The Danger of Gospel Reductionism
Here is a very thought-provoking essay which sheds light on any number of significant issues facing Lutheranism worldwide today.
THE GOSPEL AND THE SCRIPTURES
On the Road to Emmaus, two sad-faced disciples met another traveller
who turned their sadness into joy. The risen Lord Jesus opened their
eyes and they recognised him. In the process he also opened their minds
to understand the Scriptures (Luke 24:31,32,45).
These two things go hand in hand: coming to know Christ and coming
to understand the Scriptures. What a Bible lesson those two disciples
received that afternoon as Jesus, “beginning with Moses and all the
prophets, interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things
concerning himself” (Luke 24:27)! That evening he told the eleven and
those with them: “These are the words that I spoke to you while I was
still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses
and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled” (Luke 24:44). To
know Christ is to know the Scriptures; to know the Scriptures is to
For, as Justus Jonas states in his German translation of
Melanchthon’s Apology to the Augsburg Confession: “This article [about
justification through faith in Christ] is the highest, foremost article
of all Christian teaching, so that very much depends on this article.
This article is also of special service for the clear, correct
understanding of the entire Holy Scriptures. It alone shows the way to
the inexpressible treasure and the right knowledge of Christ. Also
[this article] alone opens the door into the whole Bible. Without this
article no poor conscience may have a right, lasting, sure comfort or
know the riches of the grace of Christ” [Apology IV, 2,3]. The Gospel
of Christ is the key to the entire Scriptures. It is also the key to
good pastoral care.
Much more could be said about the relationship between the Bible and
its central theme, the Gospel, than we have time for this evening. But
the following analogy may be helpful. In weaving, we distinguish
between those strands that form the basic underlay – the ‘warp’ – and
the filling yarns that interlace with the warp – the ‘weft’ or ‘woof’.
Applying this analogy to the Bible, we see a basic historical underlay,
a connected narrative that forms the warp to the whole book. Certainly,
the Bible contains many kinds of literature (genres), including poetry,
wisdom sayings, parables, etc. But the most characteristic form is the
historical narrative. [Contrast the Bible with the Koran, which lacks
any connected narrative] Interlaced with the historical underlay, we
find the weft consisting of the themes of Law and Gospel – the brown
yarns of the Law, and the golden yarns of the Gospel. So with the
Bible: the golden theme that runs through the Bible is the Gospel. It
shines all the more brightly by its contrast with the Law. But both
intermesh with the historical narrative that underlies everything.
I. Distinguishing a gospel-centred approach from fundamentalism
In defending the authority of the Scriptures, some Christians give
the impression they have made the Bible, rather than the Gospel, the
heart and centre of their faith. Such Christians may sometimes be
called ‘fundamentalists’ or ‘biblicists’. Indeed, anyone for whom the
Bible is primary and the gospel only secondary may rightly be called a
‘fundamentalist’. Our faith in the Gospel is not a result of our view
of the Bible.
On the other hand, epithets like ‘fundamentalist’ and ‘biblicist’
are sometimes used against Christians who do have a deep appreciation
for the gospel and have come to their respect for the Bible by that
gospel-route. Words like ‘fundamentalist’ thus become smear-words, a
kind of theological slang used to intimidate Lutherans or other
Christians more conservative than oneself. The British-American
journalist, Alistair Cooke, aptly describes such resorts to slang:
“Slang exists to boost the self-esteem of its users with the least
possible effort. It is the handgun of the man who wants to put down his
enemy in no time flat” (The Americans: Fifty Talks on our Life and
Times, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1979, p. 22).
In the 1970s Elwin Janetzki and Bill Stoll wrote an article in The
Lutheran protesting against the way some Lutherans were applying the
term ‘fundamentalist’ to fellow Lutherans. They asked whether it was
appropriate to place Lutherans with a high view of Scripture in the
same basket as American and other ‘evangelicals’ who espoused
premillenialism and failed to distinguish between law and gospel.
The gospel-centred (non-fundamentalist) approach may be illustrated
from my own life experience. Some 30 years ago I went through a period
of spiritual distress because of conflicts in the church in PNG in
which – willy-nilly – I’d become involved. In particular I suffered a
guilty conscience because of the role I’d been perceived to play in the
conflict. A German missionary rescued me from my depression. He
recommended that I read Luther’s letters of spiritual comfort to the
pastors Spalatin and Spenlein in C.F.W. Walther’s book, Law and Gospel.
