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Spirituality and Work Resources
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Vocational Conversion by R. Paul Stevens
Sample

Vocational Conversion

An Imaginary Puritan – Baby Boomer Dialog

Copyright - R. Paul Stevens 2000.

 It has been said that the sixteenth century Puritans[i] were people who had swallowed gyroscopes.[ii]  They were inwardly directed to the Lord's Kingdom and were not easily swayed by the attractions of the world. Crucial to this orientation was their understanding of the biblical doctrine of calling or vocation,[iii]

the idea that the whole of our life is a response to the summons of God and not merely a matter of self-directed development. William Perkins (1558-1602), while little known, deserves a modern hearing because he is the only Puritan[iv] author to describe calling in a systematic way.[v] Thus sections of his Treatise of the Vocations [vi] written around the turn of the seventeenth century,[vii] are paraphrased in an imaginary conversation between Perkins[viii] and a twentieth-century Baby-Boomer (that demographic population bulge of people born between l946 and l964)[ix] in order to contrast one modern view of vocation with a Biblical view. The endnotes offer a few clarifying comments and corrections of the imbalance of the Puritan view of calling.

 


[i]. In his masterful treatment of work and calling, Paul Marshall follows Basil Hill's definition of Puritan as "restlessly critical and occasionally rebellious members of the Church of England who desired some modifications in church government and worship, but not those who removed themselves from the church. in "Work and Calling: Puritan and Dissenters", Chapter 4 in Callings: Spirituality, Work and Duty in Sixteenth and Seventeenth Century England (unpublished manuscript, Toronto, l991),p.1.

[ii]. Os Guiness, "Vocation and Calling", an audiotape produced by The London Institute of Contemporary Christianity, London, U.K., June 5-9, l989.

[iii]. These two words mean substantially the same thing, though in modern usage "vocation" has been identified with career, and "calling" with religious service or the work of a professional minister.

[iv].Ian Breward notes that "Perkins himself showed little sign that he thought of himself as anything other than a normal and loyal member of the Church of England. He repudiated the label of 'puritan' except for those who believed that it was possible to live without sin in this life, and felt that it was possible to live without sin in this life." Ian Breward, ed. The Work of William Perkins (Appleford, England: The Sutton Courtenay Press, l969), p. 15.

[v]. Marshall, op. cit., p. 8. Earlier Protestant writers had used the concept of vocation to reflect critically on the medieval idea that vocation had little to do with ordinary life in this world. Perkins used the doctrine of vocation to expound the Calvinist distinction between general and particular calling and to provide a firm link between justification and sanctification. He had the further interest of providing in the Gospel a firm foundation for social stability and societal responsibility. Breward, op. cit., p.443.

[vi]. William Perkins, "A treatise of the Vocations, or Callings of Men, with the sorts and kinds of them and the right use thereof," in The Workes of that Famous and Worthy Minister of Christ in the University of Cambridge, Mr. William Perkins. London: John Legatt, 1626. This has been reprinted, with some portions deleted, in modern English in Ian Breward, op. cit.

[vii]. No precise date can be assigned to the Treatise.

[viii]. I have five reasons for making Perkins' thoughts available: First, Perkins is thoroughly biblical as he defends his views by biblical principle and text. Second, Perkins provides vocational counselling as he is concerned with how vocational decisions are made. Third, his Treatise is practical, concerned with real issues of living in the world. Fourth, Perkins is lay-oriented as he makes no distinction in dignity in the calling of the non-clergy laity and the clergy. Finally, Perkins is oriented to the heart and is concerned to evoke a deep personal spirituality that will result in the transformation of character.

[ix].Paul C. Light, Baby Boomers. New York: W.W. Norton Company, l988.

English
Consumerism by Craig M. Gay
Sample
The word consumerism is occasionally used to denote the consumer movement and advocacy on behalf of consumers vis-à-vis the producers of consumer products. The term is also infrequently used to refer to the economic theory that maintains the growth of consumption is always good for an economy. Normally, however, consumerism is lamented as a significant behavioral blemish in modern industrial society...
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Virtues by Iain Benson
Sample

Virtue is a term that is being recovered from Greek philosophy to become part of contemporary discussions on ethics. There is good reason for this: both in ancient literature and in the Bible, virtue is a fundamental dimension of ethical living and moral character development. While the concept of virtue predates Christianity, it has been greatly influenced and deepened by the Christian faith. It is also true to say that the thinking of Christians, especially in the Western church, has been influenced by these Greek sources.

Few would deny that moral education is a pressing need today. Unfortunately the concept of virtue has, over the years, deteriorated and, like a host of other terms (tradition, heritage or even right and wrong) has lost its vibrancy. More commonly we now tend to speak of personal “values” rather than virtues. And we create our own “values” rather than conforming ourselves to “virtues” as the categorical “given” aspects of an overall (therefore shared) goodness. So the questions of what virtue is and how we can and why we should become virtuous are crucial considerations for everyday life.

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Calling and Social Transformation by Jon Escoto
Sample

These are my “bridge thoughts” on these two important topics.   I have two reflections.  Part I and Part II.  They are not totally related to each other.

