Entries tagged with “vocation”.

In case you missed it: I discuss Gene Edward Veith and the doctrine of vocation in an article for First Thoughts last week entitled “Doomed to Philosophize.”

What does it mean to “love the Lord our God with all our minds”? That’s the question that sits behind the most recent (July/August 2012) issue of The Canadian Lutheran. This issue features articles on being thinking Christians, on the spirituality of ordinary life, and on apologetics. As usual, I try to set the stage for the issue in my Table Talk column.

My column this time is entitled “By the renewing of your mind,” and you can get a taste of it below:

Sometimes as Christians we assume we’ve learned all we need to know. We’ve done our time in Sunday school and Confirmation, and now we’re finished. We’ve “graduated,” as it were. But the fact is, when we stop trying to understand more about our faith, we inevitably begin to forget even the basic things we once knew. We stop looking daily into God’s Word. We stop spending time in prayer. Bit by bit, we let the cares of this world choke out the seed of faith. And though we may spend our entire lives in the Church, we suddenly find ourselves in need of the same criticism: by this time we really ought to be teachers of the faith; instead, we need a refresher on the very basics of Christianity…

As we seek a deeper knowledge of Him, we will find that the false teachers of this world become less appealing: we will learn to “discern good from evil,” as the Holy Spirit renews our minds. Then the central tenet of our faith will rise up in our mind’s eye: a cross standing high on a hill above every lie. We will learn to see the world with Christ as its focus, with Christ as the Answer to its every question, and with Christ as the only Salvation for its sin-stained brokenness. We shall see Truth. And the Truth shall set us free.

Check out the article here. Or, if you’d rather read the whole issue, download the July/August issue pdf here.

In other news, a certain fiancée of mine worked on the cover art for this one. Chances are she’ll read this: so let me say this: I love you, dear heart, and I thank you for the help you give me on many things, including the art work and column-refinement you helped me with on this issue. But mostly, just thank you for you.

A new equality bill before the British Parliament is stirring debate about the extent of freedom religious organizations should be allowed to exercise in their hiring policies. Defending the bill after criticism from Pope Benedict XVI, Harriet Harman said,

“Employment and non-discrimination law applies to religious organisations when they employ people in non-religious jobs in the same way that it does to all other employers,” she said. “We have never insisted on non-discrimination legislation applying to religious jobs such as being a vicar, a bishop, an imam or a rabbi. However, when it comes to non-religious jobs, those organisations must comply with the law.”

Harman’s distinction of religious from non-religious jobs is widely held in secular western society at large. Unfortunately, it is a dichotomy that has increasingly entered into the Church as well. A pastor is a “religious” job; being a secretary is not. But this type of distinction is one that neglects theology of vocation. For Christians, all jobs, all positions in a community, all aspects of life are vocations (or callings) from God.

All Christians have a divine vocation. To have a vocation you don’t need to be involved in something overtly ‘religious’. Pastors are called in their role as pastors, but so are mothers called in their role as mothers. Marriage is a vocation and so is singleness and celibacy. We are not called to marriage or singleness, but in our state of being married or single we are called to serve God and our neighbour.

In short, Christian vocation embraces all aspects of life: family, community, work paid and voluntary, citizenship, short- and long-term responsibilities of various kinds, the church, the arts, and leisure. In whatever place and role we find ourselves, there we are to work faithfully and responsibly for the good of the neighbour and thus to the glory of God, using whatever gifts God has given us for the task. 1

With such an understanding of vocation, we become better equipped to explain why Christians must resist the type of bill Britain is currently trying to pass. For the Christian who takes the doctrine of vocation seriously, the job of a secretary is equally as important to God’s will in the world as is the job of a pastor. In each, God works through the believer to benefit our neighbours and bring glory to Himself. To forbid religious organizations from restricting employment to orthodox believers is effectively to order them to abandon their theology of vocation. Can the heterodox or non-Christian be expected to fill positions in God’s work in the world?


1Quotation from chapter four (“Vocation”) of Dr. John G. Strelan’s book Of Some Earthly Good. Read it online here.