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Reformed faith and #GivingTuesday

Presbyterian theologian says John Calvin would support the neighborliness #GivingTuesday enables

by Pat Cole | Presbyterian News Service

LOUISVILLE — Presbyterian theologian Chip Hardwick says #GivingTuesday is a good opportunity for Presbyterians to model “helpfulness for our neighbor,” a value that was prominent in the thought church reformer John Calvin.

Observed annually on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, #GivingTuesday’s organizers describe it as a “global day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration.” Although Calvin lived centuries before the digital revolution that produced social media, Hardwick, writing in a blog post, speculated that Calvin would applaud the neighborliness that #GivingTuesday enables.

“Calvin reminds us that following Jesus means joining his mission to put others’ well-being above our own,” said Hardwick, director of Theology, Formation and Evangelism for the Presbyterian Mission Agency.

The Presbyterian Mission Agency, in partnership with the Presbyterian Foundation, is participating in #GivingTuesday, which was created in 2012 by New York’s 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation. #GivingTuesday follows the widely recognized U.S. shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but its reach extends into nearly 100 countries.

Billed as “having one common purpose: to celebrate and encourage giving,” #GivingTuesday can help people put less focus on themselves and more emphasis others, Hardwick said. He noted that Calvin was “very concerned about the human tendency to put one’s self before others.”

Hardwick explained that in Calvin’s Institutes the reformer wrote that “the sum of the Christian life is the denial of ourselves” and that “self-renunciation leads to proper helpfulness toward our neighbors.” When people focus on others during the holiday season, they too often limit their attention to friends and family members, Hardwick said.

“#GivingTuesday helps us expand our focus beyond those we don’t know and love, so that we’ll also care for people next door and around the world—even those we don’t know and love!” Hardwick wrote. “As we give generously, we invest in a world that looks more and more the way God longs for it to be.”

To get involved in #GivingTuesday:

  • Make an online gift in support of Presbyterian Mission.
  • On social media, post an Unselfie, a photo of yourself that promotes a cause you support.
  • Tweet using the hashtag, #GivingTuesday.

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