the road. Right? And those callings are our calling to the church, our calling to family, our calling to community, and our calling to vocation. So what Os says is, “During the day, during any given day, all those are in play.” Right?

And you wouldn’t say, “Well, my calling to work is so important that I’m going to ignore my family this week.” You wouldn’t say that. But you’d balance your time out in such a way that you’d do all of them. Now, there’re going to be times in your life when you can be very different, right? So when you retire, and I don’t particularly like that word retire, because I don’t believe in it from the perspective of, to be the way we talk about it. But when it gets to a place where you don’t have to work for money, put it that way, and God lets you spend more time with your family, that’s okay. Right? That’s the way it’s supposed to work. Or more time in the community, or more time at the church. But see, the reality is we’re called to do work, paid and unpaid, in those four buckets through our whole lifetime.

And we can’t ignore that, and we ignore it at our peril. Right? So part of it is balancing that out. And part of it’s being conscious that we are responsible to do work in the church. We are responsible to do work in our community. We are responsible to do work. And it’s through that work that God makes a difference. It’s through that work in those four buckets that he changes the world. That’s the instrument he’s chosen to bring Shalom to our families, to our churches, to our communities, to our vocations. And we need to get on board with that.

The Biblical Principle of Subsidiary?

Doug Monroe:

This is a phrase that very few people really know, and it’s not like the Bible says, “We must do the principle of subsidiary.” No, it doesn’t say that. That’s a principle that I believe Catholics came up with, after extensive study of the Bible and extensive study of all that.

Hugh Whelchel:

Yeah.

Doug Monroe:

Could you comment on that?

Hugh Whelchel:

Yeah, I think it’s a Catholic doctrine that’s been around a long time. I think it’s right. I think, you know… Get back to that thing I was just talking about, our call to vocation, family, community, church. The immediate calls to those things are right next to us, and I think that’s just very important. Then it goes on out from there. I think it’s very scriptural. I think it’s a good tool to help you think through, “Okay, where do my primary responsibilities lie?” That doesn’t mean I don’t give money to building wells over in Tanzania, right? But I’m still responsible to take care of my family. I’m still responsible to make sure that I’m involved in my community, that I’m attached somehow. I think those things are important. I think you start here and you work your way out.

Doug Monroe:

What about the same principle in the context of managing a company?

Hugh Whelchel:

Yeah.

Doug Monroe:

Does it have applicability and good management technique?

Hugh Whelchel:

Yeah, that’s a good question. I had not thought about that.

Doug Monroe:

Pushing the responsibility down as far as it can be handled, sort of.

Hugh Whelchel:

Yeah. I think that there’s a sense that… One of the things I don’t see in management is that there’s a sense that you are responsible for the people underneath you, but how much communication do you have with them? How much time are you spending with them as opposed to other people? I think that’s, in terms of being able to manage well, I think you’ve got to spend time with the people that you’re managing. You can send orders down all day long, but you got to know your people to manage them well.

Christian worldview’s influence on the West?

Hugh Whelchel:

Yeah, that’s a big one. And I would say… I mean this is a loaded question, but I think, historically, you can make a strong argument that, forget maybe last hundred years, but you can go back the last thousand years and almost everything that’s been done in Western civilization, new schools, education, hospitals, jobs, great art, great music, were all done by Christian believers who understood the call on their lives would take the gifts that God give them, and, through their work, bring Shalom to the communities that God had called them to serve. The result of that is what we have with the success of Western civilization. Christianity built Western civilization, and everyone else will tell you that’s not true, but when you really look at the facts, it’s undeniable. Look at some of the stuff that Rodney Stark writes. You cannot make a claim that Christianity has not had impact.

One of the things we argue in “Set Free” is the importance of religious freedom and really the whole Second Amendment. I mean, First Amendment. Comes out of what the scripture says, right? The first person to write anything about religious liberty ever was one of the church fathers in 200 AD. He’s the first one to put the words, religious freedom or religious liberty into that context. You can try to write it out of history if you want, but it’s just not possible. You know, we are Western civilization is the most prosperous, successful civilization ever because of Christianity. Nothing else.

Doug Monroe:

Do you feel like some success at the person level, the individual level, the family level, the micro level, somehow people, not in every case by any stretch, but they find a way to put themselves into the narrative?

Hugh Whelchel:

Yeah.

Doug Monroe:

Into the narrative.

Hugh Whelchel:

I think there’s a truth to that. I think it’s also truth to, getting back to the principles, that there are these basic principles and when you operate your life out of these basic principles, good things happen. So, there’s that sense there, as well. I think that the principles are very important and that we can’t ignore that.

Should Christians try to influence culture?

Doug Monroe:

We’ve talked about culture a little bit and that kind of thing. I can’t remember… Really, it might have been actually, in the “Least of These” where the importance of culture, say, in the United States needs to be recognized better by Christians and we need to understand we can influence it more. I guess the specific question is, why is culture important and what should a Christian do with it?

Hugh Whelchel:

Well, I think culture is like the introduction to a book. A lot of people skip it. A lot of people skip the introduction, but what do you miss when you skip the introduction? You really miss the key factors that help you understand what’s going on, right? And I think that’s what’s important about culture, is we need to be observers of culture. We need to be able to understand what’s going on and to be able to change it.

I don’t think we say, “Well, all culture is good culture,” I don’t believe that. In fact, I believe most of the culture is bad culture. So, how do we make an argument to change the culture from A to B? I think we need to be able to do that. But I think you’ve got to understand where we are. I see things written of late, whether it’s a tendency to just go put our head in the sand, go become a… What’s the word? A monastery. Can I go to a monastery? I just don’t believe that’s the answer. I don’t believe that’s what we’re called to do. It’s hard to be the salt and light when no one can see what you’re doing.

And so I think what we have to do is understand what the culture is. We have to understand the effect that it has on people. And then we have to understand the only counter influence to the culture is Christ, right? He’s the transformer of culture. And so, how do we let him use us to do that? And that’s tough. That’s heavy lifting, but it’s where we need to be. And I don’t see anybody leading the way right now.

What about the word capitalism?

Hugh Whelchel:

It’s weird. It comes with a lot of baggage, but what war does anymore? I don’t have a real problem with capitalism. As long as we’re talking about the same thing. I’m resistant and I’ve told people right from me, that I don’t want you to say that the Bible teaches capitalism. I don’t believe it does. Now, and I say that people go, whoa, whoa, whoa. You just said Western civilization was created because of Christianity. Here’s what I believe. Get back to these principles. I believe that they’re all these principles, economic principles, that God wove into the fabric of creation. And I think that we have to understand where they are. We have to understand how to go out and use them. And then those of us who’ve been called to the business world. We have to be very clear, understand what they are and be able to use them in a way to bring flourishing.

We also need to be able to go out and observe the existing systems, business systems that are out there already and see, okay, how do those match up to the principles that God has established? So let’s look at capitalism, communism, socialism, let’s take those three. The illustration I gave earlier about property rights. Okay. Capitalism, property rights, check, big check. That’s good. Socialism, no property rights. So if there are no property rights in socialism, right, we don’t own the means of production how then can socialism and Christianity work together? And I think you have to answer that question. If you’re going to proceed down that route, communism has the same problem. There are no property rights. You don’t own anything. State owns everything. So if the scripture tells us the property rights are so important, how can we walk down the road to communism and still say, we believe what scripture says. So I think that’s the way you have to begin to kind of think through these things.

Is there a better system out there then capitalism? Maybe there is, maybe we just haven’t found it yet, but for right now, as far as I can see, it aligns more with the principles I taught in scripture than anything else out there. So I’m okay using it. And I think if you understand how it’s been used correctly, it’s created more wealth in the last, since the 1700s than we’ve ever seen ever in the history of the world. And I think that’s a good thing, particularly when that wealth is re-channeled to help bring more flourishing. When it’s not, is an issue. So, and that’s where we’re at now. Right. And that’s where a lot of discussion is. So I think it’s very-

What about wealth creation?

Hugh Whelchel:

There’s a great passage. Deuteronomy 8. Moses is giving the Commandments to the second generation of Israelites that are getting ready to take back the Promised Land. He says, “Don’t forget that as Lord your God, that gave you the ability to create wealth, so that God might confirm his covenant with you.”

Now that’s really quite an amazing thing when we think about it. It’s God that gave us the ability to create wealth so that God could confirm the covenant. The covenant Moses has in mind, is the one with Abraham. The God blessed Abraham so that Abraham’s going to be a blessing.

We’re to create wealth, to be a blessing to other people. And we understand that’s incredibly important. How much wealth? As much as we possibly can create. No limits. And that’s the piece that we really to need to think more about. It’s one of the things that if we’ve got on his radar screen, we want to do some work on wealth creation, because there’s just not much been done on it.

In fact, I’ll give you a point. Well, that passage, I did a research, looked at 50 commentaries on that one passage. And only two of the 50 address the wealth creation piece, none of the others do. And you think that’s so incredibly important. How could you miss it? Because they’re theologians who don’t think about business.

And that’s one of the problems. When we read the Bible, we don’t read the business part because it’s not really been addressed by business people. We need to change that. And that’s what we’re trying to do at IFWE. It’s one of the main things we’re trying to do, is change that piece of what’s going on.

Wealth Creation: A Key Answer with a Slippery Slope

Doug Monroe:

Well, Michael Novak, when I interviewed him five years ago, or whenever he said, “How to feed the poor, create more wealth.”

Hugh Whelchel:

Yeah.

Doug Monroe:

And the answer is really for them to create their own more wealth, because you have a permanent sustaining.

Hugh Whelchel:

Yeah.

Doug Monroe:

You’re building the kingdom, so to speak, but if you’re always having to give it, that’s good, if people need it, but it’s not going to create any permanent betterment than the other problem is. And I personally think, unsolicited, that you can have too much wealth, and that’s more the problem today in America than anything else.

Hugh Whelchel:

Well, it is, and it’s because-

Doug Monroe:

Because there just aren’t that many huge problems.

Hugh Whelchel:

Well, it’s not biblical. It’s the guys building the barns, right?

Doug Monroe:

Yeah.

Hugh Whelchel:

So, if you had, in the Puritan days, even before that, if you were a good Calvinist, and you got business, and it’s just running on all 8 cylinders, you’re making money, hand over fist, and your pastor found out you had a big wad of money in your bank account, guess what he would do? He would be all over you, because that’s not your money, that’s God’s money. What are you supposed to be with doing with that? Parable of the Talents. Because we’re reinvesting it, so that you can get more in return, grow the company bigger, get more blessing, more flourishing.

It’s not about making you rich, so that you can sit on an island someplace, but that’s the piece we lost today, because we’ve so trained people that work’s all about you. It’s all about amassing a certain amount of wealth, so that you don’t have to work later, because it works, the curse works, not the blessing. And the problem is, that’s at the heart of what we’ve gotten wrong. We think that work is a curse. We think leisure… We’ve embraced leisure as the blessing, and I believe it’s just the opposite, that leisure can become a curse.

Work is definitely the blessing. We got to get that right, if we’re going to move forward.

Is America’s founding vision from the Bible?

Hugh Whelchel:

That’s an interesting question. And you’ll get a lot of different answers. I’ve got a good friend named… He’s a professor at American University and he does history. He’s actually one of the authors in “Set Free.” He wrote a book called “Reading the Bible with the Founding Fathers.” Daniel Dreisbach, is his name. Three or four years ago, maybe five years ago. And in that, he waded into this discussion that we often have. And then he circles, whether the Founding Fathers were Evangelical Christians or whether they were not even Christians at all and back and forth, back and forth.

And he said, none of that really matters. He says, what you see in the founding era is not men doing things because of their faith, it was men who were doing things because they’ve been motivated by the power of God’s word. And some of them were believers. And some of them weren’t. He said, we had this thing called, we call it common grace, that God can affect people who aren’t believers.

And one of the ways that Dreisbach said, he did it particularly during “Founding Fathers” is using the Bible to influence men. Some of whom will never be believers, but were influenced nevertheless by the wisdom and the importance of the gifting of the scriptures. I think that’s exactly right.

So I think we have to look at that way. And when you begin to look at it that way, you see things from a whole different perspective. It gets back to how do you look at things from a little bit different view? And I think you really see that.

What is going on today in America’s educational sectors?

