Wednesday, February 24, 2010

hearing the word

How does one hear the Gospel? This is a crucial question as faith comes through hearing according to Romans 10 : “But how are they to call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? [15] And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!" [16] But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?" [17] So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:14-17 (ESV)
But here is the problem, based on this scripture there are some, and I hear echoes of it more and more who are saying one cannot come to faith from reading their Bible, or some other tract, etc. According to some the only way the gospel is spread is by the preached word. And to some might even be limited to that which happens on Sunday morning from the pulpit.
I get tired of this sort of thing rather quickly. The Gospel is the Gospel in what ever form it comes in, and if it is the gospel then the Holy Spirit is using it to bring people to faith. Yes, it is rare but people reading a bible in their hotel room do come to faith. The Holy Spirit works through things like that.
I thought this thought was some sort of new fad among the fringe of a few who consider themselves confessional. But then the other day reading Pieper I came across this:
“ Furthermore, the Gospel is such a means of grace in every form in which it reaches men, wether it be preached (Mark 16:15-16, Luke 24:47) or printed (John 20:31; 1 john 3-4) or expressed as a formal absolution (John 20:23) or pictured in symbols or types (John 3:14-15) or pondered in the heart (Rom 10:8) and so forth. Some recent Lutheran theologians too, have assailed the inspiration of Scripture with the strange contention that not the read, but only the preached word is a means of grace. … To appeal to Rom 10:17 Gerhard has given the sufficient answer: “the Statement (Rom 10:17) that ‘faith cometh by hearing’ is not to be understood as excluding the written Word, but as including it, as meaning that God works faith and salvation not only through the oral Word but also through the written word, since it is and remains one and the same Word whether it is preached and heard or written and read.”

6 comments: said...
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Brigitte said...

Like Apella Renato!

If we had to rely on the word properly preached from the pulpit only, many of us would be in poor condition/situation. Thankfully,it is not thus restricted. Where ever you can learn something about Jesus Christ the Spirit can have his way.

lavanya said...

very good.really nice.

Bror Erickson said...

I'm laughing now. The context being so different it took me a minute to figure out who you were talking about. But yes like Apella Renato, who learned almost nothing from the clerics around him, was baptized without any faith, but a mere desire to stay alive, and yet came to faith reading the New Testament.
How do you like the book?

Brigitte said...

...and then was quartered, was'nt he? And the priest called it a Christian death to everyone's astonishment.

That took you a while, eh? Funny!

The book. I am finding that with both the devotional and this book I need some time to read everything two or three times to get it all. With the Hammer of God and the Glaub Allein, I don't remember having that time lag, probably because the narratives are longer and carry you along more. Glaub Allein, I think was just one whole running story.

The Knights of Rhodes is more sketch-like, poetry-like. Each chapter and each personality introduced almost stands alone and you have to learn to appreciate each one in turn and what is going on with each. But I find myself contemplating them all during my day. I've gone back to reading your introduction, which I appreciate even more after having read the book. I will now read it all again, now that I can put each personality into the context of the whole book and mine all that more. Like you say, Giertz sneeks in the Gospel. It is all subtle and deep at the same time. Have to pay attention.

After today, I also understand Giertz's writings as "pastoral theology". You won't believe what happened today. President Bugbee was speaking to the seminary community and I went to hear him. He talked at considerable length about Bo Giertz and how his devotion book (mentioning the title, though not the translator :) ) and how valuable all this is to the pastor. He also talked about "At Home in the House of my Fathers" drawing attention to Walther speaking about love and Wyneken about unity in the congregation. The whole thing should be available on-line, as it was recorded or simul-cast.

Bror Erickson said...

I don't know how many times I have read "The Knights of Rhodes" and every time something else hits me. It is definitely a master piece. And yet like you say there are several stories going on at once, making a whole. It all almost seems disjointed the first time you read it. But then it all comes together in a beautiful harmony.