Tuesday, April 24, 2007

God at Work

I've just begun reading God at Work by Gene Veith, the culture editor of World magazine. It's a book about the doctrine of Christian vocation as it applies in all of life. I've only read the introduction but it's already made some salient points. Here's an excerpt about the implications of the Reformation on the vocation of every believing Christian.

The Reformation notion of "the priesthood of all believers"...taught that the pastoral office is a vocation...But it also taught that laypeople as well have vocations, callings of their own that entails holy responsibilities, authorities and blessings of their own. The "priesthood of all believers" did not make everyone into church workers; rather it turned every kind of work into a sacred calling.

Veith gladly concedes that he draws much of his insights about vocation from Martin Luther's understanding of the topic.

...for Luther, vocation is not just a matter of the Law...rather, above all, vocation is a matter of the Gospel, a manifestation of God's action, not our own. In this sense, vocation is not another burden placed on us, something to fail at, but a realm in which we can experience God's love and grace, both in the blessings we receive from others and in the way God is working through us despite our failures.

The area of vocation and work/faith integration is much discussed today and is in fact one reason the Every Square Inch blog exists. However, I find that biblically sound resources on the topic are few and far between. This book holds promise to be one and I'll keep you updated as I read along.

Another wonderful resource is TheHighCalling. As its name implies, the website's purpose is to promote a high view of our work as Christians in the marketplace. This week, they are running a blog tour to highlight the newly redesigned website that just went live. You really need to check it out and join as a member.

Among the other blog tour stops, are the following -

LL Barkat
Gordon Atkinson
Ramblin Dan
Charity Singleton

Camy Tang
Marcus Goodyear
Al Hsu

Emdashery Stacy Gina Conroy CREEations
Milton Brasher-Cunningham Mary DeMuth Karl Edwards
Amy Goodyear Jennwith2ns Charles Foster Johnson
Eve Neilsen Mike Mcloughlin Naked Pastor


Jeremy said...

I don't think Veith is the cultural editor at WORLD anymore, though he may still occasionally write for them. He recently became the Academic Dean at Patrick Henry College.

Every Square Inch said...


Thanks - I forgot about his new appointment. However, his bio on the World Mag site still lists him as the cultural editor.


Perhaps, it's not a full time position?

L.L. Barkat said...

So, Jesus' carpentry time... what do we call that? Curious.

Mark Goodyear said...

L.L., whatever Jesus did as a vocation, it was all he had done before he was baptised by John the Baptist.

That's when God said, "This is my son in whom I am well pleased."

To me that implies that God was pleased by Jesus' vocational work and example. Of course, God must have been pleased that Jesus was starting his "ministry" too. But I think we should not dismiss the first 30 years of the life of the Son of God... I don't think God did.

L.L. Barkat said...

Mark, that is so interesting. I never thought about it quite like that. Of course, it makes sense that God was not just pleased with who Jesus was by identity, but also with how Jesus had lived that identity up to that very moment!

Every Square Inch said...

LL, Mark

Hey, this seems like such a good conversation...mind if I join in? :-)

I've never even considered what to think about the carpentry time. That's a great question. Perhaps I've been thinking of vocation a little too rigidly - as a lifelong calling. Vocation is just a calling and God calls us to different things at different times in our lives.

For Jesus, doing carpentry up to age 30 was exactly what he was called to do - he was being obedient and faithful. Just as he was, when he healed the sick, taught the disciples, casted out demons and eventually died on the cross to bear our sins and reconcile us to God.

Patrick Borders said...

In my denomination, we often use the "priesthood of believers" concept to say that all are called by God to specific vocations, tasks, etc., and that some are "set aside" for Ordained Ministry. I like that term "set aside." It implies something special about the official office of pastor without diminishing the ordained (with a little "o") callings of all believers.

Every Square Inch said...


I like that characterization of all believers being called to various forms of work with clergy being "set aside" for ministry as elders in the church

HALFMOM said...

every square - I like the "set aside" as elders too - it is comforting to think of God taking time to set aside men to oversee that which could so easily run amuck without proper oversight - and comforting too, to know I'm not one of them!

Ramblin Dan said...

I was unaware of the Veith book. I need to add it to my library. I look forward to your further reflections on it.

Ted Gossard said...

ESI, Thanks for sharing that. I appreciate all that's said, though I recoil at laypeople and clergy designations. But it's all in the meaning.

Can't get lost in what's being said here. That the work flows from the gospel potentially is truly significant as well as profoundly true. Yet we in Christ can live like it's not.

Every Square Inch said...


Thanks for commenting. However, I was curious, is there something about the clergy/laity split that is particularly concerning for you?