Animism: The Curse of Fate

The following blog is fourth in a six-part series on worldview and work taken from Darrow Miller’s new book LifeWork: A Biblical Theology for What You Do Every Day.


Billions of people in the developing world are also dying to hear this open invitation from the Creator and Savior of the universe. Unaware of their true identity and the true character of God and his creation, they, too, are experiencing the death of the soul of man, and not only that, but also the death of their very bodies.

In many of the countries of the world where people are materially impoverished, some people are lazy, as there are lazy people everywhere. But the vast majority put in long hours of backbreaking work with little return. Even bright young college graduates find stagnant economies with little opportunity for work. Others find jobs in the public sector that do not take advantage of this immense pool of talent.

Much of the blame for these stagnant economies can be laid at the feet of the greedy and corrupt behavior of government officials and those mercantilists and tribal chiefs who control the economy. This behavior is institutionalized in laws and structures that are against freedom and either strip the poor of the fruits of their labor or rob them altogether of the opportunity to work. Autocratic leadership styles squash initiative, innovation, and creativity. Controlled economies and rampant corruption sap economic initiative. Lack of property rights and copyright protections prevent hardworking people and artisans from enjoying their rightful reward.

All this springs from a culture of corruption where bribery is a way of life, where there is no moral or metaphysical challenge. Undergirding such cultures is often a traditional animistic belief system in which spirits animate nature. In such an outlook, moral responsibility is removed from humankind; people are left in the hands of “the fates” or disinterested or even hostile spirits. Seen through this fatalistic lens, reason and efforts to increase understanding and the ability to affect or use natural resources have little apparent value. According to this worldview, work is a curse of fate; work only compounds man’s misery. It is drudgery. We work in order to survive.

I remember meeting a young man from West Africa after he heard me talk on this subject. He said to me, “I have an illustration for you. In my country all the young people want to go to the university so that after they graduate, they can get a ‘tie job.’” They mean a government job where they can work in an air-conditioned office, drive a car that’s air-conditioned, and draw a paycheck for not really working. He was serious. In much of the developing world, this is how people see work—as a curse to escape.

We invite you to explore our new website, www.MondayChurch.org where you can learn more about Darrow’s new book, LifeWork: A Biblical Theology of Vocation, as well as discover a host of resources to help you connect your work with the Biblical worldview.

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Equipping the Church to transform the world
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