For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

References for Theme: Religious Views on Work

  • Arruñada, B
    • "Protestants and Catholics: Similar work ethic, different social ethic" (2010)
      (p.893) Following Max Weber’s The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1904–1905), many writers have considered that this change in beliefs improves economic incentives, especially in the Calvinist version that emphasises predestination but also in the common Protestant focus on ordinary labour and vocation. The argument goes that even though good works do not warrant salvation, they serve as a signal to the believer, who is therefore moved to constant self-examination, with increased moral awareness. Worldly success is also seen as a positive signal when coming from disciplined work and not resulting in excessive consumption. Reformers thus modified the contents...
    • "Protestants and Catholics: Similar work ethic, different social ethic" (2010)
      (p.909) Overall, the article finds little support in survey data on currently held values for Weber’s work ethic hypothesis in The Protestant Ethic, by which Protestants would tend to work harder and more efficiently than Catholics. It finds substantial support, however, for an alternative social ethic argument, as Protestant values are shown to shape a type of individual who exerts greater effort in mutual social control, supports institutions more and more critically, is less bound to close circles of family and friends and also holds more homogeneous values. In Weberian terms, the data are therefore more supportive of Weber’s view in...
    • "Protestants and Catholics: Similar work ethic, different social ethic" (2010)
  • Badcock, G D
  • Barbash, Jack; Lampman, Robert J; Levitan, Sar A
  • Cornwall, Jeffrey R; Naughton, Michael J
  • Finn, D
    • "Human work in Catholic social thought" (2012)
      (p.878) Theologically, Catholics hold a “sacramental” view of the material world—convinced that material things can be “translucent to the divine light”—a conviction that forms the basis not only for the seven sacraments but also for religious art and beautiful churches. For economic life, the meaning of the goodness of creation is that our work—whether growing wheat, doing laundry, or managing a business—has religious significance. It is religiously important, another reason for our reminding ourselves of the dignity of work, even menial work.
    • "Human work in Catholic social thought" (2012)
      (p.880) In unions, workers’ natural right to form associations aligns with the right to participate in decisions affecting their lives. Solidarity, which is to characterize all Christian life, becomes embodied in a particular way in labor unions themselves.
    • "Human work in Catholic social thought" (2012)
      (p.881) Popes since Leo XIII have consistently upheld Leo’s concern for the ordinary worker faced with the pressures of industrial life, at first with traditional remedies. Forty years after Rerum Novarum, Pope Pius XI, in Quadregesimo Anno, argued for the importance of workers’ associations and like Leo held out the hope for a return to a guild-like organization in each industry that would encompass workers, managers, and owners. This position, known as “corporatism,” held that industrial strife could be prevented if these kinds of cooperative organizations could be created and cultivated. However, history moved in another direction and later papal thought...
    • "Human work in Catholic social thought" (2012)
  • Gini, Al
  • God
    • Proverbs 31 (1982)
      (p.582) Proverbs 31:10-31 – King James Version 10 Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies. 11 The heart of her husband safely trusts her; So he will have no lack of gain. 12 She does him good and not evil All the days of her life. 13 She seeks wool and flax, And willingly works with her hands. 14 She is like the merchant ships, She brings her food from afar. 15 She also rises while it is yet night, And provides food for her household, And a portion for her maidservants. 16 She considers a field and buys it; From her profits she plants...
  • Gregory, Pope
    • The Book of Pastoral Rule (2007)
      (p.175) And indeed these things cannot be without heavy labour and trouble. But let us remember the labours of those who went before us; and what we endure will not be hard. For We must through many tribulations enter into the kingdom of God (Acts xiv. 22). And, We were pressed out of measure, yea and above strength, insomuch that we were weary even of life. But we ourselves, too had the answer of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves (2 Cor. i. 8, 9). And yet The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to...
    • The Book of Pastoral Rule (2007)
  • Hill, Peter C; Dik, Bryan J
  • Hughes, John
    • "Work and Labour" (2013)
      (p.149) The ‘question of labour’ is a peculiarly modern one, describing a set of connected concerns, which arose in Europe through the processes of the industrial revolutions of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The rapid changes in working conditions, due to new technologies, which encouraged mechanization and urbanization, led to the foregrounding of this question of labour, particularly in the thought of radical and progressive figures in Britain, France, and Germany. For these thinkers, traditional ways of thinking about human work were too aristocratic and agrarian to make sense of the new realities of work, while these realities, the conditions of...