Doug Monroe:

Your answers are very nuanced. And I think at the end of the day, here’s one that’s, I think you’re going to do the same thing. Give me a nuanced answer. What is going on now with the media, universities, and mainline churches? Be very curious to hear what you have to say about that. I have no clue what you’re going to say.

Hugh Whelchel:

Well, the problem is Romans 1. They’ve changed the truth for a lie. And once you go down that road, I don’t know how you get back, because if all you got is lies, how are lies going to bring you back to the right place? They’re never going to. And so until they begin to realize that there’s a truth, there are absolutes. I don’t know what’s going to happen. I don’t. Yeah. I just don’t know. I think that education is in a very dangerous, dangerous place today. And we may see, I think we will see dramatic changes in the educational landscape in the next three or four years. I don’t think it’s going to be good, but they’ve opened themselves up to it. I think people are ridiculous to say this. We’re done with all the silliness.

Should the U.S. balance its budget?

Hugh Whelchel:

I’ve heard argument both ways. I don’t know. The balanced budget thing’s a difficult question. Sooner or later, I’m afraid it’s going to come back and bite us. Everybody’s betting on it being later. So far, they’ve been right. I think we do need to get our economic house in order, in terms of government. I mean, I heard somebody other day say, “It’s like you have the two different parties; they’re in two cars racing toward a cliff. The only difference is the one drives a little faster than the other. They’re both going to go over the cliff.” And that’s what it looks like to me. I just don’t know.

I heard some interesting things. One person said, “What happens when America goes bankrupt?” And most people talk about gloom and doom and apocalypse. And I said, “No, the states will just take over.” And what this guy says is, “You’ll probably see the United States break up in about four or five different nations.” The South will rise again, right? The Northeast, probably. I mean, look at the colors when we had the election. You’ll see where they’re probably going to fall. And that requires that you… Who else has a standing army besides the government? And they’re not going to have it very long if they don’t pay anybody. Well, the states have a standing army. He said he can see a hopeful scenario where the government could go bankrupt, and we wouldn’t miss a beat, so that’s true.

Interviewer Comment on Financial Contracts

Hugh Whelchel:

No, I don’t…

Doug Monroe:

Well, in many ways, I used to think about this when I worked at Wachovia. I would leave the headquarters every day, come in early and leave late. And I’d think, “What is going on in that building?” Well, really all it is, is a stack of contracts.

Hugh Whelchel:

Yeah.

Doug Monroe:

It’s a bunch of paper contracts and relations. You could just basically say, much like the jubilee, “It’s over. Those contracts are void. Sorry you gave us your money. We gave you a treasury, see, but it’s not good anymore. We’re going to start over now and we’ll see what happens.” But anyway, that likely long after I’m gone and hopefully, maybe not, who knows.

Where is Christianity heading globally?

Hugh Whelchel:

Well, obviously the center of Christianity would be with Africa and China. I think that’s without exception. I mean, does Christianity still have a role to play in the United States? It does. I mean, I think a lot more Christians in the United States than we think. I think a lot of them are scared to say anything.

I know with what’s happened to me recently, I’ll have to confess, I’m much more open now with people, I just don’t care. When you tell people, you just recently [inaudible 00:00:45] their sins, they’re usually not too bad.

I mean, but it’s surprising how many people I tell, how many people. I mean, you can tell very quickly, but the other thing that’s been interesting is how many people want to know more about. Tell me more about, how can you feel this way given the circumstances? So, very interesting.

The Consequences of Trump v Biden

Hugh Whelchel:

I’m actually optimistic long term. I mean, just that short period before the virus hit, showed us how easy it is for the United States economy to bounce back. We’re different than any place in the world, and we need to understand that.

And given the right tools and the right opportunities, I still think there’s nothing the United States can’t do. Part of it’s to get people to get out of the way, and let’s go do what we want to do.

But I’m optimistic. I believe in America. I believe it’s an exceptional place. I believe we did some things wrong, but we did some things right. And even the things we did wrong, we have done the best that we know how to fix. So I don’t have any problem with that.

Are you optimistic or pessimistic about America?

Hugh Whelchel:

Yeah, it’s probably not as drastic as they make it sound, but I think elections have consequences and I think, particularly in the realm of economics. I’m not a huge Trump fan, but I do like his policies. I think the policies were going in the right direction.

Did we handle the virus thing well? I don’t know. Only time will tell, and so, I think what you have to do is you have to stop and think. The big differences will be economic, and I think we have an opportunity to, once again, create more wealth, which is what we need to be doing. I don’t think Biden’s plans will do that, so I think that’s the biggest thing, that is.

And there’s some social justice ramifications as well. There’s some First and Second Amendment ramifications. That’ll be severely limited if Biden was to become president, but I think that’s what we’re looking at.

Why are you still working?

Doug Monroe:

Well, we’re coming down to the last few minutes and you got some news six months or so ago, and you’re an amazing man in my eyes. So, I guess, why are you still working?

Hugh Whelchel:

Yeah.

Doug Monroe:

Is a great question.

Hugh Whelchel:

Well, I have had some problems with my breathing for the last year and a half. I’ve gone to doctor after doctor, doctor, trying to figure out what it was. And to really, to no avail. And then finally got a little bit more clarity. Went to a neurologist, they brought me in and said, the diagnosis is that I’ve got ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease. Not what I wanted to hear, but it’s been… That was in March, so that’s been almost six months ago.

And the interesting thing about ALS is that most people, by the time they’re diagnosed, live between one to three years, something like that in that range. Some of those six months, some live 10 years, there’s no real rhyme or reason to it. And they can’t look at you and tell you which group you’re going to be in. Just don’t know.

So, what do you do when something like that happens? And I’ll be honest with you, I’d never really thought too much about that because I never thought anything like this would happen to me. And I really had to think through a number of different things. I almost believed at one point that maybe I was in denial, because you think, well, you have some great Road to Damascus moment or… I haven’t had any of that. None of the beliefs I had before this happened have changed, which I think is a good thing.

Had some situations that have made me wonder about different things. For example, I’ve had people say, “Well, maybe it’s your time to go,” you know? And maybe it is. Who are you to say that you want to stay on a few more years? And I’ve prayed about that. And then the other day, I had a fall down those stairs. We came in, and at the top rung of the stairs, my knee buckled and I fell backwards down that whole flight of stairs. And should have killed me. My wife was at the base of the stairs and saw it happen and she said, it should have killed me. I didn’t a break bone. How did that happen? It didn’t, right?

I tell people, if God wanted me to go, He could have taken me right then. Had the ample opportunity, but He didn’t. And what that’s shown me is, A, not to walk up the stairs anymore, but B, that I do have more stuff to do. And I can’t be persuaded by people coming along and say, “Your work here is not that important.” The reality is, what I’ve said for the last nine years is true. What you do is very important to God. And I believe there’s some things that I’m doing now that He wants me to finish. And I’m praying for, that He’ll give me the time to do that.

And that might sound cold. Should I be praying for time to spend with my family? Yeah, maybe. But that’s not what I believe God has called me to do, right? And my family understands that. Am I ready to go see Jesus? I’m ready to go see Jesus. And listen, compared to what’s going to happen to me in the next… could happen to me the next three or four years, I’d much rather go see Him. Much rather died on the stair, but that’s not what He’s got for me.

So the question I have to ask myself all the time is, what do you know that you’re supposed to be doing? Are you doing it? And I have to do that every day. Because one of the things this has taught me is that, you got to live day by day. You can’t get way ahead of yourselves. You can’t give the tips of your skis as they say. Because what’ll happen, particularly with my situation, I’ll start… This can happen, like I’ll go down a rabbit hole in a hurry and maybe not come back, right?

So, it’s really been good for me. Because now, and why didn’t I live like this before? Because I’ll be honest with you, all of us are under a death penalty. We’re all going to die, but it is something different when you hear that from the doctor. But God’s good. He’s been more gracious to me than I can possibly imagine.

One other story that… I’m in the doctor’s office, in the doctor’s office, and doctor tells me this and my wife’s with me. And I’m a little stunned, I’ll be honest, because I didn’t expect this. I mean, to the point where I just… I really didn’t expect it. So he says, “Go back to the waiting room. We need to draw some blood, so the nurse will come get you in a few minutes.”

So we go to the waiting room and I see a couple I know. And they’re from a law firm here in town. The big Christian law firm that I’d done some work with and actually did a retreat for them, a day long retreat, offsite retreat for them one time on the “How Then Should We Work?” book. And they see me and say, “What are you doing here?” I said, “Funny you should ask. I just got diagnosed with ALS.” And they ministered to me in a way that you cannot possibly imagine, talking about how influential I had been to their firm, to them personally. And then they said, “Can we pray for you?” I said, “Sure.”

And so they’re laying hands on me, praying for me in the waiting room minutes after I’ve been diagnosed with this. That just doesn’t happen, right? And God’s orchestrated many things like that. I wrote a blog about this in March, and I’m still getting letters from people that I don’t even know, that were so touched by what we’ve done and what’s going on. And it’s just… It’s been very humbling to me, very inspiring in some ways.

But I feel, beyond a shadow of a doubt… As one of my best friends told me, “You’re not going to keep working. People don’t do that.” So why not? That’s what I’m here to do. I mean, He’s not going to give me 15 more years laying around on a beach. I don’t want to do that anyway. So, it’s been very, very interesting, and will continue to be, I’m sure.

One of the things that we tell people, and I’ll tell you audience the same thing, is pray for us. There’s a great story about King Hezekiah. King Hezekiah gets ill and Isaiah, the prophet comes and tells him, “You’re going to die.” And the king repents. Literally before the prophet can get out of the palace, he has to turn around and go back and tell him that God is going to give him 15 more years. So that’s what we’re asking God, to give us 15 more years to finish some of these projects. Will He? We’ll see.

The other passage that keeps coming back to me is what Meshach, Shadrach and Abednego tell King Nebuchadnezzar in front of the fiery furnace. They say, “God can deliver us from the fiery furnace.” God can deliver me from Lou Gehrig’s disease. Then they go and say, “He will deliver us from the fiery furnace, but He may or may not. But He will deliver us from your hand,” King’s hand. And I realize that God will deliver me from ALS, in this life or the next. I know that beyond a shadow of a doubt. Can He deliver me in this life? Yes, He can. That’s what we’re praying for. And I will believe that and until He tells me otherwise. So, that’s my story. I’m sticking with it.

Doug Monroe:

Fantastic, Hugh. You’re an amazing guy.

Print

The Institute for Faith, Work, & Economics:

https://tifwe.org/

How Then Should We Work? Rediscovering the Biblical Doctrine of Work;

https://store.tifwe.org/collections/all/products/how-then-should-we-work

Discover Your Story: A Biblical Guide to Finding Your Calling:

https://store.tifwe.org/collections/all/products/discover-your-story-digital-download

The Rise of Religious Freedom and How It Shaped the Political Theology of the United States:

https://tifwe.org/resource/the-rise-of-religious-freedom-and-how-it-shaped-the-political-theology-of-the-united-states/

Overview

Hugh Whelchel

Hugh Whelchel was recently the Executive Director of the Institute for Faith, Work & Economics (IFWE) but has since transitioned into the role of Senior Fellow at IFWE due to a long battle with Lou Gehrig’s disease. He graduated from the University of Florida and received his MA in religion from the Reformed Theological Seminary in Washington, DC. Hugh is also currently attending the Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. Praxis Circle interviewed Mr. Whelchel because his Christian worldview is thoughtful and comprehensive and because IFWE is integrating Christianity with work and economics.
Transcript

How did a family man get into the turnaround business?

Doug Monroe:

How did a family man get into the turnaround business, and what is a turnaround? How would you explain that to the layman?

Hugh Whelchel:

Yeah, good question. Often I ask myself, “How did I get into this?” And I really look at myself as more of a coach. I think that’s what God has given me, the talent to coach people. And I’ve done a lot of coaching over the years, both individually and with teams, and basically, turnaround is coaching the organization to do the right things.

Hugh Whelchel:

Typically, companies fail because they’re not doing the right things. Sometimes they fail because there’s wrong people in the wrong places. But what I found out early on is I had to ability to come in, to be able to look at a company and see the problems that other people didn’t see. And I think that’s really where the secret lies, at least my secret of success in the four or five companies I’ve turned around, and interesting enough, it’s all been in the sales end.

