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One of the great rediscoveries of the Reformation — especially of Martin Luther — was that the word of God comes to us in a form of a Book.In other words, Luther grasped this powerful fact: God preserves the experience of salvation and holiness from generation to generation by means of a Book of revelation, not a bishop in Rome, and not the ecstasies of Thomas Muenzer and the Zwickau prophets. That rediscovery shaped Luther and the Reformation.When he posted the 95 theses on October 31, 1517, number 45 read, “Christians should be taught that he who sees someone needy but looks past him, and buys an indulgence instead, receives not the pope’s remission but God’s wrath” (Oberman, 77).That blow fell from the Book — from the story of the Good Samaritan and from the second great commandment in the Book — “external Word.” And without the Book, there would be no blow.
He drove out the money changers — the indulgence sellers — with the whip of the “external Word,” the Book.
Cherishing the Book implied to Luther that the Holy Spirit is a beautiful person to be known and loved, not a buzz to be felt.
Another objection to Luther’s emphasis on the Book is that it minimizes the incarnate Word, Jesus Christ himself. To the degree that the Word of God is disconnected from the objective, “external Word,” to that degree the incarnate Word, the historical Jesus, becomes a wax nose for the preferences of every generation.
Why is the Spirit so silent about the incarnate Word — even among those who encroach on the authority of the Book?
The answer seems to be that it pleased God to reveal the incarnate Word to all succeeding generations through a Book, especially the Gospels.And the incarnate Word would be everybody’s clay toy.