Magazine article First Things; A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life

Callings: Twenty Centuries of Christian Wisdom on Vocation

Magazine article First Things; A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life

Callings: Twenty Centuries of Christian Wisdom on Vocation

Article excerpt

CALLINGS: TWENTY CENTURIES OF CHRISTIAN WISDOM ON VOCATION edited by WILLIAM C. PLACHER Eerdmans, 468 pages, $38

Detailed enough for researchers, readable enough for a general audience, this handy resource offers fifty-seven texts about Christian vocation, each introduced by the editor. Dividing the development of vocation into four periods, Placher retells the history of the Church. "Calling" or klesis in the early Church meant persecution, martyrdom, and, later, asceticism. In the Middle Ages, the term vocatio was reserved for priests, nuns, and monks. With the Reformation, every job became a "calling" -translated Beruf by Martin Luther-and every person was "called"; salvation was by grace alone, the reformers said, and a life in a convent was no more exceptional than one spent making shoes. And now the present day, when, like the first Christians, believers know that simply professing one's faith in an un-Christian culture can be a worthy calling. …

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