Luther counsels Spalatin, plagued with a bad conscience, to “join our
company and associate with us, who are real, great, and hard-boiled
sinners” and thus learn to know Christ as “a real Saviour”. Similarly
he advises Spenlein to despair of his own righteousness and “learn
Christ – Christ crucified. Learn to sing praises to Him and to despair
utterly of your own works”. These letters, more than anything, restored
my spiritual health. They also led to a deeper appreciation of the
Scriptures that brought me that Gospel relief. Such an experience is a
far cry from fundamentalism.
II. Distinguishing a gospel-centred approach from “gospel reductionism”
What is “gospel-reductionism”? Basically it’s the tendency to reduce
the Bible to the gospel. Gospel reductionism tends to allow the Bible
authority only in matters which are explicitly part of the gospel or
may be developed from the gospel. Exponents of gospel reductionism
believe that considerable freedom should be allowed within the church
in matters which are not an explicit part of the gospel. In this way,
the rest of the Bible is relativised; it does not have the same
authority. Instead of the gospel and scripture, the tendency is for
only the gospel to become the standard (the norm) of Christian
teaching. No longer do we have a biblical warp and a gospel weft; we
are left with only a free-floating weft.
Let me give an example of how gospel reductionism may have crept in
at one little place in our worship services. The General Prayer in the
Lutheran Hymnal of 1973 includes the petition that the Lord will
preserve to his holy church “purity of doctrine”. The Supplement (1987)
deletes this all-encompassing reference to pure biblical doctrine and
inserts this amendment: “Keep the teaching of the Gospel pure in your
church…” Of course the amended version is still a fine petition; I have
no problem in using it. But one wonders why the change was made.
Now let’s leave the LCA and see how gospel reductionism has taken
shape on the broader stage of world Lutheranism. Edmund Schlink was an
eminent Lutheran scholar at the University of Heidelberg. His book, The
Theology of the Lutheran Confessions, was a text-book during my
seminary days. In most respects it serves as a reliable guide to the
Lutheran confessional writings of the 16th century. In his opening
chapter on “Scripture and Confession”, Schlink notes how the Reformers
treasured the Gospel as the centre of all of Scripture. But then he
goes on: “This intense concern with the Gospel suggests that the Gospel
is the norm in Scripture and Scripture is the norm for the sake of the
Gospel” (p. 6). Like Gustav Wingren (The Living Word) and many other
theologians, Schlink finds the authority of the Bible in the spoken
word of the Gospel – in the living voice of preaching – but not in the
One definitive response to Schlink comes from the Swedish
theologian, Holsten Fagerberg , in Chapter One of his book, A New Look
at the Lutheran Confessions. According to Fagerberg, the Reformers “do
not interpret the content of the spoken Word as anything other than the
Word of Scripture. While they do not demand a literal repetition of the
written Word, the content of the preached Word is not to deviate from
the Scripture” (p. 31). “The spoken Word”, Fagerberg continues, “does
not become a critical authority to be used in opposition to the Bible,
but it is God’s active Word in the present, precisely because it bases
itself on Holy Scripture” (p. 33). True, the Bible is norm for the sake
of the Gospel, but the Bible is also norm for the Gospel. The warp and
the weft belong together, and are in harmony.
Fagerberg’s chapter concludes with ten rules that governed the Reformers’ interpretation of Scripture, including these:
1. “Scripture is the highest authority in questions related to faith and doctrine”.
4. “Christ is the Center of the entire Bible. All of the prophets bear witness to Him”.
To sum up: The Gospel (or the preached word of the gospel) and
Scripture may not be played off against each other. Yes, the gospel is
norm in the Scriptures – the heart, the key to the entire Bible, and
the summary of its basic contents. But this does not limit, detract
from or abrogate the authority of the Bible and everything that’s
written there for our benefit, including God’s law and ordinances.
So the distinction between Law and Gospel may not be used as a
critical principle against the authority of Scripture (e.g., certain
biblical regulations may not be disregarded on the grounds that they
belong in the realm of law, not gospel). No, both the Gospel and the
Scriptures are the gift of the same gracious God, and are thus in
harmony with each other.
