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Spirituality and Work Resources
Title & Author Language Links Tags
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and Dissenters", Chapter 4 in Callings: Spirituality, Work and Duty in Sixteenth and Seventeenth Century England (unpublished manuscript, Toronto, l991),p.1.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
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
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.

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
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
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 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.

English
Marketplace Theology Resources
Title & Author Language Links Tags
The Soul of Entrepreneurship by R. Paul Stevens
Sample

The Soul of Entrepreneurship

 FROM MAX WEBER TO THE NEW BUSINESS SPIRITUALITY

            _______________________________________________________________________________

[There can be] no capitalist development without an entrepreneurial class; no entrepreneurial class without a moral charter; no moral charter without religious premises.[1]

            In the classic film “Wall Street” Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas) typifies the entrepreneur for many.  “The lesson in business,” he tells Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen), is “don't get emotional about stock, it clouds the judgment.”  Gekko is constantly in a telephone conversation, using language such as “block anybody else’s merger efforts,” “Christmas is over, business is business,” and “I want every orifice in his body flowing red.”  In a famous scene, Gekko redefines greed: “Greed is good, greed is right, greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures that essence of the evolutionary spirit.”  It is interesting that Gekko uses the word “spirit” in a film that exemplifies the secular humanism that has been the dominant cultural environment of business in the Western world for several decades.  But there is a change in Western culture that makes the question of a moral charter for entrepreneurship and even the search for a religious/spiritual foundation apt if not urgent.

 


[1] Gianfranco Poggi, Calvinism and the Capitalist Spirit: Max Weber's Protestant Ethic (London: Macmillan, 1983), 83.

English
Toward A More Biblical View of Matter by L.T. Jeyachandran
"C. S. Lewis has remarked that if he had not turned to Christ from atheism, his other alternative was Hinduism. This comment is striking because he made it in the 1930’s, long before eastern religions and philosophies had come to be the influence they are today. Lewis perceived that only these three alternatives are possible: No God; Christ is God; All is God.  My plea in this essay is to identify the most plausible of these three views that would bring about the right perspectives on work. In rather paradoxical ways, both the atheistic and Hindu views deny hierarchy in matter. Atheism is reductionistic and therefore sees nothing other than matter in the entire universe. Hinduism, on the other hand, elevates all of matter to the level of the divine. It will be clear as we go along that views that deny hierarchy in the nature of matter eventually end up introducing hierarchy in work and thus ultimately affect our attitude to work. "
English
Guide de l'animateur by Glenn Smith
Document Description: 

 

A leadership guide on how to lead missional communities in the marketplace.
French

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