I came out of business as a sales guy. When I first got into it, I was doing engineering sales. Moved up, did some sales management, moved up to running companies. And really, the secret for me has been to come into companies, find out why they’re not selling anything, and then go fix the sales end. Typically, I would hire somebody to run the management piece, to manage the day to day activities, something I’m not really good at and I don’t enjoy it. And then go work creatively on how to turnaround the pieces that are broken. And the piece I think that helps me more than anything else is that unique ability to see things from a different perspective.

I’m not the brightest guy in the room, but sometimes those observations would give me great insights on what to do next and has made us very successful. So I’ve learned how to do this. There’s really no school that you go to. A lot of different styles, and you’re right, some are very strict, authoritarian. That’s not who I am. I fit my personality style into the job and it’s worked very well. The only bad thing about the turnaround guy though is, once you turn the company around, you typically sell it. So once you do your job, you lose your job.

Do we need more turnaround people?

Hugh Whelchel:

I think so. I think there’s a lot of incredibly good resources that have already been marshaled in the right place at the right time. The problem is, people aren’t doing the right things with them. And if you can get that piece working, you can make a company incredibly more effective, and that’s the problem. And part of it too is that a lot of, and I’ll probably get myself in trouble here, but there are a lot of companies that are typically run by operations people. Operations people aren’t very creative. That’s just not what their gift set is. And so, they don’t see the opportunities and typically, that’s been one of the issues. And that’s an issue I find with a lot of companies that I’ve gone into to take a look at.

You turned around Reformed Theological Seminary DC?

Hugh Whelchel:

They probably wouldn’t like to hear it, but I use it all the time. I was running an IT company. In fact, moved up here to run it. Actually moved up here to run one IT company and got up here and the IT bubble burst. That company didn’t make it. But we really liked it up here. And before too long, another opportunity came along. So, we took that. I think it was about five years to get it turned around, sold that company. And so I was looking for something to do, and I had been involved with RTS in Orlando and taking classes down there and knew all those guys. And they had a small campus that was meeting at a church in Bethesda, Maryland, and the church was getting ready to do a building project and they didn’t have room for the seminary.

So we had just done a building project and I had some room. And so I was trying to convince our session into letting us bring them into our church and give them some space and kind of host the seminary there. So there were some interest in that. So I was kind of the point person on doing that. So as we were doing that, they asked me, said, “What are you doing?” I said, “Nothing. I’m kind of looking for a job, blah, blah, blah.”

So out of the blue, they called me up one day and said, “Look, would you be interested in stepping in as the executive director?” And I knew the guy I was dealing with had been kind of interim director and the guy had been there before. I had some issues, and he’d actually stepped out to pastor a church and which was really his calling. He’s done extremely well at that. I said, “Sure, I’ll do it.” And of course in my mind, I’m thinking, “I’ll do this for the next three or four months while I look for a real job.” But in God’s comedy, I did it for the next seven years, almost eight years. And when I first got started, I can remember thinking, “I don’t know anything about higher ed, why do you have me here?” And then the more I got into the market, realized it’s just another turnaround, same exact problems, just a different industry.

The key insight to your amazing RTS success?

Hugh Whelchel:

I’ll never forget, probably the big turnaround point for me. They had me down in Orlando and I was with the recruiting guy and the recruiting guy was telling me, “Now, look, you’re going to have to get on an airplane and fly all over the country. You’re going to have to talk to these different colleges and recruit people.” And I said, “Look, I realize, I don’t know anything about this, but let me show you something.” So I pulled up a map of the DC area and I said, “You know, if you put a pin here in McLean, Virginia, where we are draw a hundred miles, maybe 120 mile circle around that,” I said, “you know how many people are inside that circle?” He said, “No, how many?” I said, “Probably about 12 to 13 million.” I said, “You’ve got Charlottesville. You’ve got Richmond. You’ve got, Atlantic City, not Atlantic City, Atlantic Beach. You’ve got Baltimore, you’ve got all of DC. You got all Northern Virginia.” I said, “If I can’t run the seminary with that many people, I can’t get this thing turned around with that audience, you should fire me right now.”

I said, “I’m never going to get on an airplane.” And he looked at me like I’d shot him with a gun. That concept had never occurred to them but here they’re running all these seminaries. It was just, well… It is just a concept that wasn’t in the typical thinking of the way you run seminaries. So, we ended up doing it that way. Incredibly successful. When I came on board, we were down to about 20 students, had no professors, had really only a master’s degree in religion, was the only degree they offered. So, the time I left, we were over 300 students, three full-time professors, a number of local adjunct professors, and had gotten the masters of divinity accredited through all the accreditation people, which is probably the most difficult thing I’ve ever done any place I’ve been. It’s just so much bureaucracy, but we got it all done.

So, really felt like at that point, I’d done everything that God had brought me there to do and that somebody else could take over that probably is better qualified than I was to take it to the next level. And that’s, what’s happened. The young man that took my place has done an incredible job. And now, RTS is one of the top, the DC one, the top fastest growing seminaries in their network. And I think the other thing that makes me feel good is they started three more campuses. One in New York City, which I helped them start. One in Dallas, and one in Houston, all of which are kind of built on the DC model. So, yeah. So, good stuff, real good stuff.

Doug Monroe:

Fantastic. And most of the ones I know of are in kind of a metro area. You could do that same local strategy, which is kind of the way Christianity works, anyway.

Hugh Whelchel:

It is.

Why is Christianity and work an issue?

Hugh Whelchel:

Yeah, it’s a good question. And it’s one of the things I’ve struggled with for years, really had an issue around my faith around this whole idea of the workplace. Because I said to myself, this is probably the mid-90s, I was down in RTS taking some classes down there. And realized they didn’t have a clue about a workforce ministry or anything like that. And really there wasn’t a lot being written about it. There wasn’t the big movement then.

But I really asked myself why does God not care about what I do from eight o’clock in the morning to five o’clock at night, every day, five days a week, sometimes longer? Why is there no connection there? And I went to my pastor to talk to him about it. He said, “Well, God’s just given you the ability to make money so you can bring it to the church so we can do good things with it.” I walked out thinking that can’t be right. It’s got to be more to than that.

And so started reading and started taking some classes, seminary. They were useless. Although, I have to admit, at seminary, I got introduced to some of the reformers like Calvin, Martin Luther. When Martin Luther says, “The work of the milkmaid is just as important to God as the work of the priest,” that was heresy in his day. It’s still heresy in a lot of churches today if you say that. And I really began to realize that the scripture talks a lot about work, and that we had just not been told that.

And it took me about four or five years working through these issues, and I actually ended up doing my master’s dissertation at RTS on faith and work, and really, it’s just walking through the things I didn’t understand for this whole thing to make sense to me.

So I think it’s a huge problem still. We’ve done some research that probably only 10% of evangelical Christians have any understanding at all about the connection between their faith and their work. And yet I would argue that work is why we’re here. God put us here to work. Says he put him in the garden to work it and take care of it. The purpose of our existence on this planet is really not to evangelize. It’s not to build churches, not to do all these things we think. It’s to work. And I’m sure we’ll talk more about that.

What about the term worldview?

Hugh Whelchel:

I use it all the time, and I think for the same reason you’re saying. It adequately describes what you’re talking about because everyone has a worldview. And it’s funny, particularly that people are so quick to call out your worldview, don’t realize they have one too. It’s interesting that most of us have not thought through the implications of a worldview very much. And I think that’s the key here is that we need to understand what it is and what the implications are. And then really, we need to step back and say, “Okay, what should it be?” I mean, is there a right worldview and a wrong view of the world? Or just everybody has one and it’s just everyone’s to design their own the way they want to. And unfortunately, that’s what the culture is telling us now.

It’s much like at the end of the book of Kings when it says there was no king in Israel and everyone did what was right in their own mind. I mean, that’s kind of where we are today and it’s unfortunate because I’m going to suggest before we finish, there is one moral view that’s right. And unless you get on board with that, you’re going to have problems.

Can worldview thinking obscure the Gospel?

Hugh Whelchel:

Yeah, I’m going to make trouble here because I don’t think it should get in the way. I think one of the problems today is we’ve taken the Gospel, and I typically talk about the Gospel in four chapters, Creation, Fall, Redemption, Restoration.

Creation shows the way things were. The Fall is just the way things are. Redemption shows the way things could be. And Restoration shows the way things are going to be.

So you have those four chapters and one of the problems with the Church today is we’ve taken that four chaptered Gospel, we’ve truncated it down to two chapters. And all we talk about is the Fall and Redemption. So therefore we leave out the whole first chapter. So we don’t know what we were created to do. We don’t know what our purpose was. And then we leave off the last chapter, which shows up where we’re going to end up.

So not only do we not know what we were designed to do, we don’t know where we’re supposed to end up and where we’re supposed to be when it’s all said and done. And the result is we’ve distorted the true Gospel. And the Gospel becomes about, it’s all about me.

As one scholar says, it’s the Gospel of self-management, our sin management. We’re regulating our own sin. And that’s not what the scripture teaches at all. So one of the things we have to do, is begin to go back to the scripture and say, within the framework of these four chapters, let’s go back to the first chapter. What does it really say that we were put here to do?

How do Genesis and the Gospel fit together?

Hugh Whelchel:

And I would argue that the Gospel, it’s a lost call. It’s a call to a lost and forfeited. It’s a call to loss and forfeit calling to fill the world with images and subdue the earth. We read in Genesis 2, the second chapter of Genesis 2:28 says, “God, blessed him.” And said to do two things. He came down and said, “Look, let me tell you what your job description is. I want you to do two things. First thing I want you to do, I want you to fill the earth with my images. The second thing I want you to do is to subdue the earth.”

Now we have to change the first one a little bit today because of the Fall. So the first one today, we have to say our job is to fill the earth with redeemed images. Now, that’s salvation. That’s church planting. That’s all, what typically, we do in the church. But we leave out completely the second half, to subdue the earth. The word subdue there is the Hebrew word “kabash.” And it literally means, in that context, to make the earth an incredible place for human beings to flourish.

So see, the Gospel, it’s not about just saving people to get them to go to heaven. The Gospel is about saving people, having them redeemed, filled with a Holy Spirit, so they can actually do what they were originally intended to do on the face of the earth between now and when they go to heaven. So this idea that the Gospel’s all about us, and we get our bus ticket to heaven. And we’re sitting around waiting for the bus to come, and it doesn’t really matter what we do here. None of that’s true. But yet, that’s the message that you hear in most churches today.

So what we have to do is begin to understand this broader understanding of what we’re originally intended to do, and how it’s the Gospel what brings us back to that place. And it’s through the redemption given to us by the Son, the power of being inspired by the Holy Spirit, to go do what we’re originally created to do.

From Genesis: What does “subdue the earth” or work mean?

Hugh Whelchel:

And once again, it gets back to this idea. It talks about actually, in the next chapter, chapter 2 of Genesis, God says he put Adam in the garden to work it and to take care of it. There’s a balance there. There’s a balance with the way we deal with creation. So when we subdue the earth, we’re to bring out the good parts in it. We’re to make the earth an incredible place for human beings to flourish. But by reaching that balance of understanding that we have to use the earth, I mean, Adam was a gardener. He had to cut down some trees, right? He wasn’t a forest ranger. He didn’t keep it the way it was. It’s okay to change things. Right? In fact, I would argue that one of the best definitions of work I’ve ever heard is the idea that work is the rearranging of the physical resources that we’ve been given to God in order to bring about flourishing for God’s creation, particularly the creation, the part of the creation, that you’ve been called to serve.

So, that’s what work is about. So we are to be out rearranging these things, using our creativity, using all the gifts that God’s given us to bring about more flourishing. See, it’s all about more flourishing, and that’s an important concept that’s really been lost by the church today.

Doug Monroe:

Absolutely has been lost. And isn’t it funny, Patrick, he talkED about this and here we are in this house in the middle of a river swamp, and all that. And he’s kind of living it, I think, if you know what I mean.

The Institute of Faith Work & Economics (IFWE)

Hugh Whelchel:

Yeah. One of the things, I think, that I began to realize fairly seriously when I was working for RTS is that there was faith work movement out there. A fledgling movement, I would say, at that time. This is probably in the 2011, 2012. But nevertheless, it WAS growing momentum, there were books being written. But there seemed to be something significant missing. And the more we begin to talk about it, I really think this idea of economics, although it’s fairly abstract, is what’s missing in that whole idea. Because once you understand the faith and work piece, you have to understand why. Why do we do this? And that’s why you have to bring the economics piece and understand this idea.

