12/10/2014

Martin Luther and Pope Francis' Articulation of the Gospel, the Kerygma

Both Martin Luther and Pope Francis understand the need of all people to hear the gospel, not just initially for our salvation, but repeatedly, in all ways and in countless ways throughout our days.
"The law is divine and holy. Let the law have his glory, but yet no law, be it never so divine and holy, ought to teach me that I am justified, and shall live through it. I grant it may teach me that I ought to love God and my neighbour; also to live in chastity, soberness, patience, etc., but it ought not to show me, how I should be delivered from sin, the devil, death, and hell. 
Here I must take counsel of the gospel. I must hearken to the gospel, which teacheth me, not what I ought to do, (for that is the proper office of the law,) but what Jesus Christ the Son of God hath done for me : to wit, that He suffered and died to deliver me from sin and death. The gospel willeth me to receive this, and to believe it. And this is the truth of the gospel. It is also the principal article of all Christian doctrine, wherein the knowledge of all godliness consisteth.
Most necessary it is, therefore, that we should know this article well, teach it unto others, and beat it into their heads continually."
–Martin Luther, St. Paul's Epistle to the Galatians.

This is how Pope Francis summarized the kerygma (the proclamation of the gospel): "Jesus Christ loves you; he gave his life to save you; and now he is living at your side every day to enlighten, strengthen and free you."
"This first proclamation is called 'first' not because it exists at the beginning and can then be forgotten or replaced by other more important things. It is first in a qualitative sense because it is the principal proclamation, the one which we must hear again and again in different ways, the one which we must announce one way or another throughout the process of catechesis, at every level and moment. We must not think that in catechesis the kerygma gives way to a supposedly more "solid" formation. Nothing is more solid, profound, secure, meaningful and wisdom-filled than that initial proclamation. All Christian formation consists of entering more deeply into the kerygma, which is reflected in and constantly illumines, the work of catechesis, thereby enabling us to understand more fully the significance of every subject which the latter treats."

" … (the kerygma) has to express God's saving love, which precedes any moral and religious obligation on our part; it should not impose the truth but appeal to freedom; it should be marked by joy, encouragement, liveliness and a harmonious balance, which will not reduce preaching to a few doctrines, which are at times more philosophical than evangelical. All this demands on the part of the evangelizer certain attitudes, which foster openness to the message: approachability, readiness for dialogue, patience, a warmth and welcome which is non-judgmental."
Pope Francis, Joy of the Gospel. (Reference: What Life Church is doing right.)