Other doctrines of vocation

As I continue to study the doctrine of vocation, I find that nearly all writers in English on the subject–both popular and scholarly–tend to skip over Luther’s version, even though Luther is THE theologian of vocation. Instead, I have noticed at least three other versions that are quite different from his:

(1) The Roman Catholic version. The notion that “vocation” and “calling” has reference only to church-work is still very prevalent, including among many Protestants, evangelicals, and even Lutherans. (I get a kick out of the Google ads on this blog. We talk about vocation so much we are getting targeted with ads for “Religious Vocations for Women” and “Join the Franciscans.”)

(2) The charismatic version. “Calling” becomes a sort of inner voice from God, or a strong inner conviction that God wants you to do a certain thing or pursue a certain “ministry.” This is evident even in non-charismatic writers, such as Os Guinness in his book “The Call.”

(3) The Puritan version. “Vocation” becomes a synonym for “the Protestant Work Ethic.” It becomes pure law and principles for Christianizing whatever you do.

These different doctrines of vocation sometimes have elements of truth, but you have to start with Luther and his insights that vocation is about how God works THROUGH people as part of the way He governs the world, that the purpose of vocation is to love and serve our different neighbors, that vocations are multiple, that vocation is about living out our faith in the realm of the ordinary, etc.

On that foundation–and you don’t have to be a Lutheran to profit from Luther’s insights on these points– you can learn from other theological perspectives. But if those others are all you have, you are going to get it wrong and miss out on the blessings of this teaching!

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • http://www.IndyOPC.org Larry

    Speaking as one who has been more influenced by the Puritan tradition, I'm not sure that you are entirely fair to that tradition although, alas, the emphasis that you lament can indeed be found in that tradition. But I wish to thank you for winsomely explicating Luther's insights on vocation, which I find very helpful, and very agreeable to God's Word. Indeed, these insights are so important that I urge you not to become weary in well-doing: continue to sound this theme!

  • http://www.IndyOPC.org Larry

    Speaking as one who has been more influenced by the Puritan tradition, I'm not sure that you are entirely fair to that tradition although, alas, the emphasis that you lament can indeed be found in that tradition. But I wish to thank you for winsomely explicating Luther's insights on vocation, which I find very helpful, and very agreeable to God's Word. Indeed, these insights are so important that I urge you not to become weary in well-doing: continue to sound this theme!

  • http://www.pathsoflove.com/blog/ Joseph

    I would want to qualify what the "Roman Catholic" position. For a theologian such as Thomas Aquinas, who understands grace to elevate nature, divine providence to operate in the entire natural realm, etc., vocation is fundamentally very much how to describe Luther's understanding of vocation: that the goal of every vocation is to love God and neighbor, that God's providence brings people through their own choices to the place he wants them, etc. Again, the Second Vatican Council emphasized that all Christians are called to holiness, and that this holiness is pursued by living according to faith and love in ordinary daily life.

    Nonetheless it is true that many Catholics see vocation as something limited to those involved in a particular way with the Church, usually in ordained ministry or living in a community or order.

    But in fact, as I read the Scripture, there does seem to me to be two different, though related, meanings of vocation: the one more general, and going out to all, which is found especially in St. Paul, the other more particular, which is found especially in the Gospels. And this difference (totally emphasizing one meaning at the expense of the others) is perhaps to some extent at the origin of the different understandings.

  • http://www.pathsoflove.com/blog/ Joseph

    I would want to qualify what the "Roman Catholic" position. For a theologian such as Thomas Aquinas, who understands grace to elevate nature, divine providence to operate in the entire natural realm, etc., vocation is fundamentally very much how to describe Luther's understanding of vocation: that the goal of every vocation is to love God and neighbor, that God's providence brings people through their own choices to the place he wants them, etc. Again, the Second Vatican Council emphasized that all Christians are called to holiness, and that this holiness is pursued by living according to faith and love in ordinary daily life.

    Nonetheless it is true that many Catholics see vocation as something limited to those involved in a particular way with the Church, usually in ordained ministry or living in a community or order.

    But in fact, as I read the Scripture, there does seem to me to be two different, though related, meanings of vocation: the one more general, and going out to all, which is found especially in St. Paul, the other more particular, which is found especially in the Gospels. And this difference (totally emphasizing one meaning at the expense of the others) is perhaps to some extent at the origin of the different understandings.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/danatnr Dan at NR

    I'm seeing something similar to the RC version of vocation in the Transforming Congregations program and other church growth of initiatives. The imperative is heavily focused on getting people to do something in the name of the congregation, without much focus on being little Christs in their daily work.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/danatnr Dan at NR

    I'm seeing something similar to the RC version of vocation in the Transforming Congregations program and other church growth of initiatives. The imperative is heavily focused on getting people to do something in the name of the congregation, without much focus on being little Christs in their daily work.

  • http://www.intensedebate.com/people/danatnr Dan at NR

    I'm seeing something similar to the RC version of vocation in the Transforming Congregations program and other church growth initiatives. The imperative is heavily focused on getting people to do something in the name of the congregation, without much focus on being little Christs in their daily work.

  • http://www.intensedebate.com/people/danatnr Dan at NR

    I'm seeing something similar to the RC version of vocation in the Transforming Congregations program and other church growth initiatives. The imperative is heavily focused on getting people to do something in the name of the congregation, without much focus on being little Christs in their daily work.

  • Ryan

    Could someone flesh out number 3, the Puritan Work Ethic as opposed to Luther's concept of vocation, I'm not seeing the difference. Doesn't the Lutheran position "Christianize" whatever you do, like changing diapers?

  • Ryan

    Could someone flesh out number 3, the Puritan Work Ethic as opposed to Luther's concept of vocation, I'm not seeing the difference. Doesn't the Lutheran position "Christianize" whatever you do, like changing diapers?