For example, the gospel which Paul preached did not keep him from
saying, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right”
(Eph 6:1). The Apology rejects prayer to the saints both on the
(gospel) grounds that it robs Christ of his honour (XXI,14) and on the
grounds that it is “without proof from Scripture” (XXI,10).
What lies behind gospel reductionism?
Behind gospel reductionism there lies the negative approach to the
Scriptures known as “historical criticism”. In theory, this expression
wants to suggest an approach to the Scriptures that is truly both
historical – using your own historical judgment rather than naively
accepting that the biblical narrative as it stands – and critical (by
exercising the same principles of literary criticism that are applied
to any other book). In practice, historical-criticism fosters an
approach that is quite unhistorical, in that it tends to cast
aspersions on the historical reliability of the biblical accounts
(which are often the only sources relating these events) and to pin
more weight on whatever non-biblical skerricks of evidence can be
found. In popular thinking, this critical attitude finds its voice in
the words of an old song: “The things that you’re li’ble, to read in
the Bible, ain’t necessarily so”.
Wherever historical-criticism finds a home in schools and
seminaries, it has a destructive effect on people’s confidence in the
Scriptures. Recounting his own experience at seminary, the current
President of the Baptist Union, Rev. Tim Costello, gives poignant
expression to his own sense of loss:
My theological education, though I was immensely grateful for it,
had relativised my faith. Its disciplines approached the biblical text
with critical tools that seemed to deconstruct rather than reconstruct
the intended meaning. This stretched faith to the point of snapping as
old, loved biblical interpretations were crudely dispatched…. I see now
what a tough legacy this was with which to start out in ministry
preaching to a small elderly congregation who enjoyed a pre-modern
faith. In hindsight, we see how depressed we were with the post-modern
disease of not quite believing anything with passionate assurance.
(Streets of Hope, p. 149).
Costello is a refreshingly honest writer. A number of times one
catches a similar note of sadness and loss. He observes how “grief
accompanies the loss of treasured understandings” (150). But Costello
had not yet found a way beyond the criticism of his seminary days to a
mature re-appropriation of his childhood trust in the Scriptures. He
sees himself as “free” in a sense, but caught in an undertow carrying
him who knows where (150).
To return to one’s childhood faith usually requires going through a
crisis that breaks one’s intellectual pride and leads to the necessary
More examples of historical-criticism in practice
Normally a Christian becomes a historical-critic by degrees. You
begin in a small way by questioning, say, the historicity of the Jonah
story (“the things that you’re li’ble to read in the Bible, ain’t
necessarily so”). You go on from there – and this is one of the big
early steps – to question the reliability of the first eleven chapters
of Genesis. From there, other steps may be taken. You are still a long
way away from questioning the New Testament miracles or the Lord’s
resurrection. But you have accepted that the Bible contains a good
number of mistakes. You have accepted (for example) Wingren’s view that
what is central is the proclaimed message – the living Word – and it
does no harm if you query the historical reliability of parts of the
Bible (see Gustav Wingren, The Living Word, and especially Wingren’s
footnotes on pages 47, 48, and 56; also see p. 123). You no longer
accept the old doctrine of the Holy Spirit’s verbal inspiration of the
Bible (despite the Nicene Creed: “who spake by the prophets”). You
refrain from saying “the Bible is the Word of God” and you confine
yourself to saying “Jesus is the Word” (Wingren: “God’s Word is Christ”
– p. 19).
Even going this far will not necessarily destroy your faith. It may
rob you of some of your joy and confidence in the Bible, but you still
cling to Jesus as your Lord and God, you still believe in his physical
resurrection and the other basics of the historic creeds.
But then you may take a further step. You may read (as I did in
seminary) that the Gospels are not biographies but ‘kerygma’
(proclamation). So it will not matter if you question some of the
historical, geographical or chronological details of the Gospels, for
these are not essential to the Gospels’ purpose. Their purpose is
simply to preach Christ. And, of course, it’s obvious that the Gospels
are not meant to be full-scale biographies. There is a huge gap, for
example, between the stories of Jesus’ childhood and what happened when
he was 12, and another gap between what happened then and when he began
his ministry at about the age of 30.
But none of this means that the historical information given in the
Gospels is unreliable. The Gospels may not be full biographies, but the
sketchy biographical information they contain, we believe, is accurate,
and they record all we need to know for our salvation.
