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The doctrine of vocation has been catching on. There is now something called the “Faith and Work movement,” with think tanks, publications, and programs designed to show Christians the connection between the two. (The founder of at least one of these think tanks told me that my book on vocation, God at Work, was the catalyst for his interest in the subject, which I appreciated.) But this movement may have drifted away from the specific insights that the great theologian of vocation–Martin Luther–has to offer.
Christianity Today’s cover story this month, God of the Second Shift by Jeff Haanen, calls for a rethinking of vocation. It says that much of what evangelicals have been doing with “Faith and Work” is oriented to middle class, white collar workers. The emphasis is on “following your bliss,” finding self-fulfillment, and helping college students choose a career. Working class jobs, though, the hard, often tedious labor that most people in the world have to do just to survive, get little attention. Is there a doctrine of vocation for them?
First - Luther - Doctrine - Vocation - Farmers
First of all, Luther’s doctrine of vocation is precisely about farmers, craftsmen, builders, laborers, milk maids, and others who work with their hands. (Luther himself was from a family of miners.) And while acknowledging its satisfactions, it also deals with work as a realm of tribulation, frustrations, and cross-bearing. For Luther, vocation is about God and the neighbor, not the self. It is all about God working through you, as you sacrifice yourself in vocation out of love and service for your neighbor.
Those who want to rethink vocation will find lots of help in the Swedish theologian Gustaf Wingren’s classic book Luther on Vocation.
Post - Someone - Danger - Luther - Doctrine
Some of you may remember a post I wrote here responding to someone who cited the “danger” of Luther’s doctrine of work.
He said that...
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