    • "Work and Labour" (2013)
      (p.159) Although, as we have seen, many of the early nineteenth-century writers about the question of labour employed theological frameworks of thought, whether consciously or not, it was not until the mid-nineteenth century that more explicitly Christian responses began to be developed. In France certain strands within the followers of Saint-Simon, such as Philippe Buchez, who was briefly president of the French Constituent National Assembly in 1848 and one of the founders of the worker-owned journal L’Atelier, held ‘socialist’ views clearly derived from Christian principles. This tradition of Christian ‘socialism’ migrated to Britain partly through the influence of John Ludlow, who...
    • "Work and Labour" (2013)
      (p.160) It is worth noting in passing that the dismissal of these more ethical and frequently Christian forms of socialism as ‘utopian’, purely derivative, bourgeois, and essentially quietist is due to the dominance of the self-proclaimed ‘scientific’ Marxist socialism in the twentieth century. If the ‘scientific’ nature of this perspective is called into question, particularly in relation to its view of history, then these alternative repressed socialist traditions emerge as at least as significant.
    • "Work and Labour" (2013)
      (p.161) The institutional Churches in Europe, with some exceptions, were initially suspicious of the revolutionary and sometimes anti-Christian intentions of the working-class political movements in mid-nineteenth-century Europe, with the inclusion of ‘socialism’ and ‘communism’ among Pius IX’s 1864 ‘syllabus of errors’ being an extreme, but not unrepresentative example. By the late nineteenth century however this situation had shifted significantly, with moves which would mark the beginning of the modern development of the Church’s tradition of social teaching. Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical Rerum Novarum on the condition of labour (1891) continued to reject the atheism, materialism, class warfare, and revolutionary intentions of...
    • "Work and Labour" (2013)
      (p.164) Whether from a Catholic perspective, such as the Dominican Marie-Dominique Chenu writing in 1950, or from a Protestant background, such as Miroslav Volf, these theologies of labour share a desire to respond to the challenge of Marxism and to offer a positive account of human labour within the economy of salvation.
    • "Work and Labour" (2013)
  • Jensen, D H
  • John Paul, I I
    • "Laborem exercens" (1981)
      (p.1) Blessing: THROUGH WORK man must earn his daily bread and contribute to the continual advance of science and technology and, above all, to elevating unceasingly the cultural and moral level of the society within which he lives in community with those who belong to the same family. And work means any activity by man, whether manual or intellectual, whatever its nature or circumstances; it means any human activity that can and must be recognized as work, in the midst of all the many activities of which man is capable and to which he is predisposed by his very nature, by virtue of...
    • "Laborem exercens" (1981)
      (p.10) Having thus confirmed the personal dimension of human work, we must go on to the second sphere of values which is necessarily linked to work. Work constitutes a foundation for the formation of family life, which is a natural right and something that man is called to. These two spheres of values-one linked to work and the other consequent on the family nature of human life-must be properly united and must properly permeate each other.
    • "Laborem exercens" (1981)
      (p.13) In the light of the above truth we see clearly, first of all, that capital cannot be separated from labour; in no way can labour be opposed to capital or capital to labour, and still less can the actual people behind these concepts be opposed to each other, as will be explained later. A labour system can be right, in the sense of being in conformity with the very essence of the issue, and in the sense of being intrinsically true and also morally legitimate, if in its very basis it overcomes the opposition between labour and capital through an...
    • "Laborem exercens" (1981)
      (p.14) The above principle, as it was then stated and as it is still taught by the Church, diverges radically from the programme of collectivism as proclaimed by Marxism and put into pratice in various countries in the decades following the time of Leo XIII's Encyclical. At the same time it differs from the programme of capitalism practised by liberalism and by the political systems inspired by it. In the latter case, the difference consists in the way the right to ownership or property is understood. Christian tradition has never upheld this right as absolute and untouchable. On the contrary, it...
