Call (usually קָרָא, kara', καλέω, both which words evidently contain the same root as their Engl. equivalent) signifies (besides its use in giving a name),
I. To cry to another for help, and hence to pray. he first passage in which we meet with this phrase is in Ge 4:26, "Then began men to call upon the name of the Lord" (אָז הוּחִל לִקרא בִּשֵׁם יהוָֹה, Sept. and Vulg. understand the first word as a pronoun referring to Enos, ο῏υτος ἤλπισεν ἐπικαλεῖσθαι τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ Θεοῦ, iste coepit invocare nomen Domini), a phrase that has been understood by some as meaning thatJehovah's worshippers were then called by His name, but erroneously (comp. Ge 12:8; Ps 79:6; Ps 105:1; Isa 64:6; Jer 10:25; Zep 3:9). In both the Old and New Test., to call upon the name of the Lord imports invoking the true God in prayer, with a confession that He is Jehovah; that is, with an acknowledgment of his essential and incommunicable attributes. In this view the phrase is applied to the worship of Christ (Ac 2:21; Ac 7:59; Ac 9:14; Ro 10:12; 1Co 1:2). SEE WORSHIP.
II. DIVINE CALL.
(1.) The word "call" is used in Scripture with various significations, as applied to the Almighty with respect to men.
1. In its ordinary sense of "to name," to "designate" (of which examples are not necessary), and also in the sense of "to be," e.g. "He shall be called the Son of God" (Lu 1:35); "His name shall be called Wonderful" (Isa 9:6); that is, he shall be the Son of God, he shall be wonderful, and shall be thus acknowledged.
2. In the designation of individuals to some special office or function, e.g. the call of Bezaleel (Ex 31:2); the calling of the judges, prophets, etc. (e.g. Isa 22:20; Ac 13:2).
3. In the designation of nations to certain functionsiprivileges, or punishments (La 2:22; Isa 5:6), especiall' y of Israel to be God's chosen people (De 7:6; De 8; Isa 41:9; Isa 42:6; Isa 43:1; Isa 48:12-15; Isa 51:2; Ho 11:1).
⇒See also the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.
4. To denote the invitation to sinners to accept the grace of God in the gift of His Son (Mt 9:13; Mt 11:28; Mt 22:4; Lu 14:16-17).
5. To denote the extent of the divine invitation, to Gentiles as well as Jews, showing the universality of the call (Ro 9:24,.25). 6. To denote a condition in life (1Co 7:20, etc.).
(2.) Two questions arise as to the divine call to men,
(1.) Why do not all who receive it embrace it? and
(2) Why have not all mankind even yet had the invitation? In view of these questions, the old Lutheran divines speak of the vocatio ordinaria directa (the ordinary direct call) as being,
1. Seria, i.e. really meant as a call on God's part, as he desires and intends the salvation of all?. This is opposed to the Calvinistic view, which maintains that only such as are predestined to salvation are really called.
2. Ejficax, or better Suffciens, i.e. always adequate to the conversion, not only of those who heed the call, but of those who disregard it; and therefore,
3. Resistibilis, resistible, and not compulsory (Quenstedt, Thed Did. in); and also,
4. Universalis, universal. God called all the human race
(1.) in the promise of Christ to bruise the serpent's head (Ge 3:15), given to the race through our first parents;
(2.) in Noah, the preacher of righteousness, a call to all his descendants (Ge 9:9; 2Pe 2:5);
(3.) in the Gospel commission (Mt 28:19; Mr 16:15; comp. Ro 10:18; Col 1:6; Ac 17:30).
