Beyond a Sacred–Secular Divide

Beyond a Sacred–Secular Divide

Is it possible to put Continental philosophy to work? Sarah Bacaller says yes, yes, indeed. She argues that Hegel’s understanding of identity, the work of Christ, and of objective right, illuminate the role of the secular in human life, and integrate vocation into our vision of human flourishing.


This chapter asks whether the use of an oppositional hermeneutic in positing sacred and secular realms is helpful for Christian self-understanding, particularly in the narratives used within contemporary Christian communities. It explores potential dynamics and implications present in making use of such a point of reference through three theological forays, which draw on the work of G. W. F. Hegel. These forays consider first, the role of demarcation and distinction in understanding identity; second, the way in which a christological lens (here considering Christ as both fulfilment and end of law) is able to move Christian thought beyond an oppositional stance toward the secular; and third, the way in which Hegel’s understanding of objective right (as part of his tripartite understanding of self-knowing spirit) illuminates the role of secular social structures in human life, thereby highlighting the importance of Christian engagement beyond sacred–secular dualities. By reworking particular conceptual boundaries and by gently addressing tacit anxieties that diminish the secular by contrast to the sacred, this piece seeks to encourage vocational commitment and aspiration as an expression of shared striving toward human flourishing.

Full Title : Hegel and Vocation: Beyond a Sacred–Secular Divide


Sarah is a Ph.D. student, university tutor, and audiobook narrator from Melbourne, Australia. Research interests include the history and identity of Churches of Christ in Australia, particularly the writings of Gordon Stirling, with a focus on language and the philosophy of Christian thought. Her current research brings the work of G. W. F. Hegel into dialogue with Attachment Theory in relation to the formation of the self, exploring the implications for theological ethics and method. She has also been co-editor of the Stirling Theological College open access online student journal, reo: a journal of theology and ministry.

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