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Review: The Other Six Days (Paul Stevens)

Review: The Other Six Days (Paul Stevens)

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Published by Dave
For most of church history, the people of God have been divided into two categories – those who “do ministry” (the clergy) and the objects of ministry (the laity). This clergy-laity division perpetuates a caste system of “spiritual” work with missionaries and pastors at the top of value chain, followed by people-helping professionals (like doctors, teachers, nurses) and “barely-religious, secular” jobs (such as lawyers, politicians and jazz musicians) close to the bottom! In The Other Six Days, Stevens challenged that dualism with provocative biblical, theological and practical reasons.
For most of church history, the people of God have been divided into two categories – those who “do ministry” (the clergy) and the objects of ministry (the laity). This clergy-laity division perpetuates a caste system of “spiritual” work with missionaries and pastors at the top of value chain, followed by people-helping professionals (like doctors, teachers, nurses) and “barely-religious, secular” jobs (such as lawyers, politicians and jazz musicians) close to the bottom! In The Other Six Days, Stevens challenged that dualism with provocative biblical, theological and practical reasons.

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Published by: Dave on Oct 19, 2012
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01/24/2013

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Book Review on
The Other Six Days: Vocation, Work, and Ministry in Biblical Perspective
By R. Paul StevensWilliam B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1999
 Name: David Chong Wui HoweCourse: Pastoral Counselling, Masters in Christian Studies Instructor: Dr. Tony Lim
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For most of church history, the people of God have been divided into two categories – those who “do ministry” (the clergy) and the objects of ministry (the laity). This clergy-laity division perpetuates a caste system of “spiritual” work with missionaries and pastorsat the top of value chain, followed by people-helping professionals (like doctors, teachers,nurses) and “barely-religious, secular” jobs (such as lawyers, politicians and jazzmusicians) close to the bottom! In
The Other Six Days
, Stevens challenged that dualismwith provocative biblical, theological and practical reasons.In Part I of the book, the author sounded a clarion call for reframing a theology “of thewhole people of God” (where every member of the church is gifted, chosen and called byGod for service in the world), “for the whole people of God” (which intentionallyempowers the ordinary believer for practical, applied living) and “by the people of whole people of God” (where academic theologians work together with ordinary believers in thefurnace of marketplace realities). By doing so, we recover an ecclesiology where eachmember is “ordained” to do the Lord’s work from Mondays to Saturdays and equipped toapply biblically Kingdom values to his daily concerns.He argued that even in the Old Testament, the entire nation of Israel was called to belong toGod and serve His purposes (Exodus 19:6). But within that people, were not some given aspecial call to be priests, prophets and kings? According to Stevens, the new covenantenvisaged by the Old Testament promised a day in which all people will have God’s lawwritten in their hearts (Jeremiah 31:34). The once-for-all sacrifice of Jesus the great HighPriest has fulfilled the function of the Old Testament priesthood so that now the entire2
 
church is a royal priesthood. But he cautioned against ‘anti-clericalism’, stressing the needfor gifted leadership of dedicated pastors as God’s will for the church (page 53). Drawingfrom the doctrine of Trinity, he outlined how the church needs to mirror that
 perichoretic
life of God by rejecting individualism and embracing every member to contribute to theunity/ministry of the whole community of faith.In Part II of the book, Stevens explores the thorny subject of calling and vocation in aculture where we no longer find meaning at work in relation to God. It is common to hear  believers in ‘full time’ ministry speak of a special call from God but it seems not to applyto other believers. Stevens proposed that we do not separate God’s calling for humanityinto two, disconnected mandates – The Creation Mandate (Genesis 1:27 – 30) and TheGreat Commission (Matthew 28:19-20). It has tragic consequences to emphasize one anddownplay the other. Rather, we ought to see our human calling in terms of a “covenantencompassing creation, redemption and final consummation. Salvation is both a rescueoperation (recovering our lost vocation in Eden) and a completion project (preparing for the final renewal of creation at the second coming of Jesus)”
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.In that sense, all believersare called to communion with God, community-building (relationships, family and holysexuality) and stewards in caring for the creation. “Every legitimate human occupation(paid or unpaid) is some dimension of God’s own work: making, designing, doing chores, beautifying, organizing, helping, bringing dignity and leading.”
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1
Paul Stevens,
The Other Six Days: Vocation, Work and Ministry in Biblical Perspective
, (Grand Rapids: W.B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1999), page 90
2
 
 Ibid.
, page 119
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