Forde, Gerhard O. The Preached God: Proclamation in Word and Sacrament. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2007. Kindle Electronic Edition.
Chapter 9, “Speaking the Gospel Today” Loc. 2230-2670.
It is common to hear calls for relevance in preaching. Forde cites numerous commentators who suggest the world is a dynamic being which changes before we have time to make analysis (Forde 2007, 2230). Finding the cause of a situation cannot reverse the situation. Often, Forde says, we are attempting to resolve a problem of the kingdom of the left (civil authority) using means of the kingdom of the right (churchly authority) (Forde 2007, Loc. 2243). Being grasped by the gospel from outside of ourselves is central to our identity as Christians. This is what makes us Christians (Forde 2007, Loc. 2257). The gospel is in direct contradiction to a theology of glory which tries to claim credit for salvation (Forde 2007, Loc. 2278). Looking at the world and the church as a theologian of the cross we find that where we have gone astray has been in our attempts at living by a theology of glory (Forde 2007, Loc. 2316). Our normal reaction to these problems is to strive harder rather than to trust more (Forde 2007, Loc. 2326). A greater striving for the Law may result in our undoing (Forde 2007, Loc. 2349). The alternative gospels that we have created need to be rejected in favor of a true biblical gospel (Forde 2007, Loc. 2404). To return to the original issue, then, Forde observes the quest for relevance is one for law rather than gospel. Churches which accept that mission always end up in decline (Forde 2007, Loc. 2430). Forde traces that decline as it springs from a sentimental pietism which finally denies the need to trust God and live a holy life (Forde 2007, Loc. 2463).
Forde goes on to apply these cautions and analyses to preaching (Forde 2007, Loc. 2487). looking within results in an interpretation of God’s Word lacking in power. Both law and gospel become ineffective. Yet objectively the offense of sin does not go away (Forde 2007, Loc. 2500). The cure for this problem is a recovery of “the proper preaching and distinction between law and gospel (Forde 2007, Loc. 2517). To recover this strength of the law and gospel, Forde affirms we must not only explain God’s Word but finally “do” it (Forde 2007, Loc. 2544). To reach that point we find the root issues behind the text (Forde 2007, Loc. 2548). The Word of God is then understood in terms of its function, for instance, attacking or giving life (Forde 2007, Loc. 2581). The hearer, also, must be recognized as one who suffers from a will bound to sin (Forde 2007, Loc. 2611). The preaching brings resolution to the entire plight of man, releasing us from sin and from bondage to try harder (Forde 2007, Loc. 2615).