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Veith Veith

    Yes, everyone, I too am seeing Luther's doctrine of vocation being expressed in Roman Catholic circles! It's also foundational to the other Protestant versions, and certainly that of the Puritans. Luther's doctrine if valuable not because it was Luther's but because it is true. It's great that Christians from all over are re-discovering this profound teaching of the Bible.

    For the Puritan version that left the original foundation in Luther's Reformation teaching, see Max Weber's work on the "Protestant Work Ethic" which STILL shows up everywhere in secular scholarship. He does quote Puritans who say that one earns favor before God by working hard in one's calling, something that begins to obscure the Gospel. Others he quotes go so far as to say that one can prove one's salvation by the God-given success that you enjoy in your calling. That's a short step to today's "prosperity gospel" that is causing so much harm and that is everywhere today.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Veith Veith

    Yes, everyone, I too am seeing Luther's doctrine of vocation being expressed in Roman Catholic circles! It's also foundational to the other Protestant versions, and certainly that of the Puritans. Luther's doctrine if valuable not because it was Luther's but because it is true. It's great that Christians from all over are re-discovering this profound teaching of the Bible.

    For the Puritan version that left the original foundation in Luther's Reformation teaching, see Max Weber's work on the "Protestant Work Ethic" which STILL shows up everywhere in secular scholarship. He does quote Puritans who say that one earns favor before God by working hard in one's calling, something that begins to obscure the Gospel. Others he quotes go so far as to say that one can prove one's salvation by the God-given success that you enjoy in your calling. That's a short step to today's "prosperity gospel" that is causing so much harm and that is everywhere today.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/PeterLeavitt PeterLeavitt

    Robert Barnet in an article, An Outline of Theological Reflections on the Nature of work He quotes from an article by D>G. Hart on the Reformed vocational model as follows:

    The doctrine of creation and providence, in the reformers' hands, elevated work that was
    once thought to be tainted because of its "worldliness" into a calling blessed by God."
    Key points of the article
    1. Work is founded upon Providence: God cares for His creation through our work, thus all
    legitimate vocations are significant to God.
    2. Work involves Worship: We worship God through obedience to Him in all areas of life;
    thus our attitude makes work meaningful.
    3. Work provides a context for Sanctification: Work cultivates godliness (especially
    moderation and self-control); thus any job can transform us.

    He, alao, quotes from an article by Dr, Veith on the Lutheran vocational model. As far as I can tell the Lutheran and Reformed models are not far apart, except for , perhaps, the danger of Reformed folk over interpreting the sanctification part.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/PeterLeavitt PeterLeavitt

    Robert Barnet in an article, An Outline of Theological Reflections on the Nature of work He quotes from an article by D>G. Hart on the Reformed vocational model as follows:

    The doctrine of creation and providence, in the reformers' hands, elevated work that was
    once thought to be tainted because of its "worldliness" into a calling blessed by God."
    Key points of the article
    1. Work is founded upon Providence: God cares for His creation through our work, thus all
    legitimate vocations are significant to God.
    2. Work involves Worship: We worship God through obedience to Him in all areas of life;
    thus our attitude makes work meaningful.
    3. Work provides a context for Sanctification: Work cultivates godliness (especially
    moderation and self-control); thus any job can transform us.

    He, alao, quotes from an article by Dr, Veith on the Lutheran vocational model. As far as I can tell the Lutheran and Reformed models are not far apart, except for , perhaps, the danger of Reformed folk over interpreting the sanctification part.

  • Ryan

    Am I correct in seeing this difference:

    Puritan – God loves others through our Vocation, by our obedience, and I get blessed by God
    Lutheran – God loves others through our Vocation, despite our disobedience, because I am blessed by God.

  • Ryan

    Am I correct in seeing this difference:

    Puritan – God loves others through our Vocation, by our obedience, and I get blessed by God
    Lutheran – God loves others through our Vocation, despite our disobedience, because I am blessed by God.

  • Veith

    That's helpful, Peter & Ryan! Another emphasis is that, for Luther, it isn't only our work that is our vocation. The family callings–husband, wife, father, mother, child–are primary vocations. Citizenship is another calling that all Christians have. Also, our various roles in the church. He also speaks of a "general estate," that realm where all vocations interact in ordinary life. Do Calvin and the Puritans emphasize those too as vocations?

  • Veith

    That's helpful, Peter & Ryan! Another emphasis is that, for Luther, it isn't only our work that is our vocation. The family callings–husband, wife, father, mother, child–are primary vocations. Citizenship is another calling that all Christians have. Also, our various roles in the church. He also speaks of a "general estate," that realm where all vocations interact in ordinary life. Do Calvin and the Puritans emphasize those too as vocations?

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Tickletext Tickletext

    It's instructive to contrast the metaphorical underpinnings of "vocation" and "career." The central metaphor of vocation is, of course, a calling–latin vocare. The person who is called is the receptor of that gift, the respondent to that calling, which originates not in oneself but in the Person who calls.

    But the word "career" is etymologically associated with roads, courses, chariot-paths, etc. Poets used to speak of the "career" of the sun in its course across the sky. This is how modernity generally conceives of work, as a choice of course, not a calling and a gift. The person who faces a career choice faces a crossroads of choices. A person usually discovers one's vocations as they naturally unfold through the talents that arise in relation to the people to whom one is called. But the criteria for making the right career choice and taking the right career path are self-originating, they are discovered by being true to oneself and one's desires (to speak the Hollywood argot). Because that is extremely vague, and because one's desires are in constant flux and contradiction, there has arisen a whole industry of incantatory-astrological magicians and paperback mountebanks who hawk the right "formula" or series of steps, which, if purchased and followed, will bring happiness and success in one's career choice.

