My new book on vocation is out

I have a new book on vocation that has just come out: Working for Our Neighbor: A Lutheran Primer on Vocation, Economics, and Ordinary Life.

The Acton Institute is interested, among other things, in the interplay between faith, work, and economics.  Towards that end, the think tank has been publishing a series of books looking at those issues from the perspective of various religious traditions.  Acton has published “primers,” really monographs (short books), from the Reformed, Wesleyan, Baptist, and Pentecostal point of view.  They needed someone to write a Lutheran primer on the subject, so they asked me.

Lutheran theology and spirituality has a great deal to say about such things, centering in the doctrine of vocation, which I have been writing about (see this and this).  In researching and writing this book, I got into some other facets of vocation that I hadn’t explored before.   [Read more…]

“Common grace”? 

Steven Peterson sent me a link to an article by the Reformed theologian Richard J. Louw.  It deals with vocation and the Two Kingdoms, but he comes at it from a completely different perspective than Lutherans do.  He uses the concept of “common grace,” as well as Kuyper’s “sphere sovereignty.”

In the early days of my Lutheranism, I referred to “common grace” and was chastized for it by a colleague in Concordia’s theology department, who explained that Lutherans reserve “grace” to refer to God’s unmerited favor by which He justifies sinners.  For God’s blessings that He bestows on entire His creation, Lutherans use other terms, such as “God’s First Article gifts,” a term referring to the exposition of the Creation article of the creed in the Small Catechism.  (But aren’t those gifts unmerited, and thus proceeding from a kind of grace?)

Read the article by Prof. Louw, linked after the jump.  Does he arrive at the same place that Lutherans do, arriving at an objective truth from a different angle?  Or is there a difference, however subtle, between the Lutheran and the Reformed view on these issues, one that comes from their different approaches and terminology?

[Read more…]

Chaplains in the workplace

A number of companies in the United States and other countries are providing chaplains for their employees.

Is that an appropriate application of vocation, or a confusion of vocation?  I’m not sure myself!

Read about this phenomenon after the jump.

[Read more…]

Of Christian t-shirts and vocation

R. J. Grunewald offers a stimulating critique of Christian T-shirts, movies, and music on the basis of the doctrine of vocation. [Read more…]

Vocation of a fast food worker

Like a lot of people in this economy, my former student Stephen Williams is “underemployed” right now.  But he understands the doctrine of vocation.  Read his account of how working in a fast food joint is charged with spiritual significance and gives him occasion to love and serve his neighbors. [Read more…]

Making America great again through vocation

Mark Hemingway excoriates the left’s denigration of work and says that the lack of respect for the working class is what drives Donald Trump’s popularity.  And then he offers his proposal for making America great again:  Recover Luther’s doctrine of vocation!

Read what he says after the jump.  This will kick off a special series of posts on vocation this week (while I’m away in Denmark).  As someone* wrote me recently, “vocation has messed with me for the past several years.”  Let it mess with you this week!

[Read more…]