Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Luther, through Bainton, on Vocation

In one respect Luther was more conservative than Catholicism because he abolished monasticism and thus eliminated a selected area for the practice of the higher righteousness.  In consequence the gospel could be exemplified only in the midst of secular callings, except that Luther refused to call them secular.  As he had extended the priesthood of all believers, so likewise he extended the concept of divine calling, vocation, to all worthy occupations

Our expression "vocational guidance" comes directly from Luther. God has called men to labor because he labors.  He works at common occupations.  God is a tailor who makes for the deer a coat that will last for a thousand years.  He is a shoemaker also who provides boots that the deer will not outlive.  God is the best cook, because the heat of the sun supplies all the heat there is for cooking.  God is a butler who sets forth a feast for the sparrows and spends on them annually more than the total revenue of the king of France.  Christ worked as a carpenter  .   .   .

-from Bainton, Here I Stand: a Life of Martin Luther (Apex Books 1950), pp. 232-233

Of course, I know this doctrine and embrace it.  But I did not get it from the pulpits I sat under, and I have sat under a lot of them. Here's more on this from Bainton:

The Virgin Mary worked, and the most amazing example of her humility is that after she had received the astonishing news that she was to be the mother of the Redeemer, she did not vaunt herself but went back and milked the cows, scoured the kettles, and swept the house like any housemaid. Peter worked as a fisherman and was proud of his skill, though not too proud to take a suggestion from the Master when he told him to cast on the other side.    Luther commented:

"I would have said, 'Now look here, Master.  You are a preacher, and I am not undertaking to tell you how to preach.  And I am a fisherman, and you need not tell me how to fish.'  But Peter was humble, and the Lord therefore made him a fisher of men."

The shepherds worked.  They had a mean job watching their flocks by night, but after seeing the babe they went back.

"Surely that must be wrong. We should correct the passage to read, 'They went and shaved their heads, fasted, told the rosaries, and put on cowls.'  Instead we read, 'The shepherds returned.'  Where to? To their sheep. The sheep would have been in a sorry way if they had not."

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