The Message of God’s Word Does Not Change But It Does Translate!

The following excerpt is from Gerhard Bode’s article, “Knowing How to Live and Die: Luther and the Teaching of the Christian Faith” in the Concordia Journal.

Lamin Sanneh observed that in its history, the Christian church has been adept at translating the message of the Christian faith.  He asserted that the Christian gospel is translatable on a linguistic level as well as a cultural one.  James Nestingen also has pointed out that the Lutheran Reformation was a matter of translation.  In a similar way, Luther’s catechisms are fundamentally a translation.  Luther brought his teaching of the evangelical faith and the message of law and gospel into the German language and expressed it within his sixteenth-century cultural context. We do the same thing in our own time and place. Whether in multilingual and multicultural contexts or not, the work of education is one of the most important means of translating the message of the Christian gospel.  The central message of God’s Word, that human beings are lost in sin and it is God who justifies does not change. But it does translate.

The fact that methods change or need to be adapted for the audience may be obvious, but it still not be ignored.  With Luther’s example, we are reminded that Christian freedom presents the message of God’s word to people in different settings and situation.  God has given his people creative skills and abilities to communicate in ways that convey the message clearly, artfully, and faithfully.

From: “Knowing How to Live and Die: Luther and the Teaching of the Christian Faith” by Gerhard Bode, Concordia Journal, Spring 2018:26.

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