    • "Laborem exercens" (1981)
      (p.2) Work is one of these aspects, a perennial and fundamental one, one that is always relevant and constantly demands renewed attention and decisive witness. Because fresh questions and problems are always arising, there are always fresh hopes, but also fresh fears and threats, connected with this basic dimension of human existence: man's life is built up every day from work, from work it derives its specific dignity, but at the same time work contains the unceasing measure of human toil and suffering, and also of the harm and injustice which penetrate deeply into social life within individual nations and on...
    • "Laborem exercens" (1981)
      (p.3) ... human work is a key, probably the essential key, to the whole social question, if we try to see that question really from the point of view of man's good. And if the solution-or rather the gradual solution-of the social question, which keeps coming up and becomes ever more complex, must be sought in the direction of "making life more human"8, then the key, namely human work, acquires fundamental and decisive importance.
    • "Laborem exercens" (1981)
      (p.4) The Church finds in the very first pages ofthe Book of Genesis the source of her conviction that work is a fundamental dimension of human existence on earth. An analysis of these texts makes us aware that they express-sometimes in an archaic way of manifesting thought-the fundamental truths about man, in the context of the mystery of creation itelf. These truths are decisive for man from the very beginning, and at the same time they trace out the main lines of his earthly existence, both in the state of original justice and also after the breaking, caused by sin, of...
    • "Laborem exercens" (1981)
      (p.6) In fact there is no doubt that human work has an ethical value of its own, which clearly and directly remain linked to the fact that the one who carries it out is a person, a conscious and free subject, that is to say a subject that decides about himself.This truth, which in a sense constitutes the fundamental and perennial heart of Christian teaching on human work, has had and continues to have primary significance for the formulation of the important social problems characterizing whole ages.
    • "Laborem exercens" (1981)
      (p.7) In the modern period, from the beginning of the industrial age, the Christian truth about work had to oppose the various trends of materialistic and economistic thought.For certain supporters of such ideas, work was understood and treated as a sort of "merchandise" that the worker-especially the industrial worker-sells to the employer, who at the same time is the possessor of the capital, that is to say, of all the working tools and means that make production possible. This way of looking at work was widespread especially in the first half of the nineteenth century. Since then, explicit expressions of this...
    • "Laborem exercens" (1981)
      (p.8) It was precisely one such wide-ranging anomaly that gave rise in the last century to what has been called "the worker question", sometimes described as "the proletariat question" . This question and the problems connected with it gave rise to a just social reaction and caused the impetuous emergence of a great burst of solidarity between workers, first and foremost industrial workers. The call to solidarity and common action addressed to the workers-especially to those engaged in narrowly specialized, monotonous and depersonalized work in industrial plants, when the machine tends to dominate man - was important and eloquent from the point of...
    • "Laborem exercens" (1981)
  • Kidwell, Jeremy
  • Lipset, Seymour Martin
  • Lis, Catharina; Soly, Hugo
  • Luther, Martin
    • An open letter to the Christian nobility (1943)
      (p.38) Now what are we to do? My advice is to restore liberty, and to leave every man free to marry or not to marry. But if we did this we should have to introduce a very different rule and order for property; the whole canon law would be overthrown, and but few benefices would fall to Rome. I am afraid greed was a cause of this wretched, unchaste chastity, for the result of it was that every man wished to become a priest or to have his son brought up to the priesthood, not with the intention of living in...
    • An open letter to the Christian nobility (1943)
      (p.41) One should abolish all saints’ days, keeping only Sunday. But if it were desired to keep the festivals of Our Lady and the greater saints, they should all be held on Sundays, or only in the morning with the mass; the rest of the day being a working day. My reason is this: with our present abuses of drinking, gambling, idling, and all manner of sin, we vex God more on holy days than on others. And the matter is just reversed; we have made holy days unholy, and working days holy, and do no service; but great dishonour, to...
    • An open letter to the Christian nobility (1943)
      (p.44) Some may think that in this way the poor would not be well cared for, and that such great stone houses and convents would not be built, and not so plentifully, and I think so too. Nor is it necessary. If a man will be poor he should not be rich; if he will be rich, let him put his hand to the plough, and get wealth himself out of the earth. It is enough to provide decently for the poor, that they may not die of cold and hunger. It is not right that one should work that another...
