Forde, Gerhard O. The Preached God: Proclamation in Word and Sacrament. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2007. Kindle Electronic Edition.
Chapter 1, “Whatever Happened to God? God Not Preached” Loc. 481-782.
Forde opens by responding to a campaign in American popular Christianity, “Jesus is the answer.” “The question...has gradually become more clear to me: Whatever happened to God?” (Forde 2007, 481). The answer Forde reaches is Jesus. Many people know of Luther’s distinction between God hidden apart from his works and revealed through his works. Luther linked this concept to preaching in the Bondage of the Will (Forde 2007, Loc. 484). The speaking we do about God in preaching is different from that of everyday communication. Forde illustrates the difference between proclamation of God’s truth, which shows the Gospel, and explanation of God’s truth, which attempts to save by means of good doctrine (Forde 2007, Loc. 493).
Forde point out a result of this theologizing is a form of pietism that can do without God at all. We simply need to be good (Forde 2007, Loc. 507). This domesticated God is nothing like the wild and untamed God of the Bible. “Whatever happened to God? God has fallen victim to explanations, to theology itself - theology about God-not-preached. Explanation replaces proclamation” (Forde 2007, Loc. 541). Forde ties this idea with the concept that God somehow finds his identity in our love, making God need us (Forde 2007, Loc. 563). This is not what the invisible God is like.
Forde next questions whether the work of systematic theologians has gone astray by not pursuing the true gospel (Forde 2007, Loc. 577). In Jesus’ victory over death, we are not given a lesson but a proclamation (Forde 2007, Loc. 585). “Proclamation means finally to stop talking about it, and actually give it. It means not talking about God, but speaking for God” (Forde 2007, Loc. 604). Proclamation, then, is more specific and targeted than preaching. It is not didactic in nature (Forde 207, Loc. 623). It declares God’s will and delivers the gift. Forde illustrates the point where explanation must leave off and declaration take place in vivid terms.
So what has happened to God? We have forgotten to proclaim him (Forde 2007, Loc. 680). What is the answer is Jesus. At the end of all we cannot explain faith and forgiveness. We proclaim it and let God work it out (Forde 2007, Loc. 713).