(continued from yesterday)
The responsibility to distinguish between man’s word and God’s belongs to the “laity” (to ascribe a Biblical root word to a non-Biblical concept which is nonetheless pretty much universally understood).
Primarily, the Word (logos) is Jesus the Christ. He is the One through Whom God has ultimately spoken. (Full-stop.)
All the time-tested, timeless witness of scripture points to Jesus. In contrast, the kerygma, more or less a preached message about Him or something related to Him, is secondary. Low-church preachers in my observation have periodically exploited the phrase “word of God” to their own ends. At worst, these preachers can make what is at best a kerygma out to have the import and status of the logos.
High-church preachers may have one up on non-liturgists here, because the concept of the word that the former espouse—publicly, at least—seems loftier, more meaningful. I do resist the idea that every recitation of scripture is to be heard as “the word of the Lord” (this phrase enjoins upon congregations the automaton’s response “thanks be to God”) simply because it may be located by chapter and verse.¹ The so-called “word of the Lord” may just be the word of the day—according to someone’s legacy calendar or page-flipping choice—or the word of the man, not necessarily of God or even of the theopneustos (God-breathed) words of writers indwelt by God. Discerning disciples may want more than the humanly chosen verse or verses as their “word of the Lord” nourishment.
God’s word is directed and intentional, isn’t it? It communicates real truths, and speaks to bona fide issues and real needs of humanity, doesn’t it? A basic recitation/reading in the congregation may not speak to anything in particular, and may evidence more of a perfunctory M.O., i.e., paying lipservice to scripture, as opposed to placing it in the context of God communicating to humankind through scripture. The word of the Lord is just that—communication from God—not to be confused with some sacramental touchstone that might make some of us feel we’ve participated in the required activities, and therein have done the will of the Lord.
Laititians², unite in the continuing reformatory efforts of the Kingdom of God. Insist that the word of the Lord is for the people—to be read, heard, and understood by the people. Despite the reality that paid people have more study and thought time during the week than most non-paid ministers have, over-control of public use of scripture by the “clergy” has a stultifying effect on the people of the Kingdom.
Scripture is holy in the sense of its being separate for purposes intended by God, but scripture is functional and subservient in that it exists to point to an utterly holy (= other/transcendent/absolutely pure) God and His kingdom purposes.
Above all, remember that the consummation of the message of Deity is “spoken” in and through Jesus the Christ.
¹ This is a rather bold assertion—that simply because it’s in the canonical book of, say, Jeremiah doesn’t guarantee that it’s a message God intends for Brian Casey on October 22. I sense another question begged, as well: is it “the word of the Lord” simply because I flip pages randomly in my Bible in my “devotions” time and feel in my heart that this was the verse I was meant to read for today?
² Here, I mean to be semi-humorously emphasizing the individual responsibility of non-clergy-types instead of using the common “laity,” which to me implies a collective mass of second-class lumps.