Volf / O’Donovan: evangelical theology of work?

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downloadCharisma and Vocation: an evangelical theology of work

Work. It forms such a big part of our lives. We desperately long for it to have meaning.

At the recent #nexus2014 conference, the topic of human work was discussed: both secular and ministry. It was the third such event in Sydney this year to have explicitly addressed the topic.
It is a topic evangelicals are presently discussing with vigour. Timothy Keller’s book “every good endeavour” has recently been released amongst other articles. Others have joined the discussion: Peter Orr, with his article in Themelios, and Paul Grimmond in the briefing. Some time ago Australian ethicist and theologian Gordon Preece also explored similar ground in several books. At issue is the relative importance of various kinds of work and their relationship to the fulfilment of God’s purposes.
But those listed above are not the first evangelical brothers to have engaged in robust discussion on the issue. Oliver O’Donovan & Miroslav Volf (filling out Moltmann’s earlier work) have themselves offered distinct accounts of how to understand human work. I believe the competing approaches these two great evangelical thinkers take, could be instructive for our own present deliberation on the issue.

In the above PDF paper,  I compare/contrast how O’Donovan and Volf explain the relationship between creational and evangelical work. I’m convinced it is worth our while listening to their contrasting accounts, before we forge further ahead with our own deliberations on the issue. The introductory section briefly reviews reformed thinking on vocation, before moving on to Moltmann’s, Volf’s and then O’Donovan’s proposals.


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