A Jagged Contention: The Living Word

“Since God has given us his Word in a living voice, we can see why Luther, although intensively concerned with the text and every letter of the Bible, rates the oral character of the Word more highly than its written form…[It] is through preaching the gospel that ‘Christ comes to us, or we are brought to him.’ Communication takes place. The gospel ‘signifies nothing else than a sermon or report concerning the grace and mercy of God merited and acquired through the Lord Jesus Christ with his death. Actually, the Gospel is not what one find in books and what is written in letters of the alphabet; it is rather an oral sermon and a living Word, a voice that resounds throughout the world and is proclaimed publicly, so that one hears it everywhere.'”

– Oswald Bayer, Living by Faith: Justification and Sanctification. pg. 48


What do you make of Bayer (and Luther for that matter) “rating” the proclaimed Word over the written Word? How can such a rating be helpful? How can it be harmful? Discuss both the benefits and dangers inherent in this distinction.

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