The doctrine of vocation, though neglected for a long time, is coming back in force. Though “vocation” refers to God’s various callings in which we are to love and serve our neighbors and goes far beyond a “job,” it does include what we do to make a living. Quite a few books have come out recently on what is being called the “Faith and Work conversation.” Greg Forster has written a useful review essay online with links to the various titles.
I appreciate what he said about my book on vocation: “Gene Edward Veith’s classic God at Work demonstrates that faith/work integration is indispensable if we wish to uphold the Reformation doctrine of justification by faith alone.”
A classic already? Don’t I have to be dead to have a book attain that status? But I’ll take it. I’m glad Dr. Forster sees what is so often missed: That vocation is connected to justification.
At the end of his essay, Faith and Work: What Needs to Be Read and What Needs to be Written – The Gospel Coalition Blog, Dr. Forster says what still needs to be written on the subject:
The topic of culture brings me to a book the movement has not yet produced, but needs to. Connecting faith and work requires us to integrate the biblical narrative with our cultural narratives about work; however, there is not yet a really good book-length Christian analysis of the predominant narratives of work in Western culture.
As a result, our theology of work depends far too much on the analyses of figures like Adam Smith and Max Weber, whose categories of thought are implicitly naturalistic, gnostic, or in other ways anti-Christian. A solid Christian critique of the narratives of work we have learned from these figures would serve the movement—and our culture at large.
Max Weber was the sociologist who wrote about “the Protestant work ethic” and Adam Smith wrote about individuals following their own self-interest (as opposed to vocation’s emphasis on serving the neighbor).
Could we take up the challenge in the brief space of the comment boxes here to critique those “narratives of work” and to offer an alternative?