A Jagged Contention: Renounce Your Belly Button

The devil, that master of subjectivity, can do nothing about the alien Word, the Word from without, the visible and tangible Word. It has simply happened and nothing can change that. As such it is part and parcel of the proclamation and must be preached against all objection. An amusing incident from the television series “All in the Family” illustrates the point. When Michael protests at Archie’s conniving to have the baby baptized, Archie retorts, “What’s the matter, you were baptized, weren’t you?” “Yes,” Michael replies, “but I renounce my baptism.” “You can’t do that,” Archie says, “You can renounce your belly button but it won’t go away.” Archie was a better theologian than most of us on this point. It has happened. It is a Word from without. It sticks. Nothing can change that. It will not be manipulated by our internality. No doubt that is what rankles us as old beings. It is part of the offense. But the point of it is that if we can do nothing about it, so also can the devil do nothing about it.

– Gerhard O. Forde, Theology Is for Proclamation. pg. 161


Why is it so important to emphasize the objectivity of the gospel? In what ways does such an emphasis benefit one who sets out to proclaim the gospel? In what ways does it benefit the hearer?

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