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...

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

But They're WRONG

Jews have no dealing with Samaritans (John 4)
The Samaritan (yeah, you know, the good Samaritan, the one in the parable) was somebody the beaten-up Jew considered an enemy (Luke 10)

But let's think about it:  It was not okay for the Samaritans to worship someplace besides Jerusalem.  It was wrong for Jereboam (that long-ago king) to have set up a church that wasn't the temple in Jerusalem.  So the Jews were right to insist that worship belonged only where God had instituted it.

What was wrong was hating the errant Samaritans for their error.  "They screwed up.  FINE.  Just leave them to their badness.  FINE."

Nope.  Not fine.

"... Love to the loveless shown
that they might lovely be."

Serendipitously, this same topic
 came up on another blog this week.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Lawyer's Version of Law

When the lawyer wanted to trap Jesus in His words (prior to the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10), Jesus asked, "What is written in the law?  What is your reading of it?"

Of course, the lawyer answered with a synopsis of the Rules.  And sure enough, that is in the law.

But what else is in "the law," the Torah? 

What if Jesus asked, "What is written in the law?  What is your reading of it?" and the answer was something like, "The Lord shall provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering" (Gen 22)?  Or "Stand still, and see the salvation which the Lord your God will accomplish for you this day" (Ex 14)?

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Good Samaritan

We self-righteous humans are prone to thinking the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10) is all about what we should DO. 

I find it interesting that the very next verses in Luke are the story of Mary and Martha.  Martha is fretting because there's too much to DO, and Mary isn't DOing.  She's sitting there, soaking up Jesus' preaching. 

I'm supposin' that these are not two disconnected stories.  The events at Lazarus's house shed more light on the parable.