The commission extended to "all the world," and its execution is declared to have been accomplished in Ac 17:30; Ro 10:18; Col 1:6,23. The question whether even America was reached by the first preaching of Christianity is treated by Moebius'in his essay entitled An ab Apostolis Evangelium etiam Americanisfuerit Annunciatum. And where the ἀποστολή did not go, the ἐπιστολή did. As to the failure of men to receive and obey the divine call, it is not God's fault, but their own. He "calls," but they "will" not. In general, it may be assumed that wherever the Church of God is set up, men receive the divine call, and their responsibility is proportional to the degree of light which shines upon them (Mt 11:20-24; Mt 23:37; Lu 12:47-48). The same principle applies to the case of heathen. Here also lies the dunt of the Church to send missions to the heathen.
(3.) The Calvinistic doctrine of effectual calling is Atlieu set forth in the Westminster Confession:
"1. All those whom God hath predestinated unto life, had those only, he is pleased, in his appointed and accepted time, effectually to call, by his Word and Spirit, out of that state of sin and death in which they are by nature, to grace and salvation by Jesus Christ; enlightening their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the things of God; taking away their heart of stone, and giving unto them a heart of flesh; renewing their wills, and by his Almighty power determining them to that which is good; and efectually drawing them to Jesus Christ, yet some as the same most freely, being made willing by his grace.
"2. This effectual call is of God's free and special grace alone, not from any thing at all foreseen in man, who is altogether passive therein, until, being quickened and renewed by the Holy Spirit, he is thereby enabled to answer this call, and to embrace the grace offered and conveyed in it.
"3. Elect infants, dying in infancy, are regenerated and saved by Christ through the Spirit, who worketh when, and where, and how he pleaseth. So also are all other elect persons, who are incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the Word.
"4. Others not elected, although they may be called by the ministry of the Word, and may have some common operations of the Spirit, yet they never truly come unto Christ, and therefore cannot be saved; much less can men not professing the Christian religion be saved in any other manner whatsoever, be they ever so diligent to frame their lives according to the light of nature, and the law of that religion they do profess; and to assert and maintain that they may is very pernicious, and to be detested." The scriptural arguments for and against the doctrine are thus stated by Watson:
1. According to the Calvinistic view, "in the golden chain of spiritual blessings which the apostle enumerates in Ro 8:30, originating in the divine predestination, and terminating in the bestowment of eternal glory on the heirs of salvation, that of calling forms an important link. 'Moreover, whom he did predestinate, them he also called; and whom he called, them he also glorified.' Hence we readi of 'the called according to his purpose,' Ro 8:28. 'There is indeed a universal call of the Gospel to all men; for wherever it comes it is the voice of God to those who hear it, calling them to repent and believe the divine testimony unto the salvation of their souls; and it leaves them inexcusable in rejecting it (Joh 3:14-19); but this universal call is not inseparably connected with salvation; for it is in reference to it that Christ says, 'Many are called, but few are chosen' (Mt 22:14). But the Scripture also speaks of a calling which is effectual, and which consequently is more than the outward ministry of the Word; yea, more than some of its partial and temporary effects upon many who hear it, for it is always ascribed to God's making his word effectual through the enlightening and sanctifying influences of his Holy Spirit. Thus it is said, 'Paul may plant, and Apollos water, but God giveth the increase' (1Co 3:6, i). Again, He is said to have 'opened the heart of Lydia, that she attended to the doctrine of Paul' (Ac 16:14). 'No man can come unto Christ, except the Father draw him' (Joh 6:44). Hence faith is said to be the gift of God (Eph 2:8; Php 1:29). The Spirit takes of the things of Christ and shows them to men (Joh 16:14), and thus opens their eyes, turning them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God (Ac 26:18). And so God saves his people, not by works of righteousness which they have done, but according to his mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the ;Holy Spirit (Tit 3:5). Thus they are saved, and called with a holy calling, not according to their works, but according to the divine purpose and grace which was given them in Christ Jesus before the world began (2Ti 1:9).
"2. To this it is replied that this whole statement respecting a believer's calling is without any support from the Scriptures. 'To call' signifies to invite to the blessings of the Gospel, to offer salvation through Christ, either by God himself, or, under his appointment, by his servants; and in the parable of the marriage of the king's son (Mt 22:1-14), which appears to have given rise, in many instances, to the use of this term in the epistles, we have three descriptions of 'called' or invited persons.
