Towards a Contextualized Theology of Work for the Philippines


Note: The material below was first presented in an Asian consultation on marketplace theology which took place in Manila November 28-30, 2007. Much of the material on the Philippines was presented by Dr. George Capaque.

  • How does a Filipino understand work?
  • What meaning does he/she give to it?
  • This is an attempt to develop a contextual understanding of work; a people’s theology of work using local materials (culture) mutually interacting with biblical faith
  1. The Anthropological Dimension

(To develop a contextualized theology of work we must know how the human person is viewed; what makes persons “tick”; how persons see themselves in relation to family and community; how decisions are made; how the physical and spiritual aspects of personhood are related; sexual identity)

Asian Perspective on Marketplace Ministry


An Asian Perspective on Marketplace Ministry

By Paul Ng, Singapore



Even as the marketplace believer grapples with the new paradigm required to fulfil his call in life and as institutions of learning and churches deal with issues like new methodologies and content, another major area has to be looked into. This is the area relating to contextual issues. Even with new content and methodologies, the way that we view our world has a tremendous impact on how we empower believers for ministry. Hwa Yung deals with the quest for an authentic Asian Christian Theology in his book, “Mangoes or Bananas.”[1]


From the various issues raised in Hwa Yung’s book, I have opted to look at five of these and how it relates to the marketplace. Due to the great diversity within Asia, I will review these five issues mainly from the perspective of the Chinese because much of East Asia eg Japan and Korea share a similar belief system to that of the Chinese with roots in Confucianism and Buddhism. These five are the Supernatural, Family and Group Solidarity, Filial Piety, Authority and Leadership and Ethics. I will also look at the effect that culture has upon the workplace.


[1]  Haw Yung, Mangoes or Bananas?: The Quest for an Authentic Asian Christian Theology. Regnum Studies in Mission (Oxford, Akropung, Buenos Aires, Irvine,CA, New Delhi: Regnum Books International, reprint 2000. Original 1997), 71-96 (page references are to the reprint edition). While he demonstrates how Asian theologians have yet to break out of Western captivity, he has also suggested two themes by which we can perform further theological reflections on contextualization. These are firstly the various types of literary genres required to fully express theological reflection in Asia and secondly the concerns that must be taken into consideration in this process.[1] Under the first theme he considers biblical exegesis, Christian apologetics, systematic theology, ethics and theology for and from the grassroots. For the second theme he suggests unearthing hidden presuppositions, in-depth studies of Asian Cultures and Traditions, Dialogue with Asian Religions, insights from Cultural Anthropology, addressing the challenge of ‘Power Encounters’ in Asian Christianity and Learning from Western Christians.

Contextualizing a Theology of Work for Africa


Note: the following article is a chapter from Setorwu Kwadzo Ofori’s D Min thesis for Bakke Graduate University entitled, “A Study of How Theology of Work Would Affect Theology of Preaching for the Practice of Business as a Calling: A Survey Conducted among Pastors of the Global Evangelical Church”, used with permission.

Historical Background

Introduction: The Bible reveals a Creation and the Redemptive Mandate. Despite the clarity of the Creation Mandate that sets the tone for a theology of work, the church has focused largely on the Redemptive Mandate.

Various Calls: Since the beginning of Israelis history, God has called people who worked and functioned in service to God and humankind. From Abraham, a pioneer leader called into Canaan, to Amos the man called from farming profession to become a prophet, from Joseph who represented Pharaoh, believed to be a son of the sungod, Ra, to Daniel whose support determined the heartbeat of Nebuchadnezzar, from Esther who served as queen in a heathen kingdom to Lydia whose handicrafts bore testimony to Christ, from Paul the tentmaker to the twenty-first century businessman who serves as witness in an Islamic country, God continues to call people from all walks of life to serve him through their work.

Transformation Theology for Africa


The following chapter is a portion of the D Min thesis of Cosmas Chukwunyelum Ilechukwu. Copied with permission.


            In this part of the study, an attempt is made to review some relevant literature with a view of providing a strong theoretical basis for the work. The literature review was done according to the following categories: an overview of African traditional beliefs and thought systems, an overview of African traditional worldview and its comparison with the western or scientific worldview, the implication of African belief system on socio-economic development in Africa, and the church as an agent of transformation.


