Our Contingent Calling

FC Missional Moment: Voices from the Commons

View this email in your browser ([UNIQID])

** Our Contingent Calling

Andy Crouch, author of Culture-Making: Recovering our Creative Calling and Playing God: Redeeming the Gift of Power, reflected recently that as Christ-followers, we don’t have “a calling,” we have three.

Two of the three callings aren’t optional or even individual, but are fundamental and universal and prove to be the most important callings of our lives. Crouch argues that if we get these first two callings right, the third “contingent calling” is practically an afterthought.

Here’s his argument.

Beginning in Genesis 1 and 2 and tracing the entire story of God’s people, Crouch holds that we have these two fundamental callings: we are first called to bear the image of God and second to restore the image of God.

** To Bear the Image

Shared with every human being, we are uniquely called as humans to bear the image of God. Made in God’s image, as Genesis 1:26-28 declares, we reflect the Creator when we too delight to give and beautify. J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis spoke of humans as sub-creators—where, as a form of worship, we express the divine image by becoming “creators” in our work.

To bear the image of God, Crouch argues, “is to exercise dominion, caring for and cultivating the good world and making it very good through our creative attention.”

Most of our work falls under this heading. As Christ-followers, we gladly work alongside colleagues and neighbors who don’t share our faith. In part, as humans we all bear the image of God by working fruitfully in the good world. It was what we were always meant to do.

** To Restore the Image

Our second fundamental calling, shared primarily with other Christ-followers within the family of God, is to restore the image of God.

The entire story of the Scriptures shows God’s people in a vast, world-historical rescue mission to restore in all creation the capacity for true image bearing. Today, Christ-followers are at the heart of this mission of restoration, made possible through the reconciling power of the Cross.

As Crouch writes, “our distinctive calling as Christians is not just to till and keep the world as image bearers, but to actively seek out the places where that image has been lost . . .”

As Christ-following faculty, we confront places where image-bearing has been compromised by patterns of neglect in the academy, in our broken world and in the lives of those around us.

We should, Crouch maintains, be ready to speak up, to sacrifice privileges, to use our talents to help restore that lost image “proclaiming Jesus as the world’s true Lord and the image of the invisible God.”

** Our Contingent Calling

Our third calling is contingent, dependent on things that could be otherwise. Our “work” in the academy is dependent on certain resources—memory, energy, reason, attention, skill—and/or resting on a set of credentials, a title or position.

All of us know that any of these circumstances upon which our “calling” in the academy rests might change in a moment—sickness, job change, getting or not getting tenure, retirement, etc.

“For all their illusion of durability, the things of our contingent calling are only ours today.”

Crouch argues that, while this “contingent calling” seems so important to us, the Scriptures don’t seem to be that interested in it. The Scriptures focus us on God, on God’s mission in the world, on God’s commissioning us to “bear and restore His image.” The Scriptures focus on God’s gracious invitation to us to stop being so interested in us and to “start being absolutely fascinated by his mission.”

Crouch’s perspective is helpful to us, particularly as the semester begins: “We are called to bear the image and to restore the image in the world, making the most of whatever is given us today.”

Over this semester, the following practitioners in the academy will describe both how they take serious God’s mission in the world and how they—in their contingent calling—make the most of today while it is called today.
* Heather Holleman, Penn State— Go Early
* Phil Bishop, UA — I Never Saw It Coming
* Sam Matteson, UNT — Over My Shoulder: Spiritual Lessons from an Academic Life
* Ken Elzinga, UVA — The Professor as Servant

—Jay Lorenzen, FC Editorial Team



** If this email newsletter was forwarded to you and you’ve never subscribed directly,
join here ( .
Always opt in/opt out.

