• How Vocation Transformed Society Article by Gene Edward Veith

    FROM TABLETALK | October 2016

    Christians today often speak of transforming society. A dramatic example of how a theological teaching had a revolutionary social impact is the Reformation doctrine of vocation. Society in the Middle Ages was highly structured, hierarchical, and static. That would change, beginning in the 1500s, as an unintended consequence of Luther’s doctrine of vocation. The Doctrine Of Vocation For Luther, vocation—the Latinate word for “calling”—means far more than a job or profession. Vocation is Luther’s doctrine of the Christian life. More than that, vocation is the way God works through human beings to govern His creation and … View Resource

  • Do Your Duty Article by Gene Edward Veith

    FROM TABLETALK | April 2014 | Luke 17

    Duty is one of those words that used to carry great weight but really doesn’t anymore. It is still an important concept in military circles, but elsewhere doing something because it’s your duty has acquired a negative connotation. “You just say you love me because you think it’s your duty.” “They just go to church out of a sense of duty.” In the nineteenth century, though, calls to duty were inspirational. Just before the sea battle of Trafalgar, Admiral Nelson sent up signal flags that sent this message to the fleet: “England expects that every man will … View Resource

  • Listening to the World Article by Gene Edward Veith

    FROM TABLETALK | January 2013

    Christians should listen to the Word of God, of course, in the sense of heeding it, following it, and taking it in. Listening to the competing voices of the world in that way can get us into trouble. But there is another sense in which we do need to listen to what the world is saying. Paying attention can help us avoid the world’s errors and can make us more effective witnesses and evangelists. The Bible commends King David’s allies from the tribe of Issachar, “men who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to … View Resource

  • Not Protesting Evil Article by Gene Edward Veith

    FROM TABLETALK | February 2011

    Dear Eligos, We tempters have a job that is both easy and difficult. Thanks to our fearless leader’s victory in the garden some time ago, human beings are ridiculously, even comically, susceptible to sinning. And yet, sin itself is so ugly, so grotesque, so repellent — if it is only seen clearly (no offense to any of our colleagues) — that humans cannot help but hate it. This means that when we tempt someone to do evil, we are under the humiliating necessity to portray it as something good. This requires creating a certain mindset. A human sees someone else, a friend … View Resource

  • Secular Eschatology Article by Gene Edward Veith

    FROM TABLETALK | December 2009

    The Bible teaches that the universe had a beginning and that it will have an end. Christians believe this, though controversies about eschatology (the end times) have long roiled in Christian circles. It illustrates how profoundly the Bible has influenced Western civilization that secularists too have their eschatologies. The natural view of time is cyclical. The Bible also recognizes — and organizes — the cyclical nature of time. But in addition to affirming the sense in which time can involve recurring cycles, the Bible also teaches that time is linear. It has a beginning and an end. Not only that … View Resource

  • Social Darwinism Article by Gene Edward Veith

    FROM TABLETALK | November 2009

      Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution was never just about biology. Nor were its consequences just about religion. Rather, the origins and effects of Darwinism were largely cultural and moral. Darwin’s Origin of Species was published in 1859, which was at the height of the Industrial Revolution and the Capitalist Revolution. The dynamic free market economy, characterized by intense competition in which weak companies went broke and the strong companies thrived, had brought unparalleled economic and technological progress. It was a small step to speculate that animal species compete and progress in a similar way. What Darwin did was to … View Resource

  • Playing Your Part Article by Gene Edward Veith

    FROM TABLETALK | October 2009

    As seen in other articles this month, the word hypocrisy derives from the Greek term for “playing a part.” The ordinary word for an actor on the stage in Greek drama was hypocrite. In the tragedies of Sophocles or the comedies of Aristophanes, the actors — the hypocrites — played their different parts by wearing masks. The moral transgression of hypocrisy also involves playing a part and wearing a mask. But there are also times when God calls us to play a part. Today’s culture is tolerant of almost every behavior, except hypocrisy. Our society has no problem with … View Resource

  • The Heresies of Love Article by Gene Edward Veith

    FROM TABLETALK | September 2009

    God is a unity of distinct persons. The one God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. So says the doctrine of the Trinity. Some people believe in the unity and oneness of God, but deny that He consists in different persons. Heretics such as monarchists, modalists, and Arians take this position, as do followers of non-Christian religions, such as Unitarians and Muslims. Others believe in the different persons but deny their unity in one God. This is the position of heretics such as the tritheists and followers of other non-Christian religions, such as Mormons and polytheists. The church is a … View Resource

