All of the books on work I have surveyed to date build a theology of work starting with the concept of vocation “developed within the framework of the doctrine of creation,” to borrow an expression from Miroslav Volf in Work in the Spirit.
Miroslav Volf is dissatisfied with this framework, developed “in the context of fairly static feudalist and early capitalist societies on the basis of a static theological concept of vocatio.” This framework is both “inapplicable to modern societies and theologically inadequate” because the modern societies are dynamic, not static. “A single, permanent, salaried, and full-time form of employment has given way to multiple and frequently changing jobs.” And “such a dynamic society requires a dynamic understanding of work.”
Volf’s proposal: “a pneumatological [understanding of work] developed within the framework of the doctrine of the last things.” In other words, he wants to shift from “the vocational to a charismatic understanding of work.”
How did he arrive at this? By noting how “Paul utilizes a very dynamic concept, charisma, for theological reflection on Christian activity (especially inside the Christian community).” Volf thought, “since the whole life of a Christian is by definition a life in the Spirit, work cannot be an exception, whether that work is ecclesiastical or secular.” (Notice how Volf eviscerates the unbiblical sacred-secular distinction here with such ease by appeal to “a life in the Spirit”! Incredible.)
I feel as though Volf is putting his finger right on that specific, nebulous, not-fully-satisfying thing I have been feeling but was unable to identify or articulate from all my readings on vocation.
I am so excited to read on.