However, the unwary student or pastor fails to detect the rhetorical
device that is being used, the false antithesis: “not this, but that”,
not biography but proclamation. The actual situation is a “both….and”:
the Gospels are both short, sketchy biographies and proclamation; the
glad tidings of our Saviour are the weft that is woven into the warp -
the historical fabric that accurately portrays the events of those
The question becomes: how much historical-critical poison can you
drink before it destroys your faith? How far can you go in seeking a
compromise, a middle way between the old doctrines of the church and
the ever more radical spirit of our age? How far can you go without
embracing a full-blown “hermeneutic of suspicion” that queries
everything, even the heart of the biblical message?
The Compass program on Easter Sunday evening was a particularly
egregious example of a full-blown hermeneutics of suspicion. The
speakers queried whether Jesus actually died on the cross. They
suggested the vinegar he received may have contained a drug which
caused him to pass out. Later he revived, and emerged from the tomb.
Then they suggested that Jesus and Mary Magdalene went off together to
the south of France, only to drop that suggestion and run with the idea
that Jesus had gone off alone to Kashmir. There’s not a shred of
evidence for any of these theories; indeed the biblical evidence is all
the other way. But for the hermeneutics of suspicion you don’t need
evidence; all you need do is raise questions and sow doubts.
Clearly, the more you embrace historical-criticism – the more you
criticise, limit and downgrade the historical reliability and authority
of the written word – the more you reduce your authority basis, so that
eventually you are left with the gospel (however you may conceive it)
as your one and only authority.
To draw a wedge between Jesus as the Word of God and the written
Word of the Scriptures is untenable. Our risen Lord, the Person we
proclaim in the kerygma and cling to in faith, is the same person who
constantly pointed to the scriptures (“It is written” – Matt 4; Luke
4). Paul saw both the living word that he preached and the word he
committed to writing as having equal authority (2 Thess 2:15).
The effect of gospel reductionism on the teaching and life of the church
Loss of confidence in the Bible has untold consequences for the
teaching and life of the church. It has enormous impact on preaching
and teaching. Some preachers who have embraced aspects of
historical-criticism remain effective preachers, because (a) they still
hold to the gospel and credal basics; (b) when they do their sermon or
Bible-class preparation, they occupy themselves with the biblical text
as it stands, and leave aside any historical-critical considerations;
(c) the faith they imbibed at their mother’s knee still inspires their
On other preachers and teachers the critical approach to the Bible
has a seriously adverse effect: their preaching loses its vigour and
becomes lacklustre; they no longer preach the biblical gospel but some
substitute; they avoid large sections of scripture as being too
difficult to handle. Just as serious is the impact on pastoral care.
Christians – and particularly the ill, the depressed, and the dying –
should be able to resort to the Scriptures with complete confidence in
all their promises and in all their utterances. But the less confidence
spiritual care-givers and suffering Christians have in the scriptures,
the less likely they are to seek nourishment and help from them in
times of crisis, let alone in normal daily life. In the worst cases,
pastors and counsellors use merely human methods to cheer up the ill
and depressed; the scriptures are not used at all.
These are some of the general effects of gospel reductionism and its
partner, historical criticism. I would now like to comment on its
impact on some of the issues presently before the Lutheran Church and
a. women’s ordination.
A gospel-reductionist approach emphasises that what counts in this
issue is the gospel message of Christ’s acceptance of all people,
including women and others who are marginalised. The undoubtedly
gospel/baptismal text (Galatians 3:28) is sometimes emphasised over and
above those texts which speak directly to the issue of who may preach
and teach in the churches (1 Cor 11:2-16; 14:33-38; 1 Tim 2:11-14). But
I have said enough about this issue in recent times.
b. homosexuality and the hermeneutics of suspicion.
Again I do not wish to speak at length about the pressures in some
churches to ordain homosexuals and bless same-sex unions. I only want
to alert you to two aspects of the gospel-reductionist strategy that is
The first part of the strategy is to point to Old Testament (Mosaic)
regulations we no longer follow, like the rule against making cloth
from two kinds of thread, and then claim that the OT ruling against
homosexual practice is another regulation we can safely set aside. This
approach fails to recognise that a number of the Pentateuchal laws fall
into the category Luther called the “Sachsenspiegel” (the Saxon law) of
the Jewish people, and no longer apply to us. However, when an OT law
is in keeping with natural law, and when (as in the ruling against
homosexual practice) it is confirmed in the New Testament (Romans 1; 1
Corinthians 6), then it still binds the church.
