The Seminary “Call”. What Does That Even Mean?

by on May 28, 2015

Was Abraham called to kill Isaac? Yes. He went forward with that plan until God “called” otherwise. Would he have been disobedient to continue with the original “calling” of killing Isaac after God said “stop”?

In the church today we have a very strange and anemic doctrine of “calling” that I don’t believe is biblical. We also have a very gnostic tendency of idealizing the spiritual at the detriment of the material. This is one reason why many of the commenters of this post can’t seem to understand why or how God would ever call someone AWAY from a seminary. The pulpit and its preparation has been placed on a pedestal it was never meant to be on.

Completely in line with Abraham, I obeyed God’s call until he called me elsewhere, and then I responded appropriately and, as time has shown me, obediently. Sometimes the finances aren’t there. Sometimes people don’t get healed. Sometimes God changes things. Sometimes THAT is the more “difficult road”. For me, with my story, leaving seminary was FAR more difficult, uncertain, and requiring of more faith than if I had stayed.

I will equally give you the advice to not question where God has brought you. As I said, after Pentecost, after the Holy Spirit indwelt believers, the “will of God” is no longer some invisible path that we have to find and “get back on” if we “get off”. The “will of God”, for the rest of the New Testament always refers to an INTERNAL reality that GOD has promised to accomplish in you. The burden to accomplish the “will of God” in the NT is ultimately on GOD. He doesn’t require us to have to follow these weird abstractions and intuitions to “figure out” some ethereal reality. He just says “Follow me. Trust me. Believe in me. And just live.” We are in His hands and He has appointed our time and places. Let us not think more of ourselves than we ought and think we can “mess this thing up”. He loves us too much to let that happen.

Live to the glory of God wherever you are. The most extensive treatment of an idea of “calling” that Scripture gives us is in 1 Cor 7, and Paul’s main admonition is that wherever you are NOW is where you’re called. Stay there and glorify God in it. He will change the external circumstance if He desires. For me, that change of circumstance looked like the story above. Remember, the “will of God” is “something best discerned through clarity and hindsight rather than ambiguity and attempted foresight.” Rely not on subjective feelings and hopes unattained. Trust your savior that has accomplished objective goals on your behalf and has led you to wherever you are NOW.

To live is Christ. For the Christian, there’s no other reality we know. I hope this was more helpful.

About

Frequenting the coffee shops of Philadelphia while employed in social work and finishing up a Masters of Divinity from the Newbigin House of Studies at Western Theological Seminary. He serves Liberti Church as a deacon and seminary intern. Paul blogs at the long way home and tweets as @PaulBurkhart_.

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