Part I (On Machiavelli and Teresa of Avila)

Social Transformation, or simply put, “change”, is largely dependent on two very vital assumptions of the change agents, or on a larger scale, the “society changers”.  They are their accurate:  (1) diagnosis of the problem, and, (2) vision of what and where society should be. 

English
Treatise on Callings by William Perkins
Summary

William Perkins – Treatise on Callings: A Puritan Approach to the Doctrine of Vocation

Its value:

  1. It is Biblical.
  2. It is vocational counseling - concerned with how people are to live and make choices concerning their vocation.
  3. It is practical – concerned with the realities of life in this world as Christians – it is the context of everyday life and work that our true spirituality is expressed.
  4. It is lay-oriented – he makes no distinction between the experience of the ordinary Christian of the “call of God” and the person who serves as a minister of the Gospel.
  5. It is heart-directed – concerned to evoke a deep personal spirituality that results in Christian character (so he deals with such things as covetousness, envy and impatience).

(All references to pages in The Works of That Famous Minister of Christ in the University of Cambridge by William Perkins (London: John Legatt, 1626).

English
Toward a Theology of Profit by Don Flow
Sample

TOWARD A THEOLOGY OF PROFIT by Don Flow

Profit, as defined by the accounting profession, is the excess of total revenues over total costs. Economists define “pure profit” as the amount of money remaining after making all payments for productive services and raw materials after the going rate of payments for the capital invested has been deducted. Profit is the estimated claim on wealth that can be used as capital for new efforts to create wealth. A Christian perspective on profit requires a correct understanding of what profit actually is, how it is created, who has a just claim on it, and what role it plays in a business, all in the context of a biblical understanding of human nature, stewardship, justice, and community.

Understanding Profit

Profit in an organization must be understood in the context of the productivity of capital. In the long term, the return on invested capital must exceed the cost of capital to the organization. If the firm fails to do so, it is technically a destroyer of all kinds of wealth in society -- finances, intellect, and humanity.

English
Business as a Calling and Profession Part B by Gordon Preece
Sample:

Having surveyed the relatively positive biblical view of material work and clarified the difference between status wealth then and now and productive wealth, it is important to examine some of the Greek philosophical and historical factors disparaging work and business, against which Protestant notions of vocation subsequently reacted.

English
Business as a Calling and Profession Part A by Gordon Preece
Sample:

Note: adapted from the above title in Samuel Gregg and Gordon Preece, Christianity and Entrepreneurship; Protestant and Catholic Thoughts.  (St. Leonards NSW: Centre for Independent Studies, 1999) printed here with permission. 

All Bible references are NRSV unless noted.

Introduction

            A retired Protestant businessman told me recently how he had once spoken about business at an Anglican church only to be told by two young men that a Christian could not possibly be engaged in such a sordid activity. They would not be alone. A large number of Protestant Christians today would be uneasy with the claim that business can be an avenue of one's Christian calling. Given the bad press that many transnational business corporations get, and some deserve, this feeling is understandable. Yet, I will argue, it is ultimately misguided, representing an amnesia about one of Protestantism's great distinctives, the doctrine of the universal calling or vocation of all believers, in whatever biblically lawful places of service these believers find themselves.

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Theology of Work – Executive Summary by R. Paul Stevens
Sample

Executive Summary

Most of the difficulties we face in mobilising the people of God towards marketplace ministry are due to an inadequate understanding regarding the theology of work. This shortcoming basically arises out of a less-than-comprehensive theology of creation, redemption and eschatology.

God the Worker

God not only authored work but he himself was a worker (Gen 1, 2; Jn 5:17; Rev 21:5). Throughout the Bible, we see different images of God as a worker namely, shepherd (Psa 23), potter (Jer 18:6), physician (Matt 8: 16), teacher (Psa 143:10), vineyard-dresser (Isa 5:1-7) etc. God is as active and creative today – creating, sustaining, redeeming and consummating – as God was when this five billion light year universe was begun.

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Boredom by R. Paul Stevens
Boredom is part of The Complete Book of Everyday Christianity
"Charlie Chaplin’s film Modern Times expounds the dilemma of boredom in the workplace: routine, meaningless, repetitious, mindless work that results in fatigue. Such boredom at work has not been alleviated by increased technology or by the introduction of the information society—a cultural shift that may have escalated the problem by overloading people with information. Not even a challenging career can guarantee freedom from boredom. Executives reach the top and, with nowhere else to go, ask, “What is it all for?” Culturally North America is “bored to death,” “bored stiff,” “bored to tears,” “bored silly” and even “bored out of one’s skull.” Surveys indicate that up to half of North Americans are either temporarily or permanently bored (Klapp, p. 20), a trend that is all the more disturbing for a society that is saturated with fun industries. Perhaps that is part of the problem. Being “amused to death,” to quote Neil Postman’s penetrating analysis, does not seem to offer anything more than a cultural placebo. Klapp (p. 30) suggests the analogy of aspirin: frequent usage means not the absence but the presence of extreme pain. “Bored? How could you be bored when there is so much to do?” the exasperated father shouts at his teenagers. And for the Christian hardly any more damning comment can be made at the conclusion of a worship service than “It was boring.”"...
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