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The Fullness of Christ: J.H. Yoder – Part V

7.    The Centrality of Preaching. Especially since the Reformation, the “proper preaching of the Word” has been central in definitions  of both the church and her ministry.  Just what the “Word” means and what the “proper” means have varied immensely from Luther to Calvin, and from...

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The Fullness of Christ: J.H. Yoder – Part V

Posted by Radical Resurgence | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 23-01-2012

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7.    The Centrality of Preaching.

Especially since the Reformation, the “proper preaching of the Word” has been central in definitions  of both the church and her ministry.  Just what the “Word” means and what the “proper” means have varied immensely from Luther to Calvin, and from Wesley to Barth, but formally the criterion has remained stable.

What we need to test here is not primarily whether the term “proclamation” is biblically derived, nor whether there should be “proclamation” in the church, but a much narrower question.  Is the word’s definition sufficiently objective and clear that anyone can use it and get the same  “measurement”?….

To move from the preachers of Acts to the teacher of James 3, or the teaching elder of the Pastorals, from Calvin to Finney to Billy Graham, and think one word covers that all, is simply to render  that word useless.

Let us then ask first not whether there is a clear, solid concept of preaching, but whether there was in the N.T. one particular preaching office, identifiable as distinctly as the other ministries. The N.T does speak of a kerygma or proclamation …. But the corresponding personal pronoun keryx, preacher or herald, is used only three times, twice as a synonym for apostle (1 Tim. 2:7; 2 Tim.1:11) and once for Noah.  Many of the N.T. ministries involve verbal communications which can be conceived broadly as “proclaiming”, but neither in the most  varied picture (Corinthians) nor in the least varied (Pastoral Epistles) is there one particular ministry thus defined.

There were in the early church, and there are today, many kinds of verbal communication…. But the very effort to pull just one strand, one set of phrases or propositions, one way of speaking, or one audience, or one minister, as “central” to all others, has not yet yielded a solid yardstick, and has thereby refuted itself.

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