Friday, September 17, 2010

Theology is For Proclamation by Gerhard O. Forde

Augsburg Fortress sent me a complimentary copy of Theology is For Proclamation by Gerhard Forde. In it, Forde argues that theology should not be discussed as a series of abstract concepts but should be proclaimed. Our theology should be shaped by proclamation rather than the other way around. Forde builds on Luther's theology of the cross and the distinction he makes between the hidden God and the revealed God. Many systematic theologies concentrate their attention on the hidden God in His Divine majesty. Forde argues that preaching and systematic theology should not be considered as independent from one another and should both center around the revealed God. The hidden God is not safe and does not bring us the comfort that the revealed God does. Forde shows how both conservatives and liberals misss the point when they focus their attention on the hidden God. Overall, I thought the book was excellent and well-argued. There were a few times that Forde questioned the reliabilty of Scriptural passages and it did not seem to serve his argument. The book also seemed unnecessarily complicated. I think it could have been written at half the length and in much simpler language. It seems to be targeted at the seminary student, but I don't think it benefited in any way from the technical language. I have heard preaching by more than a few Lutheran pastors (including my own) that measure up to Forde's criteria. I don't know if this due to Forde's influence on Lutheranism in general or something that had always been there. But it's wonderful to hear preaching that centers on the revealed crucified-God rather than trying to probe inside of God's head either to discover what social movements he wants us to be a part of or simply to do mental gymnastics. As Luther is quoted as saying, "The only God I know is the hairy one."

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