As the year progresses this page will be filled with several articles and papers. A sampling of resources can be found on our Resources page. If you are interested in contributing an article or blog post please email us

Please use this page to provide comments and feedback for the material contained here.

Reform before the Reformation?

Comparing Martin Luther and Gottschalk of Orbais

by Rob Evans (3,800 words)

The Enduring Power of Vocation

by Calum Samuelson (7,300 words)


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  • Thank you for this - wide ranging yet suitably detailed! A question related to the comment below - how does the idea of 'vocation' relate to that of 'ministry'? From my limited reading, the latter seems to have been in greater use in the (early) middle ages for laity than vocation ever was. A king or judge had a ministry, a relationship of obligation, to those in their kingdom or courtroom. Do you know if Luther's 'priesthood of all believers' concept changed this? Did reforming or puritan laity ever refer to their vocations as ministries?
  • Thanks for this thorough walk through the developing conceptions of vocation in the modern world! Very instructive indeed! I am wondering how far you think Luther's characterisation of medieval monks and nuns is a fair one? Unless they are very different from monasteries and convents today, I would have imagined that they both did a lot of good for others outside the monastery/convent, and also had a robust understanding of how to find God in mundane daily activities. If Brother Lawrence, in the 17th century, is anything to go by, monastic communities could harbour a sense of God's presence with those who peel potatoes and sweep floors, which presumably isn't limited in their minds to those who have chosen a monastic lifestyle. What do you think? Are there also resources in medieval times to help us in our task of understanding God's vocation on all work? 
    • Thanks! I definitely think Luther's characterization of monasticism was exaggerated and overly biased by his own experiences/personality. Brother Lawrence is a good example of how monastic thought could engage with normal Christians since he is writing letters to that very effect. I'm not super well-versed on monasticism in the Latin West, but there are many examples of Eastern monastics trying to disseminate their asceticism to/for the laity. However, this was not necessarily understood as fulfilling a 'calling'. As far as I'm aware, there is not very much evidence that ALL work could be considered as vocation in the medieval times, although it would be interesting to consider how the corporate understanding of a Christian empire affected the individuals sense of work...
  • Thanks for such a helpful article on the nature of work. I was particularly challenged to rethink my accepted understanding of work as both a means to some rewarding lifestyle, and an end in itself. I also found the reminder about taking a Sabbath really helpful - as you say it was made for our benefit.