    Universities today are extremely career-oriented, of course. Like all the secular schools the Christian university I attended had a Career Center but no Vocation Center, nor was vocation taught in any substantive way. The phrase "revolutionize" is a cliche, but a strong and full articulation of vocation properly understood would truly transform the way we approach education. In the humanities, for instance, an understanding of art, literature, and criticism as vocational means of serving the neighbor would provide a compelling alternative to the dehumanizing, obscurantist tendencies of modern English departments.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Tickletext Tickletext

    It's instructive to contrast the metaphorical underpinnings of "vocation" and "career." The central metaphor of vocation is, of course, a calling–latin vocare. The person who is called is the receptor of that gift, the respondent to that calling, which originates not in oneself but in the Person who calls.

    But the word "career" is etymologically associated with roads, courses, chariot-paths, etc. Poets used to speak of the "career" of the sun in its course across the sky. This is how modernity generally conceives of work, as a choice of course, not a calling and a gift. The person who faces a career choice faces a crossroads of choices. A person usually discovers one's vocations as they naturally unfold through the talents that arise in relation to the people to whom one is called. But the criteria for making the right career choice and taking the right career path are self-originating, they are discovered by being true to oneself and one's desires (to speak the Hollywood argot). Because that is extremely vague, and because one's desires are in constant flux and contradiction, there has arisen a whole industry of incantatory-astrological magicians and paperback mountebanks who hawk the right "formula" or series of steps, which, if purchased and followed, will bring happiness and success in one's career choice.

    Universities today are extremely career-oriented, of course. Like all the secular schools the Christian university I attended had a Career Center but no Vocation Center, nor was vocation taught in any substantive way. The phrase "revolutionize" is a cliche, but a strong and full articulation of vocation properly understood would truly transform the way we approach education. In the humanities, for instance, an understanding of art, literature, and criticism as vocational means of serving the neighbor would provide a compelling alternative to the dehumanizing, obscurantist tendencies of modern English departments.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Veith

    You said it, Tickletext! Another common metaphor is “occupation.” Something that just passes the time.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Veith

    You said it, Tickletext! Another common metaphor is “occupation.” Something that just passes the time.

  • http://www.intensedebate.com/people/PeterLeavitt PeterLeavitt

    I don't know what Calvin had to say on citizenship, family, and church vocations. Jonathan Edwards was strong on all three.

    Personally, I have been very active in various high and low church vocations as well as serving on the town School Committee for six years and as Town Moderator presiding at town meetings for nineteen years. In Massachusetts to some extent people are still judged by their contribution to church and community, though the old Puritan idea of towns and churches being governed only by the "saints" has thankfully gone by the board.

    As to the family vocations of husband, wife, father, and mother, the tradition remains reasonably strong, though in New England, unfortunately, the proper role of the husband and father has been eroded due to corrosive secular influences.

  • http://www.intensedebate.com/people/PeterLeavitt PeterLeavitt

    I don't know what Calvin had to say on citizenship, family, and church vocations. Jonathan Edwards was strong on all three.

    Personally, I have been very active in various high and low church vocations as well as serving on the town School Committee for six years and as Town Moderator presiding at town meetings for nineteen years. In Massachusetts to some extent people are still judged by their contribution to church and community, though the old Puritan idea of towns and churches being governed only by the "saints" has thankfully gone by the board.

    As to the family vocations of husband, wife, father, and mother, the tradition remains reasonably strong, though in New England, unfortunately, the proper role of the husband and father has been eroded due to corrosive secular influences.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/fws fws

    Joseph, the Lutheran understanding is not either/or. it is both/and. in Luther´s small catechism, which you can find on the internet, there is something called a "table of duties" which Luther, with intentional polemic, calls "holy orders". Luther´s understanding on vocation, can indeed be understood only when contrasted to the traditional Roman Catholic view, and that difference is wholy due to the difference between Lutherans and Rome on the teaching on the Holy Gospel.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/fws fws

    Joseph, the Lutheran understanding is not either/or. it is both/and. in Luther´s small catechism, which you can find on the internet, there is something called a "table of duties" which Luther, with intentional polemic, calls "holy orders". Luther´s understanding on vocation, can indeed be understood only when contrasted to the traditional Roman Catholic view, and that difference is wholy due to the difference between Lutherans and Rome on the teaching on the Holy Gospel.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/fws fws

    joseph, the lutheran position is not either/or it is very intentionally both / and. this fact is , in turn, only understood in the context of the traditional roman view on vocation which Luther rejected. you can see this in his intentionally polemic title to the section in his small catechism called "table of duties… holy orders".

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/fws fws

    joseph, the lutheran position is not either/or it is very intentionally both / and. this fact is , in turn, only understood in the context of the traditional roman view on vocation which Luther rejected. you can see this in his intentionally polemic title to the section in his small catechism called "table of duties… holy orders".

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/fws fws

    #1 To see how this works for a Lutheran is pretty simple ryan, go to the internet and find the text of Luther´s Small catechism, which is the text that all lutheran youth are traditionally made to memorize.

    in the 1st article of the apostles´' creed are lists of 7 things (ie god give to us completely) that God the father provides us temporally. In the section on the Lord´s Prayer in the explanation of the 3rd petition of the Lord´s prayer Luther points out that "daily bread"is , in fact, all those things mentioned in the 1st article explanation. Those things are give indeed a) without our prayer b) even to all the wicked.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/fws fws

    #1 To see how this works for a Lutheran is pretty simple ryan, go to the internet and find the text of Luther´s Small catechism, which is the text that all lutheran youth are traditionally made to memorize.

    in the 1st article of the apostles´' creed are lists of 7 things (ie god give to us completely) that God the father provides us temporally. In the section on the Lord´s Prayer in the explanation of the 3rd petition of the Lord´s prayer Luther points out that "daily bread"is , in fact, all those things mentioned in the 1st article explanation. Those things are give indeed a) without our prayer b) even to all the wicked.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/fws fws