As in the women’s ordination debate, another part of the strategy of
those advocating the ordination of gays, etc., is simply to ask
questions about the biblical texts, texts which Christians had always
assumed were clear. This technique of raising questions characterises
“the hermeneutic of suspicion”. You do not have to answer your
questions; all you need do is raise them and thereby sow confusion and
doubt about the authority of the text. So, for example, in discussing
the legal prohibitions against male homosexuality in Leviticus (“You
shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is abomination”, Lev
18:22), John Dunnill asks: Since this text is part of the ‘holiness
code’, do these regulations “apply only in cultic contexts. Or only
when signifying idolatry? And why does the ban specify intercourse only
between males?” (Faithfulness in Fellowship: Reflections on
Homosexuality and the Church, Doctrine Commission of the Anglican
Church of Australia, p. 18).
Dunnill continues: “Since the text, notoriously, offers no clear
answer to such questions, the verses cannot be simply plucked out of
their context and enforced as laws. It is necessary to seek to
understand the meaning of the whole legal and symbolic system, before
evaluating the ethical status of any individual rule” (18).
So ordinary lay-people and most pastors are disqualified from making
a judgment about these ‘notoriously’ unclear texts. We must leave them
to the experts.
[Also, did you know that the Sodom story has nothing to do with
homosexuality? According to Dunnill, it’s all about refusing to give
hospitality. This is another case of posing a false “either…or”
c. Christian freedom and the ten commandments
Gospel reductionism, with its tendency to limit biblical authority
to the gospel, sometimes leads to a lack of respect for the Ten
Commandments. Sometimes this happens in the name of “Christian
freedom”. So there is a tendency to regard the law as bad (“whatever
makes you feel bad is bad”), particularly because it accuses us of
being sinners. This flies in the face of Jesus’ declaration that not a
jot or tittle of the divine law would pass away until all was fulfilled
(Matt 5:18). Similarly, Paul declared the divine law to be “holy and
the commandment to be holy and just and good” (Rom 7:12).
Instead of respect for God’s law, we hear calls to show respect for
inclusiveness and tolerance, even for various kinds of deviant
behaviour. Indeed, this law of inclusiveness and tolerance has, for
some, become the new ‘gospel’.
d. Ecumenical relations (Lutheran World Federation, etc).
A core issue in the LCA debate about whether to become a full member
of LWF or remain an associate member is how we are to understand
Article VII of the Augsburg Confession, which contains the words: “It
is enough for the true unity of the church to agree concerning the
teaching of the gospel and the administration of the sacraments”. The
question before us is: Does Article VII’s concentration on the gospel
allow us to relativise other parts of the Lutheran confessional
writings as if they have less importance? Does Article VII allow an
“Article VII reductionism”? Is the expression “the gospel” in Article
VII to be understood in narrow, minimal sense (the bare minimum of
agreement), or is it be understood more broadly in its relationship to
other articles of the faith? (In the New Testament itself, the word
‘gospel’ sometimes has a narrow sense – “Christ died for us” – and
sometimes a broader sense – “The Gospel of Matthew”).
In working out our ecumenical relationships, then, is it acceptable
when Lutheran churches sidestep Article X of the AC (on the Real
Presence in the Lord’s Supper) and enter into altar and pulpit
fellowship with Reformed churches who do not accept the Real Presence?
Isn’t the Real Presence of Christ’s body and blood a fundamental aspect
of the Gospel? Or is it acceptable for us to overlook our lack of full
agreement with the Roman Catholic Church on the teaching of original
sin (Article II of the Augsburg Confession) and claim we have full
agreement with the RC Church on justification (Article IV)? The gospel
of justification by grace through faith is the hub, but it’s supported
by the other articles – the spokes – and we need full agreement on
these as well.
A hermeneutics of suspicion leads ultimately to the loss of the
gospel. Instead of the gospel of “Jesus Christ and him crucified”, the
church is urged to give first place to concerns like tolerance,
inclusiveness or ecology – social justice concerns which belong in the
realm of law, not gospel. Thus gospel reductionism, which on the face
of it makes much of the gospel, comes to threaten the biblical gospel.