    • An open letter to the Christian nobility (1943)
    • "Trade and Usury" (1955)
      (p.10) The rule ought to be, not: I may sell my wares as dear as I can or will, but: I may sell my wares as dear as I ought, or as is right and proper. For your selling ought not to be a work that is entirely within your own power and will, without law or limit, as though you were a god and beholden to no one; but because this selling of yours is a work that you perform toward your neighbor, it must be so governed by law and conscience, that you do it without harm and injury...
    • "Trade and Usury" (1955)
      (p.12) In deciding how much profit you ought to take on your business and your labor, there is no better way to reckon it than by estimating the amount of time and labor you have put on it and comparing it with that of a day laborer, who works at another occupation, and seeing how much he earns in a day. On that basis reckon how many days you have spent in getting your wares and bringing them to your place of business, how great the labor has been and how much risk you have run, for great labor and much...
    • "Trade and Usury" (1955)
      (p.9) The merchants have among themselves one common rule, which is their chief maxim and the basis of all their sharp practices. They say: I may sell my goods as dear as I can. This they think their right. Lo, that is giving place to avarice and opening every door and window to hell. What does it mean? Only this: “I care nothing about my neighbor; so long as I have my profit and satisfy my greed, what affair is it of mine if it does my neighbor ten injuries at once?” There you see how shamelessly this maxim flies squarely...
    • "Trade and Usury" (1955)
    • Commentary on Genesis (1958)
      (p.168) V. 19a. In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread. With what variety of expression and repetition does Moses dwell on this labor and trouble, when he is declaring the manner in which the husband must labor and toil in feeding his family, defending his property and governing his house! And all these toils and troubles are far more difficult in our age on account of the perverseness of men, than they were "in the beginning." For we universally witness, even where the expectation of food is certain, with what difficulty a family are kept to their duty. Nor...
    • Commentary on Genesis (1958)
      (p.169) But here a question has been raised, whether all men ought not to be husbandmen, or at least whether they ought not to devote themselves to manual labor? Some did indeed thus foolishly contend at the beginning of the Gospel among us. For they so abused this and other like passages of Scripture, which command the labor of the hands, that the youth throwing aside their literary studies gave themselves up to manual employments; and Carlstadt, the leader of these misguided ones, leaving his proper station in life, purchased a farm, and dug and cultivated his own land. For myself...
    • Commentary on Genesis (1958)
      (p.94) And God gives to Adam a two-fold charge that he should work or till this garden, and also that he should guard and defend it. Some faint vestiges of this original command yet remain in these miserable remnants of primitive things, which we still possess. For even to this day these two things must ever be joined together: not only that the earth should be tilled but also that the productions of that cultivation should be defended. But both these great principles are corrupted and marred in an infinite number of forms. For not the tillage of the earth itself...
    • Commentary on Genesis (1958)
      (p.95) If we speak of food and the misery attending it, not only have beasts the same general produce of the earth, now no longer an Eden, which we have; but men defraud men of the same and rob them of it by theft and plunder. Hence hedges and walls and other strong defences are found necessary for the protection of property; and even by these the produce, we have obtained by the labor and sweat of cultivation, can scarcely be preserved in safety. Thus we have indeed a remnant of the labor of cultivation, but very far different from the...
    • Commentary on Genesis (1958)
      (p.96) Hence man did not fall by sin in soul only, but in body also; and both participate in the punishment. For labor is a punishment, which in the state of innocence was an amusement and a pleasure.
    • Commentary on Genesis (1958)
      (p.97) But the text speaks of human "tilling" and human "keeping" absolutely. So Cain just below, Gen. 4:2, is said to have been "a tiller of the ground." And in Job and Ecclesiastes kings are called tillers of the earth or husbandmen; not merely on account of their labor itself in tillage, but on account of their guardianship and protection. But as I have all along said, labor and protection are now hard and difficult terms? But originally they were terms denoting a certain delightful employment and exquisite pleasure.
    • Commentary on Genesis (1958)
  • Mascarenhas, Oswald A J; D’Souza, Doris; D’Silva, Nelson A
  • Molloy, K Arianna; Foust, Christina R
  • Murphy, James Bernard
    • "A Natural Law of Human Labor" (1994)
      (p.72) Since labor fills the lives of most adults (and, in many societies, most children) it would seem natural to inquire whether labor is a fundamental opportunity for human flourishing. For Aristotle and the Aristotelian tradition, there are major obstacles to any consideration of labor as a basic good. Consider Aristotle's official distinction between production (poiesis) and action (praxis): "For while making (poiesis) has an end other than itself, action (praxis) cannot; for good action is its own end." 3 Here productive labor is defined as a means to something else, either the pay or the product; it is not a...