    #2 of 2

    what this means is that christians in vocation look no different than that of non-christians. Yes this is a radical statement. I know that. This jibes with Jesus description of the Gospel as being "salt" and "yeast". I think the critical difference here is that puritans would see christians themselves as being that salt and yeast and would make those invisible things necessarily visible. Lutherans would see salt and yeast as the Holy Gospel itself, that works directly "in,with, and under" the saints, who in turn bear that salt and yeast to the world as little christs. This difference is not subtle one.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/fws fws

    #2 of 2

    what this means is that christians in vocation look no different than that of non-christians. Yes this is a radical statement. I know that. This jibes with Jesus description of the Gospel as being "salt" and "yeast". I think the critical difference here is that puritans would see christians themselves as being that salt and yeast and would make those invisible things necessarily visible. Lutherans would see salt and yeast as the Holy Gospel itself, that works directly "in,with, and under" the saints, who in turn bear that salt and yeast to the world as little christs. This difference is not subtle one.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/fws fws

    well dr veith. we Lutheran´s too must admit that in a very real sense, we do earn God´s favor by serving our neighbor. even unbelievers earn God´s favor that way. at the same time, Luther points out that God compells this to be so, he puts a drive into all, sort of like a sex drive, that orders us to serve one another. often turning selfish motives into fruits that serve our neighbor.

    this is all on the horizontal plane of the cross however, in the vertical plane of the cross there is only Jesus to offer to God to please him. It is again a both/and not an either/or

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/fws fws

    well dr veith. we Lutheran´s too must admit that in a very real sense, we do earn God´s favor by serving our neighbor. even unbelievers earn God´s favor that way. at the same time, Luther points out that God compells this to be so, he puts a drive into all, sort of like a sex drive, that orders us to serve one another. often turning selfish motives into fruits that serve our neighbor.

    this is all on the horizontal plane of the cross however, in the vertical plane of the cross there is only Jesus to offer to God to please him. It is again a both/and not an either/or

  • http://www.intensedebate.com/people/PeterLeavitt PeterLeavitt

    Robert Barnet in an article, An Outline of Theological Reflections on the Nature of Work , quotes from an article by D. G. Hart on the Reformed vocational model as follows:

    The doctrine of creation and providence, in the reformers' hands, elevated work that was once thought to be tainted because of its "worldliness" into a calling blessed by God."

    Key points of the article

    1. Work is founded upon Providence: God cares for His creation through our work, thus all
    legitimate vocations are significant to God.
    2. Work involves Worship: We worship God through obedience to Him in all areas of life;
    thus our attitude makes work meaningful.
    3. Work provides a context for Sanctification: Work cultivates godliness (especially
    moderation and self-control); thus any job can transform us.

    He, alao, quotes from an article by Dr. Veith on the Lutheran vocational model. As far as I can tell, the Lutheran and Reformed models are not far apart, except for , perhaps, the danger of Reformed folk over interpreting the sanctification part.

  • http://www.intensedebate.com/people/PeterLeavitt PeterLeavitt

    Robert Barnet in an article, An Outline of Theological Reflections on the Nature of Work , quotes from an article by D. G. Hart on the Reformed vocational model as follows:

    The doctrine of creation and providence, in the reformers' hands, elevated work that was once thought to be tainted because of its "worldliness" into a calling blessed by God."

    Key points of the article

    1. Work is founded upon Providence: God cares for His creation through our work, thus all
    legitimate vocations are significant to God.
    2. Work involves Worship: We worship God through obedience to Him in all areas of life;
    thus our attitude makes work meaningful.
    3. Work provides a context for Sanctification: Work cultivates godliness (especially
    moderation and self-control); thus any job can transform us.

    He, alao, quotes from an article by Dr. Veith on the Lutheran vocational model. As far as I can tell, the Lutheran and Reformed models are not far apart, except for , perhaps, the danger of Reformed folk over interpreting the sanctification part.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/fws fws

    Lutherans would immediately be struck by no centrality of Jesus and the Holy Gospel in this. The Lutheran idea of vocation, as with EVERY other Lutheran doctrine , has as it´s organic and indespensible essense, the Holy Gospel. This is the very person of Jesus Christ, who he was, what he did, and why he did it. Every Lutheran teaching, including vocation, is not merely centered in, but springs forth from this single doctrine.

    The Lutheran´s public confession (augsburg) puts it this way "the gospel and all it´s articles. The unitary purpose of every doctrine is to illuminate and support the Holy Gospel in it´s narrow meaning (the person and work of Jesus).

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/fws fws

    Lutherans would immediately be struck by no centrality of Jesus and the Holy Gospel in this. The Lutheran idea of vocation, as with EVERY other Lutheran doctrine , has as it´s organic and indespensible essense, the Holy Gospel. This is the very person of Jesus Christ, who he was, what he did, and why he did it. Every Lutheran teaching, including vocation, is not merely centered in, but springs forth from this single doctrine.

    The Lutheran´s public confession (augsburg) puts it this way "the gospel and all it´s articles. The unitary purpose of every doctrine is to illuminate and support the Holy Gospel in it´s narrow meaning (the person and work of Jesus).