The idea of flourishing cannot really be fleshed out without understanding the economics piece. How we use the gifts, how do we use the wealth that God lets us create to bring about more flourishing. Those are all very important economic issues. And it’s incredible how much the Bible talks about economics. And I think that’s one of the things that we wanted to bring out. Now, in nine years, there’re more, more people talking about this. The flourishing thing, the economics, more, more people talking about that. Is it front and center yet? No. We still have a lot of work to do. But I think we’re headed in the right, definitely in the right direction.

Your IFWE colleagues?

Hugh Whelchel:

So I thought, “Okay, if I’m going to talk about faith, work, and economics, I’ve got to have some internal people that are experts.”

So Art Lindsley, who is an expert theologian, written a lot about faith and work over the years, friend of mine, so I brought him on as a kind of a PhD in the faith and work space.

And then Anne Bradley, who I met, who is a PhD economist, really understands the economics piece, and probably was a little weaker on the theology part. And so we began to teach her theology and now she’s probably one of the top experts and goes all over, and actually all over the world, speaks on faith, work and economics and has become quite a superstar in that. So she was kind of the other cornerstone.

So really the three of us were the ones pretty much at the core of starting the organization and instilling, to this day, do most of the outside speaking and writing.

And your hook, “How Should We Work”?

Hugh Whelchel:

So what we did, yeah, as we got started, we realized that we needed something out there right away. So I had my notes from my dissertation that I’d done, so basically I took that research and I wrote “How Then Should We Work?” And interestingly enough, it’s just faith and work. We didn’t have much about economics, and that was very intentional. Because one of the things I began to think and see, as I look around at some of the other organizations, is I think there’s an incredible missed opportunity with a lot of small nonprofits, and that basically they’re preaching to the choir. Everything they’re saying, everything they’re doing is being pushed out, people who already believe like they believe. Now, that’s not completely bad. The choir needs to be fed and they need to be encouraged, and they need to be educated, but they’re really not making their audience any bigger.

So we talked a lot about that, and the idea of economics is not an easy thing to sell to people. So what we decided to do was to start with the idea of faith and work, because everybody wants to know that their work is important to God. It doesn’t matter if you’re a liberal or you’re conservative, or where you are on that scale. They want to know that, so I wanted to reach all these people. So we launched that book first, we started a bunch of blogs, and then what we started doing is slowly bringing the economic stuff in, a little by little, kind of drip, drip, drip in the background. Because we didn’t want to run anybody off, and interestingly enough, we didn’t. We would do something on economics that I guarantee you so many people would disagree with. But yeah, we wouldn’t have a lot of people drop by the blog.

What about IWFE’s audience?

Hugh Whelchel:

And so fast forward a couple years ago, we actually did some statistical research to see what kind of audience we’ve created. We probably have about 100,000 people on database. We ran those against the database that some friends of ours have. And we were really surprised because, and they were surprised to the point that they ran the statistics. Thought they’d made a mistake, went back and ran it again. Because what it shows is that people reading our stuff are spread across the whole evangelical landscape. There are people reading our stuff that are against abortion. There are people reading our stuff that are for abortion.

Any social issue you can take, either side people are reading our stuff. So we’ve collected an odd assortment of bed fellows if you will. And that the people that kind of respond to what we’re doing spread across a wide political range, which is what we hoped to do to begin with. But we weren’t for sure that we could achieve that. And we have. So I think that’s been one of the biggest accomplishments that we’ve done is we’ve built a massive audience and really begin to drive some of these ideas about faith work and particularly economics into this core audience and very successfully in my head.

It is tough to apply Biblical theory to practice?

Hugh Whelchel:

Yeah. I think that’s basically right. I think that, step back, one of the things we’ve tried to do is not get into policy debates, because that’s very loggerhead, and you can really go down a rabbit hole in a hurry. What we’ve tried to do is stay ahead of the policy debates and talk about theory, talk about how do you think about these sorts of issues from a biblical perspective?

One of the things we’ve been very fixated almost on, is making sure that we tie everything back to what the scripture says. We have no authority in this. All the authority comes from the scripture. We want to make sure all of our stuff is based on a theological understanding, strong theological underpinning, of what the scripture says. One of the real problems we have, particularly once you get into a field where you got people who aren’t necessarily theologians writing about this stuff, is they just find a Bible verse that they like, paste it completely out of context alongside something else.

That’s something you got to be very careful about. There’s a lot of that being done. I think you have to go back, what’s the verse that you’re talking about, contextually, how does that fit into what the scripture’s saying? How does it fit into his overarching understanding? Because what we believe is that when God created the heavens and the earth, he took these principles and wove them into the very fabric of creation. These principles are like gravity. They work if you believe in them or not, right?

Let me give you an example, “Thou shall not steal.” That implies what? It implies property rights. Well, property rights is a principle that God’s woven into the very fabric of creation. And there’s a reason there’s never been a civilization that lasted very long and flourished for very long without a strong property rights. Why? It’s the way God made things. Right? And so, it behooves us to understand what those bigger pieces are and embrace them, and use them, and when we build our business.

Failure to apply the Bible correctly to economics?

Hugh Whelchel:

Well, part of it, they didn’t understand. They didn’t have a frame of reference to be able to understand how the economics piece fit in. So one of the things we’ve learned through this is that not only do you have to have the frame of reference around scripture, then you have to bring a frame of reference around economics so that they understand how it fits in. And really, it’s not a scientific way of looking at it, but much more practical way of looking. How does these things affect you particularly in the way that you spend your money, the way that you build your business. Those are sort of things that are important. Economics is not something that’s done in a vacuum. It’s something that’s done by people every day. I think that’s the piece that has not been taught very well in our schools, and it’s something the Bible talks about all the time.

Doug Monroe:

Well, of course, you don’t even get accounting or economics at all in almost any school until you get to your first or second year in college. And that’s only if you opt for it. And that’s probably the most important thing.

Hugh Whelchel:

Well, it surprised us. We did a homeschool curriculum on faith, work, and economics. And it’s approved for Economics 101 in a homeschool. And basically we tested on and ran it at a couple colleges with freshman in college. And when we released it, we were told it’s been one of the best selling things we’ve got, that no one else had done a curriculum for economics, for homeschooling based on scripture and free market economics. There wasn’t one out there, which is just almost impossible to believe, but apparently, it’s true.

Coach John Wooden & Jesus’ 3 Most Important Parables about Work

Hugh Whelchel:

I think the three that are together, they’re really in one story, in one chapter. And I’ll take those three, because I think they hang together. But I think there are a lot of other important ones as well. And interesting aside, we are doing a project now where we’ve actually gone through the entire Bible and there are over 2000 passages, not versus, passages that had to do with faith, work and economics. And we’re in the process of categorizing those and writing commentaries for all those, a big project we’re working on. But it’s fascinating how much there is in the Bible about this subject.

Back to your question. One of the things that really I struggled with, I guess, as a business person and a church goer and a leader in my church, I would go sit through a sermon. The pastor would say, “Well, you need learn how to be content with what you’ve got.” And do the whole sermon on contentment.

Then when I walked out, I would say, “Okay, pastor, does that mean Monday when I go out to work, I don’t try to go win that new job and bring in new people and be able to hire more people and expand my business?” He’d go, “Oh no, that’s okay.” But I said, “Well, I just spent 30 minutes hearing about I need to be content.” “No, that’s just in spiritual things.” It’s something else.

And so I had this really distorted view of what does success look like for a business person, particularly a Christian business person. And really struggled with that. Then I got some insight from, there’s a guy named John Wooden who was a basketball coach. Coached UCLA in the 1960’s and 1970’s. And during that period, he in 11 years won nine national championships in college basketball, a feet that’ll never be repeated. He was truly the best in the world. He was just beyond good.

And he was asked one time, what was his definition of success? And I’d read all his books. I was very interested when he was asked that question. And he basically said, this, I’m paraphrasing. But he said, “Basically it’s taking the gifts you’ve got and going out and doing the absolute best you can with them.” And he went on to say that there were times when his teams lost, literally not very many, but there were a few times that he was perfectly okay with it because they played as good as they could. They just played a better team that night. But he said there are a lot of times when they blew teams out. He was furious with them because they did not play up to their potential. Even though they won, he could tell that they were … This idea of success.

And a lot of people don’t realize that John Wooden is a very committed Christian. And so I started thinking, I wonder where he got that definition. And as I began to poke around and look at things, I think I’ve come up with the answer. And I never was able to ask him. He’s with the Lord now. But I would like to ask him if I could. But there’s a parable we’re very familiar with. It’s called the Parable of Talents. And interestingly enough, it’s given in a chapter with two other parables, one about the foolish virgins, wise and foolish virgins. And then the other one is really about faithfulness. It’s a short parable about faithfulness. And if you look at those three together, they’re situated in such a way that there’s a section about three chapters in Matthew called the Olivet Discourse.

The Olivet Discourse’s Parable of the Talents

Hugh Whelchel:

And what it is, it’s after Jesus’ last day, this is the last week of Jesus’ earthly ministry, probably on a Wednesday night, he was preaching in the Temple and had a big blow up with them, gets run out of the Temple, and then has this encounter with his disciples on the Mount of Olives. And they talk a lot about the end of the world, and what’s going to happen, and Jesus basically gives them three parables, and really the three parables track with three things Jesus is trying to make them understand. That while they wait on the return of the king because the king’s going to leave and they have to wait for him to return, they need to be doing three things. The first thing is they need to be, they need to be ready. They need to be ready for the king.

The second thing, they need to be watching for the king, they need to understand the times. And the last one is this parable of talents. It says they need to be working while they were waiting for the king. And so I think, you can look at the other two, but the most important one is this last one, because it’s about these three men that are working for a master. The master goes off on a journey and each one of the men are given a certain amount of money. One’s given one talent, one’s given two talents, one’s given five talents. Now the fascinating thing about this is, I got wondering one day what’s a talent worth, because I always felt like the guy got one crummy talent. He really got kind of cheated, right? I mean, what can you do with one crummy little talent, right? One talent in today’s dollars’ worth is somewhere between a million, two million dollars. So the guy that got one talent, took a million dollars at least, and buried it in his backyard. No wonder the master is furious with him, right? It shouldn’t have been.

It’s just a fascinating story because what we hear, when we hear people preach on this, is usually they talk about that guy. The only thing you need to know about the guy that buried his talent, is you don’t want to be that guy. You want to be one of the other two guys. Right? And I think the really interesting part of that parable, that really points to this idea of success, is found in a short passage that as we’re reading it, we almost gloss over, and it says he gave one, two and one, five, each according to his own ability. And now you couldn’t do that today. Right? Today you’d have to give each one, I’m not a math guy, so what, three and a half? Whatever it boils down to when you divide them all up. You’d have to give everybody the same amount or people would just say, it’s not fair, but that’s not what the master did because he understood the abilities of the different servants.

And so he gave them different amounts based on each ability. Now here’s the fascinating thing. The first guy comes back, gives the master back the whole five talents. What does the master say? What’s his reward? Well done, my good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of the master. The second guy comes back, takes his two talents makes two more talents, gives them to the master. What’s his reward? It’s the same as the first guy. Wait a minute, what’s wrong with this picture? Shouldn’t it be greater or less? I mean, in today’s society, what would we do? The guy did the five and made five more. I mean, we were talking, he took five million dollars, maybe 10 million dollars, went out in the marketplace, made 10 more million. You know, even in their day, that’s pretty impressive. I mean, he was like a Bill Gates, or a Jobs, or I mean from Apple, I mean this guy was a superstar.

So who do we hold up on a pedestal? That guy, he’d be doing the late night talk shows on TV, he’s the guy that’s going to be the superstar, but in God’s coming, it’s not the way it is. Both got to the same reward. And you have to ask yourself, why is that? Because obviously we’re not doing the way things God does things. And the reason is this, it’s pretty simple but it’s very profound, it’s the heart of this parable. The one that got two talents, how hard did he have to work to make two more? He had to work hard as he could. The guy that took five talents, how hard did he have to work to get five more? As hard as he could. See God measures, not results, but measures what we do with what he’s given us.

And once we realize that, we have to say, okay, what has God given me? Am I maximizing the return that he has put on me, am I giving back to the master everything I can? Right? And if the answer is, yes, you are prepared to hear well done my good and faithful servant. If the answer is no, you better rethink this thing, because you don’t want to be this other guy. Right? So I think it’s a very interesting piece and I won’t go into that too, but I think that one, of all the parables, I think that one is probably more important than the rest and that’s because there’s so much about this idea of the importance of work, and how God looks at it very differently than the way our current culture looks at it.

