Wednesday 1 January 2014

Edward Hahnenberg's theology of vocation

I learnt something new from Edward Hahnenberg, in his book on the theology of vocation: that it was Luther who first recognized that God calls people in their everyday lives, and not only in the priesthood and in the monastery. Francis de Sales has this recognition very clearly, and also Don Bosco, who made sanctity available and possible to his youngsters; but it took Vatican II to sanction the universal call to holiness for the whole church.

Hahnenberg, however, points out the pitfalls in this universalization of the call: the danger of secularization of the call, the danger that God's call is somehow absorbed into a secular vocation. According to him, the root problem is that, for Protestants, the theology of vocation is embedded in the theology of creation. Here, he says, the Catholics have an advantage, because for them, the theology of vocation is embedded in the theology of grace. Besides this, there is the strong Ignatian tradition of discernment, which preserves the individual and concrete dimensions of the call. Hahnenberg goes on in his book to complement this Ignatian stress with other, postmodern and contemporary (liberation) emphases: vocation is discovered through the other, and most especially through the other who is in need.

My question: when Hahnenberg criticizes the 'two-tier' theology of nature and grace, what exactly is he criticizing?

His bibliography is strong on Rahner, and Barth, but there is no mention of Lonergan. 

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