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/fws fws

    Lutheran: God loves each of us and others through any vocation, even that of the wicked. Christians see the hand of God in every vocation of every one. To the extent that we are sanctified, Christians see Gods hand in this, give thanks for this, and will to give to others as God has so freely given us, and give freely, not in view of reward or punishment, but out of pure love for our neighbor. we dimmly get to reflect God´s love as the moon reflects the light of the sun in a sin-darkened world.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/fws fws

    Lutheran: God loves each of us and others through any vocation, even that of the wicked. Christians see the hand of God in every vocation of every one. To the extent that we are sanctified, Christians see Gods hand in this, give thanks for this, and will to give to others as God has so freely given us, and give freely, not in view of reward or punishment, but out of pure love for our neighbor. we dimmly get to reflect God´s love as the moon reflects the light of the sun in a sin-darkened world.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/fws fws

    Good for you peter! men like you are useful to me in that they make me want to do more!

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/fws fws

    Good for you peter! men like you are useful to me in that they make me want to do more!

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/fws fws

    wow tickle text that was a really helpful post!

    I would posit back to you that both views are ok. God uses our desires and our being " true to ourselves" (which is ultimately what sanctification is and why non-christians suffer for not being christian).

    Your view seems to be that without a conscious or implicit motive to serve one´s neighbor, that one´s vocation is not truly vocation.

    The beauty of the Lutheran view of vocation, is that vocation simply happens, and often , if not always, happens in the middle of motives that are purely selfish or self-serving. both/and.

    The rule of law, is the way God orders these human endeavors so that our neighbor is served. here i use "rule of law " in the broad sense, including the use of currency, etc. all social conventions that put structure into our lives.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/fws fws

    wow tickle text that was a really helpful post!

    I would posit back to you that both views are ok. God uses our desires and our being " true to ourselves" (which is ultimately what sanctification is and why non-christians suffer for not being christian).

    Your view seems to be that without a conscious or implicit motive to serve one´s neighbor, that one´s vocation is not truly vocation.

    The beauty of the Lutheran view of vocation, is that vocation simply happens, and often , if not always, happens in the middle of motives that are purely selfish or self-serving. both/and.

    The rule of law, is the way God orders these human endeavors so that our neighbor is served. here i use "rule of law " in the broad sense, including the use of currency, etc. all social conventions that put structure into our lives.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/fws fws

    I see alot of christians (including alot of Lutherans) seeking "God´s will " for their lives.

    Lutherans, in seeing God and God´s will revealed in it´s fullness in the person and work of Jesus, see his will as being to save us and for us to be whole and happy. All fathers do want their children to be happy.

    The love we know from this will animate our career choices but will not make those choices utilitarian ones (ie purpose driven). Lilies exist and are beautiful. They do not exist to be beautiful. The birds of the air like to fly. Their purpose for existence is not that. We as God´s creatures exist. Our Lord invites us to exist as lilies and birds. There is no other necessary purpose or raison d'etre for being and doing. ONLY in the knowledge of the person and work of Jesus can one of God´s creatures truly participate in the freedom and joy of existing as mere creatures and be content in not trying to become god.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/fws fws

    I see alot of christians (including alot of Lutherans) seeking "God´s will " for their lives.

    Lutherans, in seeing God and God´s will revealed in it´s fullness in the person and work of Jesus, see his will as being to save us and for us to be whole and happy. All fathers do want their children to be happy.

    The love we know from this will animate our career choices but will not make those choices utilitarian ones (ie purpose driven). Lilies exist and are beautiful. They do not exist to be beautiful. The birds of the air like to fly. Their purpose for existence is not that. We as God´s creatures exist. Our Lord invites us to exist as lilies and birds. There is no other necessary purpose or raison d'etre for being and doing. ONLY in the knowledge of the person and work of Jesus can one of God´s creatures truly participate in the freedom and joy of existing as mere creatures and be content in not trying to become god.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Tickletext Tickletext

    I would posit back to you that both views are ok. God uses our desires and our being " true to ourselves" (which is ultimately what sanctification is and why non-christians suffer for not being christian).

    The distinction I would make, FW, is that if it is possible for Christians to speak of "being true to one's self," then it would have be in the sense of "being true to the self God calls us to be." But that is not the usual language of modernity, of course.

    Your view seems to be that without a conscious or implicit motive to serve one´s neighbor, that one´s vocation is not truly vocation

    No, I would say that sometimes there may be motives, sometimes not. I wouldn't know how to draw a clear line in that respect, and even if I could I don't think I'd want to. The calling is the important thing.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Tickletext Tickletext

    I would posit back to you that both views are ok. God uses our desires and our being " true to ourselves" (which is ultimately what sanctification is and why non-christians suffer for not being christian).

    The distinction I would make, FW, is that if it is possible for Christians to speak of "being true to one's self," then it would have be in the sense of "being true to the self God calls us to be." But that is not the usual language of modernity, of course.

    Your view seems to be that without a conscious or implicit motive to serve one´s neighbor, that one´s vocation is not truly vocation

    No, I would say that sometimes there may be motives, sometimes not. I wouldn't know how to draw a clear line in that respect, and even if I could I don't think I'd want to. The calling is the important thing.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Tickletext Tickletext

    One reason I find the distinction between vocation and career useful is that the former category has a teleological orientation which is lacking in the latter. By which I mean: the career culture has no sound way of differentiating legitimate careers from illegitimate careers. It doesn't really matter WHAT career you choose–the choice is the only important thing. Who are we to judge the choices of others, anyway? There is a built-in aversion to truth in the career mentality. And thus it leaves the neighborhood in the cold and fragmented.

    But vocation acknowledges the flourishing–the shalom–of the neighbor as a legitimate check to the authority of choice. Vocations that prove deleterious to the health and well being of the neighbor are no vocations at all. But the same cannot be said of the career mindset, which is inherently choice-oriented. Vocation doesn't deny the role of choice, it just humbles it, redirects it.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Tickletext Tickletext

    One reason I find the distinction between vocation and career useful is that the former category has a teleological orientation which is lacking in the latter. By which I mean: the career culture has no sound way of differentiating legitimate careers from illegitimate careers. It doesn't really matter WHAT career you choose–the choice is the only important thing. Who are we to judge the choices of others, anyway? There is a built-in aversion to truth in the career mentality. And thus it leaves the neighborhood in the cold and fragmented.

