WHAT IS VOCATION?, by Stephen J. Nichols

Published on January 9, 2018 by Joshua R Monroe

P&R, 2010 | 35 pages

A Brief “Bonus” Book Summary from Books At a Glance

There is something about the word work that implies hardship. And, in fact, contemporary culture – and even popular music – speak of our jobs and careers almost exclusively in such terms. By contrast, the Reformers spoke of our work in terms of vocation – “calling” – a word that infuses a sense of purpose, meaning, fulfillment, dignity, and even happiness. The biblical writers can talk like this too: “Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands!” (Ps. 90:17).


Defining Vocation

Until the early sixteenth century in Christian lingo the word vocation or calling had been reserved for ecclesiastical use: priests, monks, and nuns had a divine calling to their work. The distinct implication was that other work was … just work. In the hands of the Reformers, however, the word came to be used to describe the work / job / business of every Christian, thus elevating the significance of otherwise seemingly menial labor. A farmer, a parent, a spouse, a child, a laborer, a merchant, a lawyer – all these do their work unto God and thus fulfill their distinctive calling. This teaching was revolutionary and is reflected a few generations later in the work of Johann Sebastian Bach, who signed his compositions, “SDG” – soli Deo gloria (to God alone be the glory). How different this is from so much of contemporary Evangelical Christians who are made to feel that if they are not in “full time Christian service” they have settled for a career of merely secular status and with no spiritual import.


Working the Garden: A Biblical and Theological Framework for Work

The “cultural mandate” given to Adam and Eve in Eden directed them to take dominion over the earth. Made in God’s image they were his vice-regents over all creation and were to rule accordingly. This is the dignity in which humanity is created. That reign is seen at. . .

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WHAT IS VOCATION?, by Stephen J. Nichols

P&R, 2010 | 35 pages

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