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Callings: Twenty Centuries of Christian Wisdom on Vocation Paperback – July 26, 2005

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Callings: Twenty Centuries of Christian Wisdom on Vocation + Leading Lives That Matter: What We Should Do and Who We Should Be + Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation
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Editorial Reviews

Review

James E. Carter For those interested in understanding and appreciating the call of God to Christian service, this book is an essential collection of materials covering the full range of Christian history. The introductions to both the sections and the selections are concise but complete. The historical introductions to the four sections are also clear, interesting, and informative.

About the Author

William C. Placher was the Charles D. and Elizabeth S. LaFollette Distinguished Professor in the Humanities at Wabash College, Crawfordsville, Indiana, and the author or editor of eleven books. He passed away in November of 2008.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 468 pages
  • Publisher: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.; Edition Unstated edition (July 26, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802829279
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802829276
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.3 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #272,094 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

39 of 39 people found the following review helpful By FrKurt Messick HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on September 23, 2005
Format: Paperback
William Placher is a well-known theologian, a good writer and a great teacher, recognised as such by the American Academy of Religion a few years ago. We used the book he edited, 'Essentials of Christian Theology,' last year for the systematic theology class in which I was teaching. This book reminds me of that text somewhat, in that it seems a wonderful resource both for private study and corporate learning.

Placher states that this book is intended as a companion book by Mark Schwehn and Dorothy Bass (another of my favourite authors); both texts 'share [the] conviction that encountering ideas from the past can illuminate our reflection in the present.' Placher arranges this text in a chronological order, going back to the earliest Christian writings, and proceeds to modern times in four broad sections:

* Callings to a Christian Life: Vocations in the Early Church, 100-500

* Called to Religious Life: Vocations in the Middle Ages, 500-1500

* Every Work a Calling: Vocations after the Reformation, 1500-1800

* Christian Callings in a Post-Christian World, 1800-Present

Prior to these four sections, however, Placher provides some key biblical texts on calling, which include well-known stories such as the call of Abraham, Moses, Deborah, Samuel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Mary, the disciples, Philip with the eunuch, and Paul. These provide source material for many later reflections on vocation and calling throughout Christian history.

The names represented in each section are almost all well-known figures from the history of Christianity. Placher provides a brief introduction for each section to set theological and historical context.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By George Hillman on July 2, 2009
Format: Paperback
For the past three years, I have taught a class on the theological and practical aspects of understanding one's calling in ministry and in life. In my preparations, I have spent significant time wading through ancient and modern treatments of the topic of vocation or calling from a Christian perspective. I can say without hesitation that William Placher's Callings: Twenty Centuries of Christian Wisdom on Vocation is one of the best treatments of the subject of vocation from a solid and balanced theological perspective. Placher, Professor of Humanities at Wabash College, has done an outstanding job in compiling a theological reader of representative historical selections on the understanding of vocation in the first two millennium of Christianity. Callings is a part of a larger initiative with the Lilly Endowment's Programs for the Theological Exploration of Vocation (PTEV), a network of undergraduate college across the United States examining how to assist students in their understanding of vocation in their lives. A second volume by Mark Schwehn and Dorothy Bass called Leading Lives that Matter: What We Should Do and Who We Should Be (Eerdmans, 2006) is also a part of this initiative.

Of course when the Bible speaks of calling, the overwhelming basis is the calling to salvation in Jesus Christ and the calling to sanctification in that faith. It is when the question of "Now what" is posed that the variety of life enters the picture. It is the idea of vocation, of God calling us to something bigger than ourselves, which gives meaning and purpose to life. A thread found in both Placher's introductions and in his selection of the readings is the wide variety of Christian tradition on the topic of vocation.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Lynn on January 30, 2013
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Placher has done scholars and readers a tremendous service by compiling this history of philosophical thought about calling. There is no other work of its kind and it is a great gift to anyone who is interested in researching this topic. In addition to history, it is also a great introduction to some important voices of the 20th century such as Dorothy Sayers and Howard Thurman. It is fascinating to see how thinking has evolved and just how enduring the idea has been -- despite some contemporary attempts to dilute it. This book is a classic!
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As someone who is researching this topic from a social sciences perspective this book was an invaluable compilation of the historical humanities based approaches to making sense of what a calling is and how it operates, particularly from a Christian perspective. Great resource.
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