Doug Monroe:

Yes, and your discussion there actually touched on, I think, most of the social unrest we have. People have different visions about how that parable should be and how we should handle it in our society today and how we should look at these things. So it’s just a great, it’s a great parable.

Hugh Whelchel:

And most of them would change, most of them would change what God wants to do with what they want to do.

IFWE’s 3 Edited Books – The Vision

Hugh Whelchel:

We talked about this really from the very get go, about producing two different levels, an academic series, and then a more series aimed at larger audience. So the larger audience, we’ve cranked those out one every couple months and they’re more pamphlets, because we found that that’s what people like to read. They don’t want to read a long book. The academic press books, really designed more for college textbooks, college reading books. They’ve been very successful. For example, “Counting the Cost” is still being used in about 60 different seminaries and Christian in colleges right now as a textbook or as additional reading. So, I’ve been very pleased with how that’s come up and the other two are still doing extremely well. So we sat down and thought, okay, our first book really ought to wrestle with the idea of poverty and the importance of free markets and economics, faith, and work. What does that have this say to poverty? Because that’s a critical piece.

So that was really, we thought, where we needed to start. Then we needed to do something on capitalism and then we wanted to do a trilogy. We wanted to do one on religious liberty, one on political… Well, religious liberty, political freedom and economic freedom. And so what you see with “Set Free” is the first in a trilogy, we’ll do two more, one on political freedom, one on religious… I mean one on economic freedom. And probably do the economic freedom next. So that’s the one we’re gearing up to do next.

So yeah, so that’s pretty much… They were designed that way. Then we sat down, and for “Set Free” we actually had a conference. Actually, I think we did for “Counting the Cost” as well. We were invited to about 30 or 40 of the top evangelical scholars from around the world to sit down and for two days talk about some of these issues. And at the end of that, I said, “Look, we’re going to write a book. If you are interested in submitting some chapters, here’s the topics we’re interested in.” And so we got 20, 30 different submissions and withered them down to do 13 chapters. So that’s pretty much how we put the books together.

Dialogue about Michael Novak’s Three Legged Stool

Doug Monroe:

You talk about the Three Legged Stool, so to speak, in I think “Set Free,” and I think you mentioned it also in “Counting the Cost.” So, you have two more books to come? You’ve done religion, you’re going to do economics and political. So, you got two more to come. Wow, that’s interesting, I didn’t know that.

Hugh Whelchel:

Yeah. We think that the Three Legged Stool concept is very important and that it’s something that we want to keep working on.

Doug Monroe:

Did that come from, by any chance, Michael Novak, or?

Hugh Whelchel:

Yeah, it’s a quote from Michael Novak. In fact, it’s in “The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism” book that he wrote.

Doug Monroe:

You know, you’ve heard me say that I was searching the net and yeah. I see you’ve got “Human Diversity” there, I finished that one too.

Hugh Whelchel:

Did you? What’d you think of that?

Doug Monroe:

That’s…

Hugh Whelchel:

Charles Murray.

Doug Monroe:

How you would-

Hugh Whelchel:

I feel sorry for him. He’s still trying to justify the bell curve. I love the bell curve, because I think it’s right.

Doug Monroe:

All he’s doing is summarizing what’s out there, and the amount of research he does is unbelievable. That’s kind of his gift, I think.

Hugh Whelchel:

The boys are just too happy.

Doug Monroe:

So you were talking about, and I was saying that I came upon your website and then looked into your library because you had digitized some of it. And there was Novak sitting there and I must have read three or four different essays and I thought, well, this is exactly what I’m looking for, fantastic. But, tell me when you stumbled on Novak as, sort of, a big picture-

Dialogue about Michael Novak: “The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism” and Think Tanks

Hugh Whelchel:

Well, actually, I had read his book, “The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism,” years ago and knew of him. He’s good friends with Art Lindsley, and so kind of was introduced to him by Art. And we began to talk to him about doing something for us.

And so he wrote the first chapter in “Counting the Cost.” Really turned out incredibly because basically he said, “Look, I wrote Spirit of Democrat Capitalism 30 years ago. What’s changed?” And that’s really the essence of the chapter. And it’s quite a tale. I think it opens up the book, puts it on a stage that what we intended. So we’re really happy and then probably the last thing he wrote before he died, so we actually dedicated the book to him.

Doug Monroe:

He co-authored a book on social justice that’s pretty thick and good, but I got a feeling he probably didn’t write most of that, but what was I going to ask you about that? Oh, the other thing, and this is not in the question series here, but there’s just so much intellectual capital in Washington. And most of the really new thinking is happening not in the universities, from what I can see, in a lot of these important areas. It’s the various think tanks in Washington because they’re not tied down to some politically correct, for lack of a better term.

Hugh Whelchel:

There’s no tenure in people there to think outside the box. It’s very true. It’s really why think tanks were created back 20 years ago, is that they could really be like universities without students, and they’ve done a lot of good work.

“For the Least of These”

Doug Monroe:

All right. Well, let’s tick down the three books, just a few sentences on each one. So I can do that for “The Least of These?”

Hugh Whelchel:

“For The Least of These” is really, I think, an important work in that it really shows this idea of the importance of flourishing. And we’re going to probably talk about this later, but the biblical word for flourishing, particularly in the Old Testament is a word called shalom. And I think we interpret that word shalom as peace. It’s a terrible translation, way too weak.

Shalom literally means flourishing. Just as God intended, at every level, psychologically, physically, and spiritually. And one of the things I think it’s important for us to understand is that just because someone’s not experiencing shalom physically doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t experiencing it spiritually.

We had a young man come back to our church a year or two ago that had been to Cuba. We were doing some work in Cuba, out in a very rural area of Cuba. And he was just blown away. He said, “Here the people just dirt poor, just nothing.” And he went to worship service with them in a dirt floor mud hut. And he said he heard worship like you’ve never heard it before. And of course, see they’re experiencing shalom in a spiritual sense. And what we wanted to talk about, and that is how do you bring shalom to people, particularly in the financial areas, in some of these areas where it doesn’t exist, right? And how do you use free markets to do that?

There have been a couple of other things done. At the time we didn’t feel there was anything quite as clear. So that’s what we did.

So we got some people writing on the Old Testament, people writing on the New Testament. Some people saying kind of what’s been done and how well did it work? And then some practitioners at the end really talking about what’s the cutting edge right now?

So we feel like they did extremely well. It got very good reviews and still it’s used quite often by people.

Comments on Poverty

Doug Monroe:

There are a couple of basic insights I might get you to comment on. One is that poverty is, and this is perhaps even the main theme in the Bible, spiritual poverty is the problem. And the second thing is the poor really has to do it themselves, you can’t do it for them.

Hugh Whelchel:

That’s right, that’s right. That’s really true, that’s really true on both levels. I mean, the physical poverty is probably something that’s easier to fix than the spiritual poverty. And I would argue that we can’t fix spiritual, only Jesus can do that, right? But we can show the people where the cure is, and so I think that’s what you have to do. But I think it’s also important to show them this idea of the potential of coming out of the physical poverty, that they’re not condemned to that for eternity, just because they were born in central Africa, that there are things that they can do to repel themselves out of that and that’s possible. That’s really what the book’s a lot about.

“Counting the Cost”

Hugh Whelchel:

“Counting the Cost” was interesting. We were brainstorming how to get up at this. And we said, “Look, what if we went to some of our friends in the Christian left?” And that’s what we did and said, “What do you hate about capitalism?” And they gave us a long, very detailed list. And so what we did is, took that list and went down through it and picked 14 or 15 subjects, and then went and found scholars that we thought could answer and push back and really give an account for what we believe and how what they believe just doesn’t match. And so it worked out really well. We were very quite pleased.

Like I said, the first chapter is by Novak. The second chapter is by a guy who is over with Al Mohler, in Louisville, at the Baptist Seminary over there. And his name is Pennington, Jonathan Pennington, upcoming new guy. He writes on this idea of Shalom and the idea of blessing. And interesting enough, he’s a New Testament scholar, but he’s been studying the Beatitudes and Sermon on the Mount. And to understand those, he had to go back into the Old Testament and really began to understand this blessing language.

And so it’s a fascinating, fascinating chapter. It really helped us a lot. And he’d written some other things for us too, on this idea of Shalom and blessing, because we believe that’s so important. And we actually have a small book on Shalom coming out next month for the others. And not for the academic side, but for the other side of the house, that really kind of pulls together a lot of this stuff. And really, written in more of a layman’s vernacular, if you will.

Dialogue about Professional Silos

Doug Monroe:

One of the things you did there. It was beautiful. And I didn’t know that until after I read it, but you listened well. You sought to understand before being understood. So you go to in effect, “the enemy,” if you want to look at them that way. “Why do you hate this?” And you come up with a beautiful response in each case, which I think expresses what a lot of businessmen feel, Christian businessmen feel, and they just can’t express it, or they, they can’t get, they can’t get it all succinctly together, or they don’t have the platform to be able to say these things. I think personally that it’s not class warfare that’s going on, it’s really more professional. Because we spend our lives Monday through Friday in different silos, and we really don’t understand each other because we have totally different backgrounds.

Hugh Whelchel:

Right. That’s right.

Doug Monroe:

20 years later, you’re trained a certain way that’s different than the other folks. It was just a great piece of work. Last-

Hugh Whelchel:

We had great authors. There’s one guy, in “Counting the Cost” who he won the Nobel Prize for economics and wrote a chapter for us. I mean, you know, you just can’t touch that.

“Set Free”

Hugh Whelchel:

“Set Free” was the first in its trilogy. And the idea is we’ve been doing some studying, Anne Bradley, our economist, on trying to see what the correlation between the three legs, the Three Legged Stool, right. And it’s pretty easy to find the political freedom and economic freedom pieces. The piece that’s hard to find is the religious freedom because is measured differently in different countries and some countries not measured at all. So that’s where you really get in trouble trying to compare countries back and forth.

Although, they’ve done some of that and it looks like there’s a fairly strong connection between religious freedom and particularly economic freedom, which is what we would’ve guessed would’ve been true anyway. So that’s proved out to be true. And so we wanted a platform to kind of provide some of that evidence to kind show people where we are on that as well as kind of fill in some other things. So we basically start out there’s several chapters kind of historical chapters, and then it moves to some more current legal issues, and then kind of ends up with a number of chapters that kind of end up, okay, what can you go do now? What are some things that you can do to get involved in this fight?

Religious Liberty: “How To” the Public Square?

Hugh Whelchel:

Because it’s scary, at least to me, that so few people understand the importance of religious liberty, and the fact that we’re about to lose it. It’s one of the… Probably a blog I wrote when I first really started getting interested in this during the Obama administration, they were suing a company who would not provide their women with contraceptives or something.

Basically, the argument was this. They said, “Okay, when you go into a secular job, secular worldview takes over, and your religious view doesn’t count anymore. It’s the government that’s going to dictate what that secular view is going to be. If you’re going to be in the public square and being operating, you’re going to have to adhere to that worldview or you won’t be allowed to operate in the public square.” That goes against everything believers believe about faith and work, right, that we can’t leave our faith at home. We’re bound to bring it with us and have it help us to make decisions on how we work.

For a Christian, that’s just a non-starter. They literally argued that before the Second Circuit Court. Now, they didn’t want to lose because another opinion came out, so they just ended up dropping it. But it’s scary. But it shows you where this debate’s headed, and it’s going to get back there in a hurry. The current President has kind of put a stop on it. But if we change presidents, we’ll be right back to the same place in a matter of months.

Doug Monroe:

Well, it’s the First Amendment for a reason, you know.

Hugh Whelchel:

That’s right.

Global Interest in Work and IFWE

Hugh Whelchel:

You know, it’s been surprising for the first couple years, we really resisted doing anything international, and I guess about the third or fourth year, we got some opportunities. We thought, “Well, almost have to go do this.” We had one group called me from Jakarta, Indonesia, and they said, “We’re in a little seminary here and we’ve got a copy of ‘How Then Should We Work’ and this is really what Christians need in Indonesia. Would you let us translate it and publish over here?”

I said, “Sure, I’ll be glad to do that.”

They said, “We’ll write up a thing for you.”