The Promise of Technology versus God`s Promise in Job

The Promise of Technology versus God's Promise in Job

David Strong

“In our age, nearly everything we confront on a daily basis is either already under control or it is viewed as something to bring under control and to be made use of. In direct opposition to this way of seeing, interpreting, and taking up with things are the creation stories of the Bible and the vision of wild creation in Job. Wild things in these passages do not need to be rearranged, 'developed,' or made use of before they reach the fullness of their being. Wild things in these passages are already as good as they can be, on their own. Recognizing them in their own right, pausing and lingering unselfconsciously before them, makes one receptive to afresh and refreshing vision of our existence. “

It is easy to blame the way we dominate nature in our age on our Greek and Judaeo-Christian roots. Yet no one in these earlier traditions would have predicted that we would interpret the texts of these traditions the way we do, since there are so many other possible interpretations of them. For instance, none of the Hebrews would have guessed that the “message” of the creation story in Genesis 1 would have been heard by the movers and stompers of our age as: “In the beginning God formed a big ball of raw material. On the sixth day He put humans on the Earth and said, 'I didn't quite finish the job. Have at it! I hate to see it go to waste. Build! Reshape it. Develop it into something.' “ Why, then, do we read this kind of interpretation back into the tradition? ...

Providential Work: Esther

Providential Work: Esther
“I have had five jobs already and am still searching for satisfying work.”
A North American Business Person

At some time or other every one of us feels that we are in the wrong place, at the wrong time doing the wrong thing. Maybe even married to the wrong person! If, we think, we were somewhere else, doing something else we could be useful and deeply satisfied. But the reality is that God has a providential purpose in our lives right where we are. And the Creator has been involved, secretly it often seems, in all the details of our everyday experiences as well as our life-long work trajectory. The early desert fathers and mothers, those spiritual athletes who took to the desert to find God, often told one another, “Stay in your cell. It will teach you everything.” Translated into contemporary English this means:”Don’t go promiscuously from job to job looking for the perfect fit. There is a life-giving divine purpose in your life right where you are.

Hope: Making Our Mark on Heaven



"How can Christianity call itself catholic if the universe itself is left out?"
Simone Weilxxiii
"I cannot think of a greater tragedy than to think that I am at home on earth...."
Malcolm Muggeridgexxiv
"Only the heavenly-minded are of any earthly use."
C.S. Lewisxxv

Years ago Leslie Newbigin said that "mankind is without any worthwhile end to which the travail of history might lead."xxvi A few believe we are heading into a new world order and paradise on earth but most people nurse a deep foreboding about the future, or refuse to think about it more than they must. The seeming resultlessness of history erodes the nerve of modern persons including, I must add, Christians who have more reason to embrace the future wholeheartedly than anyone. Whether world-weariness and future fright comes from the terrifying prospect of ecological doomsday, or, as is often the case with Christians like the Thessalonians, from the conviction that Jesus will probably come tomorrow, the result is the same for Christians: all work in this world except the so-called "ministry" is viewed as not very significant or enduring.

Love: Recovering the Amateur Status of the Christian


"To discover God in the smallest and most ordinary things, as well as in the greatest, is to possess a rare and sublime faith. To find contentment in the present moment is to relish and adore the divine will in the succession of all the things to be done and suffered which make up the duty to the present moment."

Jean-Pierre De Caussaude

"What you do in your house is worth as much as if you did it up in heaven for our Lord God."

Martin Luther

"Does God work?" Willie MacMichael asks his father in George Macdonald's book for children.

His father answered biblically:

"Yes, Willie, it seems to me that God works more than anybody - for He works all night and all day and, if I remember rightly, Jesus tells us somewhere that He works all Sunday too. If He were to stop working, everything would stop being. The sun would stop shining, and the moon and stars; the corn would stop growing; there would be no apples and gooseberries; your eyes would stop seeing; your ears would stop hearing; your fingers couldn't move an inch; and, worst of all your little heart would stop loving."

[Provided by] From Chapter two, Disciplines of the Hungry Heart (Harold Shaw, 1993)

On Being Kingdom People: Regents of Our God and King

"Today we cannot claim to know the end and goal of history. Therefore the question of meaning in history has become meaningless."
Rudolf Bultmanni
"Now the situation of the Christian in the world is a revolutionary situation. His share in the preservation of the world is to be an inexhaustible revolutionary force in the midst of the world."
Jacques Ellulii

Now we must turn to the intriguing and usually neglected first-half of the phrase "royal priesthood." The kingdom of God is the master thought of Jesus (used over one hundred times in the Gospels in comparison with only three references to the church). The kingdom ministry of all believers expresses the exteriority of every member ministry--how the people of God express the redeeming and life-giving will and influence of God not just in the church but in the whole of creation.

A View from the Ground: The Great Commandment Company in the Philippines

The Great Commandment Company Journey in the Philippines
[An Advent Season Reflection on the Philippine Market Place]

Jon Escoto

I don’t have exact figures. This is not an extensive research on the “state of work” in the Philippines. Points below, however, are not at all an ignorant man’s unfounded conclusions based on uncritical and gullible perceptions. 

I used to be the Market Development Manager of an American multinational company SC Johnson and Sons, then the Regional Business Director of the British multinational company Danka, then the National Sales and Marketing Manager of the Australian office CDT Asia, before finally becoming my own janitor, utility man, messenger, maintenance engineer, marketing and sales, customer relations person, and president, all at the same time, of my own company.


Subscribe to RSS - English