    But vocation acknowledges the flourishing–the shalom–of the neighbor as a legitimate check to the authority of choice. Vocations that prove deleterious to the health and well being of the neighbor are no vocations at all. But the same cannot be said of the career mindset, which is inherently choice-oriented. Vocation doesn't deny the role of choice, it just humbles it, redirects it.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/fws fws

    looks like we are in complete agreement here. especially with the relation between call, motive and fruit with respect to vocation.

    I have been looking for a text of Luther where he says that God moves the farmer and baker to get up early to plant sow and bake to serve us. Luther is saying there that there is a sort of urge planted in everyone to do vocation , that this is not limited to christians, and that it just happens. It is how God gives us our daily bread, even to all the wicked.

    Is there anyone here who knows where to find that text?

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/fws fws

    looks like we are in complete agreement here. especially with the relation between call, motive and fruit with respect to vocation.

    I have been looking for a text of Luther where he says that God moves the farmer and baker to get up early to plant sow and bake to serve us. Luther is saying there that there is a sort of urge planted in everyone to do vocation , that this is not limited to christians, and that it just happens. It is how God gives us our daily bread, even to all the wicked.

    Is there anyone here who knows where to find that text?

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/fws fws

    Vocation doesn't deny the role of choice, it just humbles it, redirects it.

    yes. I initially resisted this idea of your, but it is true. even for unbelievers yes? even a casual observation reveals that the people who achieve contentment, even in the face of triumph and setback, joy and sorrow, are those who have devoted a part of their life´s energy in favor of service to others. Most mothers I know regard the time of their lives when they were changing diapers, some of the happiest and most fulfulling times of their lives. Maybe this is why men tend to not mature as well generally as women. go figure!

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/fws fws

    Vocation doesn't deny the role of choice, it just humbles it, redirects it.

    yes. I initially resisted this idea of your, but it is true. even for unbelievers yes? even a casual observation reveals that the people who achieve contentment, even in the face of triumph and setback, joy and sorrow, are those who have devoted a part of their life´s energy in favor of service to others. Most mothers I know regard the time of their lives when they were changing diapers, some of the happiest and most fulfulling times of their lives. Maybe this is why men tend to not mature as well generally as women. go figure!

  • http://www.pathsoflove.com/blog/ Joseph

    If he rejected it, then his position is not both / and. It is when a person understands and acknowledges the truth in both sides that his position is both/and. The Catholic position in its best proponents (though there are certainly many poor proponents of it) holds both that God calls all, and that each holy way of life is a divine vocation, and that God gives some special graces and callings that he doesn't give to others (as we see in 1Cor 12, Heb 5:4, Luke 12:48, and many other passages). To reject one in favor of the other, even if it is done because that other was over emphasized by some, is an either/or, and is a mistake.

  • http://www.pathsoflove.com/blog/ Joseph

    If he rejected it, then his position is not both / and. It is when a person understands and acknowledges the truth in both sides that his position is both/and. The Catholic position in its best proponents (though there are certainly many poor proponents of it) holds both that God calls all, and that each holy way of life is a divine vocation, and that God gives some special graces and callings that he doesn't give to others (as we see in 1Cor 12, Heb 5:4, Luke 12:48, and many other passages). To reject one in favor of the other, even if it is done because that other was over emphasized by some, is an either/or, and is a mistake.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/fws fws

    Joseph, you are right in that the opposite of an error is the opposite error. and you would also be right if you observed that Lutherans fall in the the same error as Rome did in saying that some vocations were more holy than others or more meritorious to use the precise wording.

    The church of Rome had it´s own reformation with the tridentine counsels etc. And there are various schools of thought in such a large body.

    Am i wrong today to say that official catholic doctrine is stil that certain vocations are more meritorious than others? Please feel free to inform, educate and correct me as to the official Roman Catholic position.

    I believe that we Lutherans do hold to the small c catholic position formally, even if we do frequently err in practice and personal belief.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/fws fws

    Joseph, you are right in that the opposite of an error is the opposite error. and you would also be right if you observed that Lutherans fall in the the same error as Rome did in saying that some vocations were more holy than others or more meritorious to use the precise wording.

    The church of Rome had it´s own reformation with the tridentine counsels etc. And there are various schools of thought in such a large body.

    Am i wrong today to say that official catholic doctrine is stil that certain vocations are more meritorious than others? Please feel free to inform, educate and correct me as to the official Roman Catholic position.

    I believe that we Lutherans do hold to the small c catholic position formally, even if we do frequently err in practice and personal belief.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/fws fws

    Keep in mind Joseph that when you dialog with Lutherans, we believe that the official position of our church and our personal views must always be the same. Lutherans therefore tend to undervalue or negate the fact that this is not the working or actual perspective in other christian sects, like the Roman Catholic church, and so we often, in error, persist in thinking that a Roman catholic christian should adhere to every single point of RC doctrine without exception as Lutherans do with their confessions of faith.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/fws fws

    Keep in mind Joseph that when you dialog with Lutherans, we believe that the official position of our church and our personal views must always be the same. Lutherans therefore tend to undervalue or negate the fact that this is not the working or actual perspective in other christian sects, like the Roman Catholic church, and so we often, in error, persist in thinking that a Roman catholic christian should adhere to every single point of RC doctrine without exception as Lutherans do with their confessions of faith.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/fws fws

    please accept my apology by the way Joseph if my comment seemed like a general slam against Roman christianity in general. Lutherans DO consider themselves as sharing the catholic tradition, and lutheranism is best understood in that precise context.

    this is to the extent that when you read imprimatured books arguing against evangelical or baptist theology, Lutherans would agree with most of those criticisms. especially as to the sacraments, or would have a view that those criticisms would not really address.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/fws fws

    please accept my apology by the way Joseph if my comment seemed like a general slam against Roman christianity in general. Lutherans DO consider themselves as sharing the catholic tradition, and lutheranism is best understood in that precise context.

    this is to the extent that when you read imprimatured books arguing against evangelical or baptist theology, Lutherans would agree with most of those criticisms. especially as to the sacraments, or would have a view that those criticisms would not really address.

