Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The Word of God, and other word problems

Some times the words get in the way.

For a variety of reasons, many people think we Lutherans believe that the Bible is the word of God in the sense of it being Christ himself. Here is an example.

No one I know believes that. But I do think that often our "technical" terms get in the way of communication; after all, don't we also call Jesus Christ the Word of God? The same is true of the reformation slogan "Sola Scriptura" (Scripture Alone), which many take to mean the Scriptures totally divorced from any sense of tradition or continuity with the past.

Now, think about "Sola Fide" (Faith Alone). Some may think that just by trusting in Jesus Christ we are saved--which is true except that some believe this means we must merely have the right opinions about Christ and have a vague idea of the sin for which he paid. We are not saved because we have the correct opinions but because we are reborn when we receive the gift of Christ's work on our behalf. we receive this gift through faith and not because we have certain opinions.

We need not abandon our historic vocabulary, but when we speak of Christ to others we should try and avoid sloganeering, as there is a good chance we will be misunderstood. I don't remember who said it, but he said something like "When we speak of justification by faith, we must say it without using the words justified or faith".

2 comments:

jWinters said...

Welcome to the Lutheran Blog Directory Upstate!
Enjoyed your post here. The word "justified" does carry problems with it for modern culture and linguistics.

jW

Edward Reiss said...

Thanks JW! I hope I can contribute to the Lutheran Blogosphere.

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