RE: A Protestant Choice… Or Christian Plumbing?
Ok fair enough. I was just being cheeky with Brent. I also think that the point is worthy of consideration.
First, let me say that the impact of Christianity will be different upon the trades or other occupations than it will be on the professions. The same is true in the Academy where humanities are impacted more deeply than the hard sciences.
Now, back to the question. Brent asked:
“So what does it mean to “reform” a profession? How does one “plumb” Christianly? Is he a Christian plumber or a Christian who is a plumber, or both?”
The answer depends on context. In a society in which Christians are simply individuals professing the faith within the context of a pluralistic setting the professing plumber will be a plumber who is a Christian rather than a Christian plumber. Now this is not to be despised. It will have an impact on the quality of the work and does and how he views its ultimate purpose (to glorify God). It will affect how he pays and treats his employees (providing if able a living wage). It will affect how he treats his customers fairly never over charging or doing shoddy work.
Can a trade become a Christian trade so that those doing it may be Christian plumbers? I think the answer is yes. I mistrust philosophy so I will not argue from abstract first principles but will point out how it worked in the history of Christendom. The answer was found in the guilds. The guilds provided communities that gave expression to the moral and Christian foundations of the trade and professional communities.
I am not sure that guilds are the only answer to question of how to make the trades Christ honoring, but it seems to me they are the place to begin to look for answers. At the least they had a pretty impressive track record.
How does this relate to the magistrate? Well, a Christian ruler in a pagan setting (like Daniel in Babylon or Joseph in Egypt) will be Christians who are magistrates. In a nation that confesses Christ as part of their organic constitutional law, such a magistrate will be bound to defend the faith and rule according to Christian norms as part of his objective duties. Such a ruler is a Christian magistrate.