How ironic that the accessibility of God’s word to the individual actually contributes to the decline of its proclamation! Now, instead of the word of God’s holy wisdom (that is, the Logos), of his Spirit, of his power, people often say they want to hear the experience of living men, not of the living God with men who here lived and will yet live. Saints have lived and died, some martyred, in Christ: you want to hear of experience without this experience?
And all because we think that the corporate and individual are the same, that hearing God is hearing God is hearing God. I say it isn’t. Merely reading about God with the eyes, without hearing, depersonalizes him and his word: it makes the Scripture more something to be browsed, to be scanned, to be referenced, perhaps like Facebook, than something to be heard in dialogue of holy Scripture and prayer. Surely you cannot say Facebook stalking only is just as good as having a real human relationship. If you make a distinction there, it’s precisely this (at least, this is one thing) that sets apart reading by ourselves and hearing in the Church’s worship of the God who lives and breathes and speaks.
So no, there really is a difference between reading Scripture yourself, as good as that may be, and the Church proclaiming it to herself and to the world. For this reason the latter is as good as commanded, but the former is nowhere commanded in holy Scripture: it isn’t simply a matter of who has books and can read with his eyes. If you must have one – although we may thank God that we can have both – keep the one with the fullness of relationship in it, for God is love, and God is incarnated, and God is with us.
And then let us hear it preached with the full conviction that God speaks and it is, that God’s most holy word may be living water to water us right abundantly.