(1.) The disobedient, who would not come in at the call, but made light of it.,
(2.) The class of persons represented by the man who, when the king came in to see his guests, had not on the 'wedding garment, and with respect to whom our Lord makes the general remark, 'For many are called, but few are chosen;' so that the persons thus represented by this individual culprit were not only 'called,' but actually came into the company.
(3.) The approved guests — those who were both called and chosen. As far as the simple calling or invitation is concerned, all stood upon equal ground — all were invited; and it depended upon their choice and conduct whether they embraced the invitation and were admitted as guests. We have nothing here to countenance the notion of what is termed 'effectual calling.' This implies an irresistible influence exerted upon all the approved guests, but withheld from the disobedient, who could not, therefore, be otherwise than disobedient, or, at most, could only come in without that wedding garment, which it was never put into their power to take out of the king's wardrobe, and the want of which would necessarily exclude them, if not from the Church on earth, yet from the Church in heaven. The doctrine of Christ's parables is in entire contradiction to this notion of irresistible influence; for they who refused and they who complied but partially with the calling are represented, not merely as being left without the benefit of the feast, but as incurring additional guilt and condemnation for refusing the invitation. It is to this offer of salvation by the Gospel, this invitation to spiritual and eternal benefits, that St. Peter appears to refer when he says, 'For the promise is unto you and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call' (Ac 2:39); a passage which declares 'the promise' to be as extensive as the 'calling,' in other words, as the offer or invitation. To this also St. Paul refers (Ro 1:5-6), 'By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name;' that is, to publish his Gospel, in order to bring all nations to the obedience of faith; 'among whom ye Ire also the called of Jesus Christ;' you at Rome have heard the Gospel, and have been: invited to salvation in consequence of this design. This promulgation of the Gospel, by the personal ministry of the apostle, under the name of calling, is also referred to in Ga 1:6, 'I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ,' obviously meaning that it was he himself who had called them, by his preaching, to embrace the grace of Christ. So also in chap. 5:3, 'For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty.' Again (1Th 2:12), 'That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you,' invited you, 'to his kingdom and glory.'
"3. In our Lord's parable it will also be observed that the persons called are not invited as separate individuals to partake of solitary blessings; but they are called to 'a feast,' into a company or society, before whom the banquet is spread. The full revelation of the transfer of the visible Church of Christ from Jews by birth to believers of all nations, was not, however, then made. When this branch of the evangelic system was fully revealed to the apostles, and taught by them to others, that part of the meaning of our Lord's parable which was not at first developed was more particularly discovered to his inspired followers. The calling of guests to the evangelical feast, we then more fully learn, was not the mere calling of mrren to partake of spiritual benefits, but calling them also to form a spiritual society composed of Jews and Gentiles, the believing men of all nations, to have a common fellowship in these blessings, and to be formed into this fellowship for the purpose of increasing their number, and diffusing the benefits of salvation among the people or nation to which they respectively belonged. The invitation, 'the calling,' of the first preachers was to all who heard them in Rome, in Ephesus, in Corinth, and other places; and those who embraced it, and joined themselves to the Church by faith, baptism, and continued public profession, were named, especially and eminently, 'the called,' because of their obedience to the invitation. They not only put in their claim to the blessings of Christianity individually, but became members of the new Church, that spiritual society of believers which God now visibly owned as his people. As they were thus called into a common fellowship by the Gospel, this is sometimes termed their 'vocation;' as the object of this Church state was to promote 'holiness,' it is termed a 'holy vocation;' as sanctity was required of the members, they were said to have been 'called to be saints;' as the final result was,' through the mercy of God, to be eternal life, we hear of 'the hope of their calling,' and of their being 'called to his eternal glory by Christ Jesus.'
