Friday, November 30, 2007

Missiology Lost: The Theology of Vocation

Some Amazing Quotes:

"What currently tears many Christians apart: a 'spiritual' life that has little to do with their families, their work, and their cultural
life."

"The family, the workplace, the local church, the culture, and the public square are where He has called us."

"When we pray the Lord's Prayer, we ask God to give us this day our daily bread. And He does. The way he gives us our daily bread is through the vocation of farmers, millers, and bakers. We might add truck drivers, factory workers, bankers, warehouse workers, and the lady at the checkout counter. Virtually every step of our whole economic system contributes to that piece of toast you had for breakfast."

"Recovering vocation can transfigure all of life, suffusing every relationship and every task put before us with the glory of God."
In Our Calling and God's Glory, by Gene Edward Veith, Luther's theology of vocation is explored through The Four Estates, which are: The estate of the church, the estate of the household, the estate of state/culture/society, and the overarching estate that covers them all, the estate of Christian love.

The concepts in this article have been lost from today's evangelical church in America. In studying the theology of vocation - the second tier of Christian calling, after salvation - I'm amazed at the fact that I have virtually never heard or read this teaching since I've been a Christian or Reformed. Why so surprised? Because this was one of the hinges of the Reformation, sparked by both Luther and Calvin, although lost by the later reformers who drew inward. Vocation was one of the key themes in Luther's 95 Theses. Luther railed against a special priesthood, in favor of the priesthood of all believers. While pastoring and our church calling has its own estate, it is not the only - or even "the most important" estate. Church calling is right on par with the family and the society in this view.

Vocation had a tremendous and profound impact on the formation of the Protestant Church - (think Protestant Work Ethic via John Calvin). Veith writes of today's evangelical Christians: "the divorce rate..., spiritual escapism..., and cultural invisibility are all symptoms of the loss of vocation." I believe that if we were getting a better theology of vocation (you'll have to read the article or buy the book), the first estate could focus on fulfilling the tasks of visible church and equipping/building up the body of Christ for the sake of both callings - salvation and vocation. The resulting effect of living The Four Estates of vocation would be an improved "missional" focus. What do you think?
The whole current issue of Modern Reformation is packed with insight into the idea of reflecting the Glory of God. I'd highly recommend a buying copy. In fact, if you want a copy, let me know and I will buy you a copy - that's how amazing I think it is -- deblw AT yahoo dot com

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