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Lotz on Luther on Preaching

If I ever taught preaching, this would be the set text.  Every week.  Forever.

In ten short pages David Lotz runs through 13 propositions regarding proclamation as God's Word (Dave K summarizes helpfully here).  Then he speaks of the form and content of gospel preaching.  Check out this paragraph for instance:

 Luther envisions an appropriate “rhetoric of preaching” that can only be labelled “kerygmatic discourse.” Such speech does not narrate historical events, instruct in doctrine, describe outward states of affairs (such as “sin” and “grace”), nor exhort to moral activity. It proclaims, announces, declares that God in Christ loves, forgives, accepts you, me, us; and it invites, even incites, the heart’s acceptance of this gift. Such speech takes the objective reality of “God in Christ” and makes (renders) it present and personal: thereby it creates a new reality in my hearing, “God for me,” which through faith (and thus through the Spirit working through that speech) becomes yet another new reality, “God in me.
The whole thing is worth its weight in gold.

7 thoughts on “Lotz on Luther on Preaching

  1. theoldadam

    Nice one, Glen.

    One must DO the Word to people. Not talk about the law, or the gospel...or talk about the cross and about Jesus.

    Do the cross to people. Do the law to them. Do the gospel to them. Hand Christ over to them.

    Gerhard Forde's 'The Gospel is for Proclamation' is great for those who'd like to explore this further.

    One Lutheran pastor said (after reading Forde on the matter) that he had gotten it wrong for so many years. he went back and read his past sermons and found that he was talking about it all. Then he started to DO the gospel to people.

    It's not always easy to do (Luther admitted as much), but it shopuld be the goal of every preacher to hand over the Word in such fashion.

    Thanks for sharing!

  2. John B

    The Lotz paper is a rich resource most worthy of some lengthy reflection. I'm hoping to spend some time reading through it slowly. Thanks for linking to it.

    As an initial reaction, I'm wondering as to the extent to which you share the view that Lotz expresses in his fifth point?

  3. Glen

    OldAdam - I like that a lot - *do* the gospel to them. Hand Christ over. Yes indeed.

    John - do you mean the issue of the "gospel hidden in the OT" or of the assertion that "the primary identification of the Word of God [is] with the spoken Word"?

    On the former, I don't think Luther meant that OT saints were ignorant of the gospel - see Luther quotes here:

    Instead it maintains what needs to be maintained which is that the OT is not understood except as the word of Christ.

    On the latter point, I think the NT bears it out (see for e.g. in Acts how "the word" is spoken of as something that grows and multiplies etc). Barth was extremely Lutheran in his doctrine of the word of God - and the threefold word is highly illuminating on this point. Scripture, as the second form of the Word, is fully God's Word. But it must be understood as word-from-Word (ie the word *of* Christ) *and* word-to-be-proclaimed.

    Chris - that looks very interesting. While we're talking about Luther, it's interesting there are no Lutherans speaking...

  4. John B

    Thanks, Glen, *Now* I'm seeing the neo-orthodox slant in Lotz's reading of Luther. At first blush his references to "swaddling clothes" and "the manger" and the "star of Bethlehem", I took to be pointing to the Incarnation. But instead those are tropes for "the living voice" that produces in its hearers the gospel, which heretofore lay "shrouded in darkness".

    It was Lotz's view of the hiddenness of the gospel in the Old Testament that initially struck me as out of sync with much of what you've written here on CTT. But yes, looking at this in the metaphorical sense that Lotz intends, I can see how you and he can be in step on this issue.

    I know little about Luther's theology, and even less about Barth, but yes, my sense too, is that Barth is very close to Lutheranism in his doctrine of scripture.

    Lotz describes an idea of apostolic succession where, instead of a single Pope, there are thousands of local demi-popes. In his fourth point he warns against putting scripture "above or even alongside" the preaching of the gospel. And in the ninth point Lotz attributes the creation of the church to the gospel ministry. This is the Catholic with a capital-C faith, but I think it is not the catholic faith!

  5. theoldadam

    John B,

    I disagree that putting Christ (the Word Himself), and Christ (the Word in preaching and teaching), and Christ (the Word in Baptism and the Supper) in conjunction with but not subordinate to the Word in Holy Scripture, makes one a "Catholic".

    "In the beginning was the Bible, and the Bible was with God, and the Bible was God."

    See what I mean?

  6. John B

    Hi theoldadam,

    Thanks for your response. Sorry, but I'm not clear on your meaning. Your substitution of "Bible" as a trope for "Word" is exactly what I'm hoping to avoid and what I'm criticizing Lotz for doing! To say that gospel ministry is subordinate to Holy Scripture isn't to say that Christ is subordinate to that which bears witness to Him! (Unless one applies a very literalistic meaning to the term "Vicar"!)

    A few years ago I participated in a study group on the Lutheran Confessions. The group leader viewed the Lutheran Church as the evangelical movement within the Catholic Church. He even spoke of the Lutheran Church as the continuing Catholic Church, because, in effect, the Roman Catholic Church was constituted at Trent. I know that not all Lutherans share this view, but many have in the past and do now affirm themselves to be Catholic with a capital-C.

    The church in the East differs with the western church over the meaning of Jesus' use of the term "rock" in Matthew 16:18. The latter sees this as Peter himself, while the former understands Jesus to be referring to Peter's confession of faith. Most Protestants share the East's view on this. But it seems that many Lutherans and Anglicans, especially historically, have modified the Roman view.

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