  • Jonathan CHM

    HOLY LAUGHER, HOLY BARK, HOLY DRUNKARD & ETC.

     Holy Laughter, holy bark, holy drunkard and etc. are not found in the book of Acts during the Pentecost. Some Charismatic churches might use the word, leap, laugh, drunkard and etc. from the Old and New Testaments to support these movements. However, bear in mind that the word, leap, laugh, drunkard and etc. are mentioned instead of the full phrase of holy laughter, holy bark and etc. What if these practices are not from the work of the Holy Spirit, the insisting that these practices are from the work of Holy Spirit has caused one to abuse the name of the Holy Spirit and it would have grieved the Holy Spirit to accept the wrong saying that these are the work of them. However, the Holy Spirit does not do it. One has indeed blaspheme against the Holy Spirit by abusing the name of the Holy Spirit despite he does not do it. The blasphemy against the Holy Spirit cannot be forgivable according to the New Testament

    DEFINITION OF BLASPHEMY IN HEBREWS/GREEK

    blas’-fe-mi (blaphemia) in classical Greek and Hebrews means primarily ‘defamation’ or ‘evil-speaking’in general; ‘a word of evil omen’, hence, ‘impious, and irreverent speech against God’. The above is the extract pertaining to the meaning of blasphemy in Greek. Consider carefully about holy bark, holy laugher and etc. For instance, if these are not the work of Holy Spirit, the abusing the name of Holy Spirit by saying that these are the work of Holy Spirit is indeed delivery of irreverent speech against the Holy Spirit. For instance, if these are not the work of the Holy Spirit, the insisting that these should be directed from the work of the Holy Spirit might have abused the name of the Holy Spirit and caused defamation of its name and one might have in turn grieved the Holy Spirit since these might not be the work of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit might be ended up to bear the name for the doer of holy bark, holy laugher and etc. What if it has grieved the Holy Spirit by insisting that these are the work of the Holy Spirit, our ignorance has ultimately caused the ultimate abusing and/or blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.

    HEALINGS IN CONTEMPORARY CHARISMATIC CHURCHES

    In miraculous healings among Charismatic churches today, we could easily spot out that many sick will fall down before the healers lay hands on them. However, many sick would remain unhealed after the rally despite they did fall down before the healers, i.e. Pastors that perform miraculous healings. God is definitely powerful and can heal all kinds of sicknesses. However, there is a deficiency in the healings in contemporary Charismatic world. What if the wonders are not the work of the Holy Spirit, the commenting to abuse the name of the Holy Spirit that it is he that does the work might have grieved the Holy Spirit in case if these are not the work of the Holy Spirit and it ends up that one has abused the name of the Holy Spirit and has ultimately blasphemed against the Holy Spirit.

    ALL BLASPHEMIES WHETHER TOWARDS THE HOLY SPIRIT OR GOD OR JESUS CHRIST ARE TO BE CONSIDERED AS SINS

    Matthew 12:31-32, “Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the BLASPHEMY AGAINST the Spirit will not be forgiven men. Anyone who speak against a word the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever SPEAK AGAINST the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.” As the phrase, speak against the Holy Spirit, is mentioned in Matthew 12:31-32 with the phrase, blasphemy against the Spirit, it implies that a person blasphemes against the Holy Spirit even if he speaks against the Holy Spirit. The same for abusing the name of the Holy Spirit in which it might have grieved the Holy Spirit to accept the false saying what if the works are not from the Holy Spirit. The word, forgiven, is mentioned in Matthew 12:31-32 with the phrase, every sin & blasphemy, it implies that all blasphemies are to be considered as sin or else why we should need God’s forgiveness for the blasphemies. The same in abusing God’s or Jesus’ name to support their miracles are from God or Jesus respectively and these are the acts of blasphemies to be considered as sins too.

    THE  WELL-KNOWN VERSES IN MATTHEW 7:21-23

    Matthew 7:21-23, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name, cast out demons in your name, and done many wonders in your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you who practise lawlessness!”
    What are the elements could be found in these verses above? There are:
    1) They believe in Jesus Christ since Matthew 7:22, “(mentions that) Many will say to me..’LORD, LORD”. These people must have believed in Jesus Christ or else how they could call Jesus Christ to be their Lord as mentioned above then.
    2) These people could use Jesus’ name to perform miracles since Matthew 7:22, “(mentions that) Many…have..prophesied…in your name, cast out demons in your name, and done many wonders in your name?”
    3) Will they be accepted by Jesus Christ? Matthew 7:23, “…I will declare to them, I never knew you; depart from me”.

    THE PRIDE AMONG CONTEMPORARY CHURCHES FOR THEIR NON-REPENTANCE

    This is my general discovery upon Charismatic churches: Some Charismatic churches might not repent in order to do away their so-called, gift, in the churches due to they feel thieir reputations are most precious than the truth of the Bible and that causes them to persist in the practice. However, bear in mind that the insisting the so-called, gift, in their churches to be the work of the Holy Spirit might cause them to abuse the name of the Holy Spirit and that causes them ultimately to blaspheme against the Holy Spirit what if the miracles are not from the work the Holy Spirit. The act of insisting to defend their reputation more important than the truth of the Bible has indeed violated the great commandment of the Lord. For Matthew 22:37, “(mentions that) Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” The act of having a high preference for their reputations rather that upholding the truth of the Bible implies that his love towards his own reputation is more significance than his love towards God.  For Matthew 22:37 has commanded us to put our love to God first instead of that has to be in replacement of our reputation.

