“Jesus For You”— Gerhard Forde On Proclaiming The Promises Of God -- By: Shawn C. Lazar

Journal: Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society
Volume: JOTGES 28:55 (Autumn 2015)
Article: “Jesus For You”— Gerhard Forde On Proclaiming The Promises Of God
Author: Shawn C. Lazar

“Jesus For You”—
Gerhard Forde On Proclaiming The Promises Of God

Shawn C. Lazar

Associate Editor
Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society
Corinth, TX

I. Introduction

It is no secret that Western society has become increasingly secular.1The world has become disenchanted.2 The ancient cathedrals are empty. Many churches, especially mainstream ones, are slowly dying. And there are even calls to banish theology—once considered the queen of the sciences—from university studies altogether.3 The fact is, for many people, God seems very distant, if not completely absent. Why? What happened?

According to Lutheran theologian Gerhard Forde (1927-2005), it was because “God has been explained to death.”4 Instead of proclaiming God’s promises to the people, churches have turned to endless explanations about God’s nature that have had the counterproductive effect of making Him seem even more remote. According to Forde, we must recover the church’s proclamation in order to call people to faith in Christ.

This article will present Forde’s theology of proclamation, including its presuppositions, means, form, and content, and it will end with a critique and application of it from a Free Grace perspective.

II. The Absence Of God

Why has it become increasingly difficult to believe in God? To answer that question, Gerhard Forde pointed to a distinction Martin Luther made in The Bondage of the Will between God-preached and God-not-preached. This was Luther’s odd, but memorable, way of distinguishing between what God has revealed about Himself (which should be preached) and what He has kept hidden about Himself (which should not be preached).

According to Luther, there are some theological problems that should not be meddled with because God has not revealed the answers to us and does not intend to. We can reverently adore these divine mysteries, but we are not to engage in endless speculations about them, and they should not be the subject of our preaching.5 As Luther said, “God in His own nature and majesty is to be left alone; in this regard, we have nothing to do with Him, nor does He wish us to deal with Him.”6 We have nothing to do with the hidden God. This is God-not-preached.

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