Monday, December 9, 2019

The chicken or the egg. . .

It has oft been the case that we begin with the Bible says about something.  So, for example, the question of what the Bible says about preaching or baptism or the Eucharist might establish for us what we think about it.  The Scriptures define what it is and and that is that.  Or is it?

The reality is that preaching precedes the New Testament, for sure, and exists alongside the Old Testament.  The New Testament did not establish preaching but preaching was happening before the New Testament was put to page by pen.  St. John the Forerunner came as preacher to call the world to the fact that the Kingdom of God was near.  The Lord preached the Kingdom in word and in deed as He manifested Himself to be the Son of God in flesh.  The Apostles preached at the Lord's command and at His bidding even before Pentecost.  It is impossible to say that the Scriptures establish preaching when preaching clearly is happening before the New Testament is written.

The same is true of baptism and the Eucharist.  People were being baptized into the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit before, during, and after the time when the New Testament is written.  Indeed, preaching and baptism are the hallmarks of the Church before a New Testament Scripture is even conceived of (at least from below).  You cannot suggest that the New Testament established baptism when our Lord gave the command the His disciples heeded that Word before the writing of the New Testament.  The same could be said of the Eucharist.  While we try to figure out what Scripture says about the Eucharist, the reality is that the Lord's Supper was being celebrated before the New Testament was written.  We had doctrine and piety, preaching and sacraments at the earliest stage of Christianity.  At least that is what the New Testament itself says (Acts 2:42-46). 

Could we also say then that the New Testament presumes that preaching is happening within the life of the Church, that people are being baptized into Christ in the Name of the Triune God, and that people were eating and drinking the Lord's body and blood?  We should.  Now none of this undermines or pushes Scripture to the sideline but admits and even celebrates that the Church was not in limbo unto the New Testament was written but Christians were preaching and hearing the Word of the Lord, baptizing and being baptized into Christ's death and resurrection, and eating and drinking the flesh and blood of Christ AS this New Testament text was being put to page by pen under the direction of the Holy Spirit.

Just something to think about after listening to the Gottesdiest paper presented by Dr. James Busher.  Which, by the way, is accessible here through the good services of Gene Wilken and the Flaneur Record.


Anonymous said...

Pr. Peters...what is the point of these thoughts?

Pastor Peters said...

The point is this. For most of Christian history people experienced God's Word through preaching and identified preaching as the primary context for their experience of God's Word. Now preaching is secondary, almost peripheral, and the written Word is primary. That is a very big change.

Carl Vehse said...

For most of Christian history people did not have moveable typeset that could be used to print affordable Bibles, along with educational books on learning how to read.

For almost all of Christian history people did not have the internet resources of various translations of the Bible, access to photocopies of early Greek copies and early Latin translations of Scripture, not to mention conmmentaries and other resources on experiencing God's Word.

For much of Christian history, other than experiencing the preaching of God's Word, many people would not have had any other time to spend or access to where they could learn how to read and understand the many resources that are available today.

Anonymous said...

Pr. Peters...I still do not understand what your point is. Please elaborate.