Christianity

1) Read: An Open Letter to the Christian Nobility

In your first paragraph, describe how Luther subverts the medieval understanding that a religious vocation was limited to priests and to those who embraced the monastic life. For Luther, what is the difference between a priest and a layperson? In what sense does Luther’s subversion help you sort out the concept of calling?

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Read: Whether Soldiers, Too, Can Be Saved As you prepare to write your third paragraph, consider the context. To which group of reformers does Luther write this treatise? What theological positions define this group of reformers? In a third paragraph, note the distinction that Luther makes to begin this writing. Then name and describe what Luther calls the two different kinds of righteousness. How does Luther move from this distinction to argue that the killing, burning, and plundering of a soldier can be an act of love? Do you agree? Why or why not? What might be the implications of Luther’s words for those who work in the military, public safety, police, or other parts of the criminal justice system today?

2) Read Stadler (Anabaptist/Radical Reformer), Cherished Instructions in sin, ex-communication, and community of God Note the 2 uses of vocation discussed in the introduction to this chapter (206):

the spiritual or general calling “to become part of the people of God”; and the external or particular calling “to a particular kind of work.”
In your first paragraph, a state which of these two meanings Stadler is most concerned about in this writing. How does he define or characterize this calling?  What, if anything, is applicable in this reading to your pursuit of a purpose or calling? Why? If nothing is, why?

Read: Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz (Catholic Reformer), Reply to Sor Philothea

In a third paragraph, write about Sor Juana. Sor Juana speaks of her love of learning as a “natural impulse which God has implanted in me” (254).  How is this assumption of hers central to the defence of her calling she makes in this document? What various kinds of opposition to her life of scholarship does she discuss? Phone your mother or grandmother (or another woman of an earlier generation) and tell her about this reading. Did the plight of this 17th-century woman resonate with your mother or grandmother at all? If so, in what way?

3) COLLAPSE
Read: Richard Baxter (1615–1691), “moderate Puritan” who rejected the office of a bishop, Directions About Our Labor and Calling

In your first paragraph, discuss Baxter.  Direction 1 provides 10 reasons in answer to Question 5: “Why labour is thus necessary to all that are able?” (280–281). Select you’re most and least favourite of these 10 reasons and explain what you like or dislike about each.  Directions 6 through 9 provide basic principles for choosing a profession.  What are the principles that should underlie one’s vocational choices? Do these 17th-century principles still have value today?  Why or why not?

Read: Gerrard Winstanley (1609–1676) from Baptist lay preacher to Digger/Leveller to Quaker, A Declaration From the Poor Oppressed People of England

In a third paragraph, discuss Winstanley. With these words, Plachner closes his introduction to this reading: “Amid those who were using religious ideas of vocation to support the current order of things, it is worth remembering that others found a Christian calling to try to make radical changes in the social order” (300).  Compare Winstanley to Luther on one’s station in life. On the basis of what principles does Winstanley declare that he and others had the right to plough and plant the common land? What do you think of the use of religious language to support the status quo or to break it? What kind of injustice in the world might make you take a stand as radical as Winstanley’s?

4) Generally speaking there is a contrast between how the medieval period viewed vocation and how the Reformation period did. The medieval period tended to emphasize that mainly the religious (monks, nuns, priests, etc.) had a vocation whereas others really didn’t. In my last introductory video, I argued that the medieval period tended to be individualistic in connection with viewing God and religious vocations (and especially the church hierarchy) being exalted over and removed from regular Christians, for example, lowly peasants. In my video for the current module, I argued that the Reformation brought about a changed understanding of vocation but still had the potential to be individualistic. Please answer at least one of the following:

In what ways might Luther’s understanding of vocation have had appeal to Roman Catholics and their emphasis on good works?
In what ways might Luther’s understanding of vocation has been seen as a threat to Roman Catholicism or Roman Catholic leaders?
Luther’s understanding of two kinds of righteousness (vertical righteousness with God through faith and horizontal righteousness through service of others) contrasts with traditional Roman Catholic doctrine that tends to speak of one kind of righteousness (e.g. that faith is formed by love so that the individual is saved by one’s faith and works working together). How do you think a person’s faith in God and service of others should be related to each other? For more information on Christianity check on this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christianity

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