Publicly Proclaimed and Heard

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.

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3 responses to “Publicly Proclaimed and Heard

  1. You are suggesting that Christians Facebook-stalk God? 😛

    In all seriousness, though, I think that your emphasis on the importance of hearing results to an implied slight of the importance of reading. I think that there is still a clear command (at least by implication) to read, study, and meditate as individuals (see Psalm 119).

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    • Thanks for commenting.

      Reading individually certainly is one way to study and meditate (is there any group meditation to speak of that isn’t just plural people meditating?). There definitely needs to be a response in each individual, no matter how God’s word’s entered us in the power of the Holy Spirit, in both mind and body.

      Thinking, of course, can be silent, and sometimes we call it study when it takes certain forms; meditation, too, is silent. But perhaps it’s a modern assumption to wed these to the necessity of the eye over the ear.

      I contend, however, that it’s possible still to do these things without even knowing the alphabet. If people back in the day had few or no books of their own and still did fine (memory is a stronger skill in oral cultures than most of us know), we can guess what was essential. We can be thankful for the advantages we do have now while choosing thoughtfully how to engage with technology, even technology that’s been around for a few hundred or even a thousand years.

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  2. Pingback: Visual Learning Handicap | Cogito, Credo, Petam

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