Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Good Book on Vocation

Luther on Vocation
by Bustaf Wingren, translated by Carl C. Rasmussen
Wipf and Stock Publishers

I have purchased this book and have found it to be a very useful work on the topic of vocation. It contains a very clear and exhaustive summary of Dr. Luther's thoughts and teachings on the subject. (Pr. Hall will be pleased at all the footnotes.) Laymen who are interested in this topic should check this one out. It is one of the better summaries on vocation that I have found.

Here is an excerpt from the book:

“Even while man contends on earth with a specific outer sin which is hard for him to master, that sin is forgiven in heaven, before God. The battle lies outside of the conscience and leaves faith undisturbed, since it rests secure in God’s promise. Sin is resisted in such a way that man is not cast into despair; the outcome is certain, through God’s word about the eternal life after death. If a man cannot believe that the sin with which he struggles is forgiven, the law has risen up in the conscience (that is, in heaven) and faith gives way to works before God. Then eternal life does not depend on God’s promise but on man’s progress in the battle against his sin. That is desperation.”

“This desperation increases the earnestness of the battle against sin, and prepares man to see the great miracle in the gospel when at length it comes back and makes the conscience free and calm. God wills the agony of the Christian which enters into the crucifixion of the old man, for crucifixion is fellowship with Christ, and Christ endured the agony of despair on the cross. In his earlier writings Luther exhorts us to seek the cross and hardships. In his Treatise on Good Works, in 1520, Luther still divides the death of the old man into two parts: that which we bring upon ourselves and that which we are subject by reason of the connection our lives have with the lives of others. This is a remnant of Luther’s pre-Reformation thought. We miss the attack on a self-chosen and self-imposed cross found in his later and more detailed expositions of the Christian’s cross. The fanatics excelled at putting on a furrowed countenance. With Luther’s perception of this new monastic spirit in evangelical circles came the end of his commendation of self-chosen crosses. The cross is not to be chosen by us; it is laid upon us by God, i.e. the cross comes to us uninvoked in our vocation.” -Luther on Vocation, Pages 52-53

You can purchase this book here.


Excerpt and cover image used by permission of Wipf and Stock Publishers.

Wipf and Stock Publishers
199 West 8th Avenue, Suite 3
Eugene, Oregon 97401

Luther on Vocation By Wingren, Gustaf
Copyright (c) 1957 by Wingren, Gustaf
ISBN: 1-59244-561-6
Publication Date: 2/19/2004
Previously published by Muhlenburg Press, 1957


Cindy Ramos said...

Footnotes? Lots of them? I tried to read this book several years ago but got bogged down by the lack of footnotes. I seem to recall that too many important points were made in Latin or German, with no translations provided. It must have been the 1956 edition that I was using. I was not aware of this new(er) edition, and it sounds very promising.

Mike Baker said...

I don't know if there are any differences in editions. I did not know about a prior publishing until I started talking to the publisher for permission to do this post. I must confess that I have not seen any other copy but this one and I did not do a comparative study.

I can tell you that the book I have in hand has 99 footnotes in the first 52 pages. Many of these are just citation references, but some get pretty in depth.

There is more Latin and German than an introductory book on theology, but not so much as to make it unreadable. Most of the time you get the english word and the latin/german in "()". Example:

"blah blah... do not tempt God (ne tentemus Deus)"

Hopefully this is an improvement of what you saw before. I have found it very promising. It may be worth another look.

(If I'm wrong, I'll pay for your copy :P)