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Gottesblog

A blog of the Evangelical Lutheran Liturgy

Our Current Understanding of the Doctrine of Vocation: An Informal Fallacy?

The Doctrine of Vocation has been all the rage in Lutheran circles the past ten years. This is a good thing. But something is missing in all these discussions. We have forgotten the first premise. This could simply be the work of an enthymeme. But the pessimist in me thinks something else is at work, something more like a petitio principii. That first premise is "From the beginning God created them male and female."

Why have we left this first premise off? Are we just products of our age? Is this not something that we need to deal with first and foremost? Do we not have a vocation first and foremost as a man and as a woman? Does not all other vocations flow from this? And if we get this first premise wrong, will not all the rest be skewed along with it?

President Harrison in his address to the delegates at the 65th Regular Convention of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, quoting Hermann Sasse, said, "Every great advance in the church began with the cry, 'Back!' Back to the Scriptures! Back to the Confessions! Back!" Resolution 4-11A“To Commend Faithful Service and to Study Proper Roles of Men and Women in the Church,” is a step in the right direction. One delegate, speaking in favor of the resolution, urged that the CTCR should not limit the scope of their study simply to the roles of men and women in the church, but also in the home and society. That delegate is right. I hope the CTCR heeds this delegate's request.

But we need not wait for the CTCR to speak. The task of teaching the vocation of being a man and the vocation of being a woman is given also to pastors. It is given to fathers within the home also. Our confusion over what it means to be a man and what it means to be a woman leads to confusion in other areas of theology and practice, in church, in society, and in the family. Let's heed the words of Sasse and go back. Back to the Scriptures. Back to the Confessions. Back to the teaching of our forefathers in the faith. Let us mine the riches of their work to understand and practice what they preached.

So let's go back, back to the very beginning, back to the mandate and institution of mankind. For have you not read that in the beginning God created them male and female (Matt 19:4)? This is where we must start: at creation. This tells us what a thing is: who man is and who woman is. And not only who, but what they are according to God's revealed will. If we skip this, if we let modernity have its way, we cut ourselves off at the knees, standing on a shaky foundation.