Listen to the Word


“They … desire to know who he is and not to regard what he says, while he desires them first to listen; then they will know who he is. The rule is: Listen and allow the Word to make the beginning; then the knowing will nicely follow. If, however, you do not listen, then you will never know anything. For it is decreed: God will not be seen, known, or comprehended except through his Word alone. Whatever, therefore, one undertakes for salvation apart from the Word is in vain. God will not respond to that. He will not have it. He will not tolerate it any other way. Therefore, let his Book, in which he speaks with you, be commended to you; for he did not cause it to be written for no purpose. He did not want us to let it lie there in neglect, as if he were speaking with mice under the bench or with flies on the pulpit. We are to read it, to think and speak about it, and to study it, certain that he himself (not an angel or a creature) is speaking with us in it.”

Luther, What Luther Says: An Anthology, vol. 1, p. 81., quoted in James Montgomery Boice, Foundations of the Christian Faith: A Comprehensive & Readable Theology (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1986).

The One Great Obstacle to Human Independence

The Bible is probably more ignored than attacked in Canada today, and that probably goes for much of North America and the West. But when it is read, and read seriously, attempts to bring its teachings to real application is met with an incredulous hostility. It might seem that this is a contemporary problem, but it is quite old.

Consider this quote:

“It must be evident to all who pay close attention to the spiritual conditions of our day that there is being made at this time a very determined and widespread effort to set aside entirely the authority of the Bible. Let us note that one of the unique characteristics of that Book is that it claims the right to control the actions of men. It speaks “as one having authority.” It assumes, and in the most peremptory and uncompromising way, to rebuke men for misconduct, and to tell them what they shall do and what they shall not do. It speaks to men, not as from the human plane, or even from the standpoint of superior human wisdom and morality; but as from a plane far above the highest human level, and as with a wisdom which admits of no question or dispute from men. It demands throughout unqualified submission.

But this assumption of control over men is a direct obstacle to the democratic spirit of the times, which brooks no authority higher than that of “the people,” that is to say, of Man himself. To establish and to make universal the principles of pure democracy is the object, whether consciously or unconsciously, of the great thought-movements of our era; and the essence and marrow of democracy is the supreme authority of Man. Hence the conflict with the Bible.

Not only is the Bible, with its peremptory assertion of supremacy and control over mankind, directly counter to the democratic movement, but it is now the only real obstacle to the complete independence of humanity. If only the authority of the Scriptures be gotten rid of, mankind will have attained the long-coveted state of absolute independence, which is equivalent to utter lawlessness.”[1]

The language, more complex than we’re used to, might give it away. It was written as a chapter in The Fundamentals, in 1909, by New York Attorney Philip Mauro. I quote it because it is so prescient to our own times. We humans make it our business to remove ourselves under the authority of Scripture, and replace it with the authority of the poll. We’ve been doing it a long time.

[1]Mauro, Philip. Chapter VII: Life in the Word. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2005.