Our hosts here in Finland arranged a city tour of Helsinki with Emil Anton. As he works on his doctorate in theology, he works for a tour company, among other things, and has put together the “Holy Helsinki” tour of religious sites. But Emil is also quite a Christian thinker himself. He is a noteworthy author, speaker, and blogger (see this, for which the translator in your browser can give you an extremely rough translation, and this in English).
Emil is a Catholic who loves Luther and Lutheranism. He says he is the kind of Christian Luther wanted: an evangelical Catholic, a member of the historic church who, thanks to Luther, understands the Gospel. Emil is interested in the whole breadth of Christianity. He reads evangelical authors, such as Ravi Zacharias, and is writing his dissertation on Pope Benedict. Emil–whose father is Iraqi (an Assyrian Catholic) and whose mother is Finnish and who is married to a Polish woman–is a fascinating model of contemporary Christianity.
Anyway, as he was telling us about the sights of Helsinki, we were also carrying on other conversations. I commented on how I was struck by the way contemporary Catholic writers were discussing vocation. Whereas the term “vocation” in a Catholic context used to only refer to the calling to religious orders, I have been seeing it used lately more as Luther used it. Vatican II documents and papal encyclicals now talk about the “vocation” of laypeople, the “vocation” of marriage, the “vocation” of workers. More than that, these documents also talk about the concept in ways that reflect the specific content of the Lutheran doctrine of vocation: God works through human vocations. The purpose of vocation is to love and serve our neighbors.
Emil said, “Right! Which brings us to something I want to show you.” Huh?, I thought. What can he show me on a city tour in Finland that would bear on the new Catholic understanding of vocation? [Read more…]