The concept of vocation runs so deep for me that I'm finding this POV very challenging.
Why's it untenable? What else do you need to know that Jesus didn't already tell you? You've got everything you need.
Claiming that God spoke to them then but not now to us seems to be an even more untenable position.
Should you have peanut butter and jelly for lunch? If it sounds good, sure. Or, as R.C. Sproul once said, should you marry Sally or Jane? Marry the one you find more attractive.
I ask myself, God's calling for me doesn't factor into some of my most important decisions? (Since you asked what Jesus didn't already tell me.) When I was trying to decide whether to be a priest or not, I should have decided based on what was more attractive to me? Similarly, if later in life I decide whether to join the military/marry (at all)/adopt a child/run for political office/do anything which involves significant personal sacrifice, I should see that, not as a calling from God, but as a personal preference?
In case it's not already clear, I am not talking to hear myself talk here, either. You encouraged me to become more involved at A&F, and I am trying.
And that's really the answer to the "What else do you need to know that Jesus didn't already tell you?" question. Plenty. All kinds of things.
Sproul's answer is really kind of flippant, isn't it? It may not be flippant in terms of peanut butter and jelly, but it may very well be flippant when it comes to the person you should marry. Just marry the person you find most attractive. Really? Is that the answer? More importantly, is that God's answer, as if God couldn't be bothered by such "trivial" issues? Go away, kid, you bother me.
There are all kinds of issues in life where God's will, even when biblical principles are applied, is not clearcut. I witnessed one such occasion Sunday evening, when a group of friends came over to talk and pray. One of those friends is a brilliant guy, an adjunct philosophy professor at Stanford University. The problem is that he lives in Columbus, Ohio, where his wife is the main breadwinner (because brilliant philosophy professors make $14,000 per year), and where his kids are happy and settled. The dilemma that he's facing: get off the treadmill of academia and take a much better paying job locally, or give up "the dream." What is God's will here? And where do you find it in the completed, totally comprehensive revelation of Scripture?
One possible solution is that God may have a specific answer for this specific person. And so we prayed. We tried to discern. We tried to hear God's "voice," if you will, because we believe he has a voice, and that he might be willing to reveal his will in this situation. More specifically, we tried to ask open-ended questions so our friend could hear God's voice. This is his decision, not ours. We tried to facilitate the process, but it's not our place to dictate what he should do. And we believe that God can reveal his will to him.
I was intrigued by the Luhrmann interview on NPR. I should probably state at the outset that Lurhmann's "subjects," her laboratory mice, are part of the same church tradition as mine. These are my peeps. So I know this world, and I understand the worldview she encountered. Parts of it are really weird. But aside from some questionable language (particularly the words "pretend" and "imaginary"; you think that might reveal a bias?) I thought her comments were fair and incisive.
What is at stake here is the very notion of whether God can be known. Not known about, not studied like an academic course, but known. It touches on the nature and purpose of prayer. It touches on the nature and purpose of revelation. It touches on the nature and purpose of the Holy Spirit. It's the difference between the distant, uninvolved, unknowable God of Deism and the God of Christianity.
I don't believe God is distant. I don't believe he's uninvolved or unknowable. So if there are potential traps and pitfalls in the approach that seeks to hear God's voice (and there are), I find them infinitely preferable to the hands-off approach that studies God and doctrine, and participates in some communal activities, and assumes that that is sufficient, and all we can really expect. God's voice, God's personal leading, does not take place outside the context of the Church, the sacraments, the Bible, good teaching, community. All those things are necessary. And although I think it's supremely weird to "have coffee with Jesus," I also think that the basic impetus behind the concept -- the idea that God can be experienced and known -- is completely true. I'm not sure why anyone would bother if you don't believe that. Just stay home and do the Sunday crossword puzzle, or go play golf. You're wasting your time.
I've had enough of studying God to last me for a lifetime. I want to know God. And yes, that certainly has an experiential component. The Christian faith is about far more than experiencing God, "feeling" God. But it is not about less than that, either. I'm fairly certain that the subjects of Luhrmann's anthropological study believe that as well.