We are going to be thinking about calling and vocation here at Hopeful Realism. I’ve already offered an initial post on these themes: “Vocation as Pyrrhic Victory.” But what does “calling” actually refer to?

The word “vocation” derives from the Latin vocatio, the base root of which is vox: “voice.”

That’s important. Critically important.

Christianity is entirely premised on the idea that Someone higher than ourselves has spoken a word into the darkness. Think of the lyrical repetition in Genesis 1: “and God said…,” “and God said…,” “and God said…”. In the beginning, there was a vox. John’s Gospel announces that another beginning was inaugurated when the Word became flesh (“In the beginning was the Word….”). Jesus is God’s spoken word, the embodiment of the vox that always speaks first.

And so a theology of vocation must always begin with a theology (and Christology) of God’s word.

When we speak of our “calling,” we are usually thinking in terms of what we do, in terms of our job or career. But “calling” and “vocation” are lofty theological terms. “Vocation” implies a vox/voice. A “calling” implies that Someone other than ourselves has spoken, has called out.

So to embrace a vocation is to heed an external voice. Our calling is not not an internal impulse but a response to One who calls.
A calling is a divinely issued assignment, not a personal ambition. A vocation is a summons.

Well and good. Except that in raising the idea of vocation into such theological clouds, we often raise our vocational anxiety level along with it.


Why?  More to come…

3 thoughts on “A Brief Theology of “Calling””

  1. I suggest you consciously take steps to avoid “loss of big picture” in discussing vocation.

    What is “big picture” – that God created mankind in his image to be his “creation-caring-for-creature” on planet earth while enjoying positive relationship with God, other humans and created order. i.e. it’s not just all in our heads to ascent to some propositions about God, Christians, as other humans, were still created for that task and vocations are an essential part of it in 2013, with a fragile planet facing unprecedented stresses as a life-support system for 7 billion humans.

    if you lose this big picture, then you miss essentia parts of God’s will being done on earth.

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