Seek “shalom” and Pursue It.
– Psalm 34:14

“In the Bible, shalom means universal flourishing, wholeness, and delight–a rich state of affairs in which natural needs are satisfied and natural gifts fruitfully employed, a state of affairs that inspires joyful wonder as its Creator and Savior opens doors and welcomes the creatures in whom he delights. Shalom, in other words, is the way things ought to be.”–Cornelius Plantinga, Jr

Click on Excerpt to Read More:

We are sent. And if we are sent men and women, we are by definition deployed for a God-intended purpose. Thus, we should be asking God for more understanding of that purpose. (

“To what end have you sent me here, Lord?” is not a bad daily prayer. (


Many of us as Christian faculty realize that we are “on a mission from God” as the Blues Brothers said—but with much more earnest and serious consequences. We long to be missional, faculty members who are more than just members of the academy practicing a pleasant ecclesiastical hobby. ( Share ( Tweet ([UNIQID] Forward ([UNIQID])

Copyright © 2015 Faculty Commons, All rights reserved.

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can ** update your preferences ([UNIQID])
or ** unsubscribe from this list ([UNIQID]&c=9a0668e414)

Email Marketing Powered by MailChimp


called to life of the mind

“A refreshing reminder that cultivating our thought life and scholarship can only be done when we also keep in touch with the Lord.  These musings from an experienced Christian leader will be solid food for Christian scholars everywhere.”–Darrell Bock.  An excellent resource for faculty communities wrestling with the challenges of cultivating a combination of “epistemic humility” and “epistemic hope.”


Grace Infused Living: Why are you so happy?

Grace-Infused Living: "Why are you so happy?" When you spend so many hours a week with students, you begin to realize your role as a “whole person” educator. I realized this in an acute way when I ended class this past May and was ready to move on with my day....

Why I Keep On Keeping On

Why I Keep On Keeping On I’ve served as a Naval Flight Officer, run marathons and ultra-marathons, achieved full professor status at a large research university in 1994, published over 160 scientific articles, advised over 45 Ph.D. candidates, and traveled to 52...

All our zeal in penultimate

Walter Brueggemann, Professor of Old Testament, argues that the tension between “evangelism” and “social action” grows out of a deep misunderstanding. To posit tension between evangelism and social action amounts to a deep distortion of both and is in the end a phony...

Making Time for What Matters

How often have you had this internal conversation? I’m behind.  Again.  The items on my “To Do” rival the number of freshmen in my lecture classes. My time is not my own.  I don’t like the pace of my life—so little time for people. So little time for God. I’m not sure...

The Better Story

  The Better Story A Good Story There is one story I know better than any other. This story is dear to my heart, and I give time and energy to developing it every day. It has happy moments, and sad, and even tragic ones. I think about this story constantly, and...

Preparing Our Replacements

  Preparing Our Replacements Even as new Assistant Professors, down deep inside, we know that we will not be here forever. An abundance of Scripture affirms the brevity of life, and a career of 30 years passes quickly. As profs we have the privilege, and the...

I can do this!

I can do this! It’s funny how we can feel so confident in some areas and so fearful in other areas. While we are highly competent and confident in some arenas of experience and knowledge, we hesitate to volunteer where we have less experience and...

An Attitude of Gratitude

An Attitude of Gratitude Ever think about how blessed we are to be professors? For the most part, we have great jobs that are esteemed, that compensate us reasonably well, that pay us to think, to write, to serve. Many of us get reimbursed for travel, even for...

God Needs Witnesses More than Lawyers

God Needs Witnesses More than Lawyers "You will be my witnesses." Acts 1:8 The life of faith can be ironic at times. During an on-going conversation with an Indian graduate student, Priyanka, I became the student and my student the teacher. Priyanka had initiated the...

Help for the Cowardly Lion

A Cup of Tea As predictably as tea leaves settle in the bottom of a cup when left undisturbed, I settle for the familiar and the safe. I often try to evade situations that require courage or risk-taking, and long for the comfortable and sedentary places of life. I've...

Sent to My University?

As amazing as this sounds, you and I have been sent to the respective university where we each work. In John 20:21, Jesus tells His disciples following His resurrection: “As the Father sent me, so I’m sending you.” Jesus was merely passing on the same sense of calling...

William Wilberforce and the Clapham Circle

They called it a “meeting that never adjourned” and an unending “concert of benevolence.” They were, in the words of Edmund Burke, "God's little platoon." That group, the Clapham Circle, may just serve us as a model for faculty fellowships. A Company of Friends and a...