I said, “Don’t worry about that.” I said, “I don’t need any commissions or anything. Just whatever money you make just dump back in the seminary,” because I’m thinking they’re going to print, maybe sell 500 books. So I said, “Just send me a copy of it,” they send me a copy of it.

So, didn’t hear anything from them for a couple years. So then they called me back and said, “Look, your book’s been very popular.”

I said, “Really? Good.”

They said, “They have a conference over here every year and they’d like you to come and speak at the conference.”

I said, “Really?”

Said, “Yeah, they had a college with different subjects and this will be the fourth year they’ve done it and since you book’s so popular, they’d like you to come to it and I’ll pay for it.”

I’m thinking Indonesia’s long way on air plane and so I’m trying to politely think of how I could get out of it. I said, “Well, how many people?”

They said, “Well, the room only holds 5,000, so there’ll only be 5,000.”

Anyway, long story short, I said, “Okay, I’ll come do it.” I said, “What kind of sales have you had on the book?”

“Oh, we’ve sold over 20,000 copies,” at that time that’s almost as many as we sold here.

I went. Not only did I speak to 5,000 people, they live streamed it to 10,000 more people in two other locations. Four hours, four lectures with 10 minute breaks between. These people just … It’s not like us, that we couldn’t get people to sit still that long in the United States. Phenomenal.

But over there you share the Gospel outside the walls of your church, you go to prison. There is no religious freedom. What they have found is that they can really share the gospel, share their faith, through their work very effectively and they’ve got plans to do that. Some things I can’t even tell you about that kind, so super secret, but it was just phenomenal to see some of the things they’re doing. We’ve seen that reflected in other places. Anne’s doing a bunch of work down in Brazil, Art’s doing a lot of work in South Korea, and we’re getting some of our stuff published. Right now, it’s got some of their stuff published in five or six different languages. It’s kind of exciting.

Matthew 28: The Great Commission and Shalom

Hugh Whelchel:

Yeah, I do think about it a lot. One of the things I think is where we get mixed up is that we think the Great Commission is different from the Cultural Mandate. The Cultural Mandate we already alluded to a little bit. Genesis 1:28. God comes and blesses them and says, fill the Earth with images, subdue the Earth.

One of my professors at seminary, a guy named John Frame, said that there is no difference between the Great Commission and the Cultural Mandate. All you have is Jesus restating the Cultural Mandate in light of his life, death, and resurrection and the fact that, as the second Adam, he’d been given authority to do these things.

Now, here’s the fascinating thing. The first Adam failed his responsibility of subduing the Earth and filling it with images. The first Adam was given a helper to help him fulfill that and he still failed. Who was that helper? It was Eve, his wife. The second Adam, Jesus Christ, has succeeded in fulfilling the Earth with images and subduing the Earth. And he’s been given a helper as well. Who is that helper? It’s the church. It’s you and I.

And so that’s why we’ve stepped in now as his bride to help bring about these two things, to help fill the earth with images, redeemed images, to help subdue the earth, to help bring flourishing to people in such a way that they see it and it gives them example of the way things could be, in fact, this whole idea of Shalom.

And I would go on to argue that the purpose of our work is summed up is to bring Shalom to God’s creation and really to bring it to the communities that he has called us to work with. So if I look at someone and say, “God’s called you to this work and this place and this time,” really what that work’s all about is bringing Shalom to that community. Because that’s your calling. Our calling is to go make Shalom.

Here’s the fascinating thing. Adam’s in the garden, the perfect Shalom. What does God tell him to do? Go make more Shalom. That’s just really amazing, right? But that’s the way… Because the more Shalom is made, the more God’s glorified. And that’s what we’re here to do to begin with. I mean, that’s the purpose of our existence here is to glorify God, serve him. And we do that by creating more Shalom. And so Shalom’s a very important concept that we really haven’t thought through very much.

Christian Worldview in a Nutshell

Hugh Whelchel:

That’s a good question. When I think about that, I think of a story that’s at the end of… Actually it’s a scene from a story… At the end of Lord of the Rings and it’s after…. And actually it’s a scene they cut from the movie. It wasn’t in the movie… Frodo and Sam had been rescued by the giant eagles brought back to the home of the elves and being taken care of and Sam wakes up for the first time and Gandalf is at the front of his bed. He looks at him, he goes “Gandalf” he says, “I thought you were dead.” Then he looks at himself. He says, “Well, I thought I was dead.” And he looks at him and asked him a very interesting question. He said, “Is everything bad going to come untrue? Is everything bad going to come untrue?

And Gandalf nods his head and says, “Yes.” And that’s at the very core of our Christian worldview is that this idea of Creation, Fall, Redemption, Restoration, that God is putting everything back to the way it was supposed to be that there’s this process taking place, right? And that we could be part and parcel of that process.

One of the things that concerns me sometimes is that when we truncate that fourth chapter, God spoke to [inaudible 00:01:30] we put the focus on man. And you hear people say, “If you were the only person alive, God would’ve, he would’ve still died for you.” Well, yeah, maybe, but it’s about more than that. He didn’t just come here just to die for you. He died to return the entire creation back the way it’s supposed be. You’re an important part of that.

You may be the cornerstone, I don’t know the chair on top of creation, but the purpose is to put the whole creation back to rights, right? This is why Paul talks about the whole creation groans in expectation of what God’s going to do because they were punished. The whole creation has been punished because of what Adam and… Because of their sin, unjustly, maybe, but they were punished nonetheless. And so there’s a sense that everything is going to be put… That has to be at the very center of any understanding of worldview that there’s this process going through. This is where we’re going. As Sam says, “All bad things are going to be turned untrue, right?” It’s going to be reversed. And I think that’s the piece that’s thing we miss sometimes. We jump straight into our theology and we fight about these little pieces.

Had an interesting conversation with someone the other day who called me and said… I just want you to hear the story. He said, “I’ve been working through…” We have a little book on the Four-Chapter Gospel called, “All Things New” and there’s some question in the back. A lot of people use it for a Bible study so this is out of college.

So he’s got about 10, 15 kids who are going through his Bible study. And one of the girls was so excited about it, she said… “I’m just so excited about the new heaven and new…” and that she’d never been explained to this way. So she was going to a class and she started talking to another friend about this. And this girl said, “What are you talking about?” She said, “I’ve been in church all my life I’ve never heard anything like this.” And she started explaining it to her. And she said, “Well, this makes all the difference.” And they went and spent about two hours together and she gave her a life to Christ because she could see where something’s going on, where something’s changing, where something’s happening. And I think that’s really a critical piece in any discussion you have. And I don’t hear that piece being talked about very much.

Does Christian worldview change?

Doug Monroe:

Well, a lot of what you hear is stereotypes, where you have the old man, God, who all we have is commandments, where we have to do this and freeze up. And then you have a God who murdered his son. And then, what else, where he demanded that and as compensation for all our sins. And it’s just, I think that, not that there aren’t aspects of some of that that don’t have some theological being, but it’s a hit job in my opinion. So, my next question is, I think you answered it very well already. Does Christian worldview evolve, adapt, change, reinvent itself?

Hugh Whelchel:

That’s a tough question, because it really means you have to go back and say, the Bible doesn’t change, theology doesn’t change. There’s right, there’s understand the way it’s supposed to be, we can misinterpret it. But the scripture, what it says, doesn’t change.

Do the times change? I think they do. So, as the times change, do you need new tools, different tools? One of the things people ask me all the time, they say, “We never hear you talk about dominion, it says in the Genesis, have dominion, you never talk about that.” I said, “No, I don’t.” I said, “It’s there, it’s important, but dominion’s a tough word.” Particularly for 20, 30-somethings today, college kids.

I said, “I don’t want to go have that fight. I don’t need to have that fight. I can talk about subduing, because that gets to the source of what’s going on. And so, why go fight that thing with dominion?”

And so, I think there needs to be some thinking through about issues like that. How can we make the conversation as important as it needs to be and yet not make it adversarial. And I think that’s an important thing. And I hear some people starting to do that and there’s some great new ways of sharing the Gospel, particularly using this Four Chapter Gospel model, our framework, that are very good. And so I think that’s people working on it, but I think the Gospel doesn’t change, but our situations change and we need to be adaptable.

Here’s one thing I heard a woman say one time, is that Christianity is the only religion in the world that can contextualize to any situation. And, I think it’s very interesting and the illustration they gave, they say, look at Islam, you go in a Mosque in Mecca and you go into a Mosque in Fairfax, Virginia, it’s exactly alike.

You go into a church in Fairfax, Virginia, where they’re preaching the Gospel, and you go to a church in the middle of Africa, it’s completely different, but it’s the same Gospel. And, really, the ultimate contextualization was incarnation. God became man, that’s the ultimate in contextualization.

So, I think that’s a piece we have to understand. And contextualization, in some places is a dirty word, but I think it shouldn’t be. We need to understand what the limits are, but I think it’s a very important piece that we need to think more about, particularly as we talk about worldview.

The great authors of Christian worldview since 1517?

Hugh Whelchel:

Well, obviously, Luther’s work, Calvin’s work. Many of the early reformers. Fast forward, even to some of the people in the Dutch reformation movement, even in the early-1900s. Kuyper probably is the classic example of that movement, or others. But Kuyper’s definitely the ultimate example.

Those are people I had the most impact on me. Some of the contemporary pastors, people like Keller, Tim Keller at Redeemer in New York City. And I think what I like about what Tim has done, is Tim realized early on he had to contextualize the Gospel in a different way to reach the people in his church. And so I really like some of the stuff he’s done in that area. But I think there are other contemporary guys I’ve done some really good stuff as well.

I think that there also is a danger getting swept up in what’s working, and using it just because that works. Right? Keller had a reason to contextualize. He didn’t do it because everybody else was doing it. He was doing it because he needed to do it in this specific incident. And so I think you got to be careful about that.

But I cannot tell you what an influence, probably, Kuyper, a huge influence on me. And really, Kuyper talks about his lectures on Calvinism. They were called the Stone Lectures, that he did at Princeton. You can find them. They’re online. It’s phenomenal, absolutely phenomenal. Because it shows how that, and really, Calvinism is a worldview in itself, how that worldview is still applicable to what we’re doing today. And that was 100 years ago, and it’s even more so than when he said it.

So, to me, that a that’s a monumental piece.

Doug Monroe:

Have you just, I’m curious, have you read much Francis Schaeffer?

Hugh Whelchel:

Oh yeah, yeah. Francis Schaeffer is great. I think Schaeffer, I love his stuff. He’s not quite as structured as some of the other guys. It’s hard to nail him down in some areas, but very creative, once again. And very much solid on the Gospel. He’s not drifting, and that’s what we have to be. You can’t drift.

The Key to Christian Living Now: Shalom

Hugh Whelchel:

Let me talk a little bit about the Shalom thing, because I think that’s one of the most important ones. Once again, we’ve interpreted Shalom as peace and that’s just too weak a translation. And I think as you begin to look across the Bible, hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of times Shalom was repeated. And then of course the New Testament is written in Greek. So you won’t learn the word Shalom, but there is a Greek word there that when the authors wrote it down, they were thinking Shalom. And it’s the Greek word, “Eirene,” which is where we get the woman’s name Irene. So if you look at those two words across the whole context of scripture, you begin to see a completely different meaning than what we’ve taken for granted. Let me just give you some examples.

We often talk about the passage of Isaiah versus Jesus was the Prince of Peace, right? Well, that’s wrong, right? See, Jesus is not the prince of peace. He’s not a prince that’s going to come back and stop everybody from fighting. What is he? He’s the prince of Shalom who’s going to come back and make everything back the way it was supposed to be. Big difference, right? Look at another example, New Testament, the attitudes says blessed are the peacekeepers where they should become all the sons of God. Literally, when we read that, we typically think blessed are those people who do reconciliation or something like that. I mean, we don’t really know exactly peacekeeper. That’s not what that means at all.

What it’s literally saying is blessed are those people who go out and weave Shalom in whatever profession they’ve been called to do it in, and in some small way, put things back the way they were supposed to be, because that’s an example to people, the way things could be and the way things are going to be. And that’s why this idea of Shalom is so important. It stands as a marker, a way station almost to direct people in the right direction.

How much of our lives does God want from us?