  • Money, Money, Money Article by Gene Edward Veith

    FROM TABLETALK | August 2009

    Not long ago, I learned that thirty-eight percent of my retirement account has vanished and that my house is suddenly worth less than the mortgage I am paying on it. I wasn’t wasteful or reckless. I didn’t vandalize my own home or spend my life’s savings on riotous living. But all of a sudden, through no particular fault of my own, a major part of my stash of money (small though it was) simply disappeared. This did not just happen to me, of course, but to virtually all Americans and to virtually everyone else in the world. The economic downturn … View Resource

  • Train Up a Child Article by Gene Edward Veith

    FROM TABLETALK | February 2007

    Many years ago, someone pointed out that the book of Proverbs has 31 chapters, making it ideal for a month-long Bible reading project. So I read one chapter a day for a month, and the experience was so rewarding I kept doing it, month after month for about a year, repeating the same verses as I was going through different issues in my life, to the point that at least some of them started to sink in. Though some of the Proverbs went over my head, others were startlingly illuminating. “The mercy of the wicked is cruel” (12:10). Exactly! As … View Resource

  • Calvin & Culture, Reconsidered Article by Gene Edward Veith

    FROM TABLETALK | July 2009

    One of the greatest social scientists credits John Calvin for the rise of capitalism and, by extension, modern Western culture itself. That is quite an influence and quite a tribute to Calvin. Nevertheless, though there is some truth to the claim, the specific scholarship behind it demonstrates a profound misunderstanding, not only of Calvin but of the Reformation. In 1904, the German scholar Max Weber published The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. Weber was exploring the observation that industrialism began mainly in countries that were Protestant rather than Roman Catholic or non-Christian. In doing so, he made a … View Resource

  • Farmers and the Rest of Us Article by Gene Edward Veith

    FROM TABLETALK | June 2009

    Might there be a time when readers of the Bible will not understand — without a host of reference books — what a sower is? For most of the world’s history, the majority of people made their living from the land. Today the number of family farms is dwindling. Farms have turned into factories. Tractors pulling seeders and tilling machines have replaced the figure of the sower who throws out seed from a bag. But whatever their agricultural techniques, we cannot do without farmers. Perhaps more clearly than any other profession, farmers exemplify the Reformation doctrine of vocation. Every time … View Resource

  • Doing Without the Church? Article by Gene Edward Veith

    FROM TABLETALK | May 2009

    The seven churches of Asia addressed in the book of Revelation had their problems. One of them looked quite lively but it was actually dead. Another was so lukewarm that the Lord was ready to spit it out of His mouth. And yet the Son of Man did not tell the Christians of Sardis or of Laodicea to pull out of their congregations. Today, though, a growing number of Christians are doing just that. Despite the continued visibility of megachurches, the new trend is for minichurches, microchurches, or no churches at all. According to pollster George Barna, the era of … View Resource

  • A ‘Great’ Leader Article by Gene Edward Veith

    FROM TABLETALK | April 2009

    These days it’s easy to become cynical about politicians, government officials, and other national leaders. Governing a country takes hard-nosed, practical realism. Morality and religion are well and good, many of us say, but someone who follows such ideals in the political arena will be eaten alive. Yet, consider the example of a ninth-century king named Alfred the Great. In his day England (“Angle-land”) consisted of isolated Germanic tribes whose kings were closer to tribal chiefs than heads of state. The various Angles and Saxons had converted to Christianity thanks to seventh-century missionaries, but holdover practices from paganism such as … View Resource

  • Authority in Vocation Article by Gene Edward Veith

    FROM TABLETALK | March 2009

    Do you want to know how Christians can influence the culture? How to have a strong family? Do you want to know the meaning of your life? Do you want to know how authority works? Then attend to the Reformation doctrine of vocation. This strangely neglected doctrine has to do with how God providentially governs the world of human beings. It also constitutes the theology of the Christian life. The doctrine of vocation, a term that is just the Latin word for “calling,” deals with how God works through human beings to bestow His gifts. God gives us this … View Resource