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Willimon: Revealed Faith

Luther spoke of the Gospel as the "external word," that which comes from us from the outside, that which is more than we could have contrived ourselves.  The Gospel comes to us, rather than from within us.

We all know people who appear to have certain vague inclinations toward something "spiritual." This not the same as the Good News of Christ.  Christians are those who believe that the Gospel proclamation of the life, work, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ remains the normative path to God.

Paul says "Faith comes from hearing, and hearing comes from the preaching of Christ" (Romans 10:17).  There may be religions that come to you through long walks in the woods, or pondering your psyche, of gazing up at the stars.  Christianity is not one of them.  This faith comes from the outside, by hearing something we would not have known had not the church told us.

Theologian, Karl Barth, thus said that the main difference between a Christian and a non-Christian is a "noetic difference." That is, Christians are not necessarily better people than non-Christians, nor smarter.  We are simply those who have heard something whereas non-Christians have not yet heard.  As Isaiah says, light has come into our darkness, light not of our own devising, and that makes us see differently.

-- William Willimon, from a sermon, "Fishing With Jesus"
Duke University Chapel January 24, 1999 Matthew 4:12-23

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