“Radical,” “missional” Christianity as the new legalism

The esteemed Anthony Bradley describes a “new legalism” stemming from the vogue of so-called “radical” and “missional” Christianity.  He decries the emphasis on spectacular works, emphasizing instead the role of  good works in the realm of the “ordinary.”  That is, the love of neighbor as carried out in [wait for it] VOCATION!  (See!  I told you, Anthony Sacramone!)  Dr. Bradley goes so far as to link to a talk I gave on that subject at the Evangelical Theological Society convention, which I didn’t even know was online. [Read more...]

Lutherans, Calvinists, & Evangelicals on vocation

Tim Keller, the well-respected pastor of Redeemer Prebyterian Church in New York, City, has written a book about vocation entitled Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God’s Work.  I haven’t read it yet, though I’m ordering it, but from what I’ve heard and read on the preview at Amazon (click the link), it looks promising.  Also, he “gets” what Luther is saying and expresses warm appreciation for the Lutheran doctrine of vocation.  What intrigues me is what he says about the different emphases of Lutheran, Calvinist, Evangelical, and Mainline Protestant treatments of vocation and the Christian’s life in the world.  After the jump, see what he says in an interview in Christianity Today. [Read more...]

Easter and Vocation

In the sermon for the third Sunday of Easter, based on John 21:1-19, in which the disciples saw Jesus while they were fishing, Pastor Douthwaite related Easter to vocation:

Jesus has not changed, and Easter does not mean that He is now done all His work and now it’s up to us. No, He is still working. What He did before Easter He now does after Easter. And Jesus is not just now all “spiritual” – He is still working through the physical, through their calling, or vocation, as fishermen. That didn’t change and won’t change. What changed is the disciples. What changed is us. Jesus’ death and resurrection was not to make Jesus new, but to make us new. To raise us from sin, fear, and death to a new life in Him. Not a new super-spiritualized life, but a new life in your callings, or vocations. Not to take us out of this world, but to make us new in this world. And we see that in Peter. He is a changed man. And so are you.

via St. Athanasius Lutheran Church: Easter 3 Sermon.

Sanctification and Vocation

The estimable Anthony Sacramone has been carrying on a fascinating and helpful discussion (in two posts here and here on Jonathan Fisk’s  Broken) about the Lutheran view of the Christian life, how it perhaps doesn’t do enough with sanctification.  I think the missing link, so to speak, is the doctrine of vocation.  Here is a somewhat revised version of what I posted as a comment:

The doctrine of vocation is not just about our work.  It really is the Lutheran doctrine of the Christian life.  We are brought to faith through Word and Sacrament and then we live out that faith in love and service to our neighbors.  “Let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God  has called him” (1 Corinthians 7:17).  And God assigns us and calls us to various and multiple tasks in the orders that He has created for human beings:  the household (the family plus economic labor), the church, the state, and what Luther called “the general order of Christian love” (the informal relationships of friendship, interactions with others,  as in the Good Samaritan parable, etc.) . Vocation is where sanctification happens, where we exercise our faith, where we battle with sin, where we grow “in faith towards you [God], and in fervent love for one another” (as it says at the end of the liturgy, when we are sent back into our vocations).

I wonder if the problem is the ordinariness of the good works that take place in vocation.  As Einar Billing says in Our Calling, “In all our religious and ethical life, we are given to an incredible overestimation of the extraordinary at the expense of the ordinary.”  [Read more...]

Finding Your Vocation in College

Anthony Sacramone asked me to write something on “How to Find Your Vocation in College” for the I.S.I. website he edits, so I did.  I also took the opportunity to answer the conservative pundits who are saying that college students should all go into technology so they can pay off their student loans and forget about the liberal arts.  Also, Mathew Block at First Thoughts linked to the post and added some perceptive comments of his own. [Read more...]

The vocation of garbage collectors

I have always admired garbage collectors.  Their work is hard and dirty, but essential, and yet they do not get the respect they so richly deserve.  They too are masks of God and without them, as Luther said in another context, we would perish in our filth. Now there is a book about them by anthropologist Robin Nagle: Picking Up: On the Streets and Behind the Trucks with the Sanitation Workers of New York City.  These city workers have twice the fatality rate of police officers and seven times that of firemen.  [Read more...]


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