The Warrior as Vocation

BY Herschel Smith
13 years, 3 months ago

By now, John Kerry’s foolish and adolescent insult to U.S. servicemen and women has gone viral.  Michelle Malkin and Dan Riehl are covering this story and I won’t repeat the details.  In summary, Kerry said that if you don’t study hard, you end up “stuck in Iraq.”  Matt Drudge is carrying a humorous picture of what appears to be eight soldiers holding a sign up that says “Halp us Jon Carry – we R stuck (backwards K) hear n Irak.”

It is nice to see that this unit’s morale is high, and that they can find it in themselves to invoke humor in order to respond to Kerry’s insult.  But on a more serious note, Kerry made the statement because of the moral bankruptcy of his world view.  Kerry imagines that schooling, the state, a diploma, luck, chance, or some intangible or perhaps unknowable thing causes a man or woman to take up a job.  More to the point, Kerry imagines that being a warrior is a job.  And thus Kerry insults military men and women.

As opposed to the monastic view of the world in early medieval times, where the only holy and good thing was separation from the world, the reformation taught us something different about God’s calling in our lives:

In this view, Christians were called to be priests to the world, purifying and sanctifying its everyday life from within. Luther stated this point succinctly when commenting on Genesis 13:13: “What seem to be secular works are actually the praise of God and represent an obedience which is well–pleasing to him.” There were no limits to this notion of calling. Luther even extolled the religious value of housework, declaring that although “it has no obvious appearance of holiness, yet these very household chores are more to be valued than all the works of monks and nuns.”

Underlying this new attitude is the notion of the vocation or “calling.” God calls his people, not just to faith, but to express that faith in quite definite areas of life. Whereas monastic spirituality regarded vocation as a calling out of the world into the desert or the monastery, Luther and Calvin regarded vocation as a calling into the everyday world. The idea of a calling or vocation is first and foremost about being called by God, to serve Him within his world. Work was thus seen as an activity by which Christians could deepen their faith, leading it on to new qualities of commitment to God. Activity within the world, motivated, informed, and sanctioned by Christian faith, was the supreme means by which the believer could demonstrate his or her commitment and thankfulness to God. To do anything for God, and to do it well, was the fundamental hallmark of authentic Christian faith. Diligence and dedication in one’s everyday life are, Calvin thought, a proper response to God.

For Calvin, God places individuals where He wants them to be, which explains Calvin’s criticism of human ambition as an unwillingness to accept the sphere of action God has allocated to us. Social status is an irrelevance, a human invention of no spiritual importance; one cannot allow the human evaluation of an occupation’s importance to be placed above the judgment of God who put you there. All human work is capable of “appearing truly respectable and being considered highly important in the sight of God.” No occupation, no calling, is too mean or lowly to be graced by the presence of God.

Sin has created the necessity for police and armies.  War is certainly not the desired state of affairs, but as long as there are evil men on earth, there will be war.  As opposed to the shallow and foolish notion of all war as being evil, we know that there are good wars which serve as protections against evil.

As opposed to empty-headed ideas of warrior as a job, those who fight have been called by God to war in our stead.  It is not a job; it is a vocation.  Totally aside from irrelevant issues about how much education our servicemen and women have, it is God who has put in them the desire to be warriors, it is God who sustains them, it is God who has given them their victories.  It is God who has called them to this vocation.

And thus it is God whom John Kerry has offended.  And that is no joke.

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Comments

  1. On November 3, 2006 at 7:52 pm, Mike said:

    I volunteered for the military and an elite unit because I wanted to see for myself. Not read about it the paper or watch it on TV the next day, but live it and, therefore, understand it firsthand. That philosophy served me well in those days and continues to do so today. If that makes me too stupid for anything else, I can live with that.

  2. On November 3, 2006 at 8:10 pm, Breakerjump said:

    Mic yu r a moran. sawry.

  3. On November 5, 2006 at 4:17 pm, Herschel Smith said:

    Mike, my friend. You and I know that the military we have today is the smartest and most well-educated military in the world — and the best, too. Still, don’t downplay your role or your calling. You put your life on the line, not only in the military but the police as well. We owe a debt to all of our uniformed who stand in the gap for us. A better way of saying it might be this:

    John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” (NASB)

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This article is filed under the category(s) Religion,War & Warfare and was published November 1st, 2006 by Herschel Smith.

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