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Lutheran Aardvark

Confessional Lutheran theology, hagiography, philosophy, music, culture, sports, education, and whatever else is on the fevered mind of Orycteropus Afer

04 September 2005
  Lutheran Carnival IV: No Vacation from Vocation

When I suggested the topic of Vocation for the Labor Day edition of the Lutheran Carnival, I realized that many readers, whether Lutheran or not, might not have a clear understanding of this article of faith. So before introducing this week's bloggers, I'll provide a bit of background.

The Cranach Institute includes a well-linked page on vocation. Here is the introduction by Dr. Gene Edward Veith, Institute director and World Magazine editor:
"When we pray the Lord's Prayer," observed Luther, "we ask God to give us this day our daily bread. And He does give us our daily bread. He does it by means of the farmer who planted and harvested the grain, the baker who made the flour into bread, the person who prepared our meal." We might today add the truck drivers who hauled the produce, the factory workers in the food processing plant, the warehouse men, the wholesale distributors, the stock boys, the lady at the checkout counter. Also playing their part are the bankers, futures investors, advertisers, lawyers, agricultural scientists, mechanical engineers, and every other player in the nation's economic system. All of these were instrumental in enabling you to eat your morning bread.

Before you ate, you probably gave thanks to God for your food, as is fitting. He is caring for your physical needs, as with every other kind of need you have, preserving your life through His gifts. "He provides food for those who fear him" (Psalm 111:5); also to those who do not fear Him, "to all flesh" (136:25). And He does so by using other human beings. It is still God who is responsible for giving us our daily bread. Though He could give it to us directly, by a miraculous provision, as He once did for the children of Israel when He fed them daily with manna, God has chosen to work through human beings, who, in their different capacities and according to their different talents, serve each other. This is the doctrine of vocation.

St. Luke, IconographerI would pick one nit with this introduction: Strictly speaking, it is better to speak of one doctrine — Justification by Grace through Faith in Christ. Every other bit of Christian teaching is an "article of faith," flowing from, normed by, and pointing to this chief and necessary Doctrine. We are less than Christian when we divorce any of our teachings from its secure anchor in Justification, falling into works righteousness, antinomianism, and other shameful errors.

Misunderstanding Justification vis-à-vis Vocation may lead us to undervalue our callings, to set false priorities ("my calling is better than yours"), or to falsely elevate human works at the expense of the divine work of the forgiveness of sins through the merits of Christ. Following the list of participants in this week's carnival, I append more information on Vocation, that you might have a greater appreciation for this remarkable gift of God.

Wearing "masks of God" this week are the following servants He has provided you as He works to strengthen your faith, guide your footsteps, open your minds, sharpen your wits, focus your studies, and otherwise grant "all that [you] need to support this body and life (Small Catechism, Explanation of the First Article of the Apostles' Creed)" while preserving you "steadfast in the true faith until life everlasting. (The Lutheran Hymnal, Communion Dismissal)"

In the years since Luther, others have studied and taught in greater detail on the article of Vocation. A summary of some of their work is available through The Lutheran Church — Missouri Synod through its Board for World Relief and Human Care. That item links to the following essays (all posted in PDF).

"Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now … work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. (Philippians 2:12-13 ESV)"

Who was that masked God?
 
Comments:
Thank you for hosting, Pr. Aardvark.
 
BTW, where's the next Lutheran Carnival going to be at? Thanks.
 
Dan at Necessary Roughness has the next round. He's hoping for some sports-related entries.
 
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