    • "A Natural Law of Human Labor" (1994)
      (p.73) In his commentary on Aristotle's Metaphysics (1050a30), Thomas Aquinas argues that immanent activities are a perfection of an agent, while transitive activities are a perfection of an external entity. From this metaphysical premise, Aquinas also draws the normative conclusion that productive labor, being the perfection of an external thing, is not an intrinsic good; moral action, by contrast, is an intrinsic good because it is the perfection of the agent. Whereas production perfects only the product, action perfects only the agent. Productive labor, says Aquinas, has a purely instrumental function and, therefore, is not an opportunity for human flourishing.
    • "A Natural Law of Human Labor" (1994)
      (p.74) There is a curious and disturbing similarity between the view of human labor found in the Aristotelian-Thomistic tradition and that found in the contemporary orthodoxy of neoclassical economics. Modern economic theory defines labor as a disagreeable drudgery ("a disutility") undertaken solely to gain pleasure from the paycheck. In both orthodoxies, work is a mere instrument whose value lies in what it produces, either the product or the pay.
    • "A Natural Law of Human Labor" (1994)
  • Münzer, Thomas
  • O'Rahilly, Alfred
  • Parboteeah, K Praveen; Paik, Yongsun; Cullen, John B
  • Saint Augustine (Bishop of Hippo. )
    • The City of God (2009)
      (p.297) For our part, we dare not believe that God is affected in one way when He works, in another when He rests. Indeed, to say that He is affected at all, is an abuse of language, since it implies that there comes to be something in His nature which was not there before. For he who is affected is acted upon, and whatever is acted upon is changeable. His leisure, therefore, is no laziness, indolence, inactivity; as in His work is no labor, effort, industry. He can act while He reposes, and repose while He acts. He can begin a...
    • The City of God (2009)
      (p.378) Do we now move our feet and hands when we will to do the things we would by means of these members? do we meet with no resistance in them, but perceive that they are ready servants of the will, both in our own case and in that of others, and especially of artisans employed in mechanical operations, by which the weakness and clumsiness of nature become, through industrious exercise, wonderfully dexterous?
    • The City of God (2009)
      (p.444) He so works by His servants, that they are themselves also fellow-laborers with God, as the apostle says, “For we are fellow-laborers with God.”
    • The City of God (2009)
      (p.805) For if even a human workman, who has, for some reason, made a deformed statue, can recast it and make it very beautiful, and this without suffering any part of the substance, but only the deformity to be lost,—if he can, for example, remove some unbecoming or disproportionate part, not by cutting off and separating this part from the whole, but by so breaking down and mixing up the whole as to get rid of the blemish without diminishing the quantity of his material,—shall we not think as highly of the almighty Worker? Shall He not be able to remove...
    • The City of God (2009)
  • Shani, Noga; Aharon-Gutman, Meirav
  • Smith, V O; Smith, Y S
    • "Bias, history, and the protestant work ethic" (2011)
      (p.287) The histories agree that Luther gave secular value to work by his teachings about “calling.” Calvin then enlarged the idea of “calling” into what eventually became the PWE by convincing his followers that hard work was a means of gaining wealth for God’s glory as well as a means of salvation. This ennobled work and made it necessary for human development.
    • "Bias, history, and the protestant work ethic" (2011)
      (p.288) The point is that the “historical facts” asserted in the organizational literature appear to have emerged from a complex interaction of facts, values and interests as interpreted through a specific ideology. For example, many work histories echo Engels’ (1895) argument that the early Hebrews thought mankind was doomed to work as a penalty for the fall of Adam and Eve. That rationale is found in Genesis 3:17 “Cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you shall eat of it” (Erikson, 1990; Nord et al., 1990). However, earlier in Genesis, the Hebrew writers discuss God working in the act...
  • Sundt, Jody L; Cullen, Francis T
  • Volf, Miroslav
  • Vos, Pieter
View all themes.
How to contribute.