The biblical gospel is about Jesus Christ and what he’s done for us and
all humanity. It comes to beautiful expression in the opening chapter
of the New Testament: “You shall call his name ‘Jesus’, for he will
save his people from their sins” – Matt 1:21) and in Paul’s letters
(“Christ died for our sins” – 1 Cor 15:3). What tragic confusion, then,
do we find in a sentence like this: “In keeping with the gospel of
helping people in need, we have been planting trees in India”. The law
has become the ‘gospel’.
Let me quote a statement from an Episcopal Church-USA source, which
laments the appointment of an openly gay bishop and the underlying
gospel-reductionist approach to the Bible:
“Homosexuality is not the issue; it is a symptom of the deeper
problems in the church. [The Episcopal Church-USA] has denied the
authority of Holy Scripture and has embraced the culture rather than
the gospel. Central to the Christian Message and Mission is the call to
transform culture through the saving grace of Jesus Christ. ECUSA’s
recent decisions are being justified through the authority of
‘experience’. This reverses the Christian call and means that culture
is now shaping the church rather than the church shaping culture. These
are warring world views”. – Bishop John-David Schofield, Episcopal
Diocese of San Joaquin, Fresno, CA – cited in Forum Letter, March 2004,
The more we lose a high view of Scripture (its inspiration, its
truthfulness, etc), the more likely we are to lose the gospel. For, as
I said at the beginning, the two belong together as warp and woof of
the same fabric. Or, to adapt an analogy from Luther, the more we tear
holes in the swaddling cloths (the Scriptures), the more likely we are
to lose the Christchild.
A better way
Instead of a hermeneutic of suspicion, we urgently need to cultivate
a hermeneutic of appreciation – a deep appreciation for the whole Word
of God. The word ‘appreciation’ contains the word ‘precious’. The Bible
constantly affirms that God’s Word is more precious and desirable “than
gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings from
the honeycomb” (Psalm 19:10). Jeremiah testifies to the joy he finds in
God’s Word: “Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words
became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your
name, O Lord, God of hosts” (Jer 15:16).
Both the gospel and the scripture give the believer great joy. For
me it’s a great joy to have a weekly adult confirmation evening with a
man in his early sixties, a man who was confirmed Lutheran 40 years ago
but hadn’t attended church since his confirmation. Now he’s suffering
from cancer and is back in church, full of joy at the gospel he hears
and the sacrament he receives, and taking great delight in his
brand-new Bible which he reads every evening.
If I may put it this way, the great gospel psalm, psalm 23, and the
great scripture psalms (1, 19, 119) belong together. The Good Shepherd
restores my soul (Ps 23:3), and so too does the ‘law’ (the Torah, the
Word of God) – Ps 19:7. The Hebrew verb in both psalm verses is the
same. Both the gospel and the Holy Scriptures in their entirety are
restorative and life-giving.
We will not accomplish anything in these difficult times if we
merely stand dogmatically on the doctrine of scripture without being
constantly and prayerfully in the scriptures themselves. Luther wrote
to pastors: “Prayer, meditation and affliction are the makings of a
theologian”. We begin with prayer, asking the Holy Spirit to help us
understand God’s Word and “create in us that spirit which subjects
itself to the Scriptures”. Then we meditate by reading “the lettered
words in the book, read them and re-read them again and again, noting
carefully and reflecting upon what the Holy Spirit means by these
words”. And then the third step happens by itself, the affliction
comes: “As soon as the Word of God blooms forth through you, the devil
will visit you, and by his affliction will teach you to seek and love
God’s Word”. May the Holy Spirit help all of us – pastors and laity -
to put Luther’s method into practice more faithfully.
An outstanding poem by the Latin author, Vergil, is entitled “The
Aeneid”. Martin Luther referred to the Aeneid on the day before he
died, and called the Bible “this divine Aeneid”. He wrote: “Lay not
your hands on this divine Aeneid, but bow before it, adore its every
trace” (Table Talk, Luther’s Works vol 54, p. 476). As we adore the
Christchild who comes to us in the gospel, may we also adore every
trace of the divine holy Scriptures that bring us this gospel.