Oct 23, 09
Read in April, 2009
God at Work is a great exposition, very accessible to the general Christian reader, simply on work, or more specifically all the various ways that Christians are called to work in their lives. This is about the doctrine of calling, which perhaps, is initially understood by many as calling by God to exclusive spiritual work, like preaching or some other direct type of church ministry.
Gene Veith is an academic dean at Patrick Henry College, and a frequent writer on the importance of Christians seeing all of life under the Lord of all. He is a Lutheran, and as a result spends much of this relatively short text (about 200 pgs) expounding on Martin Luther’s writings on vocation, recontextualized for the 21st century. Part of the Reformation, which Luther helped to lead, was the near revolutionary approach to seeing the work of Christians outside of a sacred/ secular dichotomy, which is that some work was ministry, and other work was just ordinary drudgery. Not dividing work into a sacred and secular categories remains near constant struggle for many in the 21st century, and Veith aims to show how calling and purpose relate to anything that the Christian faithfully sets out to do.
Veith states that the motivation for every Christian, in everything he is called to is to reflect the common call that Christ demands in following him. Vocation is a matter of service and love, in everything here. So the Veith insists that way to spiritually determine value in work is can it express service and love to others. In a sense, he sanctifies all sorts of occupations with this general understanding, so that even mundane work, or work that does not appear particularly spiritual can be called up and drawn into the realm of Christ by expressing it with love and service.
Vocation in this book is not limited to ordinary work, but Veith shows how calling applies to family, citizenship and church relationships. In a strong sense, this book attempts to unite and integrate all of Christian theology into touch-points of a persons life, so that the recreating work of Christ can redeem a whole person, not just the outwardly spiritual side of an individual’s life. In an era of individualism and outward separation from traditional connections, this book is a strong advocate for individuals demonstrating, through actions, that the Christian life is a whole life, one that integrates into all parts, not just a narrowly spiritual side.
Veith, in his effort to point to and clarify Luther’s revolutionary teaching on vocation, draws a bit too much on quoting people quoting Luther. Other than that, this is a fine book that would be of value for individual or group study, for workers looking for purpose and calling in their careers and those looking to integrate their theology in all of life.