Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Functions of the Word

Chapter 6 “The Functions of the Word” pp. 131-159

God’s Word was of great importance to Luther’s theology. But how did the Reformers understand God’s Word and its functions? In Luther’s world many expected words to have power, even divine performative ability. Luther rejected the idea that God’s Word would be used as a  sort of magical formula. However he did view God’s Word as an agent of his power. When God speaks, things happen. God uses his Word in creation, to re-create and save from sin, and to communicate with His creation, establishing his law and his means of grace. God uses his Word to create and sustain faith. God reveals himself in and hides himself behind his Word. He uses it to kill and to bring to life. In short, all God does in this world he accomplishes by His Word.

Kolb and Arand discuss Medieval views of words more than they do modern views. This is fitting, as the book is about Luther’s theology, not ours. When we consider our modern world we often lose the value of words and the gravity of communication found in Luther. Words are dashed off as sounds, meanings are relativized, and communication is easily devalued. How do we recapture the majesty of God’s communication with us? This challenge faces us in this day and age.

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