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Terry L. Cross: Answering the Call in the Spirit: Pentecostal Reflections on a Theology of Vocation, Work and Life

The relatively sparse discussion disallows for adequate development of an understanding of the terms call and vocation from historical Pentecostal resources and raises certain questions: Did and do Pentecostals consider vocation and call as synonymous or as separate and distinct? How did/do Pentecostals view work, both in the ecclesial and social senses of the term?  It would seem that additional research is needed to clarify or and to resolve, if possible, these issues.

The author’s approach to a theology of “calling” considers that “in the biblical account, ‘calling’ speaks primarily of the spiritual call to salvific relationship, not occupation. Who we are in relation to God is much more important than what we do” (p. 48). This view is arguable: one can make an apology for the biblical perspective, for example, Jeremiah 1:4-7, that presents the ontological integration of the self with God’s specific call to individual’s vocation. Therefore in vocation, one’s relationship to God is expressed through actions responding to God’s call.

A surprise was that William J. Seymour, for example, in view of his position in twentieth century Pentecostalism and his continuing influence on the developing understanding of Pentecostalism, is neither discussed or quoted nor are any of his sermon materials or other writings included in the bibliography. Seymour’s published statements on the doctrines and discipline of the Azusa Street Apostolic Faith Mission, particularly on the call to preach, provide relevant information that is important for readers’ understanding of call in the Pentecostal tradition. There is no mention of possible distinctions in the understanding of vocation in the tradition of African-American or Hispanic Pentecostalism.

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Category: Fall 2008, Ministry, Pneuma Review

About the Author: Mara Lief Crabtree, D.Min. (Wesley Theological Seminary), MPS (Loyola University, New Orleans), MA (Regent University), is Associate Professor of Spiritual Formation and Women’s Studies at Regent University School of Divinity. Ordained in the Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Churches, she serves as a Tidewater Chapter Chaplain and Region II US Representative for Virginia Chapters in the International Order of St. Luke. Faculty page. Faculty blog.

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