A vocation (from Latin vocatio 'a call, summons'[1]) is an occupation to which a person is especially drawn or for which they are suited, trained or qualified. People can be given information about a new occupation through student orientation.[2] Though now often used in non-religious contexts, the meanings of the term originated in Christianity.

Senses Edit

Use of the word "vocation" before the sixteenth century referred firstly to the "call" by God[3] to an individual, or calling of all humankind to salvation, particularly in the Vulgate, and more specifically to the "vocation" to the priesthood, or to the religious life, which is still the usual sense in Roman Catholicism. Roman Catholicism recognizes marriage, religious, and ordained life as the three vocations.[4][failed verification] Martin Luther,[5] followed by John Calvin, placed a particular emphasis on vocations, or divine callings, as potentially including most secular occupations, though this idea was by no means new.[6]

Calvinism developed complex ideas about different types of vocations of the first type, connected with the concepts of predestination, irresistible grace, and the elect. There are the vocatio universalis, the vocatio specialis, only extended to some. There were also complex distinctions between internal and external, and the "vocatio efficax" and "inefficax" types of callings.[7] Hyper-Calvinism rejects the idea of a "universal call", a vocation, to repent and believe, held by virtually all other Christian groups.

In Protestantism, the call from God to devote one's life to him by joining the clergy is often covered by the English equivalent term "call", whereas in Roman Catholicism "vocation" is still used.

Both senses of the word "call" are used in 1 Corinthians 7:20, where Paul says "Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called".[8]

Concept Edit

The idea of vocation is central to the Christian belief that God has created each person with gifts and talents oriented toward specific purposes and a way of life. In the broadest sense, as stated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, "Love is the fundamental and innate vocation of every human being".[9] More specifically, in the Eastern Orthodox and Catholic Churches, this idea of vocation is especially associated with a divine call to service to the Church and humanity through particular vocational life commitments such as marriage to a particular person, consecration as a religious dedication, ordination to priestly ministry in the Church and even a holy life as a single person. In the broader sense, Christian vocation includes the use of one's gifts in their profession, family life, church and civic commitments for the sake of the greater common good.

Christian views on work Edit

Many Christian theologians appeal to the Old Testament Book of Genesis in regards to work. According to Genesis 1, human beings were created in the image of God, and according to Genesis 2, Adam was placed in the Garden of Eden to "work it and keep it".[10] Dorothy L. Sayers has argued that "work is the natural exercise and function of man – the creature who is made in the image of his Creator."[11] Likewise, John Paul II said in Laborem exercens that by his work, man shares in the image of his creator.

Christian theologians see the fall of man as profoundly affecting human work. In Genesis 3:17, God said to Adam, "cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life".[12] Leland Ryken said out that, because of the fall, "many of the tasks we perform in a fallen world are inherently distasteful and wearisome."[13] Christian theologians interpret that through the fall, work has become toil, but John Paul II says that work is a good thing for man in spite of this toil, and that "perhaps, in a sense, because of it", because work is something that corresponds to man's dignity and through it, he achieves fulfilment as a human being.[14] The fall also means that a work ethic is needed. As a result of the fall, work has become subject to the abuses of idleness on the one hand, and overwork on the other.[citation needed] Drawing on Aristotle, Ryken suggests that the moral ideal is the golden mean between the two extremes of being lazy and being a workaholic.[15]

Some Christian theologians also draw on the doctrine of redemption to discuss the concept of work. Oliver O'Donovan said that although work is a gift of creation, it is "ennobled into mutual service in the fellowship of Christ."[16]

Ryken argues for seeing the call of God to a particular occupation as a reflection of the gospel call, and suggests that this implies vocational loyalty – "modern notions of job become deficient" and "the element of arbitrariness of one's choice of work" is removed.[17]

Modern vocation Edit

Since the establishment of Vocational Guidance in 1908 by the engineer Frank Parsons, the use of the term "vocation" has evolved, with emphasis shifting to an individual's development of talents and abilities in the choice and enjoyment of a career. This semantic expansion has meant some diminution of reference to the term's religious meanings in everyday usage.[18][unreliable source]

Literary clarification Edit

These books have attempted to define or clarify the term vocation.

See also Edit

References Edit

  1. ^ Richard A. Muller, Dictionary of Latin and Greek Theological Terms: Drawn Principally from Protestant Scholastic Theology (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House Company, 1985), s.v. "vocation."
  2. ^ "Orientation". Merriam-Webster.
  3. ^ The OED records effectively identical uses of "call" in English back to c.1300: OED, "Call", 6 "To nominate by a personal "call" or summons (to special service or office);esp. by Divine authority..."
  4. ^ Pope John Paul II, Familiaris Consortio, 11.4
  5. ^ Gustaf Wingren, Luther on Vocation
  6. ^ David L. Jeffrey, A Dictionary of biblical tradition in English literature, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1992, ISBN 0-8028-3634-8, ISBN 978-0-8028-3634-2, Google books See also Max Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, trans. Alcott Parsons, Ch.3, p. 79 & note 1.
  7. ^ Kenneth G. Appold. Abraham Calov's doctrine of vocatio in its systematic context, p. 125 and generally, Mohr Siebeck, 1998, ISBN 3-16-146858-9, ISBN 978-3-16-146858-2, Google books. See also Jeffrey, 815
  8. ^ King James Version
  9. ^ "Catechism of the Catholic Church – part 3, section 2, chapter 2, article 6". The Holy See. Retrieved 2023-03-11.
  10. ^ 2:15, English Standard Version
  11. ^ Sayers, Dorothy L. "Why Work?" (PDF). faith-at-work.net. Archived from the original (PDF) on Jan 18, 2012. Retrieved 29 July 2012.
  12. ^ English Standard Version
  13. ^ Leland Ryken, Work and Leisure in Christian Perspective (Portland: Multnomah, 1987), 120.
  14. ^ John Paul II, Laborem exercens, § 9.
  15. ^ Ryken, Work and Leisure, 176.
  16. ^ Oliver O'Donovan, "Christian Moral Reasoning," in David J. Atkinson and David H. Field (eds), New Dictionary of Christian Ethics and Pastoral Theology (Leicester: IVP, 1995), 123.
  17. ^ Ryken, Work and Leisure, 147.
  18. ^ Douglas J. Schuurman; Vocation: Discerning Our Callings in Life (Grand Rapids: Wm B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2004) ISBN 978-0-8028-0137-1 pages 5 & 6

External links Edit