Working with Witherington 02

In chapter 2, Ben lamented rightly excessive individualistic tendency among the Protestants whenever the concept of vocation is discussed. Of course, this is the logical consequence of main tenets of Protestantism: personal salvation, priesthood of all believers, etc.

(Ben, then, as a good Wesleyan, has an axe to grind with Augustine, particularly with the version of Augustinianism as interpreted by Luther which he thinks might contribute to this error.)

I am completely with Ben here. The calling of the church must precede the calling of the individuals within the church. To be fair, I haven’t really thought about it what it really means in practice. For a start, I don’t like the emphasis which is placed on the individuals in construing questions about calling and vocation. We must not start with questions like, “What should I do? What should I be working in?” It should be: “What is God doing?” When we want to discern the will of God for us, too often we stress that we want to discern the will of God for us rather than to discern the will of God for us. We should be asking what God is working now in the world. For God’s sake, he works. From there, we discern how we shall participate in the work of God. Of course, when we say ‘God’, what we mean is God in Christ. Christological concerns are paradigmatic for the calling of the church, as the church participates in the life of Christ. Thus the works of reconciliation, peace, re-creation, kingdom-building, to-the-least-of-these, etc. And we, as the church, align ourselves accordingly, from which each one of us participates appropriately.

(By the way, I would understand if you said that you have had enough of this discussion about calling and vocation. The most of us who reside in this blog have listened countless of times to this topic. Personally I am fed up as well and cringe when I see the title of the chapter. But, hey, let us give this topic another lease of life. Who knows that perhaps it will be worth doing so.)


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