Sunday, November 7, 2010

Holy Scripture is Not Self-explanatory

If the following commentary makes any preacher feel I am picking on him, please be assured that I am picking on no one in particular.  More than once over the years I have heard preachers begin the homily with words similar to these:

Today's Gospel reading is self-explanatory.

If this were true, then what the preacher should do after saying this is descend the pulpit, and sit back down, so we can get on with the Mass, and not waste our time with what will evidently be a superfluous sermon.

Holy Scripture is not self-explanatory.  God sent us preachers, not so they can tell us how unnecessary they are, but so that by their work the Word of God may be administered to the people, liberally, but also carefully, like a physician administering his medicine in just the right way, in the manner that is precisely needed in a given community, and for a given sinner. 

I suppose that often times a preacher will fall into a certain routine, or rut, so that he lets things remain in the final draft of the sermon, and then escape from the pulpit, which otherwise would not have passed the first draft.  So my comment is meant only as an encouragement to preachers to redouble their efforts, and to be ever vigilant in the holy calling of the teaching of the Gospel.  Some people are listening to your sermons, or trying to listen.


Chris Jones said...

I thought the "perspicuity of Scripture" was one of the teachings of the evangelical Lutheran Church. Is that not so? Or is it one of those Reformed ideas that has infiltrated Lutheranism while we were being inattentive? If Scripture is perspicuous, then isn't it true that it is (ultimately) self-explanatory?

For my own part, I agree with your post, and I have always found the perspicuity of Scripture to be self-evidently and obviously false. I thought, however, that I was being un-Lutheran to think that way.

Deacon Latif Haki Gaba, SSP said...

Dear Chris:

Thanks for posing this question. It gives me a chance to clarify matters. I am trying to do that, and it may turn into a new blog post.