Saturday, March 14, 2009

"Jesus Preaching" a woodcut by Rembrandst

The Word exists to be known to men. Man was birthed by the Word and lives from the Word. He has no existence apart from the word. Likewise, the Word exists to be preached to men.

The Word is purely creative in nature – this creative Word is fleshly and is Christ himself. The relationship between this Word and Men is therefore physical – a bodily encounter with the living Christ. Man does not move autonomously but is rather bound to God’s Word whether it be under his wrath or the forgiveness of the cross.

The reading of a scriptural text is not necessary for preaching and the procession of the Word. The message of the Gospel can proceed from Pastors, missionaries, and Christians by plainly speaking its content – speaking about Christ’s work.

The primacy of the Word deals with the correct economy of the Gospel. The Word is first simply because Christ is first and this Word is then spoken and addressed to men. The Word creates the church and Christ sends out apostles to speak. If one starts first with the office or church rather than the Word, God takes a back seat in our theological imaginations. The creative word must always be the starting point.

The Bible defines the church and apprehends it as historical fact. The Scriptures are about God and his people. The church therefore relates internally to the Scriptures rather than externally. The church is present in the biblical text and present in the preaching of the Word. God’s people, all humanity belongs to preaching, is constituted for it. Likewise the Word is for people.

The pitting of God’s objective word against man’s subjective experience creates a chasm between Christ and his people. When we speak of the objective fact of Christ’s death and resurrection we must not separate it from the church’s experience but grant it to them. Speaking about the objective nature of Christ’s work is a commentary on the objective work that is presently being carried out in the body of the church. When we talk about God’s objective work we speak about the objective work and creation taking place in the human heart. Some modern notions of preaching speak about the objective Word and then attempt to make it “apply” to man’s subjective experience. This is poor preaching for the objective Word of God actually performs and is diagnostic of that which takes place for the man sitting in the church pew.

The church as “new humanity” becomes “man,” becomes truly “human” with the Word as the rock of existence. The human subject, with his human ordinariness is brought into the objective fact of redemption and freedom before God. Man is free now in his true humanity and lives his freedom in the congregation. He has no need to transcend or overcome himself.

With the communication of attributes we ought not force a radical separation between the divine and human, as if they were oppositely posited. In contrast to preaching in the Barthian sense, the divine and majestic God ought not be divorced from the lowly human. The human is not an obstacle for the divine, or a somehow lower sphere of existence. It is rather the means of salvation and entrance of God into our lives. God speaks to creatures through creatures - he condescends to them. Whats more this is natural to him, not at all awkward. Whats more, this a joyful encounter for God. The majestic God makes himself known in the manger and in the cross. We ought to be human rather than something else – humanity is good.

Preaching actually does something. It is not merely prescriptive or descriptive. The creative word in preaching is not descriptive of an alternative event but is the event itself. It creates, announces, and performs a true death and true ressurection.

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