Regarding the letter from Mr. Roth published in the August issue of the Witness, I need to ask a couple of questions: What does Mr. Roth include in his use of the term stewardship? And, what are the “manifold benefits” to which he refers—are they primarily monetary?
I agree that financial stewardship—by individuals, congregations, districts, seminaries and universities, indeed, by the Synod, especially as an administrative entity—is an important matter; and yet it is only one element in a theology, if not a doctrine, of stewardship.
I invite another look at the letters from Mr. Pierce and Pastor Hoeferkamp that appear in the same issue just before Mr. Roth’s. They are about stewardship, even though neither writer uses that word. Their letters and the article to which they are responding have to do with the stewardship of “nature” or “the environment.”
Uwe Siemon-Netto has written several articles for the Witness and the Reporter, urging us to re-appropriate the Lutheran doctrine of vocation—we all have several vocations or callings: we are husbands and wives, parents and children, employers and employees…. Steward is another of our vocations, and we all are stewards of a variety of things—where we live (not just our houses but also our neighborhoods, our cities, our public places like parks and forests and roadways), where we work, where we worship.
I’m not persuaded that “a course and training on the subject of stewardship” are what’s needed, at least, not as such (and there simply isn’t room in the Seminary curriculum to “squeeze in” something more). What we do need is a robust teaching of creation and redemption: creation, because our stewardship begins in the divine directive to “be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over … [it]” (Gen. 1:28); redemption, because in Christ we are a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17) and our new-createdness entails new attitudes and abilities as stewards.
I know that in my teaching (Old Testament) I don’t connect the dots from the Bible to life as well as I should (or want!). I always pray that I’ll do better next term.
William W. Carr, Jr.
Assistant Professor of Exegetical Theology
Concordia Seminary, St. Louis
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