Friday, February 11, 2005

The Word of God and Preaching by C. Veenhof. (Unpublished trans. by N.D. Kloosterman of some pages of Prediking en Uitverkiezing, 1959.)

This book is about the relationship between preaching and divine election. This paper is a translation of a footnote which forms an essay of some 20 pages (in the Dutch text) on the topic of the Word of God and preaching.

Veenhof begins by making the valuable point that Scripture has often wrongly been seen as little more than a communication about creation, fall and redemption—about God and his works—and also viewed as a rule to live by. Rather than a word about God, the Word of God is the means by which God really through his Spirit bestows forgiveness of sins and eternal life.

Veenhof outlines Luther's and Calvin's view of the Word showing that they both emphasized how God communicates himself through the Word, and how forgiveness is really bestowed through the Word as it is embraced in faith. Veenhof works this out himself when he says:
In summary, we can describe the gospel of Jesus Christ as a word--a spoken word--whose content is Jesus Christ and the full salvation merited by him. It is a word spoken by the Holy Spirit and as such is a living power of God unto salvation. It is the kind of word that doesn't merely speak about a previously realized central moment of redemptive history, but the kind that, precisely as a word about that previously realized central moment of redemptive history, is itself a redemptive event. It is never an empty, ineffectual word. On the contrary, it creates fellowship with Christ, and in him with God, and in this way it is an instrument in the realization of the salvation and the formation of the church. It is and bestows God's grace or it effects, in the case of its rejection, everlasting judgment.
This saving Word must be proclaimed. Christ, himself, first proclaimed it, and ever since the church has. Christ is the subject of the proclamation.

Veenhof ends with a chapter about the relationship between the law and the gospel.

This essay provides a good polemic against preaching which tells the audience
about God rather than is the message from God.