Today we begin Chapter Seven in John Stackhouse’s Making the Best of It. This chapter deals with vocation.
Work is vocation – Especially true of Roman Catholic and Orthodox Christianity where “vocation” is a call to a religious career … monks, nuns, priests and such. Others are sometimes said to have “secular priesthoods” … for example, medicine, law, or education.
Call of Christ to every Christian – Work is not vocation. Our call is to particular Christian activities (like evangelism or charity) that are disconnected from either an entire life pattern (like being a priest) or to economic labor.
Stackhouse was raised in this tradition and says there were only practical pieces of guidance for him:
Sounds like Stackhouse and I have similar backgrounds.
Work is part of vocation – The root word from which get “saints” means “to be set apart for special use.” “…Each us are set apart by God for service.” Stackhouse notes the pervasive tendency to make distinctions between heroes and ordinaries, religious and secular, or saints and non-saints. The Reformation took aim at these dichotomies. He writes:
From these basic considerations, let us proceed to analyze vocation in nine sub-categories: two sets of three, and then a third trio that affects the first two. (222)
In case you hadn’t noticed, Stackhouse is embracing option number three.
Another pairing that immediately comes to my mind is “clergy” and “laity.” Back in the fall of 2005, I wrote a post that addressed this issue. In short, the adjective “laity” (laikos) is not in the Bible. The word has the connotation of being from the profane common masses. It was a synonym for idiots, meaning nonprofessional … it is also the word from which we get idiot. :-) “Clergy” comes from the word kleros. It means “inheritance.” Whenever it is used it refers to the entire people of God (laos tou theo). The entire community is God’s inheritance, not a select specialized few. There are no “clergy and laity” or “clergy and the people.” There are only the people who are the clergy, and from among the people some are called and gifted for leadership.
Okay. I’m off my soapbox now and we can move into Chapter seven.