Hugh Whelchel:

That’s easy, easy. 110%, everything. And I can show you what’s … It’s over and over and over again in the scriptures. So, one of my favorite parables, digging in the field, he comes across a treasure. What does he do? The legal law was that if you own that property, he owned everything, rights, whatever’s there, it was yours. The treasure in the field, he goes out and sells everything he has to get the field. Now, we don’t think about the Gospel that way. We just don’t. What if that parable is saying it’s worth everything you’ve got and then some. And why would you even think twice about not making the sacrifices needed to be able to achieve it? Yeah so, to me, that’s not a hard question. It is for a lot of people because we had divided interest and I think there’s a reason for that.

What is Grace?

Hugh Whelchel:

Unmerited grace, grace of the Gospel is a reward for something I didn’t do. In fact, it almost stands in complete difference; it’s like, “I should have gotten this, but I got something else in return.”

And that’s what the Gospel is all about; where the reward for my life should be an eternity of misery, should be death, but thanks to the grace of Jesus Christ, it won’t be. And so it’s unmerited favor by a loving God, to someone who doesn’t really deserve it.

So to me, that’s what, that’s what unmerited grace is. You have to be careful because there are other types of grace out there, but we’re talking about unmerited grace. That’s what it is.

How important is family to God’s 110% Christian calling?

Hugh Whelchel:

That’s a really good, important piece. It’s one I find there’s much misunderstanding about. And I’ll give you a model that I got from Os Guinness that really helped me. And it really helps everyone I tell it to, because we don’t think about it this way. What Os says is that, “Our primary calling as Christians is to become disciples of Christ.” That’s our primary calling. We all share that together. But he says, “Out of that primary calling, four secondary callings.” And these secondary callings are the way that these primary callings works itself out in the real world. It’s how the rubber meets the road. Right? And those callings are our calling to the church, our calling to family, our calling to community, and our calling to vocation. So what Os says is, “During the day, during any given day, all those are in play.” Right?

And you wouldn’t say, “Well, my calling to work is so important that I’m going to ignore my family this week.” You wouldn’t say that. But you’d balance your time out in such a way that you’d do all of them. Now, there’re going to be times in your life when you can be very different, right? So when you retire, and I don’t particularly like that word retire, because I don’t believe in it from the perspective of, to be the way we talk about it. But when it gets to a place where you don’t have to work for money, put it that way, and God lets you spend more time with your family, that’s okay. Right? That’s the way it’s supposed to work. Or more time in the community, or more time at the church. But see, the reality is we’re called to do work, paid and unpaid, in those four buckets through our whole lifetime.

And we can’t ignore that, and we ignore it at our peril. Right? So part of it is balancing that out. And part of it’s being conscious that we are responsible to do work in the church. We are responsible to do work in our community. We are responsible to do work. And it’s through that work that God makes a difference. It’s through that work in those four buckets that he changes the world. That’s the instrument he’s chosen to bring Shalom to our families, to our churches, to our communities, to our vocations. And we need to get on board with that.

The Biblical Principle of Subsidiary?

Doug Monroe:

This is a phrase that very few people really know, and it’s not like the Bible says, “We must do the principle of subsidiary.” No, it doesn’t say that. That’s a principle that I believe Catholics came up with, after extensive study of the Bible and extensive study of all that.

Hugh Whelchel:

Yeah.

Doug Monroe:

Could you comment on that?

Hugh Whelchel:

Yeah, I think it’s a Catholic doctrine that’s been around a long time. I think it’s right. I think, you know… Get back to that thing I was just talking about, our call to vocation, family, community, church. The immediate calls to those things are right next to us, and I think that’s just very important. Then it goes on out from there. I think it’s very scriptural. I think it’s a good tool to help you think through, “Okay, where do my primary responsibilities lie?” That doesn’t mean I don’t give money to building wells over in Tanzania, right? But I’m still responsible to take care of my family. I’m still responsible to make sure that I’m involved in my community, that I’m attached somehow. I think those things are important. I think you start here and you work your way out.

Doug Monroe:

What about the same principle in the context of managing a company?

Hugh Whelchel:

Yeah.

Doug Monroe:

Does it have applicability and good management technique?

Hugh Whelchel:

Yeah, that’s a good question. I had not thought about that.

Doug Monroe:

Pushing the responsibility down as far as it can be handled, sort of.

Hugh Whelchel:

Yeah. I think that there’s a sense that… One of the things I don’t see in management is that there’s a sense that you are responsible for the people underneath you, but how much communication do you have with them? How much time are you spending with them as opposed to other people? I think that’s, in terms of being able to manage well, I think you’ve got to spend time with the people that you’re managing. You can send orders down all day long, but you got to know your people to manage them well.

Christian worldview’s influence on the West?

Hugh Whelchel:

Yeah, that’s a big one. And I would say… I mean this is a loaded question, but I think, historically, you can make a strong argument that, forget maybe last hundred years, but you can go back the last thousand years and almost everything that’s been done in Western civilization, new schools, education, hospitals, jobs, great art, great music, were all done by Christian believers who understood the call on their lives would take the gifts that God give them, and, through their work, bring Shalom to the communities that God had called them to serve. The result of that is what we have with the success of Western civilization. Christianity built Western civilization, and everyone else will tell you that’s not true, but when you really look at the facts, it’s undeniable. Look at some of the stuff that Rodney Stark writes. You cannot make a claim that Christianity has not had impact.

One of the things we argue in “Set Free” is the importance of religious freedom and really the whole Second Amendment. I mean, First Amendment. Comes out of what the scripture says, right? The first person to write anything about religious liberty ever was one of the church fathers in 200 AD. He’s the first one to put the words, religious freedom or religious liberty into that context. You can try to write it out of history if you want, but it’s just not possible. You know, we are Western civilization is the most prosperous, successful civilization ever because of Christianity. Nothing else.

Doug Monroe:

Do you feel like some success at the person level, the individual level, the family level, the micro level, somehow people, not in every case by any stretch, but they find a way to put themselves into the narrative?

Hugh Whelchel:

Yeah.

Doug Monroe:

Into the narrative.

Hugh Whelchel:

I think there’s a truth to that. I think it’s also truth to, getting back to the principles, that there are these basic principles and when you operate your life out of these basic principles, good things happen. So, there’s that sense there, as well. I think that the principles are very important and that we can’t ignore that.

Should Christians try to influence culture?

Doug Monroe:

We’ve talked about culture a little bit and that kind of thing. I can’t remember… Really, it might have been actually, in the “Least of These” where the importance of culture, say, in the United States needs to be recognized better by Christians and we need to understand we can influence it more. I guess the specific question is, why is culture important and what should a Christian do with it?

Hugh Whelchel:

Well, I think culture is like the introduction to a book. A lot of people skip it. A lot of people skip the introduction, but what do you miss when you skip the introduction? You really miss the key factors that help you understand what’s going on, right? And I think that’s what’s important about culture, is we need to be observers of culture. We need to be able to understand what’s going on and to be able to change it.

I don’t think we say, “Well, all culture is good culture,” I don’t believe that. In fact, I believe most of the culture is bad culture. So, how do we make an argument to change the culture from A to B? I think we need to be able to do that. But I think you’ve got to understand where we are. I see things written of late, whether it’s a tendency to just go put our head in the sand, go become a… What’s the word? A monastery. Can I go to a monastery? I just don’t believe that’s the answer. I don’t believe that’s what we’re called to do. It’s hard to be the salt and light when no one can see what you’re doing.

And so I think what we have to do is understand what the culture is. We have to understand the effect that it has on people. And then we have to understand the only counter influence to the culture is Christ, right? He’s the transformer of culture. And so, how do we let him use us to do that? And that’s tough. That’s heavy lifting, but it’s where we need to be. And I don’t see anybody leading the way right now.

What about the word capitalism?

Hugh Whelchel:

It’s weird. It comes with a lot of baggage, but what war does anymore? I don’t have a real problem with capitalism. As long as we’re talking about the same thing. I’m resistant and I’ve told people right from me, that I don’t want you to say that the Bible teaches capitalism. I don’t believe it does. Now, and I say that people go, whoa, whoa, whoa. You just said Western civilization was created because of Christianity. Here’s what I believe. Get back to these principles. I believe that they’re all these principles, economic principles, that God wove into the fabric of creation. And I think that we have to understand where they are. We have to understand how to go out and use them. And then those of us who’ve been called to the business world. We have to be very clear, understand what they are and be able to use them in a way to bring flourishing.

We also need to be able to go out and observe the existing systems, business systems that are out there already and see, okay, how do those match up to the principles that God has established? So let’s look at capitalism, communism, socialism, let’s take those three. The illustration I gave earlier about property rights. Okay. Capitalism, property rights, check, big check. That’s good. Socialism, no property rights. So if there are no property rights in socialism, right, we don’t own the means of production how then can socialism and Christianity work together? And I think you have to answer that question. If you’re going to proceed down that route, communism has the same problem. There are no property rights. You don’t own anything. State owns everything. So if the scripture tells us the property rights are so important, how can we walk down the road to communism and still say, we believe what scripture says. So I think that’s the way you have to begin to kind of think through these things.

Is there a better system out there then capitalism? Maybe there is, maybe we just haven’t found it yet, but for right now, as far as I can see, it aligns more with the principles I taught in scripture than anything else out there. So I’m okay using it. And I think if you understand how it’s been used correctly, it’s created more wealth in the last, since the 1700s than we’ve ever seen ever in the history of the world. And I think that’s a good thing, particularly when that wealth is re-channeled to help bring more flourishing. When it’s not, is an issue. So, and that’s where we’re at now. Right. And that’s where a lot of discussion is. So I think it’s very-

What about wealth creation?

Hugh Whelchel:

There’s a great passage. Deuteronomy 8. Moses is giving the Commandments to the second generation of Israelites that are getting ready to take back the Promised Land. He says, “Don’t forget that as Lord your God, that gave you the ability to create wealth, so that God might confirm his covenant with you.”

Now that’s really quite an amazing thing when we think about it. It’s God that gave us the ability to create wealth so that God could confirm the covenant. The covenant Moses has in mind, is the one with Abraham. The God blessed Abraham so that Abraham’s going to be a blessing.

We’re to create wealth, to be a blessing to other people. And we understand that’s incredibly important. How much wealth? As much as we possibly can create. No limits. And that’s the piece that we really to need to think more about. It’s one of the things that if we’ve got on his radar screen, we want to do some work on wealth creation, because there’s just not much been done on it.

In fact, I’ll give you a point. Well, that passage, I did a research, looked at 50 commentaries on that one passage. And only two of the 50 address the wealth creation piece, none of the others do. And you think that’s so incredibly important. How could you miss it? Because they’re theologians who don’t think about business.

And that’s one of the problems. When we read the Bible, we don’t read the business part because it’s not really been addressed by business people. We need to change that. And that’s what we’re trying to do at IFWE. It’s one of the main things we’re trying to do, is change that piece of what’s going on.

Wealth Creation: A Key Answer with a Slippery Slope

Doug Monroe:

Well, Michael Novak, when I interviewed him five years ago, or whenever he said, “How to feed the poor, create more wealth.”

Hugh Whelchel:

Yeah.

Doug Monroe:

And the answer is really for them to create their own more wealth, because you have a permanent sustaining.

Hugh Whelchel:

Yeah.

Doug Monroe:

You’re building the kingdom, so to speak, but if you’re always having to give it, that’s good, if people need it, but it’s not going to create any permanent betterment than the other problem is. And I personally think, unsolicited, that you can have too much wealth, and that’s more the problem today in America than anything else.

Hugh Whelchel:

Well, it is, and it’s because-

Doug Monroe:

Because there just aren’t that many huge problems.

Hugh Whelchel:

Well, it’s not biblical. It’s the guys building the barns, right?

Doug Monroe:

Yeah.

Hugh Whelchel:

So, if you had, in the Puritan days, even before that, if you were a good Calvinist, and you got business, and it’s just running on all 8 cylinders, you’re making money, hand over fist, and your pastor found out you had a big wad of money in your bank account, guess what he would do? He would be all over you, because that’s not your money, that’s God’s money. What are you supposed to be with doing with that? Parable of the Talents. Because we’re reinvesting it, so that you can get more in return, grow the company bigger, get more blessing, more flourishing.

It’s not about making you rich, so that you can sit on an island someplace, but that’s the piece we lost today, because we’ve so trained people that work’s all about you. It’s all about amassing a certain amount of wealth, so that you don’t have to work later, because it works, the curse works, not the blessing. And the problem is, that’s at the heart of what we’ve gotten wrong. We think that work is a curse. We think leisure… We’ve embraced leisure as the blessing, and I believe it’s just the opposite, that leisure can become a curse.

