A Jagged Contention: The Loving Word

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“An authoritative Bible whose main characteristic is that it is verbally inspired is a book without a Master and consequently a book with a doctrine instead of a message, its only task to relate what God has already done instead of having to bring men into the sphere of God’s continuing activity. In that way a gulf yawns between the holy events of the Bible and the holy events awaited in the last times. Thereby the present in emptied of content. The present, on the contrary, must take its place as a worthy element within the history of redemption that the Bible reveals and that the Parousia completes, because the present is the time of the preaching of the Word and God is active in his Word.”

– Gustaf Wingren, “The Living Word” (56)


Question:

Wingren seems to caution his readers against a view of the Word of God which confesses it to be only a timeless truth, a revelation of what God has already done in Christ. Such a view would bring forth preaching that would simply be a retelling of those events, biding time until the end of all things. Do you think that differences in preaching today have at their core different views of the Word itself?

Share your thoughts in the comments below

3 thoughts on “A Jagged Contention: The Loving Word

  1. I don’t see how “timeless” can mean anything but “for all times”. preaching the word of God may not speak to the same people, but people are the same and have similar problems and similar ways of defying timeless words. There is nothing new under the sun, timelessly. The word of God always speaks to real and present people, but sometimes preachers don’t. View of the word and view of people brings forth preaching, timelessly.

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  2. ” The word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12. It is for all ages and all times. How can we call ourselves Christians if we do not believe this with our whole hearts.

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  3. God inspired the Holy Scriptures to be written as a testimony to what He does. That what he does is placed in historical context is a consequence of our existence; in showing us what He has done, He shows how what He continues to do. We are given the Scriptures “for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” – doctrine. It is not a question of the book having doctrine instead of a message. Rather, the doctrine flows from the message and points to the message, it serves the message, and is never independent from the message -this is what God has done, is doing, and will continue to do. There is no gap.

    However, Wingren’s assertions can lead to moralistic preaching from experience rather than from the Word. God has given us His Word to use as the mean of grace, we preach and teach what He has given to us. We undertake to speak analgously proclaiming current events in human life as part of the history of redemption but those analogies are subject to personal interpretation and cannot be relied upon to serve us as perfectly as His Word. No one can point to something and say, beyond reproach, there is God at work, right now. The best we can do is say that a certain situation may be God’s work just like the bible tells us that He does similar things. Without the holy events of the bible, we have no basis for seeing holy events, today. Even then, we cannot be certain, beyond doubt, that we are witnessing holy events except where we have Word and Sacrament. This would prevent the perceived holy events of the day being taught as part of the history of redemption in any definitive sense unless God’s Word is present in the events.

    We had a baptism this past Sunday. That was holy event. We received absolution, hear the Word, received communion – these were holy events. The story of redemption continues.

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