"4. These views will abundantly explain the various passages in which the term calling occurs in the epistles: 'Even us whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles' (Ro 9:24); that is, whom he hath made members of his Church through faith. 'But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God;' the wisdom and efficacy of the Gospel being, of course, acknowledged in their very profession of Christ, in opposition to those to whom the preaching of 'Christ crucified' was 'a stumbling-block' and 'foolishness' (1Co 1:24). 'Is any man called' (brought to acknowledge Christ, and to become a member of his Church), 'being circumcised? let him not become uncircumcised. Is any called in uncircumcision? let him not be circumcised' (1Co 7:18). 'That ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called. There is one body and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling' (Eph 4:1,4). 'That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you to his kingdom and glory' (1Th 2:12). 'Through sanctification of the Spirit, and belief of the truth, whereunto he called you by our Gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ' (2Th 2:13-14). 'Who hath saved us and called us with a holy calling; not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, but is now made manifest by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ' (2Ti 1:9-10). On this passage we in by remark that the 'calling' and the 'purpose' mentioned in it must of necessity be interpreted to refer to the establishment of the Church on the principle of faith, so that it might include men of all nations; and not, as formerly, be restricted to natural descent. For personal election and a purpose of effectual personal calling could not have been hidden till manifested by the 'appearing of Christ,' since every instance of true conversion to God in any age prior to the appearing of Christ would be as much a manifestation of eternal election, and an instance of personal effectual calling, according to the Calvinistic scheme, as it was after the appearance of Christ. The apostle is speaking of a purpose of God, which was kept secret till revealed by the Christian system; and from various other parallel passages we learn that this secret, this 'mystery,' as he often calls it, was the union of the Jews and Gentiles in 'one body,' or Church, by faith.
"5. In none of these passages is the doctrine of the exclusive calling of a set number of men contained; and the Synod of Dort, as though they felt this, only attempt to infer the doctrine from a text already quoted, but which we will now more fully notice: 'Whom he did predestinate, them he also called; and whom he called, them he also justified; and whom he justified, them he also glorified' (Ro 8:30). This is the text on which the Calvinists chiefly rest their doctrine of effectual calling; and tracing it, as they say, through its steps and links, they conclude that a set and determinate number of persons having been predestinated unto salvation, this set number only are called effectually, then justified, and finally glorified. But this passage was evidently nothing to the purpose, unless it had spoken of a set and determinate number of men' as predestinated and called, independent of any consideration of their faith and obedience, which number, as being determinate, would, by consequence, exclude the rest. The context declares that those who are foreknown, and predestinated to eternal glory, are true believers, those who 'love God,' as stated in a subsequent verse; for of such only the apostle speaks; and when he adds, 'Moreover, whom he did predestinate, them he also called, and whom he called, them he also justified, and whom he justified, them he also glorified,' he shows in particular how the divine purpose to glorify believers is carried into effect through all its stages. The great instrument of bringing men to 'love God' is the Gospel; they are, therefore, called, invited by it, to this state and benefit; the calling being obeyed, they are justified; and being justified, and continuing in that state of grace, they are glorified. Nothing, however, is here said to favor the conclusion that many others who were called by the Gospel, but refused, might not have been justified and glorified as well as they; nothing to distinguish this calling into common and effectual; and the very guilt which those are everywhere represented as contracting who despised the Gospel calling shows that they reject a grace which is sufficient, and sincerely intended, to save them." — Watson, Institutes, 2:352 sq.; Herzog, Real Encyklopadiae, 2:104; Nitzsch, Christliche Lehre, § 141; Warren, Systenmt. Theologie, p. 147.
III. A call to the ministry of the Gospel is regarded by Christians generally as proceeding from God; and the Church of England, the Protestant Episcopal Church, and the Methodist Episcopal Church, require of candidates for ordination an express profession that they trust they are so moved of the Holy Ghost. SEE MINISTRY.
IV. MINISTERIAL CALL is an invitation on the part of a congregation to a preacher to become their settled pastor. SEE INSTALLATION.