Work is definitely the blessing. We got to get that right, if we’re going to move forward.

Is America’s founding vision from the Bible?

Hugh Whelchel:

That’s an interesting question. And you’ll get a lot of different answers. I’ve got a good friend named… He’s a professor at American University and he does history. He’s actually one of the authors in “Set Free.” He wrote a book called “Reading the Bible with the Founding Fathers.” Daniel Dreisbach, is his name. Three or four years ago, maybe five years ago. And in that, he waded into this discussion that we often have. And then he circles, whether the Founding Fathers were Evangelical Christians or whether they were not even Christians at all and back and forth, back and forth.

And he said, none of that really matters. He says, what you see in the founding era is not men doing things because of their faith, it was men who were doing things because they’ve been motivated by the power of God’s word. And some of them were believers. And some of them weren’t. He said, we had this thing called, we call it common grace, that God can affect people who aren’t believers.

And one of the ways that Dreisbach said, he did it particularly during “Founding Fathers” is using the Bible to influence men. Some of whom will never be believers, but were influenced nevertheless by the wisdom and the importance of the gifting of the scriptures. I think that’s exactly right.

So I think we have to look at that way. And when you begin to look at it that way, you see things from a whole different perspective. It gets back to how do you look at things from a little bit different view? And I think you really see that.

What is going on today in America’s educational sectors?

Doug Monroe:

Your answers are very nuanced. And I think at the end of the day, here’s one that’s, I think you’re going to do the same thing. Give me a nuanced answer. What is going on now with the media, universities, and mainline churches? Be very curious to hear what you have to say about that. I have no clue what you’re going to say.

Hugh Whelchel:

Well, the problem is Romans 1. They’ve changed the truth for a lie. And once you go down that road, I don’t know how you get back, because if all you got is lies, how are lies going to bring you back to the right place? They’re never going to. And so until they begin to realize that there’s a truth, there are absolutes. I don’t know what’s going to happen. I don’t. Yeah. I just don’t know. I think that education is in a very dangerous, dangerous place today. And we may see, I think we will see dramatic changes in the educational landscape in the next three or four years. I don’t think it’s going to be good, but they’ve opened themselves up to it. I think people are ridiculous to say this. We’re done with all the silliness.

Should the U.S. balance its budget?

Hugh Whelchel:

I’ve heard argument both ways. I don’t know. The balanced budget thing’s a difficult question. Sooner or later, I’m afraid it’s going to come back and bite us. Everybody’s betting on it being later. So far, they’ve been right. I think we do need to get our economic house in order, in terms of government. I mean, I heard somebody other day say, “It’s like you have the two different parties; they’re in two cars racing toward a cliff. The only difference is the one drives a little faster than the other. They’re both going to go over the cliff.” And that’s what it looks like to me. I just don’t know.

I heard some interesting things. One person said, “What happens when America goes bankrupt?” And most people talk about gloom and doom and apocalypse. And I said, “No, the states will just take over.” And what this guy says is, “You’ll probably see the United States break up in about four or five different nations.” The South will rise again, right? The Northeast, probably. I mean, look at the colors when we had the election. You’ll see where they’re probably going to fall. And that requires that you… Who else has a standing army besides the government? And they’re not going to have it very long if they don’t pay anybody. Well, the states have a standing army. He said he can see a hopeful scenario where the government could go bankrupt, and we wouldn’t miss a beat, so that’s true.

Interviewer Comment on Financial Contracts

Hugh Whelchel:

No, I don’t…

Doug Monroe:

Well, in many ways, I used to think about this when I worked at Wachovia. I would leave the headquarters every day, come in early and leave late. And I’d think, “What is going on in that building?” Well, really all it is, is a stack of contracts.

Hugh Whelchel:

Yeah.

Doug Monroe:

It’s a bunch of paper contracts and relations. You could just basically say, much like the jubilee, “It’s over. Those contracts are void. Sorry you gave us your money. We gave you a treasury, see, but it’s not good anymore. We’re going to start over now and we’ll see what happens.” But anyway, that likely long after I’m gone and hopefully, maybe not, who knows.

Where is Christianity heading globally?

Hugh Whelchel:

Well, obviously the center of Christianity would be with Africa and China. I think that’s without exception. I mean, does Christianity still have a role to play in the United States? It does. I mean, I think a lot more Christians in the United States than we think. I think a lot of them are scared to say anything.

I know with what’s happened to me recently, I’ll have to confess, I’m much more open now with people, I just don’t care. When you tell people, you just recently [inaudible 00:00:45] their sins, they’re usually not too bad.

I mean, but it’s surprising how many people I tell, how many people. I mean, you can tell very quickly, but the other thing that’s been interesting is how many people want to know more about. Tell me more about, how can you feel this way given the circumstances? So, very interesting.

The Consequences of Trump v Biden

Hugh Whelchel:

I’m actually optimistic long term. I mean, just that short period before the virus hit, showed us how easy it is for the United States economy to bounce back. We’re different than any place in the world, and we need to understand that.

And given the right tools and the right opportunities, I still think there’s nothing the United States can’t do. Part of it’s to get people to get out of the way, and let’s go do what we want to do.

But I’m optimistic. I believe in America. I believe it’s an exceptional place. I believe we did some things wrong, but we did some things right. And even the things we did wrong, we have done the best that we know how to fix. So I don’t have any problem with that.

Are you optimistic or pessimistic about America?

Hugh Whelchel:

Yeah, it’s probably not as drastic as they make it sound, but I think elections have consequences and I think, particularly in the realm of economics. I’m not a huge Trump fan, but I do like his policies. I think the policies were going in the right direction.

Did we handle the virus thing well? I don’t know. Only time will tell, and so, I think what you have to do is you have to stop and think. The big differences will be economic, and I think we have an opportunity to, once again, create more wealth, which is what we need to be doing. I don’t think Biden’s plans will do that, so I think that’s the biggest thing, that is.

And there’s some social justice ramifications as well. There’s some First and Second Amendment ramifications. That’ll be severely limited if Biden was to become president, but I think that’s what we’re looking at.

Why are you still working?

Doug Monroe:

Well, we’re coming down to the last few minutes and you got some news six months or so ago, and you’re an amazing man in my eyes. So, I guess, why are you still working?

Hugh Whelchel:

Yeah.

Doug Monroe:

Is a great question.

Hugh Whelchel:

Well, I have had some problems with my breathing for the last year and a half. I’ve gone to doctor after doctor, doctor, trying to figure out what it was. And to really, to no avail. And then finally got a little bit more clarity. Went to a neurologist, they brought me in and said, the diagnosis is that I’ve got ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease. Not what I wanted to hear, but it’s been… That was in March, so that’s been almost six months ago.

And the interesting thing about ALS is that most people, by the time they’re diagnosed, live between one to three years, something like that in that range. Some of those six months, some live 10 years, there’s no real rhyme or reason to it. And they can’t look at you and tell you which group you’re going to be in. Just don’t know.

So, what do you do when something like that happens? And I’ll be honest with you, I’d never really thought too much about that because I never thought anything like this would happen to me. And I really had to think through a number of different things. I almost believed at one point that maybe I was in denial, because you think, well, you have some great Road to Damascus moment or… I haven’t had any of that. None of the beliefs I had before this happened have changed, which I think is a good thing.

Had some situations that have made me wonder about different things. For example, I’ve had people say, “Well, maybe it’s your time to go,” you know? And maybe it is. Who are you to say that you want to stay on a few more years? And I’ve prayed about that. And then the other day, I had a fall down those stairs. We came in, and at the top rung of the stairs, my knee buckled and I fell backwards down that whole flight of stairs. And should have killed me. My wife was at the base of the stairs and saw it happen and she said, it should have killed me. I didn’t a break bone. How did that happen? It didn’t, right?

I tell people, if God wanted me to go, He could have taken me right then. Had the ample opportunity, but He didn’t. And what that’s shown me is, A, not to walk up the stairs anymore, but B, that I do have more stuff to do. And I can’t be persuaded by people coming along and say, “Your work here is not that important.” The reality is, what I’ve said for the last nine years is true. What you do is very important to God. And I believe there’s some things that I’m doing now that He wants me to finish. And I’m praying for, that He’ll give me the time to do that.

And that might sound cold. Should I be praying for time to spend with my family? Yeah, maybe. But that’s not what I believe God has called me to do, right? And my family understands that. Am I ready to go see Jesus? I’m ready to go see Jesus. And listen, compared to what’s going to happen to me in the next… could happen to me the next three or four years, I’d much rather go see Him. Much rather died on the stair, but that’s not what He’s got for me.

So the question I have to ask myself all the time is, what do you know that you’re supposed to be doing? Are you doing it? And I have to do that every day. Because one of the things this has taught me is that, you got to live day by day. You can’t get way ahead of yourselves. You can’t give the tips of your skis as they say. Because what’ll happen, particularly with my situation, I’ll start… This can happen, like I’ll go down a rabbit hole in a hurry and maybe not come back, right?

So, it’s really been good for me. Because now, and why didn’t I live like this before? Because I’ll be honest with you, all of us are under a death penalty. We’re all going to die, but it is something different when you hear that from the doctor. But God’s good. He’s been more gracious to me than I can possibly imagine.

One other story that… I’m in the doctor’s office, in the doctor’s office, and doctor tells me this and my wife’s with me. And I’m a little stunned, I’ll be honest, because I didn’t expect this. I mean, to the point where I just… I really didn’t expect it. So he says, “Go back to the waiting room. We need to draw some blood, so the nurse will come get you in a few minutes.”

So we go to the waiting room and I see a couple I know. And they’re from a law firm here in town. The big Christian law firm that I’d done some work with and actually did a retreat for them, a day long retreat, offsite retreat for them one time on the “How Then Should We Work?” book. And they see me and say, “What are you doing here?” I said, “Funny you should ask. I just got diagnosed with ALS.” And they ministered to me in a way that you cannot possibly imagine, talking about how influential I had been to their firm, to them personally. And then they said, “Can we pray for you?” I said, “Sure.”

And so they’re laying hands on me, praying for me in the waiting room minutes after I’ve been diagnosed with this. That just doesn’t happen, right? And God’s orchestrated many things like that. I wrote a blog about this in March, and I’m still getting letters from people that I don’t even know, that were so touched by what we’ve done and what’s going on. And it’s just… It’s been very humbling to me, very inspiring in some ways.

But I feel, beyond a shadow of a doubt… As one of my best friends told me, “You’re not going to keep working. People don’t do that.” So why not? That’s what I’m here to do. I mean, He’s not going to give me 15 more years laying around on a beach. I don’t want to do that anyway. So, it’s been very, very interesting, and will continue to be, I’m sure.

One of the things that we tell people, and I’ll tell you audience the same thing, is pray for us. There’s a great story about King Hezekiah. King Hezekiah gets ill and Isaiah, the prophet comes and tells him, “You’re going to die.” And the king repents. Literally before the prophet can get out of the palace, he has to turn around and go back and tell him that God is going to give him 15 more years. So that’s what we’re asking God, to give us 15 more years to finish some of these projects. Will He? We’ll see.

The other passage that keeps coming back to me is what Meshach, Shadrach and Abednego tell King Nebuchadnezzar in front of the fiery furnace. They say, “God can deliver us from the fiery furnace.” God can deliver me from Lou Gehrig’s disease. Then they go and say, “He will deliver us from the fiery furnace, but He may or may not. But He will deliver us from your hand,” King’s hand. And I realize that God will deliver me from ALS, in this life or the next. I know that beyond a shadow of a doubt. Can He deliver me in this life? Yes, He can. That’s what we’re praying for. And I will believe that and until He tells me otherwise. So, that’s my story. I’m sticking with it.

Doug Monroe:

Fantastic, Hugh. You’re an amazing guy.

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Reference

The Institute for Faith, Work, & Economics:

https://tifwe.org/

How Then Should We Work? Rediscovering the Biblical Doctrine of Work;

https://store.tifwe.org/collections/all/products/how-then-should-we-work

Discover Your Story: A Biblical Guide to Finding Your Calling:

https://store.tifwe.org/collections/all/products/discover-your-story-digital-download

The Rise of Religious Freedom and How It Shaped the Political Theology of the United States:

https://tifwe.org/resource/the-rise-of-religious-freedom-and-how-it-shaped-the-political-theology-of-the-united-states/

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