Thursday, July 18, 2013

"Luther on Vocation"

Wingren's book isn't what I expected.  Loads of people had recommended it as a fabulous book about vocation.  There are definitely good parts, but overall I'm not as impressed as I thought I'd be. 

From the title, I'd expected the book to be virtually all Luther.  It's not.  It's Gustaf Wingren, and he is explaining his take on Luther's take on vocation.  He also disputes other authors' take on Luther's take on vocation.

I also noticed the use of the word "vocation."  There is some disagreement among us about whether vocation is law or gospel or both or whatever.  And as I've been reading Wingren, I think part of the reason for this disagreement can be attributed to his book.  He keeps using the word vocation and "interpreting Luther" as it were ... but he substitutes the word vocation when Luther's word in that particular quote was station or office.

Vocation is from the Latin for "calling."  As in, "The Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel, ...."   Vocation is the call to live by faith in whatever station or office God has placed you.  Yeah, so, when Wingren flip-flops "vocation" and "station" (and when we then do the same thing) discussions are muddied and convoluted. 

And then there's the section on prayer.  Wingren points out that we shouldn't be praying for things God has promised through means.  In other words, I can't sit on the couch and eat bonbons and watch Oprah, and then complain at 7:00 because God didn't give us supper.  God gave me a grocery store and money, and a garden and a knife and an oven, and that is how He gives us supper.  But then Wingren goes on to suggest that God will be hacked off at us if we pray for things and haven't done everything in our power to bring Whatever-We-Prayed-For into being.  According to that, I guess I'd never pray because I could never do enough to provide for myself.  Furthermore, he makes it sound like prayer is a last resort: when there's nothing left for you to do to solve the situation, that's when you can pray for help.  I just have to keep reminding myself that Wingren is trying to argue against prayer-as-a-magic-wand.

Good aspects of the book coming up in another post...

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