Thanks to Leadership Journal for asking me to write the following. It’s now up at
Over the centuries, it’s been distorted, but history also sharpens our view of every Christian’s calling.
Chris R. Armstrong
In the first history class of each new year at Bethel Seminary, I have my students talk about their sense of calling. Many of them tell a similar story: “I quit my job to go into the ministry.” What drove them to this decision was a sense of frustration and meaninglessness in their daily work. They didn’t see their workas pleasing to God or useful in the kingdom. The frequent assumption is that ordained ministry is where people are really working for God.
If that’s true, where does that leave the vast majority of Christians, who by the end of their lives will each have spent an average of 100,000 hours in non-church work? Can they see secular jobs as a holy vocation? Can non-church work be a means to serve others, giving cups of water to the thirsty, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked (Mt. 25)—which (for example) parents do every month, whether through a paycheck or in the work they do in the home? Those in secular work often feel like only those doing things of significance in ministry positions will get to hear the Lord say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
This sense that ordinary work is spiritually second-class isn’t so much taught as caught. Continue reading
Posted in Resources for Radical Living, Medieval Wisdom for Modern Protestants, Work with purpose
Tagged Gregory the Great, Benedict of Nursia, Martin Luther, Benedictinism, Meister Eckhart, Benedict's Rule, Pope Gregory I, vocation, work, Johann Tauler
It occurs to me as I look over the previous post of notes from Lee W. Gibbs, The Middle Way: Voices of Anglicanism (Cincinnati, OH: Forward Movement Publications, 1991) that Sayers sounds like a precursor of today’s “radical orthodoxy” movement. This is so both in her insistence that theology be resurrected as “queen of the sciences” and in her ressourcement from the Middle Ages. Here’s the bit that triggered the thought:
“Sayers is not so much anti-science or anti-technology as she is a Christian integralist who perceives that science and technology have become over-emphasized and predominant in the modern world, too often at the expense of theology and philosophy as equally valid and necessary paths to truth and knowledge. What she calls  for is a return to the more proper balance achieved during the Christian Middle Ages, where philosophy was seen to be a subdivision of theology, and science a subdivision of philosophy.” (108 – 9)
And here’s the wikipedia bit on radical orthodoxy. Note especially the “Main Ideas” and “Influences” listed here: Continue reading
Posted in Medieval Wisdom for Modern Protestants
Tagged Augustine of Hippo, Dorothy L Sayers, Hans Urs von Balthasar, Henri de Lubac, John Milbank, Karl Barth, Medieval, Meister Eckhart, Middle Ages, neoplatonism, nicholas of Cusa, radical orthodoxy, secularism, the Cambridge Platonists, the Oxford Movement, Theology, Thomas Aquinas