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This chapter frames the historical and theological development of American Protestant understandings of work and vocation around three themes. First, American Protestant theologies of work and vocation reflect an ongoing tension between the spiritual and temporal planes. Second, American Protestant practices and articulations of work and vocation are interwoven with prevailing American Protestant theologies: eschatology, doctrines of God, anthropology, and soteriology. Yet, despite this, American Protestant understandings of work and vocation frequently exhibit theological inconsistency. Finally, a third theme prompting consideration is the heightened and somewhat unique context of consumerism that shapes American Protestant understandings of work and vocation. Consumerism presents an especially potent challenge for contemporary American Protestants who must resist the subtle co-opting of theologically informed understandings of work and vocation by the “consumerist machine.”
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