  • Jonathan CHM

    HOLY LAUGHER, HOLY BARK, HOLY DRUNKARD & ETC.

     Holy Laughter, holy bark, holy drunkard and etc. are not found in the book of Acts during the Pentecost. Some Charismatic churches might use the word, leap, laugh, drunkard and etc. from the Old and New Testaments to support these movements. However, bear in mind that the word, leap, laugh, drunkard and etc. are mentioned instead of the full phrase of holy laughter, holy bark and etc. What if these practices are not from the work of the Holy Spirit, the insisting that these practices are from the work of Holy Spirit has caused one to abuse the name of the Holy Spirit and it would have grieved the Holy Spirit to accept the wrong saying that these are the work of them. However, the Holy Spirit does not do it. One has indeed blaspheme against the Holy Spirit by abusing the name of the Holy Spirit despite he does not do it. The blasphemy against the Holy Spirit cannot be forgivable according to the New Testament

    DEFINITION OF BLASPHEMY IN HEBREWS/GREEK

    blas’-fe-mi (blaphemia) in classical Greek and Hebrews means primarily ‘defamation’ or ‘evil-speaking’in general; ‘a word of evil omen’, hence, ‘impious, and irreverent speech against God’. The above is the extract pertaining to the meaning of blasphemy in Greek. Consider carefully about holy bark, holy laugher and etc. For instance, if these are not the work of Holy Spirit, the abusing the name of Holy Spirit by saying that these are the work of Holy Spirit is indeed delivery of irreverent speech against the Holy Spirit. For instance, if these are not the work of the Holy Spirit, the insisting that these should be directed from the work of the Holy Spirit might have abused the name of the Holy Spirit and caused defamation of its name and one might have in turn grieved the Holy Spirit since these might not be the work of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit might be ended up to bear the name for the doer of holy bark, holy laugher and etc. What if it has grieved the Holy Spirit by insisting that these are the work of the Holy Spirit, our ignorance has ultimately caused the ultimate abusing and/or blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.

    HEALINGS IN CONTEMPORARY CHARISMATIC CHURCHES

    In miraculous healings among Charismatic churches today, we could easily spot out that many sick will fall down before the healers lay hands on them. However, many sick would remain unhealed after the rally despite they did fall down before the healers, i.e. Pastors that perform miraculous healings. God is definitely powerful and can heal all kinds of sicknesses. However, there is a deficiency in the healings in contemporary Charismatic world. What if the wonders are not the work of the Holy Spirit, the commenting to abuse the name of the Holy Spirit that it is he that does the work might have grieved the Holy Spirit in case if these are not the work of the Holy Spirit and it ends up that one has abused the name of the Holy Spirit and has ultimately blasphemed against the Holy Spirit.

    ALL BLASPHEMIES WHETHER TOWARDS THE HOLY SPIRIT OR GOD OR JESUS CHRIST ARE TO BE CONSIDERED AS SINS

    Matthew 12:31-32, “Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the BLASPHEMY AGAINST the Spirit will not be forgiven men. Anyone who speak against a word the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever SPEAK AGAINST the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.” As the phrase, speak against the Holy Spirit, is mentioned in Matthew 12:31-32 with the phrase, blasphemy against the Spirit, it implies that a person blasphemes against the Holy Spirit even if he speaks against the Holy Spirit. The same for abusing the name of the Holy Spirit in which it might have grieved the Holy Spirit to accept the false saying what if the works are not from the Holy Spirit. The word, forgiven, is mentioned in Matthew 12:31-32 with the phrase, every sin & blasphemy, it implies that all blasphemies are to be considered as sin or else why we should need God’s forgiveness for the blasphemies. The same in abusing God’s or Jesus’ name to support their miracles are from God or Jesus respectively and these are the acts of blasphemies to be considered as sins too.

    THE  WELL-KNOWN VERSES IN MATTHEW 7:21-23

    Matthew 7:21-23, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name, cast out demons in your name, and done many wonders in your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you who practise lawlessness!”
    What are the elements could be found in these verses above? There are:
    1) They believe in Jesus Christ since Matthew 7:22, “(mentions that) Many will say to me..’LORD, LORD”. These people must have believed in Jesus Christ or else how they could call Jesus Christ to be their Lord as mentioned above then.
    2) These people could use Jesus’ name to perform miracles since Matthew 7:22, “(mentions that) Many…have..prophesied…in your name, cast out demons in your name, and done many wonders in your name?”
    3) Will they be accepted by Jesus Christ? Matthew 7:23, “…I will declare to them, I never knew you; depart from me”.

    THE PRIDE AMONG CONTEMPORARY CHURCHES FOR THEIR NON-REPENTANCE

    This is my general discovery upon Charismatic churches: Some Charismatic churches might not repent in order to do away their so-called, gift, in the churches due to they feel thieir reputations are most precious than the truth of the Bible and that causes them to persist in the practice. However, bear in mind that the insisting the so-called, gift, in their churches to be the work of the Holy Spirit might cause them to abuse the name of the Holy Spirit and that causes them ultimately to blaspheme against the Holy Spirit what if the miracles are not from the work the Holy Spirit. The act of insisting to defend their reputation more important than the truth of the Bible has indeed violated the great commandment of the Lord. For Matthew 22:37, “(mentions that) Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” The act of having a high preference for their reputations rather that upholding the truth of the Bible implies that his love towards his own reputation is more significance than his love towards God.  For Matthew 22:37 has commanded us to put our love to God first instead of that has to be in replacement of our reputation.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X