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Callings: Twenty Centuries of Christian Wisdom on Vocation [Hardcover]

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Item description for Callings: Twenty Centuries of Christian Wisdom on Vocation by William C. Placher...

What should I do with my life? How should I decide about an education, a career, and a family? Does God have a plan or purpose for me?

This unprecedented anthology gathers select passages on work and vocation from the greatest writers of Christian history. William Placher has written insightful introductions to accompany the selections an introduction to each of the four main historical sections and a brief introduction to each reading. While the vocational questions faced by Christians have changed through the centuries, the book demonstrates how the distilled wisdom of these saints, preachers, theologians, and teachers remains relevant to Christians today.

This rich resource is to be followed by a companion volume, edited by Dorothy Bass and Mark Schwehn, that will feature texts drawn mainly from memoir, fiction, poetry, and other forms of literature.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
Pages   452
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.3" Width: 6.3" Height: 1.4"
Weight:   1.8 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Jul 31, 2005
Publisher   Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
ISBN  080283048X  
ISBN13  9780802830487  

Availability  0 units.

More About William C. Placher

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! William C. Placher was Charles D. and Elizabeth S. LaFollette Distinguished Professor in the Humanities and Chair of the Department of Philosophy and Religion at Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Indiana. He was the author or editor of a number of books including "Essentials of Christian Theology", published by WJK.

William C. Placher lived in the state of Indiana. William C. Placher was born in 1948 and died in 2008.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Christian Living > General
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Christian Living
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Fiction & Poetry

Christian Product Categories
Books > Christian Living > Practical Life > General

Reviews - What do customers think about Callings: Twenty Centuries of Christian Wisdom on Vocation?

Callings  Oct 7, 2007

Our church is studying vocational callings this year in conjunction with our pastor's doctoral program. I decided to read this book not only for that reason, but also the author will be speaking at our nearby college soon. The book has given me an excellent historical perspective on early callings of Chrisitan monastics that I am able to bring to modern life.
Who's calling?  Sep 23, 2005
William Placher is a well-known theologian, a good writer and a great teacher, recognised as such by the American Academy of Religion a few years ago. We used the book he edited, 'Essentials of Christian Theology,' last year for the systematic theology class in which I was teaching. This book reminds me of that text somewhat, in that it seems a wonderful resource both for private study and corporate learning.

Placher states that this book is intended as a companion book by Mark Schwehn and Dorothy Bass (another of my favourite authors); both texts 'share [the] conviction that encountering ideas from the past can illuminate our reflection in the present.' Placher arranges this text in a chronological order, going back to the earliest Christian writings, and proceeds to modern times in four broad sections:

* Callings to a Christian Life: Vocations in the Early Church, 100-500
* Called to Religious Life: Vocations in the Middle Ages, 500-1500
* Every Work a Calling: Vocations after the Reformation, 1500-1800
* Christian Callings in a Post-Christian World, 1800-Present

Prior to these four sections, however, Placher provides some key biblical texts on calling, which include well-known stories such as the call of Abraham, Moses, Deborah, Samuel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Mary, the disciples, Philip with the eunuch, and Paul. These provide source material for many later reflections on vocation and calling throughout Christian history.

The names represented in each section are almost all well-known figures from the history of Christianity. Placher provides a brief introduction for each section to set theological and historical context. In the first section, Tertullian and Athanasius, Augustine and Gregory are highlighted, among others. One key element in this period is that Christians were often not born as Christians - they were converts, and often converting to something less desired (and sometimes actively suppressed) by the general culture and authority. Calling to be a Christian during this time was a life-altering decision in many radical ways, inward and outward.

In the second section, which spans half of Christian history, the situation is a bit different. The church, having become the official state religion, was now the expected affiliation. Most people in the Western world (which, despite terminological difficulties, includes the Orthodox East for considerations here) were born and raised into the church. Vocation as an idea here usually meant clerical or monastic life; one did not need by cultural standards a particular call to be a Christian, as this was understood. This does not make this period or the writers on vocation during this time any less valuable or relevant for today. Indeed, some, such as Benedict Nursia, Thomas Aquinas and Thomas a Kempis continue to exert enormous influence in Christian communities today.

In the third section, the impulses that drove the Reformation and Counter-Reformation also sparked a new sense of looking at vocation. This is Placher's longest section, and again, the people in this period continue to influence and inspire aspirants in the present day. Martin Luther, John Calvin, Ignatius of Loyola, Teresa of Avila, George Herbert, George Fox, and John Wesley are just some of the key figures of this period. Vocation became a broader ideal, and there were elements of vocation as a Christian, as opposed to vocation being an exclusive province of the religious/ordained ministry, present in everyday life and work. While this is a strong element in Protestant thinking, it also holds true in much Catholic thinking about vocation and calling.

This sense of the breadth of the idea of vocation in the Catholic world, nascent in early times, became much more clearly expressed in the post-Vatican II world. An increasing secularlisation of society, with separation of church and state commonplace, formalised in many parts of the world and de facto in others, continues to cause many historians and theologians to see this as a post-Christendom or post-Christian world. Once again, the theme of living a calling as Christians in the world resurfaces strongly. Kierkegaard, Newman, Weber, Raucshcenbusch, Thurman, Bonhoeffer, Weil, Sayers, Merton, Day and Barth are some of the contributors to this section.

Placher states that 'many Christians today are nervous about defining their job as their vocation or calling.' He writes, 'Jobs can seem not only meaningless but actually destructive of our lives as Christians.' Placher resists the idea of jobs not being vocations (partly because he has discovered his own job as a teacher to have strong elements of vocation about it), but also because the history of Christian thought has shown there to be no single, definitive idea of what vocation is or should be. (This should be a warning to individuals and institutions that try to insist that their sense of vocation, discernment and attendant processes are the only proper way.)

This is a wonderful collection. Placher has a keen eye for selection, showing similarities and differences across the time periods as well as within each age. Diversity has always been an element of Christian life and expression, so why should vocation and discernment be any different?

This book is a wonderful companion for those who seek a greater knowledge of what God is calling them to do, a good book for those who want to deepen their spiritual appreciation of God's call in the world, and for students of Christian